It is so hard to find out the truth by looking at the past. The process of time obscures the truth and even contemporaneous writers disguise and twist out of malice or flattery. — Plutarch

Story of the English - Helene Guerber




Henry's Troubles

Richard II. was the last of eight real Plantagenet or Angevine kings, and his successor, Henry IV., was the first ruler of the house of Lancaster. Although Richard had left no children, Henry could not claim to inherit the throne, because the seven-year-old Earl of March was next of kin. But Parliament then often gave the crown to any member of the royal family.

Henry IV. therefore became king through act of Parliament. His reign was not free from care, as you will soon see, for at first there were so many quarrels among the members of Parliament that as many as forty challenges were given and received in the House in one day. Besides that, a conspiracy was soon formed to depose Henry and replace Richard. To show that Richard's death was not owing to violence, his body was publicly exposed in London. But as only the face was visible, people never felt sure that his death had been natural.

Norman Gateway, Windsor Castle.
NORMAN GATEWAY, WINDSOR CASTLE.


To prevent his enemies from trying to put the young Earl of March on the throne, Henry kept him a prisoner in Windsor Castle, and never allowed him to go out, except under safe escort.

As Parliament had elected him king, Henry was forced to respect its wishes and to grant many things it asked. He also tried to gain the friendship of pope and clergy, and to please them he allowed the Lollards to be persecuted, and even to be burned at the stake, as heretics or unbelievers.

Henry's conscience often troubled him sorely for the crime he had committed to secure the crown, and he lived in constant dread of seeing some one snatch the crown from him. He was also afraid of being murdered; for we are told that once, when about to get into his bed, he found in it a frightful instrument with many sharp blades.

Although Wales had long been part of the English realm, Henry IV. had to put down a rebellion of the Welsh, under Owen Glendower, a descendant of Prince Llewellyn. This Welshman pretended to be a magician, and the people, excited by the bards' ballads, gladly rallied around him. For seven years Glendower baffled all Henry's efforts to capture him, for he and his followers used to retreat to Mount Snowdon, where they knew every foot of the ground and had secret hiding places.

A war with Scotland also kept Henry busy, although it was carried on mainly by Percy Hotspur and his father. They won a victory over the Scots at Homildon Hill; but as the king would not allow them to sell their captives for a ransom, they revolted and joined forces with the Scots. Henry met the Percys and Scotchmen before they could join the Welsh army, and defeated them in the battle of Shrewsbury, where Percy Hotspur was killed. In this battle the king's eldest son, Prince Hal, showed great bravery; but the king himself, fearing to be recognized by his armour, had several noblemen dress like him. Strange to relate, all these knights were killed, while Henry escaped.

The Percy rebellion was scarcely quelled when Henry was called upon to put down another, led by Archbishop Scrope of York, who wanted to place the Earl of March upon the throne. His force, too, was defeated, and the priest himself was beheaded as a traitor, a punishment which had never yet befallen a member of the clergy. The common people fancied it was very wicked to execute an archbishop, even if he had sinned; and when Henry became ill soon after, they thought it was a punishment sent by Heaven.

Two years after the battle of Shrewsbury, Henry IV. succeeded in capturing the heir to the Scotch crown, who was on his way to France to be educated. By his order, this Prince James, the great-great-grandson of the famous Bruce, was brought to Windsor, and given so excellent an education that he afterwards became the best king who ever sat upon the Scotch throne, as well as a musician and a poet.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

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
"Remember"
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