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 Faithful Minstrel

While Richard was busy fighting in Palestine, things were going on very badly at home. The offices, which he had sold to the highest bidders, were filled by men who thought only of growing rich, so law and order were very poorly maintained. Prince John, Richard's brother, who was surnamed Lackland because his father had left him no territory, was a very mean man, and he helped to make matters worse.

When Philip reached France, he became friendly with John, and proposed that they should invade Normandy together and take possession of King Richard's lands. John was quite ready to help him, but the French barons all refused to fight for Philip, because he had promised Richard not to act as he was doing.

Rumours of the troubles in England, and of the bad designs of Philip and John, came at last to the ears of Richard, who decided that it was useless to remain much longer in Palestine, and that he had better go home and take care of his people. He therefore staid only long enough to deliver the Christians whom Saladin was besieging at Joppa. Then, having again defeated his brave rival, he signed a truce with him, which was to last three years, three months, three weeks, three days, and three hours.

In spite of the bad season, Richard next embarked upon a vessel to return home. But the winds were against him, and after tossing about on the waves for many days, he was shipwrecked in the Adriatic Sea, and with much trouble managed to reach land.

Left thus without means and without followers, far away from home, Richard made up his mind to walk all the way across the Continent. As he had to pass through the lands of his enemy, the Duke of Austria, he put on a pilgrim's dress, hoping that no one would recognize him, and that he could thus cross the country in safety.

One day, in an Austrian village inn, one of Leopold's men recognized Richard by a ring he had always worn. This man told his master, who had the pilgrim seized and thrust into a prison, where he kept him for many months. Then Leopold sold his royal prisoner to the Emperor of Germany, who kept him in another dungeon.

The rumour that Richard was a prisoner spread all over Europe; but while John and Philip rejoiced, and planned how to divide his lands, some of Richard's friends grieved sorely. His favourite minstrel, a youth named Blondel, anxious to find him, set out alone and on foot, and wandered all through Germany, it is said, singing as he went to earn his daily bread. Whenever he came to a castle, Blondel inquired what prisoners were kept there. Months had gone by in vain and weary search, when the minstrel came at last to Richard's prison.

He had no idea his quest was ended, and, sitting down under the castle walls, he sadly played a tune which was known only to him and to his master, and sang the first verse of the song. You can imagine his surprise and delight when he heard Richard's familiar voice floating out through the grated window, singing the second verse.

Richard was found. The poor minstrel, who could not free his master alone, now hastened back to England. Here Eleanor, helped by some of the English, made arrangements to have the king set free, and collected the large sum of money which the Emperor of Germany demanded for a ransom.

As the whole sum could not be sent at once, some German noblemen accompanied Richard to receive it; and when they saw the city of London, and the delight of the English at recovering their king, they cried: "If our emperor had known the riches of England, your ransom, O king, would have been much greater."