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THE Chapters between William I (1066) and the Tudors (Henry VIII, etc.) are always called the Middle Ages, on account of their coming at the beginning; this was also The Age of Piety, since Religious fervour was then at its height, people being (i) burnt alive with faggots (The Steak), (2) bricked up in the walls of Convents (Religious Foundations), and (3) tortured in dungeons (The Confessional).
All this was not only pious but a Good Thing, as many of the people who were burnt, bricked, tortured, etc., became quite otherworldly.
Nowadays people are not so pious, even sinners being denied the benefits of fervent Religion.
RICHARD I was a hairy King with a Lion's Heart; he went roaring about the Desert making ferocious attacks on the Saladins and the Paladins, and was thus a very romantic King. Whenever he returned to England he always set out again immediately for the Mediterranean and was therefore known as Richard Gare de Lyon. He had a sword of enormous dimensions with which he used to practise cutting iron bars and anvils in half, whereas the Saladins had very sharp swords which were only useful for cutting cushions in half. In spite of which the Crusaders under Richard never got Jerusalem back; this was undoubtedly due to the treacherous behaviour of the Saladins, who used to fire on the Red Cross which the Crusaders wore on their chests in battle.
Illustration: A Wild King
Richard is also famous for having a minstrel boy (or Touralour) called Blondin who searched for him under the walls of all the dungeons in Europe. This was when Richard had been caught by the blind King of Bohemia during a game of Blind King's Bluff and sold to the Holy Roman Terror. Blondin eventually found him by singing the memorable song (or 'touralay') called O Richard et man Droit ('Are you right, there, Richard ?') which Richard himself had composed. Richard roared the chorus so that Blondin knew which dungeon he was in, and thus the Ring easily escaped and returned to the Crusades, where he died soon after of a surfeit of Sala-dins, and was therefore known in the East as Richard Coeur de Laitue.
WHEN John came to the throne he lost his temper and flung himself on the floor, foaming at the mouth and biting the rushes. He was thus a Bad King. Indeed, he had begun badly as a Bad Prince, having attempted to answer the Irish Question* by pulling the beards of the aged Irish chiefs, which was a Bad Thing and the wrong answer.
*N.B. - The Irish Question at this time consisted of:
(1) Some Norman Barons, who lived in a Pail (near Dublin),
(2) The natives and Irish Chieftains, who were beyond the Pail, living in bogs, beards, etc.
John had a little nephew called Little Arthur, who was writing a little History of England in quite a small dungeon, and whose little blue eyes John had ordered to be put out with some weeny red-hot irons. The gaoler Hubert, however, who was a Good Man, wept so much that he put out the red-hot irons instead. John was therefore compelled to do the little deed himself with a large, smallish knife, thus becoming the first memorable wicked uncle.
John was so bad that the Pope decided to put the whole country under an Interdict, i.e. he gave orders that no one was to be born or die or marry (except in Church porches). But John was still not cured of his Badness; so the Pope sent a Bull to England to excommunicate John himself. In spite of the King's efforts to prevent it the Bull succeeded in landing and gave orders that John himself was not to be born or marry or die (except in Church porches); that no one was to obey him or stand him a drink or tell him the right time or the answer to the Irish Question or anything nice. So at last John gave way and he and his subjects began once more to be born and to marry and to die, etc. etc.
THERE also happened in this reign the memorable Charta, known as Magna Charter on account of the Latin Magna (great) and Charter (a Charter); this was the first of the famous Chartas and Gartas of the Reahn and was invented by the Barons on a desert island in the Thames called Ganymede. By congregating there, armed to the teeth, the Barons compelled John to sign the Magna Charter, which said:
1. That no one was to be put to death, save for some reason - (except the Common People).
2. That everyone should be free - (except the Common People).
3. That everything should be of the same weight and measure throughout the Realm - (except the Common People).
4. That the Courts should be stationary, instead of following a very tiresome medieval official known as the King's Person all over the country.
5. That 'no person should be fined to his utter ruin' - (except the King's Person).
6. That the Barons should not be tried except by a special jury of other Barons who would understand.
Magna Charter was therefore the chief cause of Democracy in England, and thus a Good Thing for everyone (except the Common People).
After this King John hadn't a leg to stand on and was therefore known as 'John Lackshanks'.
John finally demonstrated his utter incompetence by losing the Crown and all his clothes in the wash and then dying of a surfeit of peaches and no cider; thus his awful reign came to an end.
ABOUT this time the memorable hero Robin Hood flourished in a romantic manner. Having been unjustly accused by two policemen in Richmond Park, he was condemned to be an outdoor and went and lived with a maid who was called Marion, and a band of Merrie Men, in Greenwood Forest, near Sherborne. Amongst his Merrie Men were Will Scarlet (The Scarlet Pimpernel), Black Beauty, White Melville, Little Red Riding Hood (probably an outdaughter of his), and the famous Friar Puck who used to sit in a cowslip and suck bees, thus becoming so fat that he declared he could put his girdle round the Earth.
Robin Hood was a miraculous shot with the longbow and it is said that he could split a hare at 400 paces and a Sheriff at 800. He therefore spent his time blowing a horn and shooting at the Sheriff of Nottingham (who was an outwit). He always used to sound his horn first, particularly when shooting round a corner; this showed his sportsmanship and also enabled him to shoot the Sheriff running, which was more difficult.
Robin Hood was also very good at socialism and often took money away from rich clergymen and gave it to the poor, who loved him for his generosity. He died very romantically. Having taken some medicine supplied by his Wicked Aunt and feeling his strength going, he blew a dying blast on his horn and with his dying breath fired a last shot out of his bedroom window, and hit the Sheriff of Nottingham again.
Illustration: Sheriff running ... more difficult
HENRY III was a confused kind of King and is only memorable for having seized all the money in the Mint, imprisoned himself in the Tower of London and, finally, flung himself into the Bosom of the Pope.
While he was in the Tower, Henry III wrote a letter to the nation saying that he was a Good Thing. This so confused the Londoners that they armed themselves with staves, jerkins, etc., and massacred the Jews in the City. Later, when he was in the Pope's Bosom, Henry further confused the People by presenting all the Bonifaces of the Church to Italians. And the whole reign was rapidly becoming less and less memorable when one of the Barons called Simon de Montfort saved the situation by announcing that he had a memorable Idea.
Simon de Montfort's Idea was to make the Parliament more Representative by inviting one or two vergers, or vergesses, to come from every parish, thus causing the only Good Parliament in History.
Simon de Montfort, though only a Frenchman, was thus a Good Thing, and is very notable as being the only good Baron in history. The other Barons were, of course, all wicked Barons. They had, however, many important duties under the Banorial system. These were:
1. To be armed to the teeth.
2. To extract from the Villein* Saccage and Soccage, tollage and tallage, pillage and ullage, and, in extreme cases, all other banorial amenities such as umbrage and porrage. (These may be collectively denned as the banorial rites of carnage and wreckage.)
3. To hasten the King's death, deposition, insanity, etc.,
and make quite sure that there were always at least three
false claimants to the throne.
4. To resent the Attitude of the Church. (The Barons were
secretly jealous of the Church, which they accused of
encroaching on their rites - see p. 30, Age of Piety.}
5. To keep up the Middle Ages.
* Villein: medieval term for agricultural labourer, usually suffering from scurvy, Black Death, etc.
Illustration: To extract from The Villein
In order to clear up the general confusion of the period it is customary to give at this point a genealogical table of the Kings (and even some Queens) of England. As these tables are themselves somewhat confusing, the one on the page opposite has been to a certain extent rationalized, and will, the Editors hope, prove to be exceptionally memorable.
*1. Give the dates of at least two of the following:
(1) William the Conqueror.
*2. What is a Plantagenet ? Do you agree ?
*3. Trace by means of graphs, etc.,
(1) The incidence of scurvy in the Chiltern Hundreds
during the reign of Rufus.
(2) The Bosom of the Pope.
(Squared paper, compasses, etc., may be used.)
*4- Expostulate (chiefly) on
(a) The Curfew.
(b) Gray's Energy in the Country Churchyard.
*5. Estimate the size of
(1) Little Arthur.
(2) Friar Puck.
(3) Magna Charta.
6. Fill in the names of at least some of the following:
(3) Simon de Montfort.
7. King John had no redeeming features. (Illustrate.)
8. Arrange in this order:
(1) Henry I.
(2) Henry II.
(3) Henry III.
(Do not attempt to answer more than once.)
*9. (a) How far did the Lords Repellent drive Henry III into the arms of Pedro the Cruel ? (Protractors may not be used.)
(b) Matilda or Maud ? (Write on one side of the paper only.)
*10. How would you dispose of :
(a) A Papal Bull?
(b) Your nephews ?
(c) Your mother? (Be brutal.)
*11. Which would you rather be:
(1) The Sheriff of Nottingham?
(2) A Weak King?
(3) Put to the Sword ?
*N .B . - Candidates over thirty need not attempt questions 10,2,5,3,4, 11, 9, or 1.
LONG before Henry III had died (of a surfeit of Barons, Bonifaces, etc.) Edward I had taken advantage of the general confusion and of the death of Simon de Mont-fort (probably of a surfeit of Vergers) to become King before his reign had begun. Edward I was thus a strong King, and one of the first things he did was to make a strong arrangement about the Law Courts. Hitherto there had been a number of Benches there, on all of which a confused official called the Justinian had tried to sit. Edward had them all amalgamated into one large Bench called the King's Bench, and sat on it himself.
Illustration: Sat on it himself
Edward I, who had already (in his Saladin days) piously decimated several thousand Turks at Nazareth, now felt so strong that he decided to Hammer the Scots, who accordingly now come right into History.
The childless Scotch King Alexander the Great had trotted over a cliff and was thus dead; so the Scots asked Edward to tell them who was King of Scotland, and Edward said that a Balliol man ought to be. Delighted with this decision the Scots crossed the Border and ravaged Cumberland with savage ferocity; in reply to which Edward also crossed the Border and, carrying off the Sacred Scone of Scotland on which the Scottish Kings had been crowned for centuries, buried it with great solemnity in Westminster Abbey.
Illustration: Malleus Scotorum
This was, of course, a Good Thing for the Scots because it was the cause of William the Wallace (not to be confused with Robert Bruce), who immediately defeated the English at Cambuskenneth (Scotch for Stirling) and invaded England with ferocious savagery.
In answer to this Edward captured the Bruce and had him horribly executed with savage ferocity. Soon after, Edward died of suffocation at a place called Burrow-in-the-Sands and was succeeded by his worthless son Edward II.
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