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 Insolent Favourite

Edward II. of Carnarvon brought many misfortunes upon himself and upon all his people by his weak character. He began his reign by breaking the promises he had made to his father. Instead of going on to Scotland, he journeyed back to London and buried the body of Edward I. in Westminster Abbey.

Even as a very young man, Edward had allowed himself to he governed by one of his attendants named Piers Gaveston. This young man was handsome and clever, but not at all good or truthful. To get presents, he flattered the prince incessantly, and used to amuse him by making fun of all the greatest men in the kingdom.

When Edward I. perceived what a bad influence Gaveston had over his son, he sent this idle favourite out of the country, and, before dying, begged the prince never to recall him. As Edward II. had already broken two promises, he soon failed to keep the third, and Gaveston was not only invited back to court, but was loaded with honours and made principal adviser of the king.

Now if Gaveston had tried to influence the king for good, and had been modest and polite to the nobles, he might have remained in this position for a long time; but he was insolent, and greedy for money and honours, and he induced the king to treat the barons so badly that they al began to hate him with all their might.

Their dismay was great, therefore, when the king named his favourite Regent of England while he went over to France to marry Isabella, a daughter of the French monarch. Yet even the pretty young bride could not comfort Edward for his favorite's absence, so he hastened back to England. At the coronation feast, which followed his return, he bestowed new honours upon Gaveston, and this so exasperated both queen and barons that they threatened to rebel unless the king sent his friend away.

To make sure that Gaveston should never come back, the nobles made Edward and his favourite swear they would never see each other again; but the pope having consented to absolve them both from this oath, Edward soon recalled Gaveston, who re-entered England only to show himself more worthless than ever.

As the king kept supplying his extravagant favourite with money, his funds soon gave out. He therefore called a Parliament at York; but the members declared they would not give him any more money so long as Gaveston was in England. The king in anger dissolved the Parliament, and called another at Westminster. As he had in the meantime sent his favourite abroad, this Parliament gave him funds, after making him promise to call a Parliament at least once a year.

Edward II. and Piers Gaveston.


The barons, who had come to Westminster determined to wrest this and sundry other promises from their monarch, looked so fierce that he did not dare to refuse. He therefore sent orders to Gaveston not to come back, and set out for Scotland, where his presence was needed. But even before he reached the border, his longing for Gaveston made him again break his word and recall his favourite for the third time.

This breach of faith roused the barons to action. Seeing that their king would be the tool of this bad man as long as the latter lived, they captured Gaveston, who was soon after executed at Warwick Castle, by order of the king's cousin, the Earl of Lancaster. Edward was so furious with the barons for putting his favourite to death that he wanted to make war against them; but trouble in Scotland soon forced him not only to make peace with the nobles, but to implore them to help him.