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

Death of William

King William was not a happy man, in spite of all his conquests. His three sons gave him much trouble, and once, when the two younger lads playfully threw some water upon their elder brother as he was passing under their window, a terrible quarrel broke out.

Robert, the elder, declared that his brothers had insulted him, and wanted to kill them both in his rage. When his father reproved him, Robert said he would not stay in England, and asked to be allowed to return to Normandy and govern this province, which his father had once promised him. William refused to grant this request, so Robert fled to Normandy, where, joining some discontented noblemen, he declared war against his father.

Forced to bear arms against his son, William crossed the Channel with an army, and after several years' warfare father and son met face to face in battle. As William's visor (the steel grating which protected a warrior's face) was down, Robert did not recognize his father until he had knocked him off his horse and was about to kill him.

Full of remorse, Robert begged William's pardon, helped him to rise, and offered him his own horse. But William was too angry just then to forgive him, and, vaulting upon the steed, he rode testily away. It was only some time after, and owing to the queen's entreaties, that father and son became friends once more. Shortly after this, good Queen Matilda, a descendant of Alfred the Great, died, and was sorely missed.

The rest of William's life was spent in warfare, and his last campaign was in France, where he went to subdue a revolt of the Normans, whom the French had induced to rebel. The Conqueror was old, stout, and in poor health; but when he heard that the King of France was making fun of him because he was fat, he vowed revenge.

He therefore attacked Mantes, a small town, where, after killing most of the inhabitants, he had the houses set afire. As he was riding through the place on the next day, his horse stepped on some hot ashes, and, rearing and plunging wildly, flung the king heavily against the pommel of his saddle.

The blow was so violent that William was mortally injured. His men carried him off to a neighbouring village, where he gave his last orders. He said that his son Robert should have Normandy; his namesake, William, England; and his youngest son, Henry, a large sum of money.

The three young princes were so anxious to take possession of their inheritance that they all rushed away without waiting until their father had breathed his last. The king's servants followed their example and fled also, carrying off everything they could lay hands upon. Even the sheets of the bed upon which William lay were snatched away from him, and the thief escaped, leaving the king's body on the ground, where it had rolled.

Some monks found the dead monarch lying on the floor, all alone, and charitably prepared to bury him. But when they had dug a grave for him in a church William had founded, a man stepped forward and said that the ground was his. The king, he declared, had never paid him for it, so his body should not be buried there.

The priests bought the soil; but the grave proved too small to hold so large a corpse, and the priests had to force it into the hole, while the few spectators fled in horror. The king, who had won a large part of France and all England by his sword, was thus buried like a criminal; and as he had shown no mercy to any one, no tears were shed over his grave.