A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools. — Thucydides

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

Cavaliers and Roundheads

Laud, one of the advisers of Charles I., now told him that there would be less trouble if all the people were of one religion, and thus persuaded the king to say that everybody ought to conform to the Church of England. The result was that many Puritans and Catholics alike set sail for America to found new colonies, where they should have the right to worship as they pleased.

But when Charles bade the Scotch conform to the English Church, they resisted openly. One old woman even flung a chair at the preacher's head when he began to read the Anglican service; and the excited people, assembling in great numbers, drew up a "Covenant," or agreement, whereby they bound themselves to resist any religious changes. All those who signed this paper were called Covenanters, and as they were determined to fight rather than yield, they began to drill, and fortified their towns.

Hearing of this, Charles marched northward with an army, which he was obliged to dismiss before he reached Scotland, because he had no money with which to pay his soldiers or buy them food. As he could do nothing without funds, Charles called a Parliament which was so promptly dissolved that it is known as the Short Parliament.

A second Parliament soon assembled, and this time the members began by accusing Strafford and Laud of giving the king bad advice. They were so angry with the former that, in spite of all he could urge in his own defence; they sentenced him to death.

Charles, who was attached to Strafford, refused to sign the death-warrant until the condemned minister wrote him a noble letter, saying that it would be best to do so, in order to pacify the House of Commons. The king then weakly yielded, and poor Strafford was beheaded.

Next, a law was made providing that Parliament could not be dissolved (which meant sent away for good and all) or adjourned (which meant sent away for a short time), except by its own consent. Parliament also put an end to the Star Chamber, and began to right various wrongs. But while these reforms were going on, a rebellion broke out among the Irish, who killed thousands of Englishmen in a few days.

As Parliament still refused to give Charles money and soldiers to put down this rebellion, the king tried to frighten the members by marching into their place of meeting with his guards, to arrest five of the principal men, among whom were the patriots Hampden and Pym. But they managed to escape, and the Speaker, or head of the House of Commons, refused to tell the king where they had gone.

Seeing that Parliament was using the money got by taxes to raise an army to oppose him, Charles soon withdrew to York, where he was joined by many noblemen and Catholics, who, on account of their gallant bearing, were called Cavaliers. As the opposite party was composed principally of Puritans who wore their hair cut short; they were soon dubbed Roundheads, a name which you will often hear.

The Royalists, or Cavaliers, were led by the king himself and by his nephew, the gallant Prince Rupert, while the Puritans followed the lead of Hampden and Pym in politics, and that of Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell in war. The king gave the signal for civil strife by raising his standard on Nottingham Hill in 1642; and when it was blown down during a storm, people regarded this as a bad omen.

During the next six years the civil war raged; and while the Cavaliers fought with daring, they were not able to hold out against the steady discipline of the Roundheads. Although beaten at Edgehill, the Puritans won victories at Marston Moor and at Naseby, where Charles vainly tried to rally his troops by calling to his men, "One charge more, and we recover the day!"

Oliver Cromwell.

Seeing that all was over, the king fled in disguise and surrendered to the Scotch troops, thinking that, although they too had rebelled, they would treat him kindly. His baggage fell into the hands of Cromwell, who, instead of imitating the conduct of the great Roman generals, read all Charles's private letters.

He not only read them, but had them published; and when, later on, the people saw that the queen had gone to Holland to pawn the crown jewels, and that the king still meant to have his own way, they began to quote these letters. The Scotch were indignant, too; and when Parliament refused to pay them for their services unless they gave up the king, they tamely yielded.


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