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 Brothers' Quarrels

William II., or Rufus, so called on account of his red hair, hastened over to England and took possession of the treasure and of the principal royal castles. Then he was crowned king in Westminster Abbey, by Lanfranc, the good Archbishop of Canterbury.

As long as Lanfranc lived, William Rufus did not dare show how cruel, selfish, and grasping he really was. But when Lanfranc died, people began to see the king in his true colours. To get money was the new ruler's principal aim; so he forced the people to pay heavy taxes, and made the churches and monasteries give him large sums.

The Anglo-Norman barons (those followers of William who had settled in England, married English wives, and had thus become Englishmen) did not want William Rufus to be their king. But William made such fine promises to the Saxons that they helped him against the barons, and thus enabled him to keep possession of the throne.

This was not the only war which William Rufus had to fight, for we are told that he and Robert attacked their brother Henry. They wanted to force him to give up some land which he had purchased from Robert. Of course this was very unjust and unbrotherly behaviour; but the war went on until at last Henry was besieged in the fortress on Mont St. Michel.

This castle stands on a huge rock near the French coast, and while it is connected with the mainland by a causeway at low tide, it is entirely surrounded by water the remainder of the time. On the narrow strip of beach at the foot of the castle, William was once thrown from his horse in the midst of the fight. He would have been killed had he not cried out, "Hold! I am the King of England." A soldier who was about to kill him helped him to rise, and in reward William Rufus took the man into his service.

The brothers now learned that Henry and his men had nothing to drink. Although Robert was not much better than William, he immediately sent Henry water for his men and wine for his own use. This generosity made William angry, but Robert hotly answered: "What! shall I suffer my brother to die of thirst? Where shall we find another when he is gone?"

Henry now had plenty to drink, but he could not hold out much longer; and after surrendering he left the country, with only a few followers.

In those days it was considered an act of great piety to journey on foot to Jerusalem, to visit the tomb of our Lord. When the Romans ceased to be masters in the East, the Saracens took possession of the Holy Land. They freely allowed pilgrims to come and go; but when the Turks took Jerusalem, in Io65, matters changed.

The pilgrims, who were often called palmers, because they brought home palms as relics, were now very harshly treated. One of them, a monk named Peter the Hermit, was so indignant at the cruelty of the Turks that, as soon as he came back to Europe, he won the pope's permission to preach a holy war against them.

He visited different parts of Europe, preaching so eloquently that most of his hearers vowed they would go and fight the Turks. Every one who promised to do this wore a cross on his shoulder; and because crux is the Latin word for cross, these men were called crusaders, and their wars, crusades.

Peter the Hermit was so earnest that many noblemen joined the first crusade; among others, Robert of Normandy, who promised to set out with an army. Now you know it is far from Normandy to Jerusalem, so before Robert could undertake this journey, he had to raise money to pay his travelling expenses.

When William II. heard this, he offered to lend his brother quite a large sum, on condition that Robert should promise to give up Normandy if he could not pay back the money at the end of five years. Robert consented, and set out; but as soon as he was gone William vowed that he knew his brother would never pay back the borrowed money, and that Normandy was already his. He therefore started out to take possession of his new lands, and was in such a hurry to get there that he haughtily cried, when the pilot objected that the sea was rough: "Sail on instantly; kings are never drowned!"

Because William thus took possession of his brother's lands, he was forced to make several wars. He was also called upon to resist the Norwegians, who made a last but unsuccessful attempt to get possession of England. William was still busy scheming how he could get more land and money, when his life came to a sudden end, after he had reigned thirteen years.

It seems that while he was waiting for a favorable wind to carry him over to Normandy, he went out to hunt in the New Forest. He gave Sir Walter Tyrrel, one of his followers, two new arrows, and rode out with him and many others. In the course of the hunt, the king and Tyrrel, pursuing a deer, were separated from the rest of the party. According to some accounts, Tyrrel drew his bow to kill a stag, and his arrow, glancing aside after touching an oak tree, struck the king and killed him instantly. Tyrrel, dreading an accusation of wilful murder, rode to the sea, embarked on the first vessel he found, and joined the crusade, hoping thus to win forgiveness for his involuntary sin. Other accounts say that Tyrrel had nothing to do with the king's death, but a few declare that he was a real murderer.

The body was found by a charcoal burner, who carried it to Winchester in his cart. There William II. was buried with very little ado, for no one really regretted him.