| Our Island Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|A child's history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold. Beginning with the stories of Albion and Brutus, it relates all the interesting legends and hero tales in which the history of England abounds through the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Ages 9-12 |
THE STORY OF RICHARD CŒUR DE LION
"This King Richard, I understand,
E'er he went out of England,
Let make an axe for the nonce,
There with to cleave the Saracen's bones,
The head in soothe was wrought full weel,
Thereon was twenty pounds of steel."
 THE country where Christ was born, lived, and died is called
Palestine. The capital of that country is Jerusalem. From
that far-off country the story of Christ was carried all
over the world.
Many listened to the story and were glad, but the country
where he lived fell into the hands of the Saracens and Turks
who neither believed in nor loved Christ. When people, for
the love of Christ, went the long, long, journey to
Palestine, in order to see for themselves the Holy
Sepulchre, these Saracens and Turks ill-treated them, and
insulted their religion.
At last a monk, called Peter the Hermit, went through
Europe, preaching and calling upon all Christians to fight
for the city of their Lord. If they truly loved Christ, he
said, they would deliver His grave from the hands of the
Saracens. At his call Christian people rose, eager to show
their love, and journeyed to Palestine; but the way was long
and difficult, and few reached the capital.
 The people, however, were not disheartened, and the
following year a great army set out which did reach
Jerusalem, and after much fighting the Holy Sepulchre was
taken from the Turks.
Later on the Turks took it back again, and so, for nearly
two hundred years, with times of peace between, Christians
and Turks were at war.
These wars were called crusades, which means, wars of the
cross. The word comes from the Latin word crux. They were
called crusades because the people who fought in them were
fighting for the place where Christ died upon the cross. As
a badge or sign, they wore a cross upon their armour or
Many kings and princes joined these wars. King Henry II. had
been making ready to go to Palestine when he died. His son
Richard I., who was king after him, made up his mind to go as
soon as he was crowned.
Richard had not been a good son. He had helped to make his
father's last days unhappy, but when his father was dead he
was sorry for what he had done, and he punished the people
who had helped him to rebel, instead of rewarding them as
they had expected. Richard was very brave as his name, Cœur
de Lion, which means Lion-hearted, shows. He was a great
soldier, he loved to fight, he loved to have adventures. So
instead of staying at home and looking after his kingdom as
he ought to have done, he went far away to Palestine to
"RICHARD WENT AWAY TO PALESTINE"
And his people were proud of their king and glad to
have him go, for they knew that he would make the name of
England famous wherever he went, although Richard himself
was really hardly English. He had indeed been born in
England, but he had lived nearly all his life in France, and
he did not know nor care much about the English people.
 Richard Cœur de Lion came to England to be crowned. He sold
everything he could in order to get money for the crusade
(for wars always cost a great deal of money), and then he
But first he chose two bishops to rule the country while he
was gone. One was a very old man, and the other, William
Longchamps, was a Norman. He could hardly speak a word of
English and he treated the people so badly that they hated
him and soon rebelled.
Now Richard's younger brother, John, wanted to be King of
England, so he encouraged the people to rebel. Then he began
to rule, but the unhappy people soon found that John was no
kinder than William Longchamps. Indeed he was rather worse,
for John wanted the kingdom for himself, and Longchamps,
although proud and haughty and cruel to the people, was at
least true to his king.
John and his Norman friends oppressed the people, and the
hatred between English and Norman, to which Henry II. had
done so much to put an end, flamed up again. Many of the
English left their homes, or were driven from them, and the
land became full of robbers and outlaws.
One of the most famous of these outlaws was Robin Hood. He
lived in Sherwood, a forest which at that time covered a
great part of the centre of England. He was the head of a
large band and so powerful was he that he was called the
King of Sherwood. And indeed his followers loved and obeyed
him as they would have done a king.
Robbers as a rule are not men to be admired, but these were
wild times, very different from ours, and Robin had been
forced to become a robber through the wickedness of the
rulers of the land. Among his own band
 he kept such good
order, that in Sherwood women and children could wander
safely, where it was dangerous for haughty knights and
wicked priests to go. Robin's rules were strict, and those
who would not obey them were driven out of the band of
Merrie Men, as his followers were called.
"But, look ye, do no husbandman harm,
That tilleth with his plough,
No more ye shall the good yeoman
That walketh by green wood shaw;
Nor no knight, nor no squire,
That will be good fellow.
These bishops and archbishops
Ye shall them beat and bind;
The high sheriff of Nottingham
Hold him in your mind."
The sheriff of Nottingham was Robin's greatest enemy. Many
times he tried to catch Robin but he never succeeded.
In those days bows and arrows were used in battle instead of
guns, as gunpowder had not been invented. Bows and arrows
were also used for hunting wild animals. The English archers
were the most famous in the world, and Robin Hood was the
most famous archer in England. He could split a willow wand,
and hit a mark which another man could hardly see.
Robin and his men lived in caves in the forest, shooting the
King's deer for food and getting money by robbing the rich
knights and priests who travelled through the Green Wood. But
they never hurt nor robbed the poor people, indeed Robin
used to help many of them. The common people loved him,
although the rich, and great barons and nobles hated him.
Far away in Palestine news of the wicked things which John
was doing reached Richard, and he felt that
 it was time that
he should go home again. He had not succeeded in what he had
set out to do. He had not won Jerusalem from the Turks. But
he made a truce with their great leader, Saladin. A truce
means that the people who have been fighting do not make
peace for good and all, but that they promise not to fight
against each other for some arranged time. Saladin and
Richard made a truce for three years, during which time
Saladin promised that no harm should be done to the pilgrims
who came to the Holy Sepulchre.
Richard set sail for home, but his heart was in the Holy
Land. Tears filled his eyes as its shores grew dim in the
distance. Stretching out his hand, as if in prayer,
"Blessed land," he cried, "farewell. To God's keeping I commend thee.
May He give me life that I may return to deliver thee from
the hand of the unbeliever."
As Richard sailed homeward, storms arose and his ship was
wrecked upon the shore of Austria. Nearly everyone was
drowned, but the King and a few of his knights escaped.
While in Palestine, Richard had quarrelled with the Duke of
Austria, and he knew that it would not be safe to travel
openly in this land. So the King and his knights disguised
themselves as merchants, hoping in that way to pass safely
on their journey.
But they had many adventures, and more than once were nearly
discovered. At last Richard was left with only one knight
and one little page. When they arrived at the large town
near which the Duke of Austria lived, Richard and the knight
lay hidden, while the page went into the town to buy food.
They had been travelling for several days without daring to
enter a house, and all the food they had was finished, and
they were both weary and hungry.
 Richard, like many brave and reckless people, was neither
thoughtful nor careful. He gave the page a large sum of
money and allowed him to go into the town carrying the
King's gloves in his belt.
In those days only very rich people wore gloves, and
Richard's were beautifully embroidered with silk and gold,
such as only kings and princes wore. The page had often
before bought food for his master, and he went fearlessly
into the market-place to get what was needed. But when he
handed the merchant a large piece of gold in payment, the
man looked sharply at him.
"Who is your master?" he asked.
"My master is a rich merchant called Hugh," replied the boy.
"He is returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land."
"Merchant, indeed," said another man. "Look at his gloves."
A third plucked them from his belt. "Merchant indeed," he
too cried. "These are king's gloves. Who is your master,
"I have told you," replied the page steadily, "he is a
merchant called Hugh."
But the townspeople would not believe that. They beat and
tortured the poor lad. Still he would not tell.
Then they dragged him before the duke with whom Richard had
quarrelled in Palestine. He was more strong and cruel than
the others, and at last forced the page to confess that his
master was Richard Cœur de Lion, the King of England.
Then Leopold, Duke of Austria, was very glad. He hated
Richard with a great hatred. He sent soldiers to the King's
hiding-place, seized him, and put him in prison.
Duke Leopold kept Richard prisoner for some time, and then
he sold him to the Emperor of Germany for a
 large sum of
money. The Emperor of Germany also hated Richard, so he, in
his turn, put him into prison.
Then the Emperor wrote to the King of France telling him
that the King of England was safely imprisoned in one of his
strong castles. And King Philip of France was glad, for he,
too, hated Richard, and had been helping Prince John stir up
the English people to rebellion. When Prince John heard
about it, he was glad too. So a great many people rejoiced
that Richard Cœur de Lion was in prison.
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