Front Matter 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

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The Murder of Arthur

Richard the Lion-hearted, having no children, said that John should succeed him, although the crown belonged by right to his little nephew Arthur, the son of Geoffrey. A monarch not old enough to reign alone seemed very undesirable, so the English were at first very much pleased that John Lackland should have the crown. They soon found out, however, that he was cruel and miserly, and, worse than all the rest, very untruthful. He had been a bad son and a bad brother, and now he was going to prove also a bad king.

Philip of France, hearing that the people in Brittany were anxious to place Prince Arthur upon the English throne, soon excited them to declare war against John Lackland. But he did not give them so much help as they expected, and the result was that John defeated them and put his nephew in prison in Rouen.

Young Arthur now languished in a gloomy dungeon, very near the river, closely guarded night and day lest he should escape. But he was so good and gentle that even the grim jailers grew fond of him, and so John, fearing that Arthur might yet get free and take the crown, determined to rid himself of the young prince. No one knows exactly how he did this, but there are awful stories told. Some writers say that little Arthur's eyes were put out with red-hot irons, in spite of his pitiful entreaties to be spared. Others aver that the jailers killed him by John's command. But it is generally believed that, cruel as they were, the jailers refused to harm the gentle child, and that John had to commit the murder himself. It is said that he came to the prison one night, led the child down to a waiting boat, pushed off into mid-stream, and there drowned the unhappy little prince.

When it became known that Arthur was dead, either by his uncle's hand or by his order, the people of Brittany clamoured to have John punished, and called upon the French king for aid. This monarch then said that as John owned provinces in France for which he was obliged to do homage as vassal to the French crown, he should appear before twelve other lords, his peers, and justify himself, or lose his lands in France.

John must have had an uneasy conscience, for he did not present himself before his peers. So the French king invaded Normandy, which became his property after belonging to Norman dukes for nearly three hundred years. John's other French provinces were also taken from him, and he soon had nothing left in France except Guienne.

Besides the troubles in France, John had worries at home; for when the Archbishop of Canterbury died, the monks and the pope selected one man, and John another, to occupy this position. The result was a religious quarrel, in which the pope showed his displeasure by putting John's kingdom under an interdict. That is to say, the churches were closed, no services were held, no bells rung, no baptisms, weddings, or funerals allowed, and all the people were under a ban. Four years later, seeing that John still refused to obey him, the pope declared that he should no longer be King of England, and bade Philip of France invade and take possession of the country.