Our Island Story - H. E. Marshall


When King John died, the anger of the barons died too, and, although he was only nine years old, they chose his son Henry to be their King. 'His father was wicked,' said the barons, 'but the prince has done us no wrong. Why should we be angry with him?' So they crowned Henry, and told Louis to return to his own country.

But Louis was angry that, having been brought from France and promised the crown of England, he should be told to go away again. He would not go. So there was fighting once more.

Louis sent to France for men, and a great fleet of ships, filled with soldiers, came sailing to England.

Long ago, you remember, Alfred the Great had seen how much better it would be to stop the Danes from landing at all, and he built ships and fought them at sea.

Now a brave man called Hubert de Burgh saw the same thing. When he heard that more Frenchmen were coming, he said, 'We will never let them land. We will fight and conquer them at sea.' So under his command a brave little English fleet sailed out from Dover to meet the great French fleet.

And the English conquered the French, as Hubert had said they would. The wind was blowing from the English to the French, and the English threw quicklime in the air, which was blown into the eyes of the French and blinded them. The English archers then poured arrows among them while their quick little ships crashed with their pointed prows against the great French vessels, piercing holes in their sides until the water rushed in and they sank. The English were altogether so quick and fearless that the French were no match for them, and their fleet was utterly destroyed.

On land, too, the English beat the French, and Louis, seeing that his cause was lost, went back to France.

Henry III. was too young to rule, so Hubert de Burgh was made Regent. He was a good Regent, but his work was hard, for, after the wickedness and misrule of John, the kingdom was in a bad state.

But in spite of his good and wise teacher Henry grew up to be neither good nor wise. Listening to the advice of evil friends, he treated Hubert very badly and at last obliged him to fly for his life.

One night while Hubert was sleeping quietly, he was suddenly awakened by a friend. 'Fly, my Lord Hubert,' he cried, 'stay not a moment. The King has sent his soldiers to take you. I have ridden hard, but they are close behind me. You have not a moment to lose.'

Hubert got out of bed and, not even waiting to dress, fled with bare feet and only a cloak round him to the nearest church. There, with his hand upon the cross, he waited in the dark and cold.

Hubert fled to a church for sanctuary or safety. When any one was hunted by his enemies, if he ran into a church, reached the altar steps and laid hold upon the cross, no one dared to hurt him. This was called 'taking sanctuary.'

It was considered a dreadful and wicked thing to kill any one in sanctuary. Yet, you remember, the knights killed Thomas à Becket on the steps of the altar in Canterbury Cathedral.

Hubert waited in the cold and silent church until, with the first grey streaks of dawn and the first early twitter of the birds, he heard the distant tramp of feet and the clatter of swords and armour. Nearer and nearer came the sounds till at last a knight, followed by three hundred armed men, dashed into the church.

'Hubert de Burgh,' said the knight, 'In the King's name I command you to leave this holy place. Give yourself into my hands, that I may take you before the King to answer for your misdeeds as a rebel and traitor.'

'Nay,' replied Hubert, 'to my King have I ever been true, but he has listened to false friends who would take my life. Here have I sought God's safety. Here will I remain.'

'That shalt thou not do,' cried the knight, fiercely. 'On, men, and seize him!'

Then the armed men rushed forward, forced Hubert from the altar, and carried him out of the church.

'He is indeed a mighty man and strong,' said the knight, when he saw how Hubert struggled. 'He must be fettered, or we shall never carry our prize to London.'

Near the church stood a smith's forge, and the smith, who had been already aroused by the noise, was ordered to light his fire and make fetters for the prisoner.

Soon the red fire glowed in the grey morning light, and the ring of hammer and anvil was heard.

'For whom do I made these fetters?' asked the smith, as he paused in his work.

'For the traitor and rebel, Hubert de Burgh,' replied the knight.

'What!' cried the smith, throwing down his hammer, 'for Hubert de Burgh. That will I never do. Hubert de Burgh is no rebel. He saved us from the French, he gave us safety and peace. Some one else may do your evil deeds. No iron of mine shall ever fetter such noble hands.'

'Fool!' cried the knight, drawing his sword, 'do as I command you or die.'

'I can die,' replied the smith calmly. 'Yes, kill me, do with me what you like; I will never make fetters for Hubert de Burgh.'

When the smith spoke like this, the knight began to feel rather ashamed, but he would not let Hubert go, both because he hated Hubert, and because he feared the King. So he and his followers bound Hubert with a rope, set him upon a horse, and took him to the Tower of London.

When the Bishop of London heard what had happened, he was very angry. Being a brave man he went straight to the King.

'My liege,' he said to him, 'have you heard how your soldiers have broken the peace of holy Church and have dragged Hubert de Burgh from sanctuary, casting him into prison?'

'I know that the rebel and traitor, Hubert de Burgh, is now in prison,' replied Henry.

'Hubert de Burgh is no rebel,' said the bishop, 'and if he were, the soldiers have still no right to drag him from the safety of the Church. Let him go back, or I shall excommunicate every man who has had to do with it.'

Very unwillingly the King allowed Hubert to go back to his place of safety. But he sent soldiers to dig a trench round the church and round the bishop's house which was close to it. There the soldiers watched day and night so that Hubert might not escape, and so that no food might be taken in to him.

But in spite of the strict watch kept by the soldiers, Hubert's friends found means to send him food, and for many days he lived in the church. Then still closer watch was kept and, at last, thinking it a disgrace to die of hunger, Hubert left the church of his own accord, and gave himself up to the King's soldiers, who at once carried him off to the Tower of London.

There he was kept for some time, but at last Henry, who was not really cruel, although he was weak and foolish, set him free. After that, Hubert lived quietly in his own home, and took no more part in the ruling of the kingdom.


Front Matter

Albion and Brutus
The Coming of the Romans
The Romans Come Again
Caligula Conquers Britain
The Story of Boadicea
The Last of the Romans
The Story of St. Alban
Vortigern and King Constans
Hengist and Horsa
Hengist's Treachery
The Giant's Dance
The Coming of Arthur
Founding of the Round Table
Gregory and the Children
King Alfred Learns to Read
Alfred and the Cowherd
More About Alfred the Great
Ethelred the Unready
Edmund Ironside
Canute and the Waves
Edward the Confessor
Harold Godwin
The Battle of Stamford Bridge
The Battle of Hastings
Hereward the Wake
Death of the King
The Story of William the Red
The Story of the "White Ship"
The Story of King Stephen
Henry II—Gilbert and Rohesia
Thomas a Becket
The Conquest of Ireland
Richard Coeur de Lion
How Blondel Found the King
The Story of Prince Arthur
The Great Charter
Henry III and Hubert de Burgh
Simon de Montfort
The Poisoned Dagger
The War of Chalons
The Lawgiver
The Hammer of the Scots
King Robert the Bruce
The Battle of Bannockburn
The Battle of Sluys
The Battle of Crecy
The Siege of Calais
The Battle of Poitiers
Wat Tyler's Rebellion
How Richard Lost His Throne
The Battle of Shrewsbury
Prince Hal Sent to Prison
The Battle of Agincourt
The Maid of Orleans
Red Rose and White
Margaret and the Robbers
The Story of the Kingmaker
A King Who Wasn't Crowned
Two Princes in the Tower
The Make-Believe Prince
Another Make-Believe Prince
The Field of the Cloth of Gold
Defender of the Faith
The Six Wives of Henry VIII
The Story of a Boy King
The Story of Lady Jane Grey
Elizabeth a Prisoner
A Candle Lit in England
Elizabeth Becomes Queen
A Most Unhappy Queen
Saved from the Spaniards
Sir Walter Raleigh
The Queen's Favourite
The Story of Guy Fawkes
The Story of the Mayflower
A Blow for Freedom
King and Parliament Quarrel
The King Brought to Death
The Adventures of a Prince
The Lord Protector
How Death Plagued London
How London was Burned
The Fiery Cross
The Story of King Monmouth
The Story of the Seven Bishops
William the Deliverer
William III and Mary II
A Sad Day in a Highland Glen
How the Union Jack was Made
Earl of Mar's Hunting Party
Bonnie Prince Charlie
Flora MacDonald
The Black Hole of Calcutta
How Canada Was Won
How America Was Lost
A Story of a Spinning Wheel
Every Man Will Do His Duty
The Battle of Waterloo
The First Gentleman in Europe
Two Peaceful Victories
The Girl Queen
When Bread was Dear
Victorian Age: Peace
Victorian Age: War
The Land of Snow
The Siege of Delhi
The Pipes at Lucknow
Under the Southern Cross
From Cannibal to Christian
Boer and Briton
List of Kings