This is the first of three volumes of Church's Stories from English History series. It covers 50 B.C. to 1360 A.D. and includes stories of Caesar and Boadicea, the coming of the Saxons, Alfred the Great, Canute, Harold, William the Conqueror and the Norman Conquest, Henry II and Thomas a Becket, Richard I the Crusader, the Magna Carta, Bannockburn, the battles of Crecy, Calias, Poitiers and others.
EDWARD THE CONFESSOR'S CHAPEL, WESTMINSTER ABBEY.
There are a few matters in these "Stories" which seem to call for brief explanations.
I have put hte story of the Roman conquest of Britain into the form of a dialogue, because I wished to give what we may suppose to have been the British way of looking at this event.
The legends of Vortigern and Arthur are supposed to be told by a bard. They are not historical, but have, it is probable, some historical foundation. Of course they could not have been omitted altogether.
It was equally impossible to omit the various picturesque anecdotes which occur from time to time in the story of England. At the same time, it would have been out of place in such a a book as this to discuss their genuinenesss. The authority for them is of a degree which varies greatly. Curiously enough, one of the best authenticated, the story of Canute and his followers, is one of the least probable. The courtiers whom the King rebukes are of an Oriental type, not in the least like the sturdy Danes or Englishmen with whom he had to do. Another, the well-known anecdote of the intercession of Queen Philippa for the citizens of Calais, comes to us on good authority, for it is told in detail by Froissart, who was ten years old when it happened, and who may very well have heard it from the Queen herself, to whose service he was attached for a considerable time. Yet reasons apparently cogent have been given for doubting its truth. Sometimes I have taken occasion to tell these stories with a certain reserve. I wish to make special acknowledgements of obligation to Professor Freeman's Norman Conquest (Macmillan), to the Dictionary of English History (Cassell & Co.), and to the series of English History from Contemporary Writers (D. Nutt).
The illustrations are reproductions of ancient sculptures and illuminations from engravings in Montfaucon's L'Antiquité Illustrée, and Strutt's Antiquities.
Ashley Rectory, Tetbury. Aug. 7, 1894