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

Richard's Presence of Mind

The greater part of the mob believed Richard and went out of the city to wait for him. True to his promise, Richard rode out the next day, and after listening to their grievances he promised that the tax should be removed, and that all serfs should be freed from their masters. Then he dismissed them, asking them to leave two men from each village, so he could give them his written promise.

The mob was quite satisfied, and disbanded, while the young king set thirty clerks to writing the promised papers. But while Richard was busy thus, Wat Tyler, Jack Straw, and a few others, thinking he meant to deceive them, forced their way into the Tower to find him. Their search proved vain, and in their anger they killed the Archbishop of Canterbury and several other persons.

The next day, as Richard was riding through Smithfield with the Mayor of London and sixty attendants, he met this division of the mob. Tyler now stepped forward to speak to the king. In his excitement he used a loud and threatening tone, and, laying his hand upon his sword, half drew it from the scabbard.

The mayor, fancying that Wat Tyler was about to strike the king, felled him to the ground with one blow. When the mob saw their leader fall, they advanced with angry cries; but Richard rode boldly forward, saying, "My friends, be not concerned for the loss of your unworthy leader. I, your king, will be your leader!"

Then, turning, he rode ahead, they blindly following him. His escort, in the meantime, had dashed off into the city in search of help, and soon came to rescue him with thousands of brave men. When the mob saw these soldiers coming, they fell on their knees, begging for mercy, and they scattered thankfully when the king assured them of his forgiveness and bade them go home.

The heads of Wat Tyler and a few of the men who had taken part in the murder of the archbishop were exposed on London Bridge, and the rebellion, which is generally known as the Peasants' Revolt, was ended. But, unhappily, most of Richard's promises were set aside by Parliament, and although the poll tax was stopped, the other grievances went on as before.

You see that Richard was fearless and generous at first. In spite of these qualities, he made a very poor king. This was principally owing to the bad bringing up he received. His uncles were proud of ruling, and, hoping to retain the power, they did not let him learn anything useful, but kept him amused by surrounding him with worthless flatterers and vain shows. They found him a wife when he was little more than a boy, but she was fortunately so gentle and lovable that she was called good Queen Anne.

Richard's uncles, in the meantime, were having much trouble with Rome because the pope did not like the teachings of Wyclif, a man whom the queen and the Duke of Lancaster greatly admired. Wyclif declared that many of the priests had grown rich and lazy, and that they took no pains to teach and help the poor. He therefore translated the Bible into English, so that the unlearned could read it as well as the learned. Then he preached so eloquently to his Oxford students that many of them travelled all through England and Europe, preaching the gospel.

The wandering teachers often sang hymns, so the people called them the singers, or Lollards, a name which was soon given to all those whose teachings were different from those of the Roman Catholic Church. The pope thought Wyclif was very wrong, and therefore forced him to go away from Oxford and to withdraw to a little village called Lutterworth. But although Wyclif could no longer teach at Oxford, he had already sown the seed of the Protestant religion, so he is called "the Morning Star of the Reformation." He died at Lutterworth, in his little church; and thirty years after his death he had won many converts. The Catholics considered his teachings so wrong that they had his bones taken out of their grave and burned. His ashes were cast into a brook, which carried them into a river, and finally into the ocean. But Wyclif's ashes were not scattered any farther than his writings and teachings, for, as you know, there are now Protestants in all parts of the world.