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should have entirely reformed their lives; but he treated the upright Judge Gascoyne, and other wise and good men, with the utmost honour. In one thing Henry failed of his duty; he allowed the rulers of the Church to burn and persecute the Lollards as they would. In all other respects he showed himself a good king; but, unhappily, he was fond of war and conquest, and could not be contented with governing his own people well.
He renewed the war with France, and gained such astonishing successes that it seemed as if the days of the Black Prince were come back again. Henry's greatest victory was at Agincourt (October, 1415). He was on his way from Harfleur to Calais with about twelve thousand men, many of whom were weak and weary for want of food, when he encountered a very large army of Frenchmen. They made so sure of their victory over the tired half-starved English, that they settled beforehand how much ransom they would ask for King Henry and his chief officers. But the Englishmen remembered Crecy and Poitiers, and fought as their fathers had done. The great French army was beaten with terrible slaughter; the English did not lose many men.
Within a few years after the battle of Agincourt, Henry possessed himself of a large portion of France, and concluded a treaty with the king, Charles the Sixth, by which it was agreed that Charles should give his daughter Katherine in marriage to Henry, and that Henry should be King of France after him instead of his own son. But in the midst of his triumphs Henry was attacked by a fatal illness, and died at Vincennes, in France, on the 31st of August,
1422, aged 33. He was deeply lamented by the people of England.
Henry the Fifth was the first king since the battle of Hastings who had built ships of his own to guard the coasts. They were very much needed, for the seas were so infested with pirates, that Henry the Fourth was very near being seized and carried off, at the mouth of the Thames.
After the death of Henry the Fifth, his widow, Katherine of France, married a Welsh gentleman, named Owen Tudor; and the descendants of this marriage came, in time, to be Kings of England.
HENRY VI., 1422.-WAR WITH FRANCE.-JOAN OF ARC.
(From 1422 to 1449.)
HENRY THE FIFTH left one son, an infant of eight months old, who, while still in his cradle, was proclaimed King both of France and England.
It would have been happier for the little Henry the Sixth if he had been the son of a private man; he grew up good and gentle, but quite unfit to command an army, or to rule a kingdom; and his reign is one of the most troublous periods in English history. During the first years of his life, everything seemed prosperous; his uncles ruled for him, John, Duke of Bedford, in France, and Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, in England. But they had an uncle, the Cardinal Beaufort, between whom and Duke Humphrey there arose many quarrels, and the Duke of Bedford was often obliged to make peace between them.
At this time all France north of the river Loire owned Henry the Sixth for king; but the provinces south of the Loire looked upon Charles the Seventh, the son of the last king, as their sovereign. The Duke of Bedford resolved to bring these provinces also under the English rule. He began by laying siege to Orleans, an important city on the banks of the Loire; and, as Charles the Seventh took little pains to relieve it, it seemed that Orleans and all the territory on the south would soon be in the hands of the English.
But a new and wonderful champion now appeared on the side of France: this was a peasant girl, called Joan of Arc; she was but eighteen years old, and had been distinguished from her village companions only by her piety and goodness. But Joan, who loved her country very much, mused upon the misery which the war had brought upon it, till she believed that she heard voices from heaven, bidding her go and place herself at the head of the French army, drive back the English, and conduct her rightful king, Charles the Seventh, to Rheims, there to be crowned as his forefathers had been. At first no one would listen to Joan when she told them what the voices said; but she was quite sure herself of the truth of her story, and after a time other people began to believe it.
She was now brought before Charles, who gave her a suit of armour, and a horse, and a little band of soldiers, with whom she made her way to Orleans. In less than three months, Joan forced the English to raise the siege of the city, gained a great battle over them, in which she took their most famous commander, Lord Talbot, prisoner, and conducted Charles to Rheims, where he was solemnly crowned King of
France. And now Joan's work was done, and she wanted to go back to her parents and her village home; but Charles and his officers desired that she would remain with the army, and give them yet more help.
Poor Joan could not refuse; but a sad fate awaited her. She was made prisoner by some men of Burgundy, who were in league with the English, and by them given up to the Duke of Bedford. He was not, in general, a cruel man, but he had persuaded himself that Joan's wonderful successes were owing to witchcraft, and he sent her before a tribunal composed of French and English bishops and priests, to be tried for sorcery. She was kept in prison for many months, and cruelly treated by her judges; but her patience never failed, and she continued to the last to be quite sure that heavenly voices had commanded her to go to the help of her country and her lawful king.
All this while, Charles the Seventh, for whom Joan had done so much, made not the least effort to rescue her from the unrighteous judges into whose hands she had fallen. They condemned her to be burnt to death as a witch, and then, for a very little while, poor Joan's fortitude did fail her; she burst into tears, and said she would rather lose her head seven times over than be burnt. But she soon became as brave and calm as ever, and went patiently to her cruel death, with words of prayer for herself, and of forgiveness for her enemies. She suffered on the 30th of May, 1431-little more than two years from the day on which she had driven back the English from the walls of Orleans.
The barbarous murder of poor Joan did not bring any success to the English arms. The war lasted yet many years, but the English lost by degrees all their possessions in France, excepting Calais. In the meantime, the Duke of Bedford died, and England began to be very much disturbed by the disputes between the Duke of Gloucester and Cardinal Beaufort. The king could do nothing to restrain them; he was become a man in years, but his mind was as feeble as that of a child. At last, the cardinal and his friends procured that Gloucester should be imprisoned, and a few days afterwards he was found dead in his bed. Beaufort was accused of having murdered him, but no one could prove it, and he died himself a few weeks afterwards.
WAR OF THE ROSES.-HENRY VI. DETHRONED, 1461.
Now that the Dukes of Bedford and Gloucester were dead, the nobleman most nearly related to the royal family was Richard, Duke of York. He was the nephew of that Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, of whom we read in the reign of Henry the Fourth. Mortimer had no children, so that his nephew inherited his claim to the throne, but he had not yet shown any desire to displace King Henry. Unfortunately, Henry, who was so gentle and harmless himself, had married a very haughty, highspirited princess, Margaret of Anjou. She ruled her husband entirely, and having taken for her chief