| 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 VI. OF WINDSOR—THE STORY OF THE MAID OF ORLEANS
 WHEN Henry V. died in 1422 A.D., his son, who was also
called Henry, was only a tiny baby nine months old. Yet the
people had loved Henry V. so much that they chose that this
tiny baby should be called their King. Of course a baby nine
months old, who could not even speak, could not rule, so his
uncle, the Duke of Gloucester, ruled instead. Queen
Catherine, the baby's mother, married a Welsh gentleman
called Owen Tudor, and took no part in ruling the kingdom.
For a little time things seemed to go well, but soon
troubles began. Charles, the mad King of France, died about
two months after the death of Henry V., and the baby Henry
VI. was proclaimed King of France in his place. "May God
grant long life to Henry, by the grace of God, King of
France and England," cried the heralds. But the Dauphin,
Charles, felt that he was the rightful heir, and he, too,
called himself King of France.
The baby king of course did not know anything about what was
happening, but his uncle John, Duke of Bedford, who ruled
France for him, was very angry with the Dauphin and began to
fight with him.
The English were so strong that at first they defeated the
French armies, and the Dauphin was in despair.
 The Scots had been helping the French. To stop them doing
so, the English said that they would set their King free if
they would promise not to help the French any more. You
remember that King James, when he was a little boy, had been
taken prisoner by Henry IV., and he had now been in prison
for nineteen years.
While in prison James had seen a beautiful lady, from his
window, as she walked in the garden of the palace. He loved
her, although he had never spoken to her, nor heard her
speak. James was a poet as well as a king, and he wrote some
beautiful poetry about her.
"And therewith cast I down my eyes again,
Where as I walking saw beneath the tower,
Full secretly, new coming her to play,
The fairest and the freshest young flower
That ever I saw, methought, before that hour,
For which sudden surprise, anon did start
The blood of all my body to my heart.
"And when she walkèd had a little time
Under the sweet green branches bent,
Her fair, fresh face as white as any snow,
She turned has, and forth her way she went.
But then began my sickness and torment,
To see her go and follow not I might,
Methought the day was turned into night.
"Bewailing in my chamber thus alone,
Despairing of all joy and remedy,
Oft weary of my thoughts and woe begone,
Unto the window would I walk in haste,
To see the world and the folk who went forbye,
As for the time, though I of mirthe's food
Might have no more, to look it did me good."
As soon as James was free, he married this beautiful lady
and went back to Scotland with her. But before he went the
English made him pay a large sum of money in
 return for all
that had been spent on him while he was in prison. He also
promised not to help the French in their battles with the
So this is why the Scots could no longer fight for the
French. But other help came to them. They found a great
leader who brought them victory. This great leader was a
In a peaceful little village, far away from the sounds of
war, lived a peasant girl called Jeanne d'Arc or as we call
her in English, Joan of Arc. She had never been to school.
She could neither read nor write. Ever since she had been
quite a little girl she had had to work hard all day long in
the fields and in the house. But although she was ignorant,
Joan was gentle and good, and her heart was full of love for
From time to time stories of battle and loss and death, were
brought to the little village by sick and wounded soldiers
from the battle-fields. As Joan listened to these stories,
tears filled her eyes, and a great longing grew in her heart
to do something for her dear country.
She spent long days alone in the fields taking care of her
master's sheep. While she watched the sheep, she kept
thinking and longing. "What can I do?" she said to herself.
"I am only a poor, ignorant girl; what can I do for my
At last it seemed to her as if the empty air around her was
full of voices, which answered her question. It seemed to
her that saints and angels came to her and whispered that
she was chosen to free France.
"Put on the courage and the armour of a man," said the
voices, "and lead the armies to victory."
When Joan told people that God had chosen her as captain,
they thought at first that she was mad. But she
 was so
earnest and so sure that at last they took her to the
Dressed like a man in shining white armour, riding upon a
beautiful white horse, and carrying a white banner sewed
with the gold lilies of France, she looked so beautiful and so
good that the Dauphin and the soldiers could not but believe
So this peasant girl, who knew nothing of war, who had never
before worn armour, nor carried a sword, nor ridden upon a
horse, took command of the army. The rough soldiers honoured,
obeyed and almost worshipped her. New hope sprang up in their
hearts, new strength to fight.
So full of courage were they now, that in less than a week
fortune changed, the English began to lose and the French to
win. Joan's first fighting was at Orleans, which had been
besieged by the English for some months. Joan beat the
English and drove them away, and because of that she was
afterwards often called the Maid of Orleans. Battle after
battle was fought, town after town was taken from the
English, until about two months from the time Joan began to
fight, the French were so completely victorious that the
Dauphin was crowned at Rheims.
It was a very splendid sight. The church was crowded with
knights and nobles and rejoicing people, but no one rejoiced
more than the Maid of Orleans. Dressed still in her
beautiful white armour, holding her white banner in her hand,
she stood beside the Dauphin as the crown was placed upon
his head and he was proclaimed King of France instead of the
little English King Henry VI.
Then when all was over Joan begged to be allowed to go home
again to tend sheep once more and to be with her brothers
and her sisters. "They would be so glad to see me," she
said, "my work here is done."
But the King would not let her go. The English still
 remained in the country and fighting still went on. So Joan,
as she was not allowed to go home, went on fighting too. But
one sad day, during a battle, she was wounded and taken
prisoner by the English.
The English were very glad of this, because they thought
that she was a witch. In those days people still believed in
witches and were very much afraid of them. The English
thought that no one who was not a witch could have done the
wonderful things Joan had done. After being kept in prison
for nearly a year, Joan, young, beautiful, and good though
she was, was burned as a witch because she had freed her
country. The English did not do this wicked deed but, what
was almost as bad, they allowed their friends, the
Burgundians, who were French, but who had been fighting on
the English side, to do it.
After this the English proclaimed Henry VI. King of France
at Paris. But it was only an empty show, for he was not
really King of France. Fighting still went on, but the
English lost more and more till at last they had lost all
the lands they had ever held in France. In 1451 A.D., only
the town of Calais remained to them, and the Hundred Years'
War, begun by Edward III. in 1340 A.D., came to an end.
While these things were happening in France, the baby King
of England was growing up to be a man. And a very weak man
he grew to be. He was pulled this way and that among his
many advisers who ruled the country and quarrelled among
The lords made the King marry a French lady called Margaret
of Anjou. She was very strong-willed and it was really she,
more than King Henry, who ruled.
The country was in a very unhappy state. The long wars with
France had cost a great deal of money and a great many
lives. The people were heavily taxed
 in order to pay for the
wars. The men who were taken away for soldiers very often
never came home again. There were not enough people in the
country to do the work, and famine, disease, and all kinds
of misery followed.
At last the people rebelled, just as they had rebelled in
the time of Richard II. under Wat Tyler. This time their
leader was called Jack Cade.
It all happened very much as before. The rebels marched to
London and camped upon Blackheath. A battle was fought in
which the King's men were defeated. Then Jack Cade and his
followers were promised what they asked. Many of them
afterwards went home quietly, but Jack Cade himself was
This rising lasted only a few weeks, but another struggle
which lasted thirty years soon began. This struggle was
called the Wars of the Roses.
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