Young Folks' History of England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 165 pages of information about Young Folks' History of England.

There was not much more fighting after this.  Stephen kept all the eastern part of the kingdom, and Henry was brought up at Gloucester till his father sent for him, to take leave of him before going on a crusade.  Geoffrey died during this crusade.  He was fond of hunting, and was generally seen with a spray of broom blossom in his cap.  The French name for this plant is genet; and thus his nickname was “Plantagenet;” and this became a kind of surname to the kings of England.

Henry, called Fitz-empress—­or “the Empress’s son”—­came to England again as soon as he was grown up; but instead of going to war, he made an agreement with Stephen.  Henry would not attack Stephen any more, but leave him to reign all the days of his life, provided Stephen engaged that Henry should reign instead of his own son after his death.  This made Stephen’s son, Eustace, very angry, and he went away in a rage to raise troops to maintain his cause; but he died suddenly in the midst of his wild doings, and the king, his father, did not live long after him, but died in 1154.

Maude had learnt wisdom by her misfortunes.  She had no further desire to be queen, but lived a retired life in a convent, and was much more respected there than as queen.

CHAPTER XI.

Henry II., Fitz-empress.  A.D. 1154-1189.

Henry Fitz-Empress is counted as the first king of the Plantagenet family, also called the House of Anjou.  He was a very clever, brisk, spirited man, who hardly ever sat down, but was always going from place to place, and who would let no one disobey him.  He kept everybody in order, pulled down almost all the Castles that had been built in Stephen’s time, and would not let the barons ill-treat the people.  Indeed, everyone had been so mixed up together during the wars in Stephen’s reign, that the grandchildren of the Normans who had come over with William the Conqueror were now quite English in their feelings.  French was, however, chiefly spoken at court.  The king was really a Frenchman, and he married a French wife Eleanor, the lady of Aquitaine, a great dukedom in the South of France; and, as Henry had already Normandy and Anjou, he really was lord of nearly half France.  He ruled England well; but he was not a good man, for he cared for power and pleasure more than for what was right; and sometimes he fell into such rages that he would roll on the floor, and bite the rushes and sticks it was strewn with.  He made many laws.  One was that, if a priest or monk was thought to have committed any crime, he should be tried by the king’s judge, instead of the bishop.  The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas a Becket, did not think it right to consent to this law; and, though he and the king had once been great friends, Henry was so angry with him that he was forced to leave England, and take shelter with the King of France.  Six years passed by, and

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