That which does not kill us makes us stronger. — Nietzsche

Story of the English - Helene Guerber




The Royal Oak

A few days after the execution of Charles I., Parliament said that as there was no king in England, there should be no nobility, and therefore no House of Lords. England was now a republic instead of a monarchy, and the new seal of the state, or Commonwealth of England, bore the inscription: "The first year of freedom, by God's blessing restored, 1648."

But while all the Puritan party said the monarchy was at an end, the Royalist party claimed that since Charles I. was dead, his son Charles II. was King of England. The Scotch Parliament, which had had no share in the king's execution, promised to be true to Charles II. if he would only swear to respect their Covenant.

In Ireland, also, all the Catholics were in favour of Charles. They rebelled against the Commonwealth, but Cromwell immediately set out to subdue them. He carried on the war with such cruelty, sparing neither man, woman, nor child, that the mere name of Englishman became a terror to the Irish.

While Cromwell was thus busy in Ireland, Charles II. had come over to Scotland, where the people rose up to help him recover his throne. Cromwell, hearing of this, left his chief officer, Ireton, in Ireland. Then, crossing the Irish Sea, he marched over the border, defeated the Scotch troops at Dunbar, and moved on to Edinburgh.

The Royalists, taking advantage of this, boldly invaded England, where they expected that many people would join them. But Cromwell, marching rapidly southward again, surprised their army at Worcester. The Cavaliers were routed, and King Charles sought safety in flight. He was in great danger, for Cromwell's soldiers were scattered all over the country, looking for him. Charles's few followers soon saw that their only chance of safety lay in separating and escaping in disguise.

The young king, therefore, went to the house of a farmer named Penderell, at Boscobel, and, telling the man who he was, begged his help. Although this farmer knew that he was risking his life in befriending the king, he gave Charles a suit of his own clothes and cut off his long hair. Then, hearing that search parties were in the neighbourhood, he led the king through a forest to a field in the midst of which grew a very bushy oak tree.

Penderell helped Charles to climb up and hide in the branches of the oak. Here they staid all day, the weary king resting against the farmer, who, seeing his royal charge had fallen asleep, held him tight lest he should fall. While they were thus concealed in the Royal Oak, a party of soldiers rode directly under the tree, talking of Charles and of the reward they soon hoped to win.

During the next six weeks Charles wandered about from place to place, in different disguises, trying to reach the seashore and find a boat in which to escape to France. All through those weary weeks the royal fugitive was helped first by one person and then by another.

We are told that more than forty persons, and most of them very poor, knew who he was and helped him, although they ran great risks and could have earned a large reward by betraying him. After much tramping and many adventures, Charles came to the house of a Royalist named Lane. Here he assumed the livery of a servant, and soon rode away as the attendant of Miss Lane, who had a permit to journey to Leith with her servant.

In this disguise Charles passed right through the Parliamentary troops, and came to an inn, where the hostler recognized but did not denounce him. In another inn, the king roused the cook's suspicions because he did not know how to turn the meat to roast it properly; but he disarmed this man's anger by saying they were too poor at his house to have any roast meat.

A landlord once recognized him, and begged that he and his wife might receive the titles of lord and lady as soon as the king came to the throne. Thus wandering from place to place, Charles finally reached Shoreham, where, embarking upon a little vessel, he bribed the captain to take him over to France.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

Early Times
The Druids
The Britons
Caesar in Britain
Queen Boadicea
The Great Walls
The Great Irish Saint
The Anglo-Saxons
Brave King Arthur
The Laws of the Saxons
The Story of St Augustine
Three Great Men
The Danish Pirates
King Alfred and the Cakes
Alfred conquers the Danes
A King's Narrow Escape
The King and the Outlaw
The Monasteries
An Unlucky Couple
St Dunstan
King Canute and the Waves
A Saxon Nobleman
Lady Godiva's Ride
The Battle of Hastings
The Conquest
Lords and Vassals
Death of William
The Brothers' Quarrels
Arms and Armour
The "White Ship"
Matilda's Narrow Escapes
Story of Fair Rosamond
Thomas a Becket
Murder of Thomas a Becket
Richard's Adventures
Richard and the Saracens
The Faithful Minstrel
Death of Richard
The Murder of Arthur
The Great Charter
The Rule of Henry III
A Race
Persecution of the Jews
The Conquest of Wales
A Quarrel with France
The Coronation Stone
The Insolent Favourite
Bruce and the Spider
Death of Edward II
The Murderers punished
The Battle of Crecy
The Siege of Calais
The Age of Chivalry
The Battle of Poitiers
The Peasants' Revolt
Richard's Presence of Mind
A Tiny Queen
Henry's Troubles
Madcap Harry
A Glorious Reign
The Maid of Orleans
The War of the Roses
The Queen and the Brigand
The Triumph of the Yorks
The Princes in the Tower
Richard's Punishment
Two Pretenders
A Grasping King
Field of the Cloth of Gold
The New Opinions
Death of Wolsey
Henry's Wives
The King and the Painter
A Boy King
Lady Jane Grey
The Death of Cranmer
A Clever Queen
Elizabeth's Lovers
Mary, Queen of Scots
Captivity of Mary Stuart
Wreck of the Spanish Armada
The Elizabethan Age
Death of Elizabeth
A Scotch King
The Gunpowder Plot
Sir Walter Raleigh
King and Parliament
Cavaliers and Roundheads
"Remember"
The Royal Oak
The Commonwealth
The Restoration
Plague and Fire
The Merry Monarch
James driven out of England
A Terrible Massacre
William's Wars
The Duke of Marlborough
The Taking of Gibraltar
The South Sea Bubble
Bonny Prince Charlie
Black Hole of Calcutta
Loss of the Colonies
The Battle of the Nile
Nelson's Last Signal
The Battle of Waterloo
First Gentleman of Europe
Childhood of Queen Victoria
The Queen's Marriage
Wars in Victoria's Reign
The Jubilee