| 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 |
HENRY III. OF WINCHESTER—THE STORY OF HUBERT DE BURGH
 WHEN King John died, the anger of the barons died too, and,
although he was only nine years old, they chose his son
Henry to be their King. "His father was wicked," said the
barons, "but the prince has done us no wrong. Why should we
be angry with him?" So they crowned Henry, and told Louis to
return to his own country.
But Louis was angry that, having been brought from France and
promised the crown of England, he should be told to go away
again. He would not go. So there was fighting once more.
Louis sent to France for men, and a great fleet of ships,
filled with soldiers, came sailing to England.
Long ago, you remember, Alfred the Great had seen how much
better it would be to stop the Danes from landing at all,
and he built ships and fought them at sea.
Now a brave man called Hubert de Burgh saw the same thing.
When he heard that more Frenchmen were coming, he said, "We
will never let them land. We will fight and conquer them at
sea." So under his command a brave little English fleet
sailed out from Dover to meet the great French fleet.
And the English conquered the French, as Hubert
 had said
they would. The wind was blowing from the English to the
French, and the English threw quicklime in the air, which
was blown into the eyes of the French and blinded them. The
English archers then poured arrows among them while their
quick little ships crashed with their pointed prows against
the great French vessels, piercing holes in their sides
until the water rushed in and they sank. The English were
altogether so quick and fearless that the French were no
match for them, and their fleet was utterly destroyed.
On land, too, the English beat the French, and Louis, seeing
that his cause was lost, went back to France.
Henry III. was too young to rule, so Hubert de Burgh was
made Regent. He was a good Regent, but his work was hard,
for, after the wickedness and misrule of John, the kingdom
was in a bad state.
But in spite of his good and wise teacher Henry grew up to
be neither good nor wise. Listening to the advice of evil
friends, he treated Hubert very badly and at last obliged
him to fly for his life.
One night while Hubert was sleeping quietly, he was suddenly
awakened by a friend. "Fly, my Lord Hubert," he cried, "stay
not a moment. The King has sent his soldiers to take you. I
have ridden hard, but they are close behind me. You have not
a moment to lose."
Hubert got out of bed and, not even waiting to dress, fled with
bare feet and only a cloak round him to the nearest church.
There, with his hand upon the cross, he waited in the dark
Hubert fled to a church for sanctuary or safety. When any
one was hunted by his enemies, if he ran into a church,
reached the altar steps and laid hold upon the cross, no one
dared to hurt him. This was called "taking sanctuary."
 It was considered a dreadful and wicked thing to kill any
one in sanctuary. Yet, you remember, the knights killed
Thomas à Becket on the steps of the altar in Canterbury
Hubert waited in the cold and silent church until, with the
first grey streaks of dawn and the first early twitter of
the birds, he heard the distant tramp of feet and the
clatter of swords and armour. Nearer and nearer came the
sounds till at last a knight, followed by three hundred
armed men, dashed into the church.
"Hubert de Burgh," said the knight, "In the King's name I
command you to leave this holy place. Give yourself into my
hands, that I may take you before the King to answer for
your misdeeds as a rebel and traitor."
"Nay," replied Hubert, "to my King have I ever been true,
but he has listened to false friends who would take my life.
Here have I sought God's safety. Here will I remain."
"That shalt thou not do," cried the knight, fiercely. "On,
men, and seize him!"
Then the armed men rushed forward, forced Hubert from the
altar, and carried him out of the church.
"He is indeed a mighty man and strong," said the knight,
when he saw how Hubert struggled. "He must be fettered, or
we shall never carry our prize to London."
Near the church stood a smith's forge, and the smith, who
had been already aroused by the noise, was ordered to light
his fire and make fetters for the prisoner.
Soon the red fire glowed in the grey morning light, and the
ring of hammer and anvil was heard.
"For whom do I made these fetters?" asked the smith, as he
paused in his work.
"For the traitor and rebel, Hubert de Burgh," replied the
 "What!" cried the smith, throwing down his hammer, "for
Hubert de Burgh. That will I never do. Hubert de Burgh is no
rebel. He saved us from the French, he gave us safety and
peace. Some one else may do your evil deeds. No iron of mine
shall ever fetter such noble hands."
"Fool!" cried the knight, drawing his sword, "do as I command
you or die."
"I can die," replied the smith calmly. "Yes, kill me, do
with me what you like; I will never make fetters for Hubert
When the smith spoke like this, the knight began to feel
rather ashamed, but he would not let Hubert go, both because
he hated Hubert, and because he feared the King. So he and
his followers bound Hubert with a rope, set him upon a
horse, and took him to the Tower of London.
When the Bishop of London heard what had happened, he was
very angry. Being a brave man he went straight to the King.
"My liege," he said to him, "have you heard how your
soldiers have broken the peace of holy Church and have
dragged Hubert de Burgh from sanctuary, casting him into
"I know that the rebel and traitor, Hubert de Burgh, is now
in prison," replied Henry.
"Hubert de Burgh is no rebel," said the bishop, "and if he
were, the soldiers have still no right to drag him from the
safety of the Church. Let him go back, or I shall
excommunicate every man who has had to do with it."
Very unwillingly the King allowed Hubert to go back to his
place of safety. But he sent soldiers to dig a trench round
the church and round the bishop's house which was close to
it. There the soldiers watched day
 and night so that Hubert
might not escape, and so that no food might be taken in to
But in spite of the strict watch kept by the soldiers,
Hubert's friends found means to send him food, and for many
days he lived in the church. Then still closer watch was
kept and, at last, thinking it a disgrace to die of hunger,
Hubert left the church of his own accord, and gave himself
up to the King's soldiers, who at once carried him off to
the Tower of London.
There he was kept for some time, but at last Henry, who was
not really cruel, although he was weak and foolish, set him
free. After that, Hubert lived quietly in his own home, and
took no more part in the ruling of the kingdom.
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