The angry historians see one side of the question. The calm historians see nothing at all, not even the question itself. — G. K. Chesterton

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

A Clever Queen

Parliament was sitting when Mary, Queen of England, breathed her last; and when her death was announced, the members all sprang from their seats with shouts of joy, and cries of "God save Queen Elizabeth!" The news was received in the same way throughout the kingdom, and was no less welcome to the new queen, who had spent the last five years in captivity at Hatfield House.

Elizabeth now came to London, where she was joyfully welcomed, and where one of her first acts was to order the release of all who were prisoners on account of their religion. She selected Lord Burleigh, her brother's adviser, as her chief minister, and for the next forty years this able man ruled the country wisely.

At Elizabeth's first Parliament the Protestants came to beg her to release four important prisoners; and when the queen asked their names, they answered that these captives were Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, who were bound fast in the Latin language. Elizabeth smiled when they said this, but soon answered that she would first inquire whether these prisoners wished to be set free.

She therefore assembled a council to discuss religious matters; and this council decided that it was best for the people to have prayers, hymns, and Scriptures in English. The Church of England, or Anglican Church, was therefore again declared the church of the country, and nine thousand priests were given their choice to adopt the Anglican services and recognize the queen as head of the church, or to give up their positions. Only two hundred went away, and as their places were given to Protestants, the whole country was soon under the same teaching.

Thus the change was gradually made, but so gently that not one drop of blood was shed or one estate confiscated. As soon as this was known abroad, the exiled Protestants came flocking back. Some of them brought home from France and Germany what they called purer ideas of worship, so they were called Puritans.

Elizabeth was twenty-five when she came to the throne. She was rather good-looking, very clever and well educated, generous, and forgiving. But she had also three great failings: she was vain, untruthful, and of a violent temper. She showed her forgiving nature by not trying to avenge any of her past injuries. Even to a jailer who had been very unkind to her, she only remarked that he should have the keeping of any prisoner whom she wished treated with great severity.

Queen Elizabeth.

Elizabeth was extravagantly fond of dress and display, and her coronation was a splendid affair. The streets were hung with tapestry and strewn with flowers; there were triumphal arches, shows, speeches, and presents without number; flags waved, bells rang, bonfires were lighted, and it seemed as if the whole nation had gone mad with joy.

Elizabeth had been so well taught by her tutor Ascham that she was able to reign wisely. When she came to the throne the country was in debt, the money was bad, there was no good army or navy, and she saw that it would take time to make England what she wanted it to become one of the foremost countries of the world.

Helped by her clever ministers, Burleigh and Walsingham, Elizabeth began her reforms, and she went ahead so steadily that she soon saw great progress and in time reached her aim. By her order commerce and manufacture were encouraged, the army was properly drilled, and the navy was increased till she won the title of "Queen of the Northern Seas."


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