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.
own niece, Blanche, who had a chance of being queen of part of Spain.  Still Arthur lived at the French King’s court, and when he was sixteen years old, Philip helped him to raise an army and go to try his fortune against his uncle.  He laid siege to Mirabeau, a town where his grandmother, Queen Eleanor, was living.  John, who was then in Normandy, hurried to her rescue, beat Arthur’s army, made him prisoner and carried him off, first to Rouen, and then to the strong castle of Falaise.  Nobody quite knows what was done to him there.  The governor, Hubert de Burgh, once found him fighting hard, though with no weapon but a stool, to defend himself from some ruffians who had been sent to put out his eyes.  Hubert saved him from these men, but shortly after this good man was sent elsewhere by the king, and John came himself to Falaise.  Arthur was never seen alive again, and it is believed that John took him out in a boat in the river at night, stabbed him with his own hand, and threw his body into the river.  There was, any way, no doubt that John was guilty of his nephew’s death, and he was fully known to be one of the most selfish and cruel men who ever lived; and so lazy, that he let Philip take Normandy from him, without stirring a finger to save the grand old dukedom of his forefathers; so that nothing is left of it to us now but the four little islands, Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Sark.

Matters became much worse in England, when he quarreled with the Pope, whose name was Innocent, about who should be archbishop of Canterbury.  The Pope wanted a man named Stephen Langton to be archbishop, but the king swore he should never come into the kingdom.  Then the Pope punished the kingdom, by forbidding all church services in all parish churches.  The was termed putting the kingdom under an interdict.  John was not much distressed by this, though his people were; but when he found that Innocent was stirring up the King of France to come to attack him, he thought it time to make his peace with the Pope.  So he not only consented to receive Stephen Langton, but he even knelt down before the Pope’s legate, or messenger, and took off his crown, giving it up to the legate, in token that he only held the kingdom from the Pope.  It was two or three days before it was given back to him; and the Pope held himself to be lord of England, and made the king and people pay him money whenever he demanded it.

All this time John’s cruelty and savageness were making the whole kingdom miserable; and at last the great barons could bear it no longer.  They met together and agreed that they would make John swear to govern by the good old English laws that had prevailed before the Normans came.  The difficulty was to be sure of what these laws were, for most of the copies of them had been lost.  However, Archbishop Langton and some of the wisest of the barons put together a set of laws—­some copied, some recollected, some old, some new—­but all such as to give

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