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Historic Boys by  E. S. Brooks

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HARRY OF MONMOUTH: THE BOY GENERAL

(Afterward King Henry the Fifth of England)
[A.D. 1402]

[126] A TAPESTRIED chamber in the gray old pile known as Berkhampstead Castle. The bright sunlight of an early English spring streaming through the latticed window plays upon the golden head of a fair young maid of then, who, in a quaint costume of gold-striped taffeta and crimson velvet, looks in evident dismay upon the antics of three merry boys circling around her, as she sits in a carved and high-backed oaken chair. In trim suits of crimson, green, and russet velvet, with curious hanging sleeves and long, pointed shoes, they range themselves before the trembling little maiden, while the eldest lad, a handsome, lithe, and active young fellow of fourteen, sings in lively and rollicking strain:

"Oh, I am King Erik of Denmark,

Tarrann, tarran, tarra!

Oh I am King Erik of Denmark,

Tarran, tarran, tarra!

Oh I am King Erik of Denmark shore—

A frost and crusty old Blunderbore—

With ships and knights a-sailing o'er,

To carry Philippa to Elsinore!"

[127] And then with a rousing shout the three boys swooped down upon the beleaguered little damsel and dragged her off to the dim stone staircase that led to the square tower of the keep.

"Have done, have done, Harry," pleaded the little girl as she escaped from her captors. "Master Lionel, thou surely shouldst defend a princess in distress."

"Ay, Princess, but our tutor, Master Rothwell, says that I am to obey my Liege and Prince, and him alone," protested gay young Lionel, "and sure he bade me play the trumpeter of King Erik."

"A plague on King Erik," cried Philippa, seeking refuge behind the high-backed chair. "I wish I had ne'er heard of him and his kingdom of Denmark. O Harry! nurse Joanna tells me that they do eat but frozen turnips and salted beef in his dreadful country, and that the queen-mother, Margaret, wears a gambeson and hauberk like to a belted knight."

"Why, of course she does," assented the mischievous Harry; and, drawing a solemn face he added: "Yes—and she eats a little girl, boiled with lentils, every saint's day as a penance. That 's why they want an English wife for Erik, for, seest thou, there are so many saints' days that there are not left in Denmark wee damsels enough for the queen's penance."

But the sight of pretty Philippa's woeful tears stayed her brother's teasing.

[128] "There, there," he said, soothingly; "never mind my fun, Philippa. This Erik is not so bad a knight I'll warrant me, and when thou art Queen of Denmark, why, I shall be King of England, and my trumpeter, Sir Lionel here, shall sound a gallant defiance as I come

"'Sailing the sea to Denmark shore

With squires and bowmen a hundred score,

If ever this frosty old Blunderbore

Foul treateth Philippa at Elsinore,'

and thus will we gallop away with the rescued queen," he added, as seizing Philippa in his arms he dashed around the room followed by his companions. But while the four were celebrating, in a wild dance of "all hands around," the fancied rescue of the misused queen, the tapestry parted and Sir Hugh de Waterton, the governor of the king's children, entered.

"My lord Prince," he said, "the king thy father craves thy presence in the council-room."

"So; I am summoned," said the Prince; "good Sir Hugh, I will to the king at once. That means 'good-by,' Sis; for to-morrow I am off to the Welsh wars to dance with the lords-marchers and Owen Glendower, to a far different strain. Yield not to these leaguering Danes, Philippa, but if thou dost, when I am back from the Welsh wars, I'll hie me over sea

"'With golden nobles in goodly store

To ransom Philippa at Elsinore,'"

and, kissing his sister fondly, Harry of Monmouth, Prince [129] of Wales, parted the heavy arras and descended to the council-room.

And now the scene changes. Months have passed since that jolly romp in the old castle, among the hills of Hertfordshire, and under a wet and angry sky we stand within the king's tent, glad to escape from the driving storm.

To young Lionel Langley, as he peeped through the outer curtains of the tent and watched the floods of rain, it seemed as if all the mountains in the shires of Brecon and Radnor had turned themselves into water-spouts to drench and drown the camp of the English invaders, as it lay soaked and shivering there in the marches of Wales. King Henry's tent, we learn from an old chronicle, was "picchid on a fayre playne," but Lionel thought it any thing but fair as he turned from the dismal prospect.

"Rain, rain, rain," he grumbled, throwing himself down by the side of stout Humfrey Wallys, archer in the king's guard; "why doth it always rain in this fateful country? Why can it not blow over? Why, why must we stay cooped up under these soaking tent-tops, with ne'er a sight of fun or fighting?"

"Ah, why, why, why?" said the good-natured archer "'t is ever why? with thee, Sir Questioner. But, if thou be riddling, ask us something easier. Why doth a cow lie down? Why is it fool's fun to give alms to a blind man? How many calves' tails doth it take to reach to the moon?"

[130] "H'm," grunted Lionel, "thy riddles be as stale as Michaelmas mutton. I can answer them all."

"So—canst thou, young shuttle-brain?" cried the archer, "then, by the mass, thou shalt. Answer now, answer," he demanded, as he tripped up young Lionel's feet and pinned him to the ground with a pikestaff, "answer, or I will wash thy knowing face in my sack-leavings. Why doth a cow lie down?"

"Faith, because she cannot sit," lazily answered Lionel.

"Hear the lad! He doth know it, really. Well—why is it not wise to give alms to a blind man?" demanded Humfrey.

"Because," responded the boy, "even if thou didst, he would be glad could he see thee hanged—as would I also!"

"Thou young knave! Now—how many calves' tails will it take to reach the moon?"

"O Humfrey, ease up thy pikestaff, man; I can barely fetch my breath—how many? Why, one,—if it be long enough," and, wriggling from his captor, the nimble Lionel tripped him up in turn, and, in sheer delight at his discomfiture, turned a back somersault and landed almost on the toes of two unhelmeted knights, who came from the inner pavilion of the royal tent.

"Why, how now, young tumble-foot—dost thou take this for a mummer's booth, that thou dost play thy pranks so closely to thy betters?" a quick voice demanded, and in much shame and confusion Lionel withdrew himself [131] hastily from the royal feet of his "most dread sovereign and lord," King Henry the Fourth, of England.

"Pardon, my Liege," he stammered, "I did but think to stretch my stiffened legs."

"So; thou art tent-weary, too," said the king; and then asked: "And where learn'dst thou that hand-spring?"

"So please your Majesty, from my lord Prince," the boy replied.

"Ay, that thou didst, I'll warrant me," said the king, good-humoredly. "In aught of prank or play, or tumbler's trick, 'tis safe to look to young Harry of Monmouth as our pages' sponsor. But where lags the lad, think you, my lord?" he asked, turning to his companion, the Earl of Westmoreland. "We should, methinks, have had post from him ere this."

"'T is this fearful weather stays the news, your Majesty," replied the earl. "No courserman could pass the Berwyn and Plinlimmon hills in so wild a storm."

"Ay, wild indeed," said the king, peering out through the parted curtains. "I am fain almost to believe these men of Wales, who vaunt that the false Glendower is a black necromancer who can call to his aid the dread demons of the air. Hark to that blast," he added, as a great gust of wind shook the royal tent. "'T is like a knight's defiance, and, like true knights, let us answer it. Hollo, young Lionel, be thou warder of thy king, and sound an answering blast."

Lionel, who was blest with the strong lungs of healthy [132] boyhood, grasped the trumpet, and a defiant peal rang through the royal tent. But it was an unequal contest, for instantly, as chronicles old Capgrave, "there blew suddenly so much wynd, and so impetuous, with a gret rain, that the Kyng's tent was felled, and a spere cast so violently, that, an the Kyng had not been armed, he had been ded of the strok."

From all sides came the rush of help, and the king and his attendants were soon rescued, unharmed from the fallen pavilion. But Humfrey, the stout old archer, muttered, as he rubbed his well-thumped pate: "Good sooth, 'tis, truly, the art magic of Glendower himself. It payeth not to trifle with malignant spirits. Give me to front an honest foe, and not these hidden demons of the air."

As if satisfied with its victory over a mortal king, the fury of the storm abated, and that afternoon Lionel entered the royal presence with the announcement: "Tidings, my lord King; tidings from the noble Prince of Wales! a courier waits without."

"Bid him enter," said the king, and, all bespattered and dripping from his ride through the tempest, the courier entered and, dropping on his knee, presented the king a writing from the prince.

"At last!" said Henry, as he hastily scanned the note; "a rift in these gloomy clouds. Break we our camp, my lord Westmoreland, and back to Hereford town. We do but spend our strength to little use awaiting a wily foe in these flooded plains. This billet tells me that Sir [133] Harry Percy and my lord of Worcester, with our son the Prince, have cooped up the rebels in the Castle of Conway, and that Glendower himself is in the Snowden Hills. As for thee, young Sir Harlequin," he added, turning to Lionel, "if thou wouldst try thy mettle in other ways than in tumbler's tricks and in defiance of the wind, thou mayst go with Sir Walter Blount to thy tutor, the Prince, and the Welsh wars in the north."

Next day, the camp was broken up, and, in high spirits, Lionel, with the small company of knights and archers detached for service in the north, left the southern marches for the camp of the prince.

It was the year of grace 1402. Henry of Lancaster, usurping the crown and power of the unfortunate King Richard II., ruled now as Henry IV., "by the grace of God, King of England and of France and Lord of Ireland." But "uneasy lies the head that wears a crown," and, king though he was—"Most Excellent, Most Dread, and Most Sovereign Lord," as his subjects addressed him—he was lord and sovereign over a troubled and distracted realm. Scotland, thronging the Lowlands, poured her bonnets and pikes across the northern border; France, an ever-watchful enemy, menaced the slender possessions in Calais and Aquitaine; traitors at home plotted against the life of the king; and the men of Wales, rallying to the standard of their countryman, Owen Glendower, who styled himself the Prince of Wales, forced the English to unequal and disadvantageous battle among their hills [134] and valleys. So the journey of Lionel to the north was a careful and cautious one; and, constantly on their guard against ambushes, surprises, and sudden assaults, the little band of archers and men-at-arms among whom he rode pushed their watchful way toward the Vale of Conway. They were just skirting the easterly base of the Snowden Hills, where, four thousand feet above them, the rugged mountain peaks look down upon the broad and beautiful Vale of Conway, when a noise of crackling branches ahead startled the wary archer, Wallys, and he said to Lionel:

"Look to thine arms, lad; there may be danger here. But no," he added, as the "view halloo" of the hunters rose in air, "'tis but the merry chase. Hold here, and let us see the sport."

Almost as he spoke, there burst from the thicket, not a hundred yards away, a splendid red deer, whose spreading antlers proclaimed him to be a "stag of twelve" or "stag-royal." Fast after him dashed the excited hunters; but, leading them all, spurred a sturdy young fellow of eager fifteen—tall and slender, but quick and active in every movement, as he yielded himself to the free action of his horse and cheered on the hounds. The excitement was contagious, and Lionel, spite of the caution of his friend the archer, could not restrain himself. His "view halloo" was shouted with boyish impetuosity as, fast at the heels of the other young hunter, he spurred his willing horse. But now the deer turned to the right and made for a distant thicket, and Lionel saw the young [135] hunter spring from his lagging steed, and, with a stout cord reeled around his arm, dash after the stag afoot, while hounds and hunters panted far behind.

It was a splendid race of boy and beast. The lad's quick feet seemed scarcely to touch the ground, every spring bringing him nearer and nearer to his noble prey. There is a final spurt; the coil of cord flies from the hunter's arm, as his quick fling sends it straight in air; the noose settles over the broad antlers of the buck; the youth draws back with a sudden but steady jerk, and the defeated deer drops to earth, a doomed and panting captive.

"There is but one lad in all England can do that!" cried enthusiastic Lionel, as with a loud huzza, he spurred toward the spot so as to be "in at the death."

"Lend me thy knife, page," the boy hunter demanded, as Lionel sprang from his horse, "mine I think hath leaped from my belt into yonder pool."

Flash! gleamed the sharp steel in air; deep to the hilt it plunged into the victim's throat, and, kneeling on the body of the dying stag, Harry of Monmouth, Prince of Wales, the fleetest and most fearless of England's youthful hunters, looked up into Lionel's admiring face.

"Hey O!" he cried. "Sure, 'tis Lionel Langley! Why, how far'st thou, lad, and how cam'st thou here?"

"I come, my Lord," Lionel replied, "with Sir Walter Blount's following of squires and archers, whom his Majesty, the King, hath sent to thy succor."

[136] "You are right welcome all," said Prince Harry, "and you come in good stead, for sure we need your aid. But wind this horn of mine, Lionel, and call in the hunt." And as Lionel's notes sounded loud and clear, the rest of the chase galloped up, and soon the combined trains rode on to the English camp in the Vale of Conway.


[Illustration]

"THERE IS BUT ONE LAD IN ALL ENGLAND CAN DO THAT," CRIED ENTHUSIASTIC LIONEL.

There, in the train of Prince Harry, Lionel passed the winter and spring; while his young leader, then scarce sixteen, led his hardy troops, a miniature army of scarce three thousand men, up and down the eastern marches of Wales, scouring the country from Conway Castle to Harlech Hold, and from the Irish Sea to Snowden and to Shrewsbury gates. The battles fought were little more than forays and skirmishes,—the retaliations of fire and sword, now in English fields and now on Welsh borders; but it was a good "school of the soldier," in which Lionel learned the art of war, and Harry of Monmouth bore himself right gallantly.

But greater troubles were brewing, and braver deeds in store. On a fair July morning in the year 1403, Lionel, who now served the prince as squire of the body, entering his pavilion hastily, said, in much excitement:

"My Lord, my Lord, the Earl of Worcester has gone!"

"Gone?" echoed the prince. "What dolt thou mean? Gone? When—where—how?"

"None know, my Lord," Lionel replied. "This morning his pavilion was found deserted, and with him are fled Sir Herbert Tressell, and the squires and archers of my lord of Worcester's train."

[137] Now, the Earl of Worcester was the "tutor," or guardian, of the prince, a trusted noble of the House of Percy, and appointed by the king to have the oversight or guidance of young Harry; and his sudden flight from camp greatly surprised the prince.

"My lord Prince," said Sir Walter Blount, entering as hastily as had Lionel, "here is a courier from the worshipful Constable of Chester, with secret tidings that the Percies are in arms against my lord the king."

"The Percies up, and my lord of Worcester fled?" exclaimed the prince. "This bodes no good for us. Quick, get thee to horse, Lionel. Speed like the wind to Shrewsbury. Get thee fair escort from my lord of Warwick, and then on to the king at Burton." And in less than ten minutes Lionel was a-horse, bearing the prince's billet that told the doleful news of the new rebellion, spurring fast to Shrewsbury and the King.

Before three days had passed the whole great plot was known, and men shook their heads in dismay and doubt at the tidings that the great houses of Percy and of Mortimer, rebelling against the king for both real and fancied grievances, had made a solemn league with the Welsh rebel, Owen Glendower, to dethrone King Henry, whom the Percies themselves had helped to the throne. A fast-growing army, led by the brave Sir Henry Percy,—whom men called Hotspur, from his mighty valor and his impetuous temper,—and by the Earl of Douglas, most valiant of the Scottish knights, was even now marching upon Shrewsbury to raise the standard of revolt.

[138] "Hotspur a rebel? Worcester a traitor?" exclaimed the king in amazement, as he read Lionel's tidings. "Whom may we trust if these be false?"

But Henry the Fourth of England was not one to delay in action, nor to "cry over spilled milk." His first surprise over, he sent a fleet courier to London announcing the rebellion to his council, but bravely assuring them for their consolation that he was "powerful enough to conquer all his enemies." Then he gave orders to break the camp at Burton and march on Shrewsbury direct; and, early next morning, Lionel was spurring back to his boy general, Prince Harry, with orders from the king to meet him at once with all his following at Bridgenorth Castle.

So, down from the east marches of Wales to Bridge-north towers came Prince Harry speedily, with his little army of trusty knights and squires, stalwart archers and men-at-arms,—hardy fighters all, trained to service in the forays of the rude Welsh wars, in which, too, their gallant young commander had himself learned coolness, caution, strategy, and unshrinking valor—the chief attributes of successful leadership.

Where Bridgenorth town stands upon the sloping banks of Severn, "like to old Jerusalem for pleasant situation," as the pilgrim travellers reported, there rallied in those bright summer days of 1403 a hastily summoned army for the "putting down of the rebel Percies." With waving banners and with gleaming lances, with the clank of heavy armor and ponderous engines of war, with the royal [139] standard borne by Sir Walter Blount and his squires, out through the "one mighty gate" of Bridgenorth Castle passed the princely leaders, marshalling their army of fourteen thousand men across the broad plain of Salop toward the towers and battlements of the beleaguered town of Shrewsbury.

The king himself led the right wing, and young Harry of Monmouth, Prince of Wales, the left. So rapidly did the royal captains move, that the impetuous Hotspur, camped under the walls of the stout old castle, only knew of their near approach when, on the morning of July 20th, he saw upon the crest of a neighboring hill the waving banners of King Henry's host. The gates of Shrewsbury opened to the king, and across the walls of the ancient town royalist and rebel faced each other, armed for bloody fight.

Lionel's young heart beat high as he watched the war-like preparations, and, glancing across to where near Haughmond Abbey floated the rebel standard, he found himself humming one of the rough old war tunes he had learned in Wales:

"Oh, we hope to do thee a gleeful thing

With a rope, a ladder, and eke a ring;

On a gallows high shalt thou swing full free—

And thus shall the ending of traitors be."

"Nay, nay, Lionel, be not so sure of that," said the prince, as he, too, caught up the spirited air. "Who faces Hotspur and Douglas, as must we, will be wise not [140] to talk rope and gallows till he sees the end of the affair. But come to the base-court. I'll play thee a rare game of—hark, though," he said, as a loud trumpet-peal sounded beyond the walls, "there goeth the rebel defiance at the north gate. Come, attend me to the king's quarters, Lionel." And hastening across the inner court of the castle, the two lads entered the great guard-room just as the warders ushered into the king's presence the knights who, in accordance with the laws of battle, bore to the king the defiance of his enemies.

"Henry of Hereford and Lancaster!" said the herald, flinging a steel gauntlet on the floor with a ringing clash, "there lieth my lord of Percy's gage! thus doth he defy thee to battle!

The Prince Harry, with the flush of excitement on his fair young face, sprang from his father's side and picked up the gage of battle. "This shall be my duty," he said, and then the herald read before the king the paper containing the manifesto, or "defiance," of the Percies.

In spirited articles the missive accused the king of many wrongs and oppressions, each article closing with the sentence: "Wherefore, thou art forsworn and false," while the following hot and ringing words concluded the curious paper: "For the which cause, we defy thee, thy fautores, and complices, as common traytoures and destroyers of the realme and the invadours, oppressors, and confounders of the verie true and right heires to the crown [141] of England, which thynge we intende with our handes to prove this daie, Almighty God helping us."

The king took the paper from the herald's hand and simply said:

"Withdraw, sir herald, and assure your lord that we will reply to him with the sword, and prove in battle his quarrel to be false and traitorous and feigned."

And then the herald withdrew, courteously escorted; but it is said that King Henry, saddened at the thought of the valiant English blood that must be shed, sent, soon after, gentle words and offers of pardon to the Percies if they would return to their allegiance—all of which the Earl of Worcester, envious of the king, misreported to his generous but hot-headed nephew, Sir Harry Percy. So wrong a message did the false earl give, that both Hotspur and the Douglas flamed with rage, and without waiting for Owen Glendower's forces and the expected reinforcements from the north, gave orders for instant battle, thus hastening the conflict before they were really ready. "The more haste, the less speed "is a strong old adage, boys, that holds good both in peace and war, and bitterly was it repented of on that "sad and sorry field of Shrewsbury."

So, out through the north gate of Shrewsbury, on a Friday afternoon, swept the army of the king, fourteen thousand strong, and, back from the abbey foregate and the Severn's banks, dropped the Percies' host, thirteen thousand banded English, Scotch, and Welsh. In a space [142] of open, rolling country known as Hately Field—fit name for a place of battle between former friends,—three miles from Shrewsbury town, the rival armies pitched their tents, drew their battle lines, and waited for the dawn.

It is the morning of Saturday, the twenty-second of July, 1403. Both camps are astir, and in the gray light that precedes the dawn the preparation for battle is made. The sun lights up the alder-covered hills, the trumpet sounds to arms, the standards sway, the burnished armor gleams and rings as knights and squires fall into their appointed places; the cloth-yard shafts are fitted to the archer's bows, and then, up from a sloping field, sweet with the odor of the pea-blossoms that cover it, there comes in loud defiance the well-known war-cry of the Percies: "Esperance, esperance!  Percy, ho, a Percy!" and Hotspur with his Northumbrian archers sweeps to the attack amidst a terrible flight of arrows and of spears.

"Play up, sir trumpeter!" shouted Harry of Monmouth, rising in his stirrups. "Play up your answering blast. Shake out our standard free. Now, forward all! Death to traitors! St. George—St. George for England!"

"St. George for England!" came the answering echo from King Henry's line; "Esperance, Percy!" sounded again from the rebel ranks, and "in a place called Bullfield," both armies closed in conflict.

"So furiously, the armies joined," runs the old chronicle: "the arrows fell as fall the leaves on the ground after [143] a frosty night at the approach of winter. There was no room for the arrows to reach the ground; every one struck a mortal man." The first attack was against the king's own ranks. Hotspur, with his Northumbrian arrows, and Douglas, with his Highland spears, pressed hotly upon them, while Worcester's Cheshire archers from a slope near by sent their whizzing messengers straight into the king's lines. Though answering valiantly, the terrible assault was too severe for the king's men. They wavered, staggered, swayed, and broke—a ringing cheer went up from the enemy, when, just at the critical moment, with an "indignant onset," Harry of Monmouth dashed to his father's aid. His resistless rush changed the tide of battle, and the king's line was saved.

A sorry record is the story of that fearful fight. For three long hours the battle raged from Haughmond Abbey on to Berwick Bridge, and ere the noon of that bloody day, twelve thousand valiant Englishmen fell on the fatal field. "So faute thei, to gret harm of this nation," says one queer old chronicle; and another says: "It was more to be noted vengeable, for there the father was slain of the son and the son of the father." The great historian Hume tells us that "We shall scarcely find any battle in those ages where the shock was more terrible and more constant."

The fire of passion and of fight spread even to the youngest page and squire, and as Lionel pressed close after the "gilded helmet and the three-plumed crest "of [144] his brilliant young prince, his face flamed with the excitement of the battle-hour. Again and again he saw the king unhorsed and fighting desperately for his crown and life; again and again he saw the fiery Hotspur and Douglas, the Scot, charge furiously on the king they had sworn to kill. Backward and forward the tide of battle rolls; now royalist, now rebel seems the victor. Hark! What shout is that?

"The king, the king is down!"

And where Hotspur and the Douglas fight around the hillock now known as the "King's Croft," Lionel misses the golden crest, he misses the royal banner of England!

"Sir Walter Blount is killed! the standard is lost!" is now the sorry cry.

But now the prince and his hardy Welsh fighters charge to the rescue, and Lionel gave a cry of terror as he saw a whizzing arrow tear into the face of his beloved prince. Young Harry reeled with his hurt, and Lionel with other gentlemen of the guard caught him in their arms. There was confusion and dismay.

"The prince is hurt!" cried Lionel, and almost as an echo rose those other shouts:

"The king is slain!"

"Long live the Percy!"

"Back to the rear, my lord!" pleaded Lionel, as he wiped the blood from the fair young face of the prince.

"Back, back, my lord Prince. Back to my tent," urged the Earl of Westmoreland, and "Back, back, while there [145] is yet safety," said the other knights, as the tide of battle surged toward the bleeding prince.

"Stand off!" cried young Harry, springing to his feet. "Stand off, my lords! Far be from me such disgrace as that, like a poltroon, I should stain my arms by flight. If the prince flies, who will wait to end the battle?"

And just then another shout arose—a joyous, ringing cry:

"Ho, the king lives! the standard is safe! St. George for England!" And the brave young Harry, turning to his guard, said:

"What, my lords? to be carried back before the victory? 'Twould be to me a perpetual death! Lead me, I implore you, to the very face of the foe. I may not say to my friends: 'Go ye on first to the fight!' Be it mine to say: 'Follow me, my friends!'"

Then, as the royal standard waved once more aloft, he burst with his followers into the thick of the fight, his unyielding valor giving new strength to all.

And now the end is near. An archer's arrow, with unerring aim, pierces the valiant Hotspur, and he falls dead upon the field.

"Harry Percy is dead! Victory, victory! St. George and victory!" rings the cry from thousands of the loyal troops, and, like a whirlwind, a panic of fear seizes the rebel ranks. Douglas is a prisoner; the Earl of Worcester surrenders; the rout is general.

"Then fled thei that myte fle," says the chronicle, or, as [146] Hall, another of the old chroniclers records: "The Scots fled, the Welshmen ran, the traitors were overcome; then neither woods hindered nor hills stopped the fearful hearts of them that were vanquished.


[Illustration]

HARRY OF MONMOUTH DASHED TO HIS FATHER'S AID.

So ended the "sad and sorry field of Shrewsbury," a, fitting prelude to that bloody era of strife known as the Wars of the Roses, which, commencing in the sad reign of the son of this boy general, Harry of Monmouth, was to stain England with the blood of Englishmen through fifty years.

And now the dust and roar of battle die away, and we find ourselves amidst the Christmas-tide revels in royal Windsor, where, in one of the lordly apartments, our friend Lionel, like a right courtly young squire, is paying duteous attention to his liege lady, the fair Princess Philippa. As we draw near the pair, we catch the words of the princess, now a mature and stately young damsel of twelve, as she says to Lionel, who, gorgeous in a suit of motley velvet, listens respectfully:

"And let me tell thee, Master Lionel, that, from all I can make of good Master Lucke's tedious Latin letters, King Erik is a right noble prince, and a husband meet and fit for a Princess of England."

"Oh, ho! sits the wind in that quarter?" a gay voice exclaims, and Prince Harry comes to his sister's side. "Well, here be I in a pretty mess. Was I not prepared to deny in council, before all the lords, this petition of King Erik for our Princess,—ay, and to back it up with my [147] stout bowmen from the marches? Beshrew me, Sis, but since when didst thou shift to so fair a taste for—what was it? frozen turnips and salted beef? And—how is the queen-mother's appetite?"

But with a dignified little shrug, the princess disdains her brother's banter, and the merry prince goes on to say:

"Well, I must use my ready bows and lances some-where, and if not to right the wrongs of the fair Philippa against this frosty and crusty—pardon me, your Highness, this right noble  King Erik of Denmark,—then against that other 'most dread and sovereign lord, Owen, Prince of Wales,' as he doth style himself. To-morrow will this betrothal be signed; and then, Lionel, hey for the southern marches and the hills and heaths of Wales!"

So, amidst siege and skirmish and fierce assault the winter passed away, and grew to spring again; and so well and vigilantly did this boy leader defend the borders of his principality against the forays of Glendower's troops, that we find the gentry of the county of Hereford petitioning the king to publicly thank "our dear and honored Lord and Prince, your son," for his "defence and governance of this your county of Hereford." And, out of all the vigilance and worry, the dash and danger of this exciting life, Harry of Monmouth was learning those lessons of patience, fortitude, coolness, self-denial, and valor that enabled him, when barely twenty-eight, to win the mighty fight at Agincourt, and to gain the proud title of Henry the Victorious. For despite its horrors and terrors, [148] has ever been a great and absorbing game, in which he who is most skilful, most cautious, and most fearless, makes the winning moves.

"Tidings, tidings, my lord Prince!" came the message from one hard-riding courserman, as his foam-flecked steed dashed through the great gate of the castle of Hereford. "My lord of Warwick bath met your Welsh rebels near the Red Castle by Llyn Du, and hath routed them with much loss." But a few days later, came another horseman with the words: "Tidings, tidings, my lord Prince! Sir William Newport hath been set upon at Craig y Dorth by your rebels of Wales, 'with myty hand,' and so sore was his strait that he hath fled into Monmouth town, while many gallant gentlemen and archers lie dead of their hurt, by the great stones of Treleg."

"Sir William routed?" exclaimed the prince, "'t is ours, then, to succor him. Lionel, summon Lord Talbot." That sturdy old fighter was soon at hand. "Fare we to Monmouth straight, my lord," said the prince. Here is sorry news, but we will right the day."

Very speedily the little army of the prince was on the move along the lovely valley of the Wye; and, on the tenth of March, 1405, they were lodged within the red walls of that same great castle of Monmouth, "in the which," says the old chronicle, "it pleased God to give life to the noble King Henry V., who of the same is called Harry of Mon-mouth."

"Tidings, tidings, my lord Prince," came the report of [149] the scouts; "the false traitor, Glendower, with your rebels of Glamorgan and Usk, of Netherwent and Overwent, have lodged themselves, to the number of eight thousand, in your town of Grosmont, scarce six miles away.

Eight thousand strong! and Prince Harry had with him barely five thousand men. But with the morning sun the order "Banners advance!" was given, and the fearless young general of seventeen drew his little army along the banks of the winding Monnow to the smoking ruins of the plundered town of Grosmont.

But the difference in numbers did seem a serious obstacle to success.

"Is it wise, my lord Prince," cautioned Lord Talbot, "to pit ourselves bodily against so strong a power? They be eight thousand strong and count us nearly two to one.

"Very true, my lord," said the intrepid prince, "but victory lieth not in a multitude of people, but in the power of God. Let us help to prove it here, and by the aid of Heaven and our good right arms, may we this day win the unequal fight!"

"Amen!" said Lord Talbot; "none welcome the day and duty more than I."

Out from the castle on its lofty rock and forth from the smoking ruins of the town swarmed the men of Wales confident of easy victory. The armies of the rival princes of Wales stood face to face. Then the trumpets sounded, [150] the red cross of St. George and the odd-looking banner of the Trinity fluttered above the English ranks; stout Lord Talbot rode before the lines and tossing his truncheon in air shouted: "Now—strike!" There is a sudden rush, and as the battle-cries "St. George and England!" "St. David for Wales!" rise in air the opposing armies join in deadly fight. Short, but stubborn and bloody was the conflict. Victory rested with the little army of Prince Harry, and before the sun went down Glendower and his routed forces were in full retreat, leaving a thousand sturdy Welshmen dead upon the field.

Following up his victory with quick and determined action, the boy general hurried at the heels of Glendower's broken ranks, and on Sunday, the fifteenth of March, 1405, faced them again under the old towers of the castle of Usk. Swift and sudden fell his attack. The Welsh ranks broke before the fury of his onset, and, with over fifteen hundred lost in killed or prisoners, with his brother Tudor slain and his son Gruffyd a captive in the hands of the English, Owen Glendower fled with the remnant of his defeated army into the grim fastnesses of the Black Hills of Brecon.

It was a sad day for Wales, for it broke the power and sway of their remarkable and patriotic leader, Glendower, and made them, erelong, vassals of the English crown. But the bells of London rang loud and merrily when, three days after the fight, a rapid courserman spurred through the city gates, bearing to the council a copy of [151] the modest letter in which the young general announced his victory to his "most redoubted and most sovereign lord and father," the king.

Lionel, close in attendance on his much-loved leader, followed him through all the troubles and triumphs of the Welsh wars; followed him when, a few months after, before the gates of Worcester, the French allies of the Welsh rebels were driven from the kingdom; and followed him, "well and bravely appareled," when, in May, 1406, the king, with a brilliant company of lords and ladies, gathered at the port of Lynn to bid farewell to the young Princess Philippa, as she sailed with the Danish ambassadors, "in great state," over the sea, "to be joyned in wedlock" to King Erik of Denmark.

And here we must leave our gallant young prince. A boy no longer, his story is now that of a wise and vigorous young manhood, which, in prince and king, bore out the promise of his boyish days. Dying at thirty-five—still a young man—he closed a career that stands on record as a notable one in the annals of the world.


[Illustration]

HARRY OF MONMOUTH, PRINCE OF WALES.
"THE UNCONQUERED KING, THE FLOWER AND PRIDE OF ALL CHIVALRY."

But when you come to read in Shakespeare's matchless verse the plays of "King Henry IV." and "King Henry V.," do not, in your delight over his splendid word-pictures, permit yourself to place too strong a belief in his portrait of young "Prince Hal," and his scrapes and follies and wild carousals with fat old Falstaff and his boon companions. For the facts of history now prove the great [152] poet mistaken; and "Prince Hal," though full of life and spirit, fond of pleasure and mischief, and, sometimes, of rough and thoughtless fun, stands on record as a valiant, high-minded, clear-hearted, and conscientious lad. "And when we reflect," says one of his biographers, "to what a high station he had been called whilst yet a boy; with what important commissions he had been intrusted; how much fortune seems to have done to spoil him by pride and vain-glory from his earliest youth, this page of our national records seems to set him high among the princes of the world; not so much as an undaunted warrior and triumphant hero, as the conqueror of himself, the example of a chastened, modest spirit, of filial reverence, and of a single mind bent on his duty."

The conqueror of himself! It was this that gave him grace to say, when crowned King of England in Westminster: "The first act of my reign shall be to pardon all who have offended me; and I pray God that if He foresees I am like to be any other than a just and good king, He may be pleased to take me from the world rather than seat me on a throne to live a public calamity to my country." It was this that gave him his magnificent courage at Agincourt, where, with barely six thousand Englishmen, he faced and utterly routed a French host of nearly sixty thousand men; it was this that, in the midst of the gorgeous pageant which welcomed him at London as the hero of Agincourt, made him refuse to allow his battle-bruised helmet and his dinted armor to [153] be displayed as trophies of his valor. It was this that kept him brave, modest, and high-minded through all the glories and successes of his short but eventful life, that made him the idol of the people and one of the most brilliant figures in the crowded pages of English history.

It is not given to us, boys and girls, to be royal in name, but we may be royal in nature, even as was Harry of Monmouth, the brilliant young English prince, and, knowing now something of his character, we can understand the loving loyalty of a devoted people that marks this entry of his death as it stands in the "Acts of Privy Council," the official record of the public doings of his realm:

"Departed this life at the Castle of Bois de Vincennes, near Paris, on the last day of August, in the year 1422, and the tenth of his reign, the most Christian Champion of the Church, the Bright Beam of Wisdom, the Mirror of Justice, the Unconquered King, the Flower and Pride of all Chivalry—Henry the Fifth, King of England, Heir and Regent of France, and Lord of Ireland."


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