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

Death of Edward II

After Bruce's victory at Bannockburn, Edward lavished all his favours upon two noblemen, the Despensers, father and son. The barons had no objection to the old man, but they soon became displeased with the younger, who was as insolent and worthless as Gaveston. So many lands and so much power were granted to the Despensers by the weak Edward, that the barons, led by Lancaster, again revolted. But, helped by the Despensers, Edward defied them, until, suddenly changing his mind, he yielded to them and banished his new favourites.

The Despensers were no sooner gone, however, than Edward planned to break his promises; and before long the two exiled noblemen were back at court, the most determined of the barons imprisoned, and Lancaster and twenty-eight other knights beheaded.

One of the captives, a baron named Mortimer, succeeded in escaping from the Tower in a daring way. After drugging his guards, he got out of his dungeon, and, finding his way into the kitchen, he climbed up its wide chimney. Once on the roof, he lowered himself by means of a rope ladder, and, gaining the river, embarked in a boat that was awaiting him. Protected by the darkness, Mortimer managed to board a vessel, which took him over to France. There he lived for some time, congratulating himself upon his escape from prison and death; for he had been sentenced a short time before his flight.

The King of France had repeatedly summoned Edward to come over and do homage to him for his French possessions; but Edward said he could not leave England, on account of his troubles with the barons. Instead he sent his wife Isabella and his eldest son to the French court, to present his excuses and make a treaty with the king.

Isabella, who was a Frenchwoman by birth, signed a treaty which gave all the advantage to the French. Besides that, she made the escaped prisoner Mortimer her favourite. In obedience to his suggestion, she even wrote to the king that she would not come back unless he sent the Despensers away. But as the king retained his favourites, she and Mortimer finally joined the angry barons in England, and entered London at the head of an army.

The Londoners warmly welcomed Isabella, but the king fled with his favourites. All the rebels he had sent to the Tower were released, and, joining the queen's army, besieged the city of Bristol. Here the elder Despenser had taken refuge, and when they took him, although he was a man of ninety years, they hanged him most cruelly and tore his dead body to pieces.

The younger Despenser fell into their hands soon after, and the barons avenged themselves for all the harm he had done them by crowning him with nettles and hanging him on a gallows fifty feet high.

Edward, deprived of his dearest friends, now wandered about from place to place, and finally surrendered to his enemies. They took him to Kenilworth, where they kept him a prisoner, while the queen called Parliament and proposed that he should give up his crown to his son. The barons welcomed this proposal, and forced poor King Edward to sign his abdication. The next day, Edward, the second Prince of Wales, began his reign as Edward III.

Edward of Carnarvon, who had reigned nineteen and a half years, was kept a prisoner and treated very unkindly by the barons, although his jailers pitied him. Taken from castle to castle, and deprived of all comforts, the king was once forced, we are told, to make his toilet out in the open fields. When the men brought him dirty water from a neighbouring ditch to shave with, the tears poured down his cheeks.

"See," he cried, "nature supplies the clean warm water which you would fain deny your captive king!"

After many wanderings, Edward was cruelly murdered in Berkeley Castle, by Mortimer's and Isabella's orders.