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 Elizabethan Age

Sir Walter Raleigh was one of the men who distinguished themselves in the fight with the Armada. He was very clever; and after studying at Oxford, he fought for the Protestants in the Netherlands and in France.

Raleigh was fond of fine clothes and anxious to win the favour of the queen. So one day he dressed up in his best garments, and, placing himself in the queen's path, watched for her coming. Suddenly he saw her appear with her court, and pause in dismay at a muddy spot in the road. Rushing forward, the quick-witted Raleigh pulled off his elegant cloak and carefully spread it over the mire, thus allowing the queen to proceed without soiling her dainty shoes. This courtesy so pleased Elizabeth that she took Raleigh into favour, and soon after granted him an extensive tract of land in North America, which he called Virginia in honour of her, the Virgin Queen.

Another man highly esteemed by Elizabeth—Spenser, the author of a poem called the "Faerie Queene"—was introduced to her by Raleigh. But one of her principal courtiers was Sir Philip Sidney, who is noted for his goodness, his great talents as a writer, his beautiful manners, and especially for his truthfulness and generosity.

Shakespeare at Court of Elizabeth.


Sidney was also a brave general, and when he fell, mortally wounded, at the battle of Zutphen, in Holland, his followers were in despair. One of them succeeded with great difficulty in bringing him a little water to drink. But Sir Philip, although he was longing for it, kindly gave it to a wounded soldier lying near him, saying, "Take it, friend; thy necessity is greater than mine." A few minutes later Sidney was dead. While he is honoured for his talents and courage, every one must feel that this unselfish action just before he died is the greatest of his deeds.

Raleigh, Spenser, and Sidney were not the only men of letters, nor the greatest writers, of what is known as the Elizabethan Age. There were many other poets and prose writers whose works will some day interest you; but the greatest of them all was William Shakespeare.

This famous writer of plays came to London a poor young man, took a place as actor in a theatre, and often played before the queen. He soon discovered that he could also write plays, and he produced such fine tragedies and comedies that no other poet has ever been able to equal them, and they are now read and viewed with even more delight than in the days when he took part in them himself.

Besides the plays of Shakespeare and of the other writers of his time, Elizabeth delighted in pageants, or outdoor plays, and whenever she went to visit the great lords of her realm, they used to entertain her with such shows.

Ruins of Kenilworth Castle.


We are told that Elizabeth was very fond of making what was then called a "progress "through some part of her kingdom. On these state occasions she wore her richest garments and jewels, was carried in her litter by the noblest of her courtiers, attended by countless knights and ladies, and welcomed everywhere with music, fire-works, and festivities of all kinds.

One of the grandest of her progresses was made to the Castle of Kenilworth, where she went to visit her favourite Leicester, and where he spent a fortune to please her. All this display was very agreeable to Elizabeth, who insisted upon seeing every one well dressed. She herself wore the most gorgeous apparel, but as she was afraid lest some one else should look better in one of her dresses than she, all her garments were carefully put away, and when she died three thousand discarded gowns were found hanging in her wardrobes.