Meet us on:
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
    More: War quotes

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Ch. 22 - Henry the Sixth

    • Rate it:
    • Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 13 ratings
    • 26 Favorites on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 22
    Previous Chapter

    IT had been the wish of the late King, that while his infant son
    KING HENRY THE SIXTH, at this time only nine months old, was under
    age, the Duke of Gloucester should be appointed Regent. The
    English Parliament, however, preferred to appoint a Council of
    Regency, with the Duke of Bedford at its head: to be represented,
    in his absence only, by the Duke of Gloucester. The Parliament
    would seem to have been wise in this, for Gloucester soon showed
    himself to be ambitious and troublesome, and, in the gratification
    of his own personal schemes, gave dangerous offence to the Duke of
    Burgundy, which was with difficulty adjusted.

    As that duke declined the Regency of France, it was bestowed by the
    poor French King upon the Duke of Bedford. But, the French King
    dying within two months, the Dauphin instantly asserted his claim
    to the French throne, and was actually crowned under the title of
    CHARLES THE SEVENTH. The Duke of Bedford, to be a match for him,
    entered into a friendly league with the Dukes of Burgundy and
    Brittany, and gave them his two sisters in marriage. War with
    France was immediately renewed, and the Perpetual Peace came to an
    untimely end.

    In the first campaign, the English, aided by this alliance, were
    speedily successful. As Scotland, however, had sent the French
    five thousand men, and might send more, or attack the North of
    England while England was busy with France, it was considered that
    it would be a good thing to offer the Scottish King, James, who had
    been so long imprisoned, his liberty, on his paying forty thousand
    pounds for his board and lodging during nineteen years, and
    engaging to forbid his subjects from serving under the flag of
    France. It is pleasant to know, not only that the amiable captive
    at last regained his freedom upon these terms, but, that he married
    a noble English lady, with whom he had been long in love, and
    became an excellent King. I am afraid we have met with some Kings
    in this history, and shall meet with some more, who would have been
    very much the better, and would have left the world much happier,
    if they had been imprisoned nineteen years too.

    In the second campaign, the English gained a considerable victory
    at Verneuil, in a battle which was chiefly remarkable, otherwise,
    for their resorting to the odd expedient of tying their baggage-
    horses together by the heads and tails, and jumbling them up with
    the baggage, so as to convert them into a sort of live
    fortification - which was found useful to the troops, but which I
    should think was not agreeable to the horses. For three years
    afterwards very little was done, owing to both sides being too poor
    for war, which is a very expensive entertainment; but, a council
    was then held in Paris, in which it was decided to lay siege to the
    town of Orleans, which was a place of great importance to the
    Dauphin's cause. An English army of ten thousand men was
    despatched on this service, under the command of the Earl of
    Salisbury, a general of fame. He being unfortunately killed early
    in the siege, the Earl of Suffolk took his place; under whom
    (reinforced by SIR JOHN FALSTAFF, who brought up four hundred
    waggons laden with salt herrings and other provisions for the
    troops, and, beating off the French who tried to intercept him,
    came victorious out of a hot skirmish, which was afterwards called
    in jest the Battle of the Herrings) the town of Orleans was so
    completely hemmed in, that the besieged proposed to yield it up to
    their countryman the Duke of Burgundy. The English general,
    however, replied that his English men had won it, so far, by their
    blood and valour, and that his English men must have it. There
    seemed to be no hope for the town, or for the Dauphin, who was so
    dismayed that he even thought of flying to Scotland or to Spain -
    when a peasant girl rose up and changed the whole state of affairs.

    The story of this peasant girl I have now to tell.


    IN a remote village among some wild hills in the province of
    Lorraine, there lived a countryman whose name was JACQUES D'ARC.
    He had a daughter, JOAN OF ARC, who was at this time in her
    twentieth year. She had been a solitary girl from her childhood;
    she had often tended sheep and cattle for whole days where no human
    figure was seen or human voice heard; and she had often knelt, for
    hours together, in the gloomy, empty, little village chapel,
    looking up at the altar and at the dim lamp burning before it,
    until she fancied that she saw shadowy figures standing there, and
    even that she heard them speak to her. The people in that part of
    France were very ignorant and superstitious, and they had many
    ghostly tales to tell about what they had dreamed, and what they
    saw among the lonely hills when the clouds and the mists were
    resting on them. So, they easily believed that Joan saw strange
    sights, and they whispered among themselves that angels and spirits
    talked to her.

    At last, Joan told her father that she had one day been surprised
    by a great unearthly light, and had afterwards heard a solemn
    voice, which said it was Saint Michael's voice, telling her that
    she was to go and help the Dauphin. Soon after this (she said),
    Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret had appeared to her with
    sparkling crowns upon their heads, and had encouraged her to be
    virtuous and resolute. These visions had returned sometimes; but
    the Voices very often; and the voices always said, 'Joan, thou art
    appointed by Heaven to go and help the Dauphin!' She almost always
    heard them while the chapel bells were ringing.

    There is no doubt, now, that Joan believed she saw and heard these
    things. It is very well known that such delusions are a disease
    which is not by any means uncommon. It is probable enough that
    there were figures of Saint Michael, and Saint Catherine, and Saint
    Margaret, in the little chapel (where they would be very likely to
    have shining crowns upon their heads), and that they first gave
    Joan the idea of those three personages. She had long been a
    moping, fanciful girl, and, though she was a very good girl, I dare
    say she was a little vain, and wishful for notoriety.

    Her father, something wiser than his neighbours, said, 'I tell
    thee, Joan, it is thy fancy. Thou hadst better have a kind husband
    to take care of thee, girl, and work to employ thy mind!' But Joan
    told him in reply, that she had taken a vow never to have a
    husband, and that she must go as Heaven directed her, to help the

    It happened, unfortunately for her father's persuasions, and most
    unfortunately for the poor girl, too, that a party of the Dauphin's
    enemies found their way into the village while Joan's disorder was
    at this point, and burnt the chapel, and drove out the inhabitants.
    The cruelties she saw committed, touched Joan's heart and made her
    worse. She said that the voices and the figures were now
    continually with her; that they told her she was the girl who,
    according to an old prophecy, was to deliver France; and she must
    go and help the Dauphin, and must remain with him until he should
    be crowned at Rheims: and that she must travel a long way to a
    certain lord named BAUDRICOURT, who could and would, bring her into
    the Dauphin's presence.

    As her father still said, 'I tell thee, Joan, it is thy fancy,' she
    set off to find out this lord, accompanied by an uncle, a poor
    village wheelwright and cart-maker, who believed in the reality of
    her visions. They travelled a long way and went on and on, over a
    rough country, full of the Duke of Burgundy's men, and of all kinds
    of robbers and marauders, until they came to where this lord was.

    When his servants told him that there was a poor peasant girl named
    Joan of Arc, accompanied by nobody but an old village wheelwright
    and cart-maker, who wished to see him because she was commanded to
    help the Dauphin and save France, Baudricourt burst out a-laughing,
    and bade them send the girl away. But, he soon heard so much about
    her lingering in the town, and praying in the churches, and seeing
    visions, and doing harm to no one, that he sent for her, and
    questioned her. As she said the same things after she had been
    well sprinkled with holy water as she had said before the
    sprinkling, Baudricourt began to think there might be something in
    it. At all events, he thought it worth while to send her on to the
    town of Chinon, where the Dauphin was. So, he bought her a horse,
    and a sword, and gave her two squires to conduct her. As the
    Voices had told Joan that she was to wear a man's dress, now, she
    put one on, and girded her sword to her side, and bound spurs to
    her heels, and mounted her horse and rode away with her two
    squires. As to her uncle the wheelwright, he stood staring at his
    niece in wonder until she was out of sight - as well he might - and
    then went home again. The best place, too.

    Joan and her two squires rode on and on, until they came to Chinon,
    where she was, after some doubt, admitted into the Dauphin's
    presence. Picking him out immediately from all his court, she told
    him that she came commanded by Heaven to subdue his enemies and
    conduct him to his coronation at Rheims. She also told him (or he
    pretended so afterwards, to make the greater impression upon his
    soldiers) a number of his secrets known only to himself, and,
    furthermore, she said there was an old, old sword in the cathedral
    of Saint Catherine at Fierbois, marked with five old crosses on the
    blade, which Saint Catherine had ordered her to wear.

    Now, nobody knew anything about this old, old sword, but when the
    cathedral came to be examined - which was immediately done - there,
    sure enough, the sword was found! The Dauphin then required a
    number of grave priests and bishops to give him their opinion
    whether the girl derived her power from good spirits or from evil
    spirits, which they held prodigiously long debates about, in the
    course of which several learned men fell fast asleep and snored
    loudly. At last, when one gruff old gentleman had said to Joan,
    'What language do your Voices speak?' and when Joan had replied to
    the gruff old gentleman, 'A pleasanter language than yours,' they
    agreed that it was all correct, and that Joan of Arc was inspired
    from Heaven. This wonderful circumstance put new heart into the
    Dauphin's soldiers when they heard of it, and dispirited the
    English army, who took Joan for a witch.

    So Joan mounted horse again, and again rode on and on, until she
    came to Orleans. But she rode now, as never peasant girl had
    ridden yet. She rode upon a white war-horse, in a suit of
    glittering armour; with the old, old sword from the cathedral,
    newly burnished, in her belt; with a white flag carried before her,
    upon which were a picture of God, and the words JESUS MARIA. In
    this splendid state, at the head of a great body of troops
    escorting provisions of all kinds for the starving inhabitants of
    Orleans, she appeared before that beleaguered city.

    When the people on the walls beheld her, they cried out 'The Maid
    is come! The Maid of the Prophecy is come to deliver us!' And
    this, and the sight of the Maid fighting at the head of their men,
    made the French so bold, and made the English so fearful, that the
    English line of forts was soon broken, the troops and provisions
    were got into the town, and Orleans was saved.

    Joan, henceforth called THE MAID OF ORLEANS, remained within the
    walls for a few days, and caused letters to be thrown over,
    ordering Lord Suffolk and his Englishmen to depart from before the
    town according to the will of Heaven. As the English general very
    positively declined to believe that Joan knew anything about the
    will of Heaven (which did not mend the matter with his soldiers,
    for they stupidly said if she were not inspired she was a witch,
    and it was of no use to fight against a witch), she mounted her
    white war-horse again, and ordered her white banner to advance.

    The besiegers held the bridge, and some strong towers upon the
    bridge; and here the Maid of Orleans attacked them. The fight was
    fourteen hours long. She planted a scaling ladder with her own
    hands, and mounted a tower wall, but was struck by an English arrow
    in the neck, and fell into the trench. She was carried away and
    the arrow was taken out, during which operation she screamed and
    cried with the pain, as any other girl might have done; but
    presently she said that the Voices were speaking to her and
    soothing her to rest. After a while, she got up, and was again
    foremost in the fight. When the English who had seen her fall and
    supposed her dead, saw this, they were troubled with the strangest
    fears, and some of them cried out that they beheld Saint Michael on
    a white horse (probably Joan herself) fighting for the French.
    They lost the bridge, and lost the towers, and next day set their
    chain of forts on fire, and left the place.

    But as Lord Suffolk himself retired no farther than the town of
    Jargeau, which was only a few miles off, the Maid of Orleans
    besieged him there, and he was taken prisoner. As the white banner
    scaled the wall, she was struck upon the head with a stone, and was
    again tumbled down into the ditch; but, she only cried all the
    more, as she lay there, 'On, on, my countrymen! And fear nothing,
    for the Lord hath delivered them into our hands!' After this new
    success of the Maid's, several other fortresses and places which
    had previously held out against the Dauphin were delivered up
    without a battle; and at Patay she defeated the remainder of the
    English army, and set up her victorious white banner on a field
    where twelve hundred Englishmen lay dead.

    She now urged the Dauphin (who always kept out of the way when
    there was any fighting) to proceed to Rheims, as the first part of
    her mission was accomplished; and to complete the whole by being
    crowned there. The Dauphin was in no particular hurry to do this,
    as Rheims was a long way off, and the English and the Duke of
    Burgundy were still strong in the country through which the road
    lay. However, they set forth, with ten thousand men, and again the
    Maid of Orleans rode on and on, upon her white war-horse, and in
    her shining armour. Whenever they came to a town which yielded
    readily, the soldiers believed in her; but, whenever they came to a
    town which gave them any trouble, they began to murmur that she was
    an impostor. The latter was particularly the case at Troyes, which
    finally yielded, however, through the persuasion of one Richard, a
    friar of the place. Friar Richard was in the old doubt about the
    Maid of Orleans, until he had sprinkled her well with holy water,
    and had also well sprinkled the threshold of the gate by which she
    came into the city. Finding that it made no change in her or the
    gate, he said, as the other grave old gentlemen had said, that it
    was all right, and became her great ally.

    So, at last, by dint of riding on and on, the Maid of Orleans, and
    the Dauphin, and the ten thousand sometimes believing and sometimes
    unbelieving men, came to Rheims. And in the great cathedral of
    Rheims, the Dauphin actually was crowned Charles the Seventh in a
    great assembly of the people. Then, the Maid, who with her white
    banner stood beside the King in that hour of his triumph, kneeled
    down upon the pavement at his feet, and said, with tears, that what
    she had been inspired to do, was done, and that the only recompense
    she asked for, was, that she should now have leave to go back to
    her distant home, and her sturdily incredulous father, and her
    first simple escort the village wheelwright and cart-maker. But
    the King said 'No!' and made her and her family as noble as a King
    could, and settled upon her the income of a Count.

    Ah! happy had it been for the Maid of Orleans, if she had resumed
    her rustic dress that day, and had gone home to the little chapel
    and the wild hills, and had forgotten all these things, and had
    been a good man's wife, and had heard no stranger voices than the
    voices of little children!

    It was not to be, and she continued helping the King (she did a
    world for him, in alliance with Friar Richard), and trying to
    improve the lives of the coarse soldiers, and leading a religious,
    an unselfish, and a modest life, herself, beyond any doubt. Still,
    many times she prayed the King to let her go home; and once she
    even took off her bright armour and hung it up in a church, meaning
    never to wear it more. But, the King always won her back again -
    while she was of any use to him - and so she went on and on and on,
    to her doom.

    When the Duke of Bedford, who was a very able man, began to be
    active for England, and, by bringing the war back into France and
    by holding the Duke of Burgundy to his faith, to distress and
    disturb Charles very much, Charles sometimes asked the Maid of
    Orleans what the Voices said about it? But, the Voices had become
    (very like ordinary voices in perplexed times) contradictory and
    confused, so that now they said one thing, and now said another,
    and the Maid lost credit every day. Charles marched on Paris,
    which was opposed to him, and attacked the suburb of Saint Honore.
    In this fight, being again struck down into the ditch, she was
    abandoned by the whole army. She lay unaided among a heap of dead,
    and crawled out how she could. Then, some of her believers went
    over to an opposition Maid, Catherine of La Rochelle, who said she
    was inspired to tell where there were treasures of buried money -
    though she never did - and then Joan accidentally broke the old,
    old sword, and others said that her power was broken with it.
    Finally, at the siege of Compi�gne, held by the Duke of Burgundy,
    where she did valiant service, she was basely left alone in a
    retreat, though facing about and fighting to the last; and an
    archer pulled her off her horse.

    O the uproar that was made, and the thanksgivings that were sung,
    about the capture of this one poor country-girl! O the way in
    which she was demanded to be tried for sorcery and heresy, and
    anything else you like, by the Inquisitor-General of France, and by
    this great man, and by that great man, until it is wearisome to
    think of! She was bought at last by the Bishop of Beauvais for ten
    thousand francs, and was shut up in her narrow prison: plain Joan
    of Arc again, and Maid of Orleans no more.

    I should never have done if I were to tell you how they had Joan
    out to examine her, and cross-examine her, and re-examine her, and
    worry her into saying anything and everything; and how all sorts of
    scholars and doctors bestowed their utmost tediousness upon her.
    Sixteen times she was brought out and shut up again, and worried,
    and entrapped, and argued with, until she was heart-sick of the
    dreary business. On the last occasion of this kind she was brought
    into a burial-place at Rouen, dismally decorated with a scaffold,
    and a stake and faggots, and the executioner, and a pulpit with a
    friar therein, and an awful sermon ready. It is very affecting to
    know that even at that pass the poor girl honoured the mean vermin
    of a King, who had so used her for his purposes and so abandoned
    her; and, that while she had been regardless of reproaches heaped
    upon herself, she spoke out courageously for him.

    It was natural in one so young to hold to life. To save her life,
    she signed a declaration prepared for her - signed it with a cross,
    for she couldn't write - that all her visions and Voices had come
    from the Devil. Upon her recanting the past, and protesting that
    she would never wear a man's dress in future, she was condemned to
    imprisonment for life, 'on the bread of sorrow and the water of

    But, on the bread of sorrow and the water of affliction, the
    visions and the Voices soon returned. It was quite natural that
    they should do so, for that kind of disease is much aggravated by
    fasting, loneliness, and anxiety of mind. It was not only got out
    of Joan that she considered herself inspired again, but, she was
    taken in a man's dress, which had been left - to entrap her - in
    her prison, and which she put on, in her solitude; perhaps, in
    remembrance of her past glories, perhaps, because the imaginary
    Voices told her. For this relapse into the sorcery and heresy and
    anything else you like, she was sentenced to be burnt to death.
    And, in the market-place of Rouen, in the hideous dress which the
    monks had invented for such spectacles; with priests and bishops
    sitting in a gallery looking on, though some had the Christian
    grace to go away, unable to endure the infamous scene; this
    shrieking girl - last seen amidst the smoke and fire, holding a
    crucifix between her hands; last heard, calling upon Christ - was
    burnt to ashes. They threw her ashes into the river Seine; but
    they will rise against her murderers on the last day.

    From the moment of her capture, neither the French King nor one
    single man in all his court raised a finger to save her. It is no
    defence of them that they may have never really believed in her, or
    that they may have won her victories by their skill and bravery.
    The more they pretended to believe in her, the more they had caused
    her to believe in herself; and she had ever been true to them, ever
    brave, ever nobly devoted. But, it is no wonder, that they, who
    were in all things false to themselves, false to one another, false
    to their country, false to Heaven, false to Earth, should be
    monsters of ingratitude and treachery to a helpless peasant girl.

    In the picturesque old town of Rouen, where weeds and grass grow
    high on the cathedral towers, and the venerable Norman streets are
    still warm in the blessed sunlight though the monkish fires that
    once gleamed horribly upon them have long grown cold, there is a
    statue of Joan of Arc, in the scene of her last agony, the square
    to which she has given its present name. I know some statues of
    modern times - even in the World's metropolis, I think - which
    commemorate less constancy, less earnestness, smaller claims upon
    the world's attention, and much greater impostors.


    BAD deeds seldom prosper, happily for mankind; and the English
    cause gained no advantage from the cruel death of Joan of Arc. For
    a long time, the war went heavily on. The Duke of Bedford died;
    the alliance with the Duke of Burgundy was broken; and Lord Talbot
    became a great general on the English side in France. But, two of
    the consequences of wars are, Famine - because the people cannot
    peacefully cultivate the ground - and Pestilence, which comes of
    want, misery, and suffering. Both these horrors broke out in both
    countries, and lasted for two wretched years. Then, the war went
    on again, and came by slow degrees to be so badly conducted by the
    English government, that, within twenty years from the execution of
    the Maid of Orleans, of all the great French conquests, the town of
    Calais alone remained in English hands.

    While these victories and defeats were taking place in the course
    of time, many strange things happened at home. The young King, as
    he grew up, proved to be very unlike his great father, and showed
    himself a miserable puny creature. There was no harm in him - he
    had a great aversion to shedding blood: which was something - but,
    he was a weak, silly, helpless young man, and a mere shuttlecock to
    the great lordly battledores about the Court.

    Of these battledores, Cardinal Beaufort, a relation of the King,
    and the Duke of Gloucester, were at first the most powerful. The
    Duke of Gloucester had a wife, who was nonsensically accused of
    practising witchcraft to cause the King's death and lead to her
    husband's coming to the throne, he being the next heir. She was
    charged with having, by the help of a ridiculous old woman named
    Margery (who was called a witch), made a little waxen doll in the
    King's likeness, and put it before a slow fire that it might
    gradually melt away. It was supposed, in such cases, that the
    death of the person whom the doll was made to represent, was sure
    to happen. Whether the duchess was as ignorant as the rest of
    them, and really did make such a doll with such an intention, I
    don't know; but, you and I know very well that she might have made
    a thousand dolls, if she had been stupid enough, and might have
    melted them all, without hurting the King or anybody else.
    However, she was tried for it, and so was old Margery, and so was
    one of the duke's chaplains, who was charged with having assisted
    them. Both he and Margery were put to death, and the duchess,
    after being taken on foot and bearing a lighted candle, three times
    round the City, as a penance, was imprisoned for life. The duke,
    himself, took all this pretty quietly, and made as little stir
    about the matter as if he were rather glad to be rid of the

    But, he was not destined to keep himself out of trouble long. The
    royal shuttlecock being three-and-twenty, the battledores were very
    anxious to get him married. The Duke of Gloucester wanted him to
    marry a daughter of the Count of Armagnac; but, the Cardinal and
    the Earl of Suffolk were all for MARGARET, the daughter of the King
    of Sicily, who they knew was a resolute, ambitious woman and would
    govern the King as she chose. To make friends with this lady, the
    Earl of Suffolk, who went over to arrange the match, consented to
    accept her for the King's wife without any fortune, and even to
    give up the two most valuable possessions England then had in
    France. So, the marriage was arranged, on terms very advantageous
    to the lady; and Lord Suffolk brought her to England, and she was
    married at Westminster. On what pretence this queen and her party
    charged the Duke of Gloucester with high treason within a couple of
    years, it is impossible to make out, the matter is so confused;
    but, they pretended that the King's life was in danger, and they
    took the duke prisoner. A fortnight afterwards, he was found dead
    in bed (they said), and his body was shown to the people, and Lord
    Suffolk came in for the best part of his estates. You know by this
    time how strangely liable state prisoners were to sudden death.

    If Cardinal Beaufort had any hand in this matter, it did him no
    good, for he died within six weeks; thinking it very hard and
    curious - at eighty years old! - that he could not live to be Pope.

    This was the time when England had completed her loss of all her
    great French conquests. The people charged the loss principally
    upon the Earl of Suffolk, now a duke, who had made those easy terms
    about the Royal Marriage, and who, they believed, had even been
    bought by France. So he was impeached as a traitor, on a great
    number of charges, but chiefly on accusations of having aided the
    French King, and of designing to make his own son King of England.
    The Commons and the people being violent against him, the King was
    made (by his friends) to interpose to save him, by banishing him
    for five years, and proroguing the Parliament. The duke had much
    ado to escape from a London mob, two thousand strong, who lay in
    wait for him in St. Giles's fields; but, he got down to his own
    estates in Suffolk, and sailed away from Ipswich. Sailing across
    the Channel, he sent into Calais to know if he might land there;
    but, they kept his boat and men in the harbour, until an English
    ship, carrying a hundred and fifty men and called the Nicholas of
    the Tower, came alongside his little vessel, and ordered him on
    board. 'Welcome, traitor, as men say,' was the captain's grim and
    not very respectful salutation. He was kept on board, a prisoner,
    for eight-and-forty hours, and then a small boat appeared rowing
    toward the ship. As this boat came nearer, it was seen to have in
    it a block, a rusty sword, and an executioner in a black mask. The
    duke was handed down into it, and there his head was cut off with
    six strokes of the rusty sword. Then, the little boat rowed away
    to Dover beach, where the body was cast out, and left until the
    duchess claimed it. By whom, high in authority, this murder was
    committed, has never appeared. No one was ever punished for it.

    There now arose in Kent an Irishman, who gave himself the name of
    Mortimer, but whose real name was JACK CADE. Jack, in imitation of
    Wat Tyler, though he was a very different and inferior sort of man,
    addressed the Kentish men upon their wrongs, occasioned by the bad
    government of England, among so many battledores and such a poor
    shuttlecock; and the Kentish men rose up to the number of twenty
    thousand. Their place of assembly was Blackheath, where, headed by
    Jack, they put forth two papers, which they called 'The Complaint
    of the Commons of Kent,' and 'The Requests of the Captain of the
    Great Assembly in Kent.' They then retired to Sevenoaks. The
    royal army coming up with them here, they beat it and killed their
    general. Then, Jack dressed himself in the dead general's armour,
    and led his men to London.

    Jack passed into the City from Southwark, over the bridge, and
    entered it in triumph, giving the strictest orders to his men not
    to plunder. Having made a show of his forces there, while the
    citizens looked on quietly, he went back into Southwark in good
    order, and passed the night. Next day, he came back again, having
    got hold in the meantime of Lord Say, an unpopular nobleman. Says
    Jack to the Lord Mayor and judges: 'Will you be so good as to make
    a tribunal in Guildhall, and try me this nobleman?' The court
    being hastily made, he was found guilty, and Jack and his men cut
    his head off on Cornhill. They also cut off the head of his son-
    in-law, and then went back in good order to Southwark again.

    But, although the citizens could bear the beheading of an unpopular
    lord, they could not bear to have their houses pillaged. And it
    did so happen that Jack, after dinner - perhaps he had drunk a
    little too much - began to plunder the house where he lodged; upon
    which, of course, his men began to imitate him. Wherefore, the
    Londoners took counsel with Lord Scales, who had a thousand
    soldiers in the Tower; and defended London Bridge, and kept Jack
    and his people out. This advantage gained, it was resolved by
    divers great men to divide Jack's army in the old way, by making a
    great many promises on behalf of the state, that were never
    intended to be performed. This DID divide them; some of Jack's men
    saying that they ought to take the conditions which were offered,
    and others saying that they ought not, for they were only a snare;
    some going home at once; others staying where they were; and all
    doubting and quarrelling among themselves.

    Jack, who was in two minds about fighting or accepting a pardon,
    and who indeed did both, saw at last that there was nothing to
    expect from his men, and that it was very likely some of them would
    deliver him up and get a reward of a thousand marks, which was
    offered for his apprehension. So, after they had travelled and
    quarrelled all the way from Southwark to Blackheath, and from
    Blackheath to Rochester, he mounted a good horse and galloped away
    into Sussex. But, there galloped after him, on a better horse, one
    Alexander Iden, who came up with him, had a hard fight with him,
    and killed him. Jack's head was set aloft on London Bridge, with
    the face looking towards Blackheath, where he had raised his flag;
    and Alexander Iden got the thousand marks.

    It is supposed by some, that the Duke of York, who had been removed
    from a high post abroad through the Queen's influence, and sent out
    of the way, to govern Ireland, was at the bottom of this rising of
    Jack and his men, because he wanted to trouble the government. He
    claimed (though not yet publicly) to have a better right to the
    throne than Henry of Lancaster, as one of the family of the Earl of
    March, whom Henry the Fourth had set aside. Touching this claim,
    which, being through female relationship, was not according to the
    usual descent, it is enough to say that Henry the Fourth was the
    free choice of the people and the Parliament, and that his family
    had now reigned undisputed for sixty years. The memory of Henry
    the Fifth was so famous, and the English people loved it so much,
    that the Duke of York's claim would, perhaps, never have been
    thought of (it would have been so hopeless) but for the unfortunate
    circumstance of the present King's being by this time quite an
    idiot, and the country very ill governed. These two circumstances
    gave the Duke of York a power he could not otherwise have had.

    Whether the Duke knew anything of Jack Cade, or not, he came over
    from Ireland while Jack's head was on London Bridge; being secretly
    advised that the Queen was setting up his enemy, the Duke of
    Somerset, against him. He went to Westminster, at the head of four
    thousand men, and on his knees before the King, represented to him
    the bad state of the country, and petitioned him to summon a
    Parliament to consider it. This the King promised. When the
    Parliament was summoned, the Duke of York accused the Duke of
    Somerset, and the Duke of Somerset accused the Duke of York; and,
    both in and out of Parliament, the followers of each party were
    full of violence and hatred towards the other. At length the Duke
    of York put himself at the head of a large force of his tenants,
    and, in arms, demanded the reformation of the Government. Being
    shut out of London, he encamped at Dartford, and the royal army
    encamped at Blackheath. According as either side triumphed, the
    Duke of York was arrested, or the Duke of Somerset was arrested.
    The trouble ended, for the moment, in the Duke of York renewing his
    oath of allegiance, and going in peace to one of his own castles.

    Half a year afterwards the Queen gave birth to a son, who was very
    ill received by the people, and not believed to be the son of the
    King. It shows the Duke of York to have been a moderate man,
    unwilling to involve England in new troubles, that he did not take
    advantage of the general discontent at this time, but really acted
    for the public good. He was made a member of the cabinet, and the
    King being now so much worse that he could not be carried about and
    shown to the people with any decency, the duke was made Lord
    Protector of the kingdom, until the King should recover, or the
    Prince should come of age. At the same time the Duke of Somerset
    was committed to the Tower. So, now the Duke of Somerset was down,
    and the Duke of York was up. By the end of the year, however, the
    King recovered his memory and some spark of sense; upon which the
    Queen used her power - which recovered with him - to get the
    Protector disgraced, and her favourite released. So now the Duke
    of York was down, and the Duke of Somerset was up.

    These ducal ups and downs gradually separated the whole nation into
    the two parties of York and Lancaster, and led to those terrible
    civil wars long known as the Wars of the Red and White Roses,
    because the red rose was the badge of the House of Lancaster, and
    the white rose was the badge of the House of York.

    The Duke of York, joined by some other powerful noblemen of the
    White Rose party, and leading a small army, met the King with
    another small army at St. Alban's, and demanded that the Duke of
    Somerset should be given up. The poor King, being made to say in
    answer that he would sooner die, was instantly attacked. The Duke
    of Somerset was killed, and the King himself was wounded in the
    neck, and took refuge in the house of a poor tanner. Whereupon,
    the Duke of York went to him, led him with great submission to the
    Abbey, and said he was very sorry for what had happened. Having
    now the King in his possession, he got a Parliament summoned and
    himself once more made Protector, but, only for a few months; for,
    on the King getting a little better again, the Queen and her party
    got him into their possession, and disgraced the Duke once more.
    So, now the Duke of York was down again.

    Some of the best men in power, seeing the danger of these constant
    changes, tried even then to prevent the Red and the White Rose
    Wars. They brought about a great council in London between the two
    parties. The White Roses assembled in Blackfriars, the Red Roses
    in Whitefriars; and some good priests communicated between them,
    and made the proceedings known at evening to the King and the
    judges. They ended in a peaceful agreement that there should be no
    more quarrelling; and there was a great royal procession to St.
    Paul's, in which the Queen walked arm-in-arm with her old enemy,
    the Duke of York, to show the people how comfortable they all were.
    This state of peace lasted half a year, when a dispute between the
    Earl of Warwick (one of the Duke's powerful friends) and some of
    the King's servants at Court, led to an attack upon that Earl - who
    was a White Rose - and to a sudden breaking out of all old
    animosities. So, here were greater ups and downs than ever.

    There were even greater ups and downs than these, soon after.
    After various battles, the Duke of York fled to Ireland, and his
    son the Earl of March to Calais, with their friends the Earls of
    Salisbury and Warwick; and a Parliament was held declaring them all
    traitors. Little the worse for this, the Earl of Warwick presently
    came back, landed in Kent, was joined by the Archbishop of
    Canterbury and other powerful noblemen and gentlemen, engaged the
    King's forces at Northampton, signally defeated them, and took the
    King himself prisoner, who was found in his tent. Warwick would
    have been glad, I dare say, to have taken the Queen and Prince too,
    but they escaped into Wales and thence into Scotland.

    The King was carried by the victorious force straight to London,
    and made to call a new Parliament, which immediately declared that
    the Duke of York and those other noblemen were not traitors, but
    excellent subjects. Then, back comes the Duke from Ireland at the
    head of five hundred horsemen, rides from London to Westminster,
    and enters the House of Lords. There, he laid his hand upon the
    cloth of gold which covered the empty throne, as if he had half a
    mind to sit down in it - but he did not. On the Archbishop of
    Canterbury, asking him if he would visit the King, who was in his
    palace close by, he replied, 'I know no one in this country, my
    lord, who ought not to visit ME.' None of the lords present spoke
    a single word; so, the duke went out as he had come in, established
    himself royally in the King's palace, and, six days afterwards,
    sent in to the Lords a formal statement of his claim to the throne.
    The lords went to the King on this momentous subject, and after a
    great deal of discussion, in which the judges and the other law
    officers were afraid to give an opinion on either side, the
    question was compromised. It was agreed that the present King
    should retain the crown for his life, and that it should then pass
    to the Duke of York and his heirs.

    But, the resolute Queen, determined on asserting her son's right,
    would hear of no such thing. She came from Scotland to the north
    of England, where several powerful lords armed in her cause. The
    Duke of York, for his part, set off with some five thousand men, a
    little time before Christmas Day, one thousand four hundred and
    sixty, to give her battle. He lodged at Sandal Castle, near
    Wakefield, and the Red Roses defied him to come out on Wakefield
    Green, and fight them then and there. His generals said, he had
    best wait until his gallant son, the Earl of March, came up with
    his power; but, he was determined to accept the challenge. He did
    so, in an evil hour. He was hotly pressed on all sides, two
    thousand of his men lay dead on Wakefield Green, and he himself was
    taken prisoner. They set him down in mock state on an ant-hill,
    and twisted grass about his head, and pretended to pay court to him
    on their knees, saying, 'O King, without a kingdom, and Prince
    without a people, we hope your gracious Majesty is very well and
    happy!' They did worse than this; they cut his head off, and
    handed it on a pole to the Queen, who laughed with delight when she
    saw it (you recollect their walking so religiously and comfortably
    to St. Paul's!), and had it fixed, with a paper crown upon its
    head, on the walls of York. The Earl of Salisbury lost his head,
    too; and the Duke of York's second son, a handsome boy who was
    flying with his tutor over Wakefield Bridge, was stabbed in the
    heart by a murderous, lord - Lord Clifford by name - whose father
    had been killed by the White Roses in the fight at St. Alban's.
    There was awful sacrifice of life in this battle, for no quarter
    was given, and the Queen was wild for revenge. When men
    unnaturally fight against their own countrymen, they are always
    observed to be more unnaturally cruel and filled with rage than
    they are against any other enemy.

    But, Lord Clifford had stabbed the second son of the Duke of York -
    not the first. The eldest son, Edward Earl of March, was at
    Gloucester; and, vowing vengeance for the death of his father, his
    brother, and their faithful friends, he began to march against the
    Queen. He had to turn and fight a great body of Welsh and Irish
    first, who worried his advance. These he defeated in a great fight
    at Mortimer's Cross, near Hereford, where he beheaded a number of
    the Red Roses taken in battle, in retaliation for the beheading of
    the White Roses at Wakefield. The Queen had the next turn of
    beheading. Having moved towards London, and falling in, between
    St. Alban's and Barnet, with the Earl of Warwick and the Duke of
    Norfolk, White Roses both, who were there with an army to oppose
    her, and had got the King with them; she defeated them with great
    loss, and struck off the heads of two prisoners of note, who were
    in the King's tent with him, and to whom the King had promised his
    protection. Her triumph, however, was very short. She had no
    treasure, and her army subsisted by plunder. This caused them to
    be hated and dreaded by the people, and particularly by the London
    people, who were wealthy. As soon as the Londoners heard that
    Edward, Earl of March, united with the Earl of Warwick, was
    advancing towards the city, they refused to send the Queen
    supplies, and made a great rejoicing.

    The Queen and her men retreated with all speed, and Edward and
    Warwick came on, greeted with loud acclamations on every side. The
    courage, beauty, and virtues of young Edward could not be
    sufficiently praised by the whole people. He rode into London like
    a conqueror, and met with an enthusiastic welcome. A few days
    afterwards, Lord Falconbridge and the Bishop of Exeter assembled
    the citizens in St. John's Field, Clerkenwell, and asked them if
    they would have Henry of Lancaster for their King? To this they
    all roared, 'No, no, no!' and 'King Edward! King Edward!' Then,
    said those noblemen, would they love and serve young Edward? To
    this they all cried, 'Yes, yes!' and threw up their caps and
    clapped their hands, and cheered tremendously.

    Therefore, it was declared that by joining the Queen and not
    protecting those two prisoners of note, Henry of Lancaster had
    forfeited the crown; and Edward of York was proclaimed King. He
    made a great speech to the applauding people at Westminster, and
    sat down as sovereign of England on that throne, on the golden
    covering of which his father - worthy of a better fate than the
    bloody axe which cut the thread of so many lives in England,
    through so many years - had laid his hand.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 22
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Charles Dickens essay and need some advice, post your Charles Dickens essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Want to read

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?