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WARS BETWEEN HENRY II. AND HIS SONS-CONQUEST OF IRELAND. (From 1168 to 1189.)
KING HENRY'S bitterest troubles gathered round the closing years of his life. He had four sons, Henry, Richard, Geoffrey, and John. The oldest and youngest were his favourites; Richard and Geoffrey were left more to the care of their mother. But neither Henry nor Eleanor set a good example to their children, and the four princes, ill-trained by their parents, grew up proud, passionate, and undutiful. When their father offended them, they raised troops in their mother's French provinces, and made war upon him. In the midst of their rebellion, Prince Henry was seized with a fatal illness. His conscience now accused him bitterly because of his undutiful conduct, and he died in miserable anguish and remorse.
But the other princes were not made better by the sad end of their brother: Geoffrey was killed soon after by an accident-he fell from his horse and was trodden under foot in a great crowd-but Richard again went to war with his father. It is true that King Henry had used his son Richard very ill, but Richard was now joined by John, the darling child of his father, who had kept John always with him, and indulged him far more than any of his brothers, and this last sorrow quite broke the king's heart. When he heard that his son John was amongst the rebels, he burst into an agony of rage and disappointment, pronounced a bitter curse on his unnatural children,
CONQUEST OF IRELAND.
and in a short time ended his days, worn out with vexation and grief, July 6th, 1189.
Henry the Second was the first English king who possessed any part of Ireland. At that time Ireland was divided into a number of little kingdoms, and the princes of those kingdoms were constantly quarrelling and going to war with each other. One of them, Dermot, King of Leinster, was driven out of his territory, and came over to England in 1168, to ask for help. Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, and some other nobles, went to Ireland, to fight for him, and to get lands for themselves, and they succeeded so well that when King Henry went over, in 1171, almost all the Irish chiefs came and made submission to him. From that time the kings of England were called Lords of Ireland, but it was long before they really had much power over the country. The English noblemen who went to settle there became like little kings in their own lands, and would only obey the King of England when they were forced to do so. They made war upon one another and upon the native Irish, whom they drove into the wildest and most distant parts of the island; and so it came to pass, that for hundreds of years Ireland was never at peace.
RICHARD I., SURNAMED CŒUR DE LION.
(From 1189 to 1199.)
WHEN Prince Richard heard of his father's sorrowful end, he was greatly grieved and shocked; he wept bitterly over his corpse, and reproached himself with
having done so much to pain him. But his sorrow was not deep enough to cure the haughty passionate spirit which had made him an undutiful son, and which led him, all his life, to quarrel fiercely with every one who offended him. Richard had, notwithstanding, some fine qualities, and the English were very proud of their new king, who was the wonder of his time for bravery. All kings and nobles were soldiers in those days, and would have thought it a great disgrace not to fight well, but Richard surpassed them all. Men called him Coeur de Lion-the King with the Lion's heart.
Unfortunately, he liked nothing else so well as fighting; he would not stay at home and take care of his kingdom, but set forth upon a crusade. Jerusalem had fallen into the hands of Saladin, the sultan of Egypt, and Richard was bent upon delivering it. He made every one of his subjects who had any money, help him to fit out a fleet and army, and the bravest nobles in England gathered their followers round them, and went crusading with the king.
Philip, King of France, and Leopold, Duke of Austria, went also, but they both quarrelled with Richard. Philip was jealous of him, and hated to hear every one admiring his courage, and Leopold had received very rude treatment from Richard, when he was in a passion. So they both left the crusade. Philip went back to France, and revenged himself by trying to take Normandy and the other French provinces which belonged to Richard. Leopold revenged himself in another way, as you will hear.
Richard's own troops were so wasted with the hardships of the war that he could not take Jerusalem
now the other princes had left him. He was so bitterly disappointed that he would not even look on the city from afar, but turned sorrowfully away, and prepared to go back to his own land. England had fallen into sad confusion while he was away. The wicked Prince John had gained over the worst of the barons, and was trying with their help to steal away the kingdom from his brother. These bad men oppressed the people grievously, and no one was powerful enough to put them down. Bands of robbers roamed about the country, attacked travellers, and plundered the farms and villages.
All good and peaceable men were longing for their king to return, but Richard was far away, shut up in prison. He had been shipwrecked on his way home, and obliged to make his way through Austria. He knew Leopold would be watching for him, so he sent away all his companions excepting one or two, and travelled on foot, calling himself Hugh the Merchant. But Leopold found him out and put him in prison; then he sold him to the Emperor of Germany, who put him in another prison.
When Prince John and Philip of France heard what had befallen Richard, they were delighted, and promised the emperor a great sum of money if he would keep him in prison. But the emperor dared not do so, for all good men cried shame upon him when they heard that he had imprisoned the bravest warrior in Christendom. He was, however, base enough to make the English pay an enormous ransom for their king before he would let him go.
Richard was received in England with transports of joy, but he did not stay long there; and the re
mainder of his life was spent in France, warring against Philip, or against rebels in his own provinces. He was killed while besieging a castle in which he thought one of them had hidden some treasure; April, 1199.
Out of a reign of ten years, Richard had spent scarcely eight months in England, and was never heard to speak English but once. Yet the English people loved him. Of all the kings that had reigned since the battle of Hastings, he was the only one who had seemed to like his English subjects, and they forgave all his faults, because he honoured their bravery, and treated them with kindness. There was still a great distinction between the men of English and Norman race, and they had not yet learned to like one another. The Normans thought themselves much greater men than their English neighbours, and the English hated the Norman pride. They lived also in a very different way. The Normans liked a great deal of state and ceremony, fine castles, and gay clothes; the English did not care about outside show, and were contented to live in rude timber houses, if they could feast their friends and neighbours, and have plenty of hunting and amusement.
But the time was coming when all wise men would join together to defend themselves and their countrymen against the tyranny of John; and from that time the two races of men in England began to look upon one another as brothers, and the sons of Norman fathers became proud of the name of Englishman.