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 Royal Oak

A few days after the execution of Charles I., Parliament said that as there was no king in England, there should be no nobility, and therefore no House of Lords. England was now a republic instead of a monarchy, and the new seal of the state, or Commonwealth of England, bore the inscription: "The first year of freedom, by God's blessing restored, 1648."

But while all the Puritan party said the monarchy was at an end, the Royalist party claimed that since Charles I. was dead, his son Charles II. was King of England. The Scotch Parliament, which had had no share in the king's execution, promised to be true to Charles II. if he would only swear to respect their Covenant.

In Ireland, also, all the Catholics were in favour of Charles. They rebelled against the Commonwealth, but Cromwell immediately set out to subdue them. He carried on the war with such cruelty, sparing neither man, woman, nor child, that the mere name of Englishman became a terror to the Irish.

While Cromwell was thus busy in Ireland, Charles II. had come over to Scotland, where the people rose up to help him recover his throne. Cromwell, hearing of this, left his chief officer, Ireton, in Ireland. Then, crossing the Irish Sea, he marched over the border, defeated the Scotch troops at Dunbar, and moved on to Edinburgh.

The Royalists, taking advantage of this, boldly invaded England, where they expected that many people would join them. But Cromwell, marching rapidly southward again, surprised their army at Worcester. The Cavaliers were routed, and King Charles sought safety in flight. He was in great danger, for Cromwell's soldiers were scattered all over the country, looking for him. Charles's few followers soon saw that their only chance of safety lay in separating and escaping in disguise.

The young king, therefore, went to the house of a farmer named Penderell, at Boscobel, and, telling the man who he was, begged his help. Although this farmer knew that he was risking his life in befriending the king, he gave Charles a suit of his own clothes and cut off his long hair. Then, hearing that search parties were in the neighbourhood, he led the king through a forest to a field in the midst of which grew a very bushy oak tree.

Penderell helped Charles to climb up and hide in the branches of the oak. Here they staid all day, the weary king resting against the farmer, who, seeing his royal charge had fallen asleep, held him tight lest he should fall. While they were thus concealed in the Royal Oak, a party of soldiers rode directly under the tree, talking of Charles and of the reward they soon hoped to win.

During the next six weeks Charles wandered about from place to place, in different disguises, trying to reach the seashore and find a boat in which to escape to France. All through those weary weeks the royal fugitive was helped first by one person and then by another.

We are told that more than forty persons, and most of them very poor, knew who he was and helped him, although they ran great risks and could have earned a large reward by betraying him. After much tramping and many adventures, Charles came to the house of a Royalist named Lane. Here he assumed the livery of a servant, and soon rode away as the attendant of Miss Lane, who had a permit to journey to Leith with her servant.

In this disguise Charles passed right through the Parliamentary troops, and came to an inn, where the hostler recognized but did not denounce him. In another inn, the king roused the cook's suspicions because he did not know how to turn the meat to roast it properly; but he disarmed this man's anger by saying they were too poor at his house to have any roast meat.

A landlord once recognized him, and begged that he and his wife might receive the titles of lord and lady as soon as the king came to the throne. Thus wandering from place to place, Charles finally reached Shoreham, where, embarking upon a little vessel, he bribed the captain to take him over to France.