The evil implanted in man by nature spreads so imperceptibly, when the habit of wrong-doing is unchecked, he himself can set no limit to his shamelessness. — Cicero

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

Two Pretenders

Henry VII., who was crowned King of England on Bosworth battlefield, was the first of the Tudor kings. He belonged to the house of Lancaster; and as he soon married Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV., of the house of York, both parties were well pleased. But, fearing that the Earl of Warwick, Clarence's son, might claim the throne, Henry kept him a close prisoner in the Tower.

Marriage of Henry VII.

The new king was rather afraid of the few noblemen who had survived the Wars of the Roses, so he tried to restrict their power as much as he could. Knowing very well also that he had not the best right to the throne, and could keep it only as long as the people wished, he allowed Parliament more freedom than it had enjoyed under the preceding reign.

Henry was very fond of money, and as he fancied it would give him power, he tried to get all he could. With this end in view he encouraged commerce, and thus did much good to the whole country. His reign, however, was disturbed by two plots formed to drive him from the throne.

First, a priest named Simon trained a baker's son to make believe he was the Earl of Warwick. Now the Irish people had been very fond of Clarence, so they received this lad, Lambert Simnel, with joy, and proclaimed him king. But when Henry heard that a false Earl of Warwick was claiming the throne, he brought the real one out of the Tower and showed him to the people. In spite of this, the Irish still clung to Simnel, and, collecting an army, came over to England to place him on the throne.

Henry met and defeated the invaders at Stoke. The priest and pretender were both made captives. They were tried, and as Simon was found guilty of fraud, he was sent to prison for life. But, seeing that Simnel was not very intelligent, and had been forced to play his part, the king forgave him and made him a servant in the royal kitchen.

One of Simnel's stanch adherents, Lord Lovel, is said to have ridden away in haste from the battlefield. Nothing was heard of him for a long time, so it was generally supposed that he had been drowned in trying to cross the Trent River. But more than one hundred years after the battle, some workmen, pulling down one of his massive stone houses, discovered there a secret chamber. In it they found the skeleton of a man seated on a chair, his head resting on a table, and near him stood an empty barrel and jar. Hence it has been thought that Lord Lovel, having escaped pursuit, hid himself in this retreat, where he probably starved to death.

The other plot which disturbed Henry's reign proved more serious. A rumour suddenly arose that little Richard of York had not been murdered in the Tower, as was popularly supposed, but that he had escaped to France, and was living there under the name of Perkin Warbeck.

Many people believed this story; and when Perkin Warbeck, who was really the son of a merchant, was brought before the Duchess of Burgundy, she declared he was her long-lost nephew, and joyfully prepared to help him win the crown. Helped by the Duchess of Burgundy, the King of the Scots, and by several English noblemen who thought he was the real Duke of York, Perkin Warbeck invaded England, but was soon forced to retreat.

His friends then planned a second invasion from Ireland; but when Perkin landed in England, he was taken captive and put into the Tower, while his wife, a beautiful Scotch lady, became an attendant of the queen. It is likely that no further steps would have been taken against Perkin Warbeck, had he not made plans to escape with the Earl of Warwick. But this plot being discovered, both captives were condemned to death. The Earl of Warwick, being a nobleman, was beheaded on Tower Hill, but Perkin Warbeck was hanged like a common criminal at Tyburn.


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