A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. — Alexander Tytler

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

Richard's Punishment

Richard III. bestowed many gifts upon his accomplice Buckingham, to reward him for so cleverly helping him to secure the throne. But a man who is not faithful to one master is likely to betray another; so the Duke of Buckingham, fancying that Richard did not do enough for him, soon began to plot to give the crown to the Earl of Richmond, Henry Tudor.

Henry Tudor was a descendant of the third son of Edward III., and also of a Welshman named Owen Tudor. Being thus the head of the Lancastrians, he made his claim to the throne stronger by promising to marry Princess Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of Edward IV., and hence the heiress of the house of York.

Buckingham proposed this marriage to Henry, and invited him to come over to England to claim the throne. But when Buckingham began his rebellion against Richard, a terrible rainstorm so terrified his adherents that they deserted, and Buckingham himself was betrayed into the hands of King Richard, who had him executed as a traitor.

During the next two years Richard governed England very wisely; but although he was an able king, he was a very unhappy man. His son, the only creature whom he loved, fell sick and died, and Richard mourned him sorely. Besides that, Richard was haunted by remorse, and in his dreams he saw the spirits of all his unhappy victims.

Hoping to win the people's affection and to have a child to inherit his throne, Richard now thought of marrying his own niece, the Princess Elizabeth. But when he saw that every one disapproved of this match, he gave it up. The rumour of his intentions, however, reached Henry of Richmond, who came over from Brittany with an army. Richard, who had taken part in the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury, and who was very brave, collected an army and went to meet his rival, determined to conquer or die.

On the night of the battle, it is said, Richard, asleep in his tent, was, as usual, haunted by the ghosts of his victims. This seemed to him a bad omen, and on the next day, just as the battle of Bosworth was about to begin, his commander in chief deserted him. Richard nevertheless called for his horse and dashed forward, hoping to meet and slay his hated rival. But in spite of all his courage, he was cut down, and fell head first, mortally wounded, into a brook. The crown, which a moment before sparkled so proudly upon his helmet, rolled under a hawthorn bush, and was picked up by Henry's soldiers, who crowned their leader on the battlefield.

Richard's body was carelessly thrown across a horse's back and carried to Leicester, where it was buried. But the last of the York kings was not even to rest in peace in his grave. Some years later his body was torn out of its stone tomb, which from that time on served as a common watering trough.

Richard III., the last of the three York kings, was the last of the family of the Plantagenets, which ruled England for three hundred and thirty years. The battle of Bosworth (1485) marks the end of the Wars of the Roses, and also the end of feudalism, which had been introduced into England by William the Conqueror, at the battle of Hastings, four hundred and nineteen years before.


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