Young Folks' History of England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 195 pages of information about Young Folks' History of England.

When the people of Northumberland rose against him, and tried to get back the old set of kings, he had the whole country wasted with fire and sword, till hardly a town or village was left standing.  He did this to punish the Northumbrians, and frighten the rest.  But he did another thing that was worse, because it was only for his own amusement.  In Hampshire, near his castle of Winchester, there was a great space of heathy ground, and holly copse and beeches and oaks above it, with deer and boars running wild in the glades—­a beautiful place for hunting, only that there were so many villages in it that the creatures were disturbed and killed.  William liked hunting more than anything else—­his people said he loved the high deer as if he was their father,—­and to keep the place clear for them, he turned out all the inhabitants, and pulled down their houses, and made laws against any one killing his game.  The place he thus cleared is still called the New Forest, though it is a thousand years old.

An old Norman law that the English grumbled about very much was, that as soon as a bell was rung, at eight o’clock every evening, everyone was to put out candle and fire, and go to bed.  The bell was called the curfew, and many old churches ring it still.

William caused a great list to be made of all the lands in the country, and who held them.  We have this list still, and it is called Domesday Book.  It shows that a great deal had been taken from the English and given to the Normans.  The king built castles, with immensely thick, strong walls, and loop-hole windows, whence to shoot arrows; and here he placed his Normans to keep the English down.  But the Normans were even more unruly than the English, and only his strong hand kept them in order.  They rode about in armor—­helmets on their heads, a shirt of mail, made of iron linked together, over their bodies, gloves and boots of iron, swords by their sides, and lances in their hands—­and thus they could bear down all before them.  They called themselves knights, and were always made to take an oath to befriend the weak, and poor, and helpless; but they did not often keep it towards the poor English.

William had four sons—­Robert, who was called Court-hose or Short-legs; William, called Rufus, because he had red hair; Henry, called Beau-clerc or the fine scholar; and Richard, who was still a lad when he was killed by a stag in the New Forest.

Robert, the eldest, was a wild, rude, thoughtless youth; but he fancied himself fit to govern Normandy, and asked his father to give it up to him.  King William answered, “I never take my clothes off before I go to bed,” meaning that Robert must wait for his death.  Robert could not bear to be laughed at, and was very angry.  Soon after, when he was in the castle court, his two brothers, William and Henry, grew riotous, and poured water down from the upper windows on him and his friends.  He flew into a passion, dashed up-stairs with his

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Young Folks' History of England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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