Nothing is harder to direct than a man in prosperity; nothing more easily managed than one is adversity. — Plutarch

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The King and the Painter

Henry VIII. was so fond of interviews that he once arranged one with James V. of Scotland. But either the Scots were afraid their king would be made a prisoner, or the Scotch king wished to please the Catholics. Anyway, Henry vainly waited for his fellow-monarch, and when he saw that James was not coming, he declared war against Scotland.

The troops of James V. were defeated at Solway Moss, and he felt so badly over the loss of his followers that he soon after died of grief, leaving the crown to his little daughter Mary, who became Queen of Scotland. Henry now proposed a marriage between this queen and his son Edward, which would unite the Scotch and English crowns. The nobles at first consented to it, but it never took place.

Besides the French war mentioned in the beginning of Henry's reign, there was a second, in which the English won Boulogne, which, however, they promised to give back to France at the end of seven years.

As Henry waxed older he grew very stout, suffered a great deal from illness, and became so violent in temper that every one was afraid of him. We are told that even Parliament dared not disobey him, for he once said to one of the members: "Get my bill passed to-morrow, or else to-morrow this head of yours shall be off."

The queen once incurred his wrath simply because she differed from him in a religious argument. But when she found out that the king was going to have her tried for heresy, she disarmed his anger by saying that she loved to hear him argue because he was so clever.

Henry not only encouraged learning, but he was also very fond of painting, and engaged the German artist Holbein to paint his portrait. He had great respect for men of talent, and when a courtier once complained that Holbein had insulted him by sending him out of the studio, into which he had forced his way, the king answered:

"It is I, in the person of Holbein, who have been insulted. I can, when I please, make seven lords of seven ploughmen; but I cannot make one Holbein even of seven lords."

Besides learning, Henry also encouraged commerce, which, under him, became very flourishing. But there was a new kind of trade begun in his reign which was not to his credit. This was slave trading, and it was many years before that wicked traffic came to an end.

Henry reigned thirty-eight years, and when his people saw that he was dying, they did not dare tell him so, lest they should be accused of high treason and put to death. Finally, however, a very old man plucked up courage enough to inform the king that he was nearing his end.

Instead of flying into a rage as every one expected, Henry took the news very calmly. He said that his son Edward should succeed him, and as the lad was delicate, he arranged that if the prince died without leaving any children, the crown should go to Mary, and after her to Elizabeth, and after them to his youngest sister, the Duchess of Suffolk. When all his arrangements had been made, Henry died; and all breathed a sigh of relief at the thought that the tyrannical ruler could frighten them no more.


Front Matter

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
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