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HENRY PLANTAGENET—THE STORY OF THE CONQUEST OF IRELAND
 WHEN Henry heard of what had happened to Thomas à Becket, he
was very sorry; but strangely enough he had no power to
punish the four knights; their sin was a sin against the
Church, and they could only be tried by a bishop's court.
The bishop's court punished them by sending them on a
pilgrimage to the Holy Land. So Thomas à Becket, in
quarrelling with the King, had protected his own murderers.
But perhaps their punishment was very real, for they were
forsaken and shunned by all their friends. No one would
speak to them, nor eat with them, and at last they died in
misery and loneliness.
All England was filled with horror at the dreadful deed. The
people had loved Thomas when he was alive, now that he was
dead they called him a saint. From far and near they came as
pilgrims to his grave, over which a splendid shrine,
glittering with gold and gems, was placed.
Nearly four years later the King himself came as a pilgrim
to show his sorrow and repentance. He rode on horseback to
Canterbury but, as soon as he came within sight of the
cathedral, he got off his horse and walked barefoot, wearing
only a shirt, and carrying a lighted candle in his hand,
until he reached the shrine.
 For a whole day and night, having nothing to eat or drink,
he knelt in prayer before the grave. For a still greater
punishment, he made the monks beat his bare back with
All this show of sorrow could not bring back the great
archbishop, who had been murdered in consequence of a few
words spoken in anger. But it pleased the Pope, who was very
angry because Thomas à Becket had been killed. He blamed
Henry, and would scarcely believe that he had not told the
four knights to do the wicked deed. In those days the Pope
was very powerful indeed. Even kings stood in awe of him,
and Henry was glad to make peace with him by any means in
Until now, in this book, we have spoken only of England,
although England is but one of the countries which form the
United Kingdom. Each of these countries has a history of its
own, but it would be too difficult to tell all the stories
in one book, so I shall tell only the story of each country
after it has been joined to England.
There are four countries in the United Kingdom,—England,
Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Of these, England and
Ireland were the first to be joined together. This happened
in the reign of Henry II., in 1172 A.D.
England, you remember, had at one time been divided into
seven kingdoms, and in the same way Ireland was still
divided into four, and the kings of these four divisions
were always fighting with each other.
Now, one of these kings, who was called Dermot, came to
Henry and asked for help against another of the Irish kings.
Henry promised help if King Dermot would acknowledge him as
"over-lord." This, King Dermot said he would do. Henry was
very glad to fight with the Irish, because he knew it would
please the Pope, and
 perhaps make him forget about the death
of Thomas à Becket. The Pope was angry with the Irish,
because they would not pay him some money to which he
thought he had a right.
Henry first sent some Norman knights over to Ireland, and
then went himself. There was a good deal of fighting, but in
the end Ireland was added to England, and ever since, the
kings of England have been lords of Ireland too, although
many years passed before they could be said really to rule
Henry's great reign closed in sorrow. His sons did not love
him, and they rebelled and fought against him. They were
encouraged in this by their mother, who was not a good
Two of Henry's sons died before him, both of them while
fighting with their father. Two others called Richard and
John were kings of England after him.
John was Henry's favourite son. He was the only one who had
not rebelled against him. But when the King lay very ill the
nobles came to tell him that John, too, had rebelled. This
last sorrow broke Henry's heart. Crying out, "Ah, John,
John, now I care no more for myself, nor for the world," he
turned his face to the wall, and died.
Henry was a very rich king, for, besides being King of
England and lord of Ireland, he was ruler over more than
half of France. Later you will hear how one of his sons lost
all these French possessions.