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

A Grasping King

Henry VII., as you have seen, was rather a clever ruler, but he was so fond of money that he did many wrong things to secure it. For instance, he said that when people were not satisfied with the decision of the ordinary judges, they could come before a special court, held at Westminster, in a room where the ceiling was painted blue and decorated with gold stars. This tribunal was hence called the Star Chamber; and as people could sometimes bribe the judges, and thus get the verdict they wanted, it came to be regarded as a very disgraceful institution.

Two lawyers, Empson and Dudley, helped the king to get a great deal of money, and they made use of such dishonest means that their names are still used to designate bad men. Thus, by heavy taxes, and by asking for gifts from rich and poor, Henry contrived to save several millions, besides building for his own tomb the chapel which still bears his name in Westminster Abbey.

During his reign many great discoveries were made. Christopher Columbus, sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, opened the way for new and profitable trading. Henry VII., wishing to enrich himself, built a large ship, the Great Harry, and he too sent out expeditions. One of his captains was Cabot, who discovered Newfoundland and the coast of the North American continent.

Henry VII. also tried to increase the wealth of his family by having his eldest son, Prince Arthur, marry Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. But soon after the marriage Prince Arthur died. Rather than give up the dowry of the princess, Henry VII. now engaged her to his second son, Henry, although the latter was several years younger than his future wife.

Before dying, this money-saving king bargained that two thousand masses should be said for the rest of his soul, but should cost only sixpence apiece. Henry VII. was buried in Westminster Abbey, and his tomb is an example of a new style of building, first seen in his reign, and generally called the Tudor architecture.

Henry VII. was so severe, miserly, and unjust that his subjects gladly welcomed his successor, Henry VIII. The new king was eighteen, and as he was handsome, affable, well educated, and clever, many fancied he would make a very good ruler. But, as you will soon see, Henry was violent-tempered, wilful, conceited, and so fond of display that he soon spent all the money his father had saved.

In the very beginning of his reign he had his father's two wicked lawyers tried and sentenced to death, to show the people that he did not approve of their conduct. Then he pleased the people by marrying Catherine of Aragon, to whom he had been betrothed, by giving magnificent coronation festivals, and by holding gay tournaments in which he delighted in taking part himself.

He was so anxious to show what a great warrior he was, that although England was then at peace with France and Scotland, he stirred up war with them both. Then, crossing over to France, he easily routed the French at Guinegate, for their cavalry fled at the approach of the English. Because the enemy made more use of their spurs than of their swords, this encounter is known in history as the "Battle of the Spurs."

While Henry was winning this mock battle in France, his general, Lord Surrey, won a grand victory over the Scotch at Flodden Field, where the beloved Scotch king James IV. fell, with ten thousand of his brave subjects.

These two battles ended the war, and peace was made with France, the king giving his own sister in marriage to the French monarch. But Louis XII. of France died soon after this wedding, so his widow was married to one of the king's friends.