Arrogance on the part of the meritorious is even more offensive to us than the arrogance of those without merit: for merit itself is offensive. — Nietzsche

Story of the English - Helene Guerber




The King and the Outlaw

Ethelstan left no children, so he was succeeded by his young brother Edmund, who is surnamed the Magnificent. This prince was only eighteen when he came to the throne, but he was very brave. He conquered the province of Cumbria, and gave it to Malcolm I., King of Scotland.

Edmund also defeated the Danes, who had risen up against him, and he might have done much more for his people had he not come to a very sudden death in rather a strange way. It seems that he had given strict orders that all robbers, should be driven out of the country. A noted outlaw, notwithstanding this command, once entered the king's hall and boldly sat down at his table. Angry at this impudence, Edmund sternly ordered the man to go out. The robber insolently refused to obey, and when the king's cupbearer tried to turn him out by force, he began to resist. Then, before any one else could interfere, Edmund sprang up from his seat and tried to fling the intruder out of the house.

In the scuffle that ensued, the thief stabbed the king. The latter fell, and the people attacked the robber, who, leaning against the wall, fought with the courage of despair, until he was overpowered and killed.

Edmund was only twenty-four when he died, and as his children were babies, the Witenagemot chose his brother Edred for their next king. This prince soon had his hands full; for when the Danes heard that Edmund was dead, they again rose up against the Saxons. After defeating them, Edred decided that they should no longer be ruled by one of their own princes, but by an English governor who would keep them in order.

Edred was so young when he began to reign, that he generally followed the advice of a very clever priest called Dunstan. While Dunstan was only a man like his fellow-men, he was unusually clever and able; so the common people fancied that he was gifted with powers more than human, and told strange stories about him.

They said that when he was only a boy Dunstan had already shown that he was not an ordinary child, and in proof of it they whispered that he walked in his sleep! Of course, we know that when a person is unable to sleep soundly and quietly, it is only a sign that he is not quite well; but the people in Dunstan's time fancied it was something very strange. When Dunstan saw that they admired all he said and did, he took advantage of that fact to get all he wanted, and, as he was very ambitious, he soon became the most important man in the kingdom.

Once, when his services were not needed at court, he took up his abode in a cell so small and low that he could neither lie down nor stand up in it. Here he prayed and fasted, and worked at a forge, and people came from far and near to admire him and exclaim in wonder at his great goodness. They often talked with him, and believed all he said, although we are told he once said that the devil came to visit him, and that he seized the fiend by the nose with his red-hot pincers!



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