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Title: The Boy's Book of Heroes
Author: Peake, Helena
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Boy's Book of Heroes" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

[Illustration: _"And thrusting his sword through its head, laid it
dead on the ground."--p. 4_]




With Original Illustrations.

Frederick Warne and Co.,
Bedford Street, Covent Garden.
New York: Scribner, Welford, and Co.

J. and W. Rider, Printers,
Bartholomew Close.




   THE CID                              17

   LOUIS IX., KING OF FRANCE            49


   BERTRAND DU GUESCLIN                110

   CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS                144

   THE CHEVALIER DE BAYARD             192

   SIR MARTIN FROBISHER                225

   SIR WALTER RALEIGH                  242

   SIR PHILIP SIDNEY                   257



In the days of Edward the Confessor there lived in Mercia a noble
Anglo-Saxon youth named Hereward. He was brave, stedfast, and spirited, but
so violent and overbearing, so ready to quarrel and to use his sword, if
everything he desired was not conceded to him at once that the youths he
played and wrestled with around his home at Bourne[1], resolved to make
complaint of him to his father, Leofric, the great Earl of Mercia.

Leofric was a very valiant man, and he had done King Edward good service at
the time of Earl Godwin's rebellion. He had three sons; of these Hereward
was the second; the eldest was Algar, whom the Confessor made lord over
East Anglia.

Leofric was very much grieved when he heard, day after day, of the unruly
deeds of his son, and found that he paid little heed to the reproofs he so
justly deserved. And if Leofric was grieved, far more so was his wife, the
saintly lady Godiva, who passed nearly the whole of her time in the
performance of good works, feeding and clothing the poor, nursing the sick,
and praying long hours for those she loved, and it may be most of all for
her wayward son, Hereward. Besides this, she gave large sums of money for
the support of religious houses, and founded the monastery at Coventry,
which is said to have contained greater treasure of gold, silver, and
jewels, than any other in England.

But father and mother at last were wearied out, and Leofric persuaded King
Edward to outlaw his turbulent son, as the only means of preserving peace
in the neighbourhood of his castle of Bourne.

The youth, not the least dismayed when sentence was passed upon him, set
out on his travels accompanied by one servant, named Martin, as brave and
as reckless as himself, and who followed him because he loved him. Perhaps
some of his relations were sorry after all to see him go, for they could
not help admiring his free, brave spirit, and amongst those who cared for
him was his uncle Brand, abbot of Peterborough, a very pious man, as the
chroniclers say, but haughty and unbending to the enemies of his land.

Let us glance at Hereward as he bade farewell for many a year to the home
of his youth. He was of middle height, broad shouldered, and sturdy limbed,
but active and graceful in all his movements. His features were handsome,
his golden hair fell in long curls over his shoulders, according to the
Saxon fashion; one of his large eyes being blue and the other grey, gave a
strange expression to his countenance.

It is supposed that he lived chiefly in the woods and forests during the
early days of his exile, but a few months after he quitted Bourne, we find
him "beyond Northumberland" with the Fleming, Gilbert of Ghent, who bore
him good-will, and had sent for him as soon as he heard that he was
outlawed. Hereward had not been long in his friend's house, which was in
some part of Scotland, when an event occurred which redounded very much to
his credit.

It was the custom then for rich men to have various kinds of sports at
Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide, and they used to keep a number of wild
beasts in enclosures, which were led forth at these seasons, that the noble
youths assembled might try their strength against them.

It was Christmas time when Hereward arrived "beyond Northumberland." He had
passed some joyous days hunting in the wintry forests, and had become a
great favourite with the company, because he excelled in all manly sports,
and could charm the ladies besides by singing sweetly, and playing on the
harp, in the long winter evenings. But when he looked at the wild beasts in
their cages, he only saw one that he thought he should like to fight with,
and that was a huge white bear, which was known to be exceedingly fierce.
And beyond this it was said that its parent was the famed Norwegian bear,
which lived far away in the pine woods of the north, and, according to the
fable believed in at the time, was endowed with human sense, and could
understand human speech.

Now it happened one day that the white bear broke the bars of its
enclosure, and rushed out, killing and tearing to pieces all the animals
that came in its path. This must have been very alarming, and worse still,
it was making its way towards a room, opening out of the court where the
women and children belonging to the house had taken refuge, and some
knights in their terror had followed them, instead of trying to drive back
the fierce creature with their lances. Hereward had just come in from
hunting, and saw at a glance what had happened; he went straight up to the
bear, and thrusting his sword through its head, he laid it dead on the

His praises after this were sung far and wide; but amidst all the joy there
was a secret plot made to destroy him by some of the knights who had shown
themselves to be cowards, and were jealous of the bold deed he had
performed. So one day they concealed themselves in the wood and tried to
kill him as he came slowly along the mossy paths followed by his servant
Martin. The story tells how Hereward slew two of these knights in
self-defence, and another crept away, or was carried wounded to the house.
Soon after this he bade Gilbert of Ghent farewell; he said that he could
not live happily where there were traitors, but those who loved him were
grieved when he rode away, and the women shed many tears, remembering how
he had saved them with his strong right arm from a cruel death.

From Scotland he went to Cornwall, and there we are told he performed some
brave deeds, and rescued a Cornish princess by slaying in combat a fierce
and cruel Pict, a giant in height, whom her father had commanded her to
marry against her own inclination.

Some time after he was heard of in Ireland, where he took part in the
warlike exploits of King Ranald. Whenever there was fighting he was sure to
be found where the danger was thickest, and the name of "The Wake" was
given to him because he was always on the watch for his enemies, and could
never be taken unawares.

But in Ireland he began to get homesick; he longed to see his brave father
once more, and his mother, the Lady of Bourne, sitting amongst her maidens,
or gliding amongst the sick like some comforting angel; he wanted to know
if his relations had any kindly feeling left towards him. This longing
became so strong that he asked the king to give him two ships, which Ranald
granted him readily in return for his services, and with these he set out
for England. But he had not sailors enough on board, and since he could get
no more to serve him in Ireland, he sailed up northwards towards the
Orkneys. When he reached these islands a storm arose and one of his ships
was wrecked on the shore of Hoy.

With the other vessel he hoped to get safe to England, but he had not been
long at sea when the winds blew furiously, the waves dashed and foamed, and
storm-tossed for many days he was at last driven on the shore of Flanders.
In this country he found a welcome, and married a noble Flemish lady named
Torfrida. No part of his life, perhaps, was more peaceful than that which
he spent in his new home: nevertheless, it appears that wherever he was, he
always engaged in the wars that were carried on around him, and never
failed to distinguish himself by his valour.

Whilst Hereward had been wandering about all this time an outlaw, great
changes had taken place in the affairs of England. On the death of Edward
the Confessor the English had welcomed Harold, son of Earl Godwin to the
throne, quietly setting aside Edgar Atheling, who was too weak-minded to
defend his right, or to have ruled had he been king. But Harold had
scarcely been crowned when William of Normandy began making his vast
preparations for the conquest of England. The terrible battle of Hastings
had been fought; Harold the Second was slain, and nearly all the bravest
warriors amongst the English had fallen on the battle-field. And with the
exception of a few valiant noblemen, it seemed as if the people of England
had lost all spirit and would bow quietly to the Norman yoke. Leofric of
Mercia was dead; Algar also had died, leaving two fair young sons, Edwin
and Morcar, who at the time of the conquest were accounted the most
powerful noblemen in the land, Edwin being Earl of Mercia, and Morcar, Earl
of Northumberland. It must be remembered that Mercia included all the
midland counties of England.

The brothers proclaimed Edgar Atheling king, and tried to persuade the
Londoners to rise; but their efforts were of no avail, and they were soon
obliged to retire to their own lands.

One day, some emigrants came to Flanders and told Hereward all that had
happened in England. Oh, how he wished he had been amongst the Saxons on
the day of battle! Surely, if there had been many as brave and stern as he,
the Normans would have been driven back. And when he learned that some
Frenchmen had taken possession of the estate of Bourne, which was now his
own, and that they were cruelly oppressing his widowed mother, he only
waited to bid Torfrida farewell, and then set out for England, followed by
Martin, with the intention of avenging his mother's wrongs.

It was late in the evening when he drew near the old house of Bourne. Some
of the companions of his boyhood recognised him, and told him that William
of Normandy had given his estate to a low-born foreigner, and that a party
of Normans had just taken up their abode in the house. So Hereward hastened
on towards Bourne, and sought out a house at the end of the long street
which belonged to one Percy where he thought he could lodge for the night.
Here he found a number of fighting men bewailing the misfortunes of
England, and heard from them how the Frenchmen had robbed his mother of all
her treasures, and how his youngest brother, a youth of sixteen, had been
slain defending her, and his head had been fastened up over the door of the
house. And one amongst the company of warriors said, that if Hereward, the
outlawed son of Leofric had been at home, this trouble would never have
come upon Bourne.

Now Hereward, having formed a plan in his mind, did not make himself known
yet: he only said that he had come from Flanders, but the men perceived by
the flash of his eye and his proud bearing that his spirit was kindled at
their wrongs, and their hearts leaned towards him because he looked so
brave and strong.

After a while, the warriors dropped off one by one to sleep as the night
wore on. Hereward heard in the silence around, the sound of harps and
joyful singing, and the clinking of goblets. He asked a boy what it was
that he heard, and the boy said it was the merry-making of the guests in
the lord's house above, where the youngest son had been killed only the day
before. Then Hereward beckoned Martin and Percy to him, and by their means
he covered his helmet and his shining coat of mail with some woman's robe
of black stuff, and went out with Martin, who was disguised in like manner,
to the house of Bourne. The first grievous sight that awaited him was the
head of his young brother fixed up above the door. He could see through the
windows the Normans sitting at their feast in noisy merriment: they boasted
loudly of their deeds, and spoke slightingly of Hereward, whom they
believed to be far away in Flanders, although one Flemish woman amongst the
guests declared that if he had been there he could have overthrown them

Then Hereward, the Wake, the Terrible, waited to hear no more; he rushed
with Martin on those unprepared men; a fearful struggle began, and of all
the foreigners, it is said that not one was left there alive when the day
dawned. Such is the story told by the Monk of Ely, of the fierce and
relentless manner in which Bourne was rescued from the Normans.

The Lady Godiva was very thankful to know that she had yet a son to protect
her. After this night of horror she removed to the Abbey of Croyland, where
she lived praying and fasting, and tending the poor and sick until she

In the year 1069 there was a rebellion throughout England. The English were
angry and indignant when they saw how the Conqueror bestowed all the high
offices in the land upon his Normans, whilst he trod their own liberties
under foot.

Several bands of patriots assembled in the marshy lands of Cambridgeshire,
and there in the island of Ely they formed entrenchments of earth and wood,
and lived in security, often completely hidden by the mists that rose up
from the stagnant waters. There, too, they were amongst friends; the Abbey
of Croyland was in the marshes; Peterborough was not far off northward, and
as yet the monastery was held by the Abbot Brand, who prided himself on
never having sought favour from the Conqueror.

Meanwhile, Hereward had returned to Flanders, but he did not remain there
long, and when he came back to England a second time, bringing with him his
wife Torfrida and his little daughter, his kinsmen welcomed him heartily,
and asked him to lead them in the battles they hoped to fight with the

But notwithstanding the numerous warlike deeds he had performed, he was not
what was called a legitimate "miles" or knight, and to be this it was
requisite that he should receive knighthood according to the Anglo-Saxon
custom. It was a law that every man desiring to be a lawful knight should
go to some abbey, and the evening before the ceremony of knighthood was to
take place, should confess his sins in deep penitence, and pass the whole
night inside the church in prayer and mortification. The next morning he
was to hear mass, and then offer up his sword upon the altar; this being
done the Gospel would be read, and the priest, having consecrated the
sword, would place it on the neck of the warrior with his blessing.[2]

The Normans looked with much scorn on this manner of knighthood at the
hands of a priest, but it may have been, as a modern French historian
observes, that they did not like to see so many knights continually rising
up amongst a people they had conquered.

Hereward went to Peterborough,[3] with two of his band, Winter and Gwenoch,
and persuaded his uncle to knight them all. And he told him that William
had given the abbey to Thorold, called "the fighting monk," but that Brand
would not believe for a long time.

All the brave Anglo-Saxons rose up now to make a last effort to deliver
themselves from the Normans. The Danes came to help them under Objorn,
brother of Sweyn, King of Norway. Edgar Atheling appeared from Scotland
with a number of brave men. The people of York put their Norman governor to
death; the fiercest struggles were in the north of England. Hereward
established himself with his followers in the island of Ely, and had a
fortress of wood constructed which served them for shelter, and was a point
where other men of like mind could meet them from the forests and
fastnesses around. And here they remained for a long time to the great
annoyance of the Normans who could not reach them because their horses
constantly lost their footing in the marshes and bogs around.

Thorold set out for Peterborough, but Brand did not live to be despoiled
of his abbey. Hereward hearing that the fighting monk was coming, hastened
to Peterborough with some of his men, and when they found that the monks
were not at all inclined to bar the entrance of Thorold, they took all the
crosses, and golden cups, the sacred robes and staffs belonging to the
abbey, and carried them to their quarters in Ely. And soon after this the
monks of Peterborough opened the gates to the Normans.

The Danish warriors made their way to Ely, but William found means to
persuade Sweyn to recall them, and he bribed Objorn to retire by giving him
large presents and the liberty of plundering the sea coast. The departure
of the Danes caused great vexation to the people in Ely, because they
carried away with them all the sacred treasures of Peterborough.

Now Taillebois, the Angevin,[4] had many followers, and being a great
boaster, he swore that he would quickly drive the outlaws out of their
hiding places. The fighting monk was out in the marshes, and he told him
that he meant to attack the English. Hereward let him enter a forest of
willows which served to protect the patriots from their enemies, but as
Taillebois went in on one side of the forest, he came out on the other side
himself, and falling upon Thorold and his men, who had remained behind, he
took them all prisoners and kept them in the marshes, not releasing the
abbot until he had paid him three thousand marks of silver.

The young brothers, Edwin and Morcar, had not joined in this last
rebellion, but they were not at all happy at King William's court; their
hearts were with their brave kinsman and not with the conqueror of their
land. At last Edwin went to Northumberland to lay his plans for another
rising, and Morcar fled to the island of Ely, where Hereward was still
holding out bravely, although the Saxon nobles in other parts of England
had all given way.

William was very uneasy so long as he could not gain possession of Ely. In
the hope of preventing the Saxons from coming out of the island, he
surrounded it with flat-bottomed boats and made a causeway to the extent of
two miles. The workmen who were employed in constructing the causeway were
much harassed by Hereward and his men, and the king was persuaded by some
of his nobles to place an old woman, believed to be a witch, in a wooden
tower at the head of the works that she might use her spells against the
enemy. Hereward, on this, came out with his troop and set fire to the
willows that grew closely around the tower, and thus the poor old woman
perished in the flames. This seems to have been a very cruel act on the
part of our hero, although, unhappily, in those days, the burning of
witches was not considered a crime.

The island remained blockaded for several months. At last the inmates of a
monastery in the interior got very hungry because no provisions could be
brought in, and they sent word to the king that they would show him how his
troops might enter the island if he would promise not to deprive them of
their property. Two Norman knights, Gilbert de Clare, and Guillaume de
Larenne undertook to try the path; the king's troops poured in after them,
and it is said that they put a thousand Englishmen to the sword. All the
nobles now surrendered except Hereward, and William imprisoned Morcar, and
Egelwine, Bishop of Durham, who had taken refuge in Ely. Morcar died in his
prison,[5] and Egelwine went mad, and as for the others "they suffered so
much in their captivity that it had been better for them if they had been
put to death the day they were taken."[6]

Hereward, with a few of his men, fought his way through the enemy and
escaped from their pursuit by difficult paths to the lowlands of
Lincolnshire. There some Saxon fishermen who were in the habit of carrying
fish every day to the Norman stations, along the marshes, concealed them in
their boats by covering them up with straw. When the boats reached one of
these strongholds, the Normans little imagining that their greatest enemy
was so near, purchased their fish as usual, and when it was cooked, sat
down to dinner. They had scarcely begun to eat when Hereward and his men
rose up out of the straw, and with hatchets in their hands rushed suddenly
upon them. There was a fierce conflict, and many of the Normans were slain;
those who survived fled in great terror and left their horses behind them
ready saddled. Then Hereward, and the followers that remained to him, each
chose a good steed for himself and galloped away into the forests.

In the country around they found many friends, and before they came as far
as Huntingdon their company included a hundred well armed men, all of them
faithful subjects of Hereward and proud to share his exploits. Their
numbers increasing daily, they became so strong at last that Gaimar, the
French poet, says they might have assailed a city. And a very strong castle
they did take, and found in it quantities of gold, silver, and armour,
besides rich furs and stuffs. So for a while they went on fighting under
their brave leader with spirit unquenched; often one Englishman against
three of the enemy.

But hope died out even in the heart of Hereward when the power of the
Conqueror became fully established in the land. His friends were either
dead or in prison, or they had been sent blinded and maimed to their homes.
The persuasions of a Saxon lady, named Alfrueda, helped to induce him to
make peace, or rather a truce, with William, and he set out accordingly,
followed by three of his comrades, for Winchester, where the king was then
living. But when he drew near the gates of the city, he thought that this
manner of presenting himself before his sovereign was unworthy of his own
high rank, and he turned back in order to provide a more dignified escort.
The second time he approached Winchester he was at the head of forty men,
all clad in armour from head to foot, and mounted on handsomely accoutred
horses. The king had a great admiration for the valour and constancy of
Hereward; he welcomed him gladly to his court, and suffered him to retain
his estate at Bourne.

Notwithstanding this, the Normans were always trying to quarrel with the
brave Saxon, and one day Oger, the Breton, offended him so deeply that a
combat took place between them, in which Oger was wounded. Then the enemies
of Hereward told the king that he had spoken evil of him, and persuaded him
to arrest him for that and for having wounded Oger. William seems to have
been very ready to believe ill of his powerful subject, and ordered him to
be imprisoned in Bedford Castle, where he remained a whole year.

When Hereward was released he went to live in his house at Bourne, and was
known by the name of "the Lord of the Fens." The monk who wrote his life in
Latin, asserts that he died peacefully in his home, but other documents
have been found which prove that he did not meet his death in quiet, but in
fierce conflict with his enemies.

His house at Bourne was frequently attacked by the Normans. One day he was
sitting outside the door, the weather was sultry, and he had fallen asleep.
Suddenly, he was awakened by the clash of weapons and the tread of horses,
and found that he was surrounded by a party of Bretons. He was without his
coat of mail, and had only a sword and a short pike. Undaunted amongst so
many, he snatched up a shield that was lying near, and defended himself
"like a lion." Taillebois, his greatest enemy, was with the troop. When he
perceived him he cried out that they were all traitors because he had made
his peace with the king, and that if they sought his life or his goods they
should pay dearly for either. Terrible was the struggle that ensued; the
Normans fell around; Hereward himself received four sword thrusts at once;
it was Raoul de Dol, a Breton knight, who rushed forward to give him the
death blow; then, he made one last effort, and flinging his shield in the
face of his foe, he fell back dead.

The life of Hereward was marked by many fierce deeds, and would that all
anger and strife had been hushed before he died! His memory must be
cherished because he loved his country so well, and it was great and noble
of him, when all his partizans had laid down their arms in submission, to
stand up alone in her righteous cause, and to be the last man to yield to
the thraldom of a conqueror.

The daughter of Hereward was given in marriage by William to a valiant
knight named Hugh de Evermere, to whom she brought the lands of Bourne.
Torfrida ended her days in the Abbey of Croyland.


[1] Bourne, then called Brun, in Lincolnshire.

[2] See Sharon Turner.

[3] Peterborough was formerly called Burgh.

[4] Angevin, a native of Anjou.

[5] See Gaimar.

[6] Edwin, the brother of Morcar, was slain by some of his own followers.


According to the Spanish chronicles the famous Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar, known
by the name of the Cid, was born about the year 1026, in the city of
Burgos, the capital of old Castille. His father, Diego Laynez, was
descended from Layn Calvo, one of two judges by whom the country was
governed after Ordono, its king, had behaved very treacherously. When we
first hear of Rodrigo as a youth of gentle manners, but of great courage
and bodily strength, Don Ferrando, a Christian king, who traced his descent
from the other judge, was ruling over Castille.

Spain was then composed of many different kingdoms; the Moors had been
steadily gaining ground ever since they first set foot in the land, more
than three hundred years before, whilst the Christians had been trying as
steadily to keep them back. Now they held sway over by far the larger
portion of Spain; several of the great-cities, especially those in the
south, were under the dominion of Moorish kings, and were filled with
beautiful buildings, many of which remain, to show what wonderful skill the
Arabian architects must have possessed. The Moors lived in great splendour;
their palaces and courts were paved with marble, and the walls were covered
with arabesques in brilliant colours, or fretwork in gold[7]; the ceilings
were often of cedar wood, inlaid with silver, ivory, or mother of pearl,
and the chambers were filled with the fragrance of costly spices, which
were kept always burning. Then they had beautiful gardens blooming with
roses and myrtles, where orange trees grew, and silvery fountains played
into basins of white marble. The outside of their buildings was also richly
ornamented, and sometimes with the strangest devices. The Alhambra, the
finest of all the Moorish palaces, which still remains in its ancient
splendour, was not built in the city of Granada until nearly two hundred
years after the death of the Cid.

The Spaniards themselves were very brave, and inherited their valour from
the Visigoths, who were in possession of Spain for a long time before the
Moors crossed over the sea from Africa. The middle ages were not as dark
for them as they were for the other nations of Europe, because their
Moorish invaders taught them many useful arts and sciences, and also
introduced into Spain various fruits and trees which had hitherto only
grown in the East, or in Africa. Amongst these was the pomegranate, with
its shining dark green leaves, its beautiful crimson blossom, and its red,
juicy fruit; then there was the palm-tree, which was cultivated in the
fertile soil of Valencia, until it reached the height of a hundred and
fifty feet; and the strange-looking carob-tree, with leaves gloomily dark,
and pods full of a sweet pulp, like manna in taste, which were given to the
horses and mules.

Some of the Moorish kings were merciful rulers, and rendered their subjects
happy; still, as they were strangers and infidels, it was very natural for
the Spaniards to wish to drive them out of the land, and Rodrigo de Bivar
is renowned for having regained more ground from them than any of the other
great Spanish captains.

Whilst Rodrigo was still a youth, a quarrel arose between his father and a
certain Count Gomez, during which the Count gave his adversary a blow.
Laynez was old and feeble, and could not lift his sword, and he grieved
over the insult with a Spaniard's sense of shame and thirst for revenge.
Rodrigo, indignant at seeing his father treated thus scornfully, went out
and defied the Count to a combat, and slew him in the struggle. And when he
came home and told his father how he had avenged the affront that had been
offered him, the old man decreed that he should be considered thenceforth
as the head of the house of Layn Calvo. Alas! those were terrible times
when men fired up at the slightest provocation, and thought their honour
was at stake if an offence were not wiped out with the shedding of blood,
and seldom or never gave the "soft answer that turneth away wrath."

A little while after this, the Moors, led by five of their kings, entered
Castille; they plundered the cities and carried away captive men, women,
and children, besides seizing the cows and the sheep that were feeding in
the pastures. They were going home in triumph when Rodrigo, young as he
was, came up with them in the mountains of Oca, and put them all to the

    "He rode to the hills of Oca, where the Moormen lay,
    He conquered all the Moors, and took from their prey."

His father being now dead, he went home to his mother, a noble lady, the
daughter of the Count of Asturias, and told her how he had won back all
that the Moors had taken, and had made their five kings captive. His mother
was very proud of his success, and rejoiced still more when she heard him
say that it would not be fair to keep the kings in prison, and that he
would send them all back to their own territory. And the Moors were so
touched by his generous conduct towards them that they resolved to pay
tribute and to remain subject to the king of Castille.

The next event recorded in his life is his marriage with Ximena, daughter
of Count Gomez, whom he had slain. It is said that Ximena, without any
regard for the memory of her father, went to the king, Don Ferrando, and
entreated him to allow her to be married to Rodrigo de Bivar, because she
thought that he would one day be the richest and most powerful man in the

The marriage took place, and a short time after, Don Ferrando, of Castille,
and Don Ramiero, of Arragon, had a quarrel about a city called Calahorra,
each laying claim to it as his rightful possession. As it seemed impossible
to find out which king had the right on his side, it was agreed to decide
the question by single combat, so Don Martin Gonzalez, accounted the
bravest knight in all Spain, was chosen to fight for Ramiero, and Rodrigo
de Bivar was to fight for Ferrando.

Before the day of the combat arrived, Rodrigo set out on a pilgrimage to
the holy shrine of St. James, at Compostella, accompanied by twenty
knights. The Spaniards have a curious legend in reference to this journey
which must not be passed over, although so many strange stories are told of
the Cid that it is difficult to discover how many of the events detailed in
his life are really true.

On the road to Compostella the pilgrims found a leper struggling in a
quagmire, and crying in vain for help. Rodrigo hastened to his relief and
dragged him out of the muddy water. Then he set him before him on his own
horse and continued his journey. When they arrived at the inn where they
were to pass the night, Rodrigo seated the leper at supper next himself,
and eat with him of all the viands that were served before them off the
same plate. The knights to show their disgust at this, rose with one accord
and left the supper room. Nevertheless, Rodrigo, feeling sure that no one
else in the inn would have pity upon the poor leper or give him shelter,
made him share his bed, but when he awoke at midnight he found him gone.
After a while a figure appeared before him, clad in shining white garments,
and a voice asked him if he were asleep or awake. "I am awake," replied
Rodrigo, "but who art thou, and whence is this fragrance and brightness?"

The strange visitant, answered, "I am Saint Lazarus, the leper whom thou
hast succoured and honoured for the love of God;" and he told him that when
he felt a breath near him, such as he had felt that night, before he
appeared, it would be a sign that he should succeed in whatever enterprise
he was engaged in at the time; and he told him also that he should be
feared both by Christians and Moors, and that his foes should never prevail
against him. Then the saint vanished, and Rodrigo, wondering at the
extraordinary vision, knelt down, and remained many hours in prayer, and at
daybreak he set out on his pilgrimage once more, doing all the good he
could along his journey.

On the day fixed for the combat, Rodrigo had not appeared at the spot where
it was to take place, and his cousin Alvar Fanez, was preparing to fight in
his stead. But at the very moment when the contest was to begin, he stepped
forward and took his stand against the champion of Arragon. They fought so
fiercely that their lances were broken, and they were both severely
wounded, and although Gonzalez taunted his opponent by saying that he
should never go back alive to his bride, Doña Ximena, Rodrigo was more
cruel to him than he need have been, and gave him his death wound as he
lay, faint from loss of blood, upon the ground. Then Don Ferrando came up
and embraced Rodrigo, and helped to unharm him himself; he was so glad that
he could take possession of Calahorra, but all the people of Arragon
sorrowed bitterly for the loss of Gonzalez, their bravest knight.

The Counts of Castille now grew jealous of Rodrigo's renown, and plotted
with the Moors that a battle should take place, in which they hoped he
might be killed and so stand no longer in their way. The affair was made
known to the Moors who were his vassals; they refused to share in the
treason, and revealed the whole plot to their lord. The king was very angry
when he heard of the treachery of his nobles, and to punish them, he
ordered all the traitors to quit the kingdom at once.

About this time Rodrigo was knighted in the great mosque of Coimbra, the
king giving him his sword, the queen his horse, and the infanta fastening
on his spurs. After this he was called Ruy Diaz, Ruy being short for
Rodrigo; and his Moorish vassals when they brought him tribute called him
"El Seid," the Arabic for "the lord," so that he was known thenceforth by
the name of the Cid.

Not long after this Don Ferrando died, leaving his dominions divided
amongst his five children. Sancho had Castille, Alonzo Leon, Garcia
Gallicia, and their two sisters, the cities of Tora and Zamora. The
brothers kept at peace for only two years, and then they went to war with
one another. The Cid remained faithful to the fortunes of Don Sancho, and
one day during the war, when the king was being carried away prisoner by
thirteen knights who were on the side of Alonzo, Ruy Diaz chanced to come
up with them in time, and being unarmed, he asked them to give him a lance.
The knights refused at first, but afterwards gave him one, laughing at the
idea that one man could hold out against so many. They soon found that they
were mistaken, for the Cid overthrew them one after another until only two
were left, and thus freed Don Sancho from the power of his enemies. The war
between the brothers unhappily lasted some years, and at last Alonzo was
defeated by Sancho, and shut up in prison, whence he contrived to escape to
the court of the Moorish kings. Sancho himself received a death blow from
an unknown hand at the siege of Zamora. Before he died he prayed that his
brother Alonzo might come from the land of the Moors and show favour to the
Cid, and that the hidalgos would entreat him to forgive whatever wrongs,
he, Don Sancho, had done to him.

Alonzo returned from the land of the Moors, and as soon as he arrived his
sister Urraca sent letters to all the nobles in the kingdom that they might
render him homage. Those of Leon and Gallicia were very glad to come and
receive him for their king; then the Castillians appeared, and they kissed
his hands, all except the Cid; but they were not all content, for Alonzo
had been suspected of having connived at the death of Don Sancho.

When the king saw that the Cid would not kiss his hand, he was vexed, and
he asked him why he held back. And the Cid replied that he would never
render him homage until he had sworn with twelve of his hidalgos who were
likewise suspected, that he had not connived at the death of Don Sancho.

The king consented to take the oath in the great church of Saint Gadea, in
Burgos, and went thither on the appointed day with his sisters and all his
court. The Cid made him stand with the hidalgos on a high stage so that
they might be seen by all the people in the church; then he took the book
of the holy gospels and laid it on the altar, and when Alonzo had placed
his hand upon it, he asked him in the most solemn manner if he had anything
to do with his brother's death. And he said that if it were so, and he
denied the crime, he should die a like death himself, at the hands of one
who was not a Castillian, but would come from a strange land.

At the end of every sentence the Cid spoke, the king and his hidalgos
answered, Amen.

It was an awful scene, and when Alonzo heard the doom pronounced upon him
if he did not speak the truth, he turned pale, and asked Ruy Diaz why he
pressed him so much, because he made him take the oath three times. When he
had sworn that he was innocent for the last time, the Cid kissed his hand
and acknowledged him for his king, and from thenceforth Alonzo reigned over
Castille, Leon, Gallicia, and Navarre, and was free from the attempts of
his brother Garcia since he had invited him to his court, and then shut him
up in a strong castle, where he remained to the end of his days. It was a
very long time, however, before he could look kindly on the Cid, for he
thought he had done him a great injury by making him take the oath so many
times before his people.

The first expedition of Ruy Diaz after this was against the kings of
Seville and Cordova, in which he won great honour, and afterwards returned
to Castille laden with spoils. Then he lay sick for a long time, and could
not go with Alonzo to fight the Moors in another part of Spain. And it
happened that when the king was far away, a vast company of Moors, thinking
that all was quiet, entered Castille and did great damage to the country.
The Cid, hearing of this, roused himself and gathered his strength and
pursued them as far as the city of Toledo. The Castillians around Toledo
were very jealous of his power, and they complained to Alonzo that Ruy Diaz
had driven the Moors into their territory on purpose to annoy them.

Alonzo flew into a great passion, and summoned the Cid to his presence, and
glad of an opportunity of vexing him, ordered him to leave the country of
Castille for ever, and all the fair domains he possessed.

When the sentence was passed the Cid's cousin, Alvar Fanez, and all his
friends, kinsmen, and vassals, declared that if he must needs quit the land
they would follow him into his exile and remain faithful to him all the
days of their life. This comforted Ruy Diaz, although he did not desire
that so many of those he loved should condemn themselves to wander in the
land of the Moors for his sake. He sent his wife Ximena, and his two little
daughters, Elvira and Sol,[8] to the convent of Saint Peter, of Cardeña,
where they would be safe; and one sad day he bade farewell to his home in
Castille and set out on his wanderings, the king having granted him nine
days for his journey out of the country.

The costly furniture of his palace in Burgos had been all stored away;
there were no people coming and going; no voices of children gladdened the
empty halls; the birds were all gone from the perches, there would be no
more pleasant pastime of hawking, the whole place was silent and desolate.

When the Cid saw this he knelt down and turned towards the east, and prayed
that he might be victorious over the Moors, and gain enough to requite his
friends for their devotion. Then he turned to the whole company and cheered
them with the hope that he might yet be able to return to Castille in
honour. And an old woman, who stood by the door, repeated the Spanish
proverb, "Go in a lucky moment, and you shall make spoil of whatever you

The mausoleum of the Cid now occupies the spot where his palace stood, and
his statue ornaments the gate of Saint Maria, which is the principal
entrance into the city of Burgos, and opens on to one of the bridges
leading out into the suburb called Vega.

As Ruy Diaz came with his people through the streets of Burgos, the
citizens wept aloud; they were so grieved to see him depart, and to know
that no house might afford him shelter even for one night. So when the dark
came he was obliged to have a tent raised on the sandy plain and rest for a
while there.

At last he got to the convent of Cardeña, and bade a long farewell to his
wife and daughters, giving them a hundred marks of gold for their
expenditure; and before he left he gave the Abbot fifty marks of silver,
and commended his family to his care, for he did not feel sure that he
should ever see them again. Then he pursued his journey, travelling all
night because he had a long and difficult way to go before he could get to
the land of the Moors. The next day but one they crossed the river Douro in
wooden boats, and rested at a place called Figueruela. And there in the
night he either dreamed or had a vision of an angel coming to him who said,
"Cid, be of good cheer, for it shall be well with thee all thy life long;
and thou shalt accomplish all that thou shalt undertake, and shalt become
rich and honoured." The Cid thought very much on what he had heard, and he
arose and gave thanks for the mercy that had befallen him. The following
day he reached the wild Sierra, of Miedes, and he said, "Friends, let us
mount our horses quickly, and cross the Sierra and go out of the kingdom of
Don Alonzo, for this is the ninth day, and it is time we were gone." So
they passed the Sierra in the dark night and then they were in the country
of the Moors. The whole company of the Cid amounted to 400 horsemen, and
3,000 foot. They travelled by night, and hid by day until they reached the
Castle of Castregon. Ruy Diaz concealed himself and his friends close by,
and in the morning the Moors, not knowing they were there, came out of the
Castle gates to go to their work; the Spaniards rushed suddenly upon them,
slaying some and dispersing the rest, and soon got possession of the castle
where they found a quantity of gold and silver. But they could not stay in
it because there was no water, and besides this, the Moors all around were
vassals of Don Alonzo. So the Cid left the Moors there whom he had taken
prisoner in the skirmish, and went further on his way to meet with fresh
adventures. During the whole time of his exile he remained loyal to the
king who had so unjustly treated him, and did him good service, for he took
many strong castles from the Moors, and either drove the invaders out of
the land or made them subject to Castille. He shared with his company all
the rich spoils he won, and after many brave exploits determined to send
his cousin Alvar to Alonzo with a present of thirty Arab horses, and a
message entreating him to restore him to his favour, and to give back to
his friends the estates they had lost by following him into his exile.

When the king saw the beautiful Arab horses, each with a fine sword mounted
in silver hanging from its saddle, his face brightened, and he could not
bring himself to refuse the gift. Still he thought it was too soon yet to
pardon the mighty Cid, and only restored to his friends and relations their

Ruy Diaz got as far as the district of Ternel in Arragon, and there he
settled himself in a fortress on a high rock which has been called ever
since "The Rock of the Cid." From this stronghold he sallied forth from
time to time against the Moors, and forced numbers of them to pay tribute.
And besides overcoming the Moors, he served the king by punishing some
great Spanish lords who had been guilty of treason, and Alonzo at last
desired him to return to the court. The Cid waited yet to take the strong
Castle of Rueda from the Moors, and then he came back to Castille in
honour, as he had hoped on the sorrowful day when he left Burgos. All the
king's displeasure passed away when Ruy Diaz came before him and delivered
into his hands the rich treasures he had captured, and Alonzo gave him many
castles, and the right of keeping in future all the places he should win
from the Moors for himself.

Ruy Diaz was chosen to lead the Spanish army against Toledo in the year
1032. This city was possessed by the Moorish king Yahia, and was considered
so important a place, that all the Christian sovereigns in Spain made up
their quarrels, and joined together to besiege it. Yahia held out for three
years, and then only yielded up the city on condition that he should reign
over Valencia instead. The first Christian banner that entered Toledo was
the banner of the Cid. A story is told by the Spaniards how, when the army
had to cross a ford of the Tagus, that they might get nearer the city, and
the river was so swollen that the horsemen feared to plunge into it, a monk
of the order of St. Benedict rode over first on an ass, after which the
whole army passed over in safety.

Later on, Castille was threatened by the Almoravides, a nation of African
Moors. The Moorish kings already settled in Spain had many bitter quarrels
amongst themselves; there was trouble and treason all over the land. Yahia,
who was protected by the Cid, and called himself his friend, was murdered
by a wicked alcayde named Abeniaf soon after he had joined with Ruy Diaz to
defend Spain against the Almoravides. Abeniaf buried the treasures of the
murdered king, and let some of the new invaders into Valencia, for which
service they made him Wali, or governor of the city.

The Cid came with a great army of Christians and Moors, and lay siege to
Valencia, so incensed was he at the cruel death of Yahia, and began by
attacking the suburbs, because by gaining them he could close all round the
city, and prevent the Moors from going in or coming out. That siege of
Valencia was very terrible, the people died daily of hunger; they eat
horses, dogs, cats, and mice, and when all the flesh was gone they had only
a little wheat and garlic, and a few raisins and figs.

In their sore need they implored some more of the Almoravides to come to
their aid, although a great quarrel had broken out between that people and
Abeniaf. The Almoravides set out for Valencia, but they were dismayed by a
violent tempest which arose and turned back. Then the besieged went almost
mad through hunger and misery, and the Cid came nearer its walls, thinking
that famine would force them to yield. The longer the siege lasted, the
more defiant did Abeniaf become; besides which he governed the people very
cruelly, and oppressed them in every way. The Cid was very cruel too
outside their walls, and showed them no mercy. He sent word to them that he
would burn all persons who should dare to come out of the city, and it is
said that several Moors who tried to escape were burned by his command.
Many men, women, and children, too, came out whenever the gates were
opened, and sold themselves to the Christians for food. The price of a Moor
was a loaf and a pitcher of wine.

At last Abeniaf agreed to deliver up the place if no succour came within
fifteen days, provided he might still continue in his office of Wali. The
people thought they might yet be saved, because they had entreated the King
of Saragossa to assist them, but no help came, and the gates were opened,
and the Christians poured in to the city.

The Cid entered with all the hidalgos and knights, and went up to the
highest tower in the wall, whence he could look down on the whole of
Valencia; and the Moors came to him, and they kissed his hands, and bade
him welcome. The Cid, in return, ordered that all the windows of the tower
which looked towards the streets should be closed, that the Spaniards might
not annoy the Moors by prying into their affairs, and commanded the
Christians to guard the people and to pay them the greatest honour. The
Moors were very grateful for his kindness, and rejoiced indeed that the
city had been given up, for now the provision merchants could come inside
the gates and they could buy food; and some of them were so famished that
they went and plucked the grass and herbs from the field, and tried thus to
satisfy their sharp hunger. It must have been a sad sight to have seen
those who had survived the famine standing about like ghosts, whilst there
was mourning in every house, and space had not been found to bury all the

The Cid planted his banner on the Alcazar, which was the name given to all
royal houses and palaces in Spain. He caused Abeniaf to be seized by force,
and after he had made him say where he had concealed the treasures of Yahia
he condemned him to be burnt alive, but showed mercy to his son when the
Moors entreated him not to include him in the punishment of his father; and
had the Cid put the innocent child to death it would have been as dreadful
a crime as Abeniaf was guilty of in murdering Yahia.

The city of Valencia lay in a great plain which was called the Garden,
because it was covered with the most luxuriant vegetation, and trees, such
as the mulberry, olive, orange, carob, and palm grew in its fertile soil.
There were fair gardens lying between the walls and the shore.

When the Cid had taken up his abode in the vast and beautiful Alcazar, the
people began to cast off their sorrow and gloom, and to take part in the
rejoicings made by the Spaniards. Valencia was now all his own. He
suffered the Moors to remain in the city and to keep all their herds and
flocks; they were to give him a tenth part of their substance, and to
retain all their customs; and he made a good man Wali over them that they
might be governed by their own laws. Those who were not content with this
arrangement, he ordered to go and dwell in the suburb of Alcudia, outside
the walls. From this time he was called the Cid Campeador, the latter title
being given to one greatly renowned for his exploits.

One day, Hieronymo, a holy and learned man, "all shaven and shorn," came
from the East to Valencia, and desired to see the Cid. He said that if he
might once meet the Moors on the battle-field, and have his fill of smiting
them, he would be content. These were warlike words for a priest, but they
pleased Ruy Diaz, and the very next day after the stranger arrived the
mosques were changed into churches, and Hieronymo was made Bishop of

The King of Seville soon came with the Almoravides to besiege the Cid in
his new abode. Ruy Diaz defeated him, and won from them his famed horse
Bavieca, although the chronicles say that Bavieca was the horse he chose
when a boy, because it was so fiery, and the name was given to it from his
godfather exclaiming, "Bavieca (meaning simpleton) thou hast chosen ill."

After this he sent his faithful cousin Alvar with a number of brave knights
to fetch his wife and daughters from the convent of Cardeña, where they had
been all this time. The ladies were joyful indeed to hear that Valencia was
gained, and when they drew near, the Cid came out on his horse Bavieca,
with a stately company to meet them, and he took them up to the highest
tower of the Alcazar, whence they could see all the fair city lying in its
plain beside the sea, and its beautiful houses built by the Moorish
architects, its fountains and gateways, and its gardens filled with the
brilliant flowers and luscious fruits of the East.

Doña Ximena and her daughters had been in Valencia about three months, when
news was brought to the Cid that King Yusef was coming from Morocco with
50,000 horsemen, and myriads of men on foot, to invest the city by sea and
land. The Campeador was not alarmed; he had his fortresses well manned, and
the enormously thick walls of the city repaired, and he got in plenty of
provisions, whilst a number of his vassals, Christians and Moors, came to
his aid.

The day before the battle he took his wife and Elvira and Sol to the tower,
and showed them the Moors as they gained their footing on shore. Soon they
began to enter the gardens, and Ruy Diaz told a very brave man to go down
thither with two hundred knights, and show them a little play. So he went
down, and soon drove them out of the gardens. The Cid, being so often at
war, had certain signals, by which the knights knew how many of them were
to arm themselves and assemble, the signal being usually the ringing of a

Early the next morning Bishop Hieronymo sang the mass and absolved all the
Christians from their sins; praying afterwards, warlike man that he was, to
be the first to drive back the enemy. Whilst it was still dark, the Cid,
well armed and mounted on Bavieca, went out with his company at the gate
which was called the Gate of the Snake. They loitered about at first, and
then when the Cid rang his bell the Christians came out of their
hiding-places amongst the narrow ways and passes, and the Moors were shut
in between their enemies and the sea. There was hard fighting that day; the
Moors, arming themselves in haste, made a firm stand, but before night they
were overcome and fled to Denia, leaving great riches behind them in the
camp. Ruy Diaz, who had been wounded in the battle, rode joyfully back to
the city when they were gone, still mounted on Bavieca, and with his drawn
sword still in his hand; and he sent King Alonzo a present of three hundred
horses laden with the gold and silver he had found amongst the spoils.

Yusef died soon after his defeat, and his brother Bucar swore upon the
Koran, the book of their law, that he would take revenge upon the mighty
Castillian chief.

The Infantes of Carrion, Diego, and Fernan Gonzalez, vassals of King Alonzo
in Castille, having heard how the power of the Cid was increasing day by
day, demanded his daughters in marriage, thinking by so doing they would
become rich and powerful themselves. The Cid was pleased with the proposal,
but Doña Ximena did not like the idea of such a marriage at all; however,
since the king had heartily approved of it, she dared say nothing against

The weddings were performed by Bishop Hieronymo, and there were great
rejoicings in Valencia for eight days. Each day had its festival, either in
bull-fighting, or tilting, or shooting stones from the cross-bow, or they
witnessed the performances of the Moorish jugglers and buffoons, who were
very clever in their art. Then there were magnificent banquets in the
Alcazar, the tables being covered with silver dishes filled with rare and
highly-seasoned meats.

For two years the Infantes lived with their wives at Valencia in peace; but
at the end of that time a misfortune happened, which caused them to break
with their father-in-law, although it was no fault of his. The Cid had a
very large and lively lion, which afforded him great amusement, and was
kept in an iron house, which opened into a high court behind the Alcazar;
three men had the charge of it, and it was their custom about mid-day to
open the door of its house, and let it come into the court to eat its
dinner, taking care before they left to fasten the door of the court

The Cid used to dine in company every day, and after dinner he sometimes
fell asleep, for he was getting old. One day a man came to him, and told
him that many vessels had arrived before Valencia, having on board a great
host of the Moors, and among them Bucar, the African king, who had sworn to
revenge the death of his brother. When the Cid heard this he was very much
pleased, for it was nearly three years since he had had a fight with the
Moors. He had his bell rung as a sign that all the honourable men in the
city should assemble, and when they came to Alcazar, and the Infantes were
there too, he told them the news, and agreed with them as to the manner in
which they should repel the advance of their foes. When this was done he
went quietly to sleep, and Diego and Fernan, and the rest of the company
sat playing at tables[9] and at chess.

It happened that the men who guarded the lion heard that the Moors had
come, and rushed to the palace to see if the news were true, forgetting in
their anxiety to close the door of the court behind them. And lo and
behold! the lion, when it had dined right royally, and saw the door open,
walked out of the court and straight into the great hall where all the
company were assembled. It certainly was an alarming sight, and the people
did not know what to do, fearing that the lion might be roused to fury and
tear some of them to pieces. Diego and Fernan Gonzalez showed more terror
and cowardice than all the rest, and Diego ran and hid himself under the
Cid's chair, and very nearly died of fright in his undignified retreat,
whilst Fernan rushed out of a gallery which led into a court where there
was a winepress, and entering therein he tumbled among the lees, which
served him quite right.

The others remained in the hall, and stood around the Cid to guard him
while he slept. The noise of their talking, however, at last awakened him,
and he saw how the lion came towards him and licked his hand, and he asked
what it meant. And when the lion heard his voice, it stood quite quiet, and
the Cid arose and took it by the neck as if it had been a hound, and made
it go back to its iron house, calmly giving orders that it should be more
strictly guarded in future.

When the Infantes came out of their hiding-places they must have felt very
much ashamed, but they gave a very different version of the story to what
had really happened. In the famous poem of the Cid, which contains a great
deal of historic truth, Ruy Diaz forbears reproaching his sons-in-law for
their cowardice. Be that as it may, they made the event a pretence for
taking offence with him, as they were wicked and discontented men; they
were tired of their wives, and thought that they ought to have wedded
damsels of far higher rank than the daughters of the Cid. So they said that
he had arranged that the lion should come out of its den only to put them
to shame before all the hidalgos; and their uncle, Suero Gonzalez, wickedly
advised them to ask Ruy Diaz to let them take their wives to their home in
Carrion, that, once out of Valencia, they might do with them whatsoever
they pleased.

In the meantime there was much noise in the city. Bucar had landed his
forces, and arrived in a plain about a league from Valencia, which was
called Quarto; and there the Cid gave him such a defeat that he was obliged
to flee with his diminished army across the sea. Ruy Diaz was still kindly
disposed towards his sons-in-law; and when the battle was over he thanked
them for the share they had had in it, when they had really done nothing at
all, and had only pretended to fight; such men were not worthy to have
married the daughters of the Cid! Now they said that they had heard no news
of their father and mother in Carrion since they left Castille; and they
wanted to take their wives home, and tell their parents what honour they
had attained to by marrying them. Doña Ximena had no faith in them, and she
told her husband that they were not true-hearted; she was very loth to let
her daughters go with them; nevertheless the Cid trusted them still, and
one day Elvira and Sol set out from Valencia with the Infantes; their
parents, and a great and valiant company going with them two leagues on the
road to Castille. Before they started, Ruy Diaz gave them presents worthy
of a king. First of all, he gave them a quantity of cloth of gold, silk,
and wool, a hundred horses richly caparisoned, and a hundred mules with
gorgeous trappings; then he gave them ten goblets of pure gold, and a
hundred vases of silver besides quantities of silver in plate and shields.
A hundred well-appointed knights were to accompany them into Castille;
amongst whom were two very brave men, named Martin Pelaez and Pero Sanchez,
whom the Cid held in great esteem. Last of all he gave the Infantes each a
golden-hilted sword to defend their wives with; these two swords he prized
very much, because he had won them from the Moors, and he had named them
Colada and Tizona.

When it was time to part, Elvira and Sol took a sorrowful leave of their
parents, and the Cid, as he turned away from them began to feel some
misgivings in his heart, and to wonder if Ximena had really been right in
her distrust. The Infantes, however, still promised to treat their wives
with honour, and the cavalcade went on towards Castille. On the way they
were entertained by a Moorish king, a vassal of the Cid's, who could not do
enough to show his pleasure in welcoming them, and so far all was well, and
they went through the valleys until they reached the oak forest of Torpes.
When they arrived there the Infantes told all the knights to go forward,
and said they would stay for a while in the forest. Elvira asked her
husband Diego why they remained there alone; he replied that she should
soon see. Then these wicked men took their wives by the hair and dragged
them along until they came to the fountain of Torpes, and there they beat
them with the leathern girths of their saddles until the blood flowed from
their wounds. And they took from them all the costly jewels, and robes of
silk and ermine Doña Ximena had given them, and went on their way, leaving
the poor ladies half dead by themselves in the forest, where the wild
beasts might have come and devoured them. Elvira and Sol startled the birds
in the branches overhead by the piteous cries they uttered in their terror
and pain; then, finding that no one came to their aid, they said their
prayers very fervently, and sank fainting to the ground.

The cruel Infantes mounted their horses, and took the mules which had
carried their wives, and said aloud as they went out of the forest, "Now we
have done with the daughters of the Cid! We demeaned ourselves by marrying
them, and we are avenged of the affront their father put upon us by letting
loose the lion."

Felez Nuñoz, however, the nephew of the Cid, happened to pass that way, and
he heard what the Infantes said. He would have punished them on the spot,
but he feared they would return and perhaps kill their wives; so he went
into the deep oak glades, and kept calling his cousins by their names until
he found them. Then, in great sorrow to behold the terrible plight they
were in, he gave them water to drink, and carried them to a part of the
forest where they would be in greater safety, and made a soft couch for
them of tender green leaves and grass, whereon they might rest, for they
were utterly worn out.

The knights had gone on their way, and when they saw the Infantes coming
towards them bringing with them the mules and the rich robes of their
wives, they began to fear that some evil deed had been done, and they all
crowded round them, taunting them with their cowardice, and threatening to
fight them. The Infantes wanted to be rid of them all, and declared that if
the knights would go back to the forest, they would find Elvira and Sol by
the fountain there unharmed. So Martin Pelaez and Pero Sanchez, and all the
bravest men in the company returned thither; but when Felez Nuñoz and his
cousins heard their voices they were alarmed, thinking the Infantes were
near; and they kept quite still, so that the knights could not find them,
and returned, very angry, to pursue the cowardly brothers, feeling sure
that some foul deed had been done. Diego and Fernan, however, were already
beyond their pursuit,--craven-hearted men can fly fast, and the knights set
out at once for the court of Don Alonzo, and told their king all that had

Now the ladies in the forest at first had nothing to eat, and were very
near dying of hunger, when, by good fortune Felez Nuñoz found his way to a
village where he bought them food, and he kept them thus from starving for
seven days; but could not make their misfortunes known to the Cid because
he feared to leave them by themselves in the wild forest. At last he found
in his village a worthy man in whose house the Cid had once lodged, and he
brought two asses to the forest, and made the noble ladies mount them, and
led them in safety to his own house, where his wife tended them kindly,
rejoicing that she had them under her roof. Here they wrote a letter to
their father, which Felez Nuñoz undertook to convey to him at Valencia. On
the road thither he met Alvar Fanez and Pero Bermudez, who were going to
the king with a present from Ruy Diaz, of two hundred horses he had won in
his battle with Bucar, besides a number of swords and a hundred Moorish
captives. These knights were enabled to give Don Alonzo a faithful account
of all that had happened, and the king was very indignant at the wickedness
of his vassals, and appointed a day, three months from the time, when he
would hear the matter through, and give judgment in his Cortes at Toledo.
And Alvar and Pero set out in search of the Cid's daughters, taking with
them from Alonzo two mules, with saddles richly adorned with gold, and
jewelled robes for the sisters, so that they might return to Valencia in
the same attire they had worn when they started on their hapless journey.
When they had found them at the good man's house, Pero went on to Valencia,
and Alvar remained with the knights who had followed him to guard his
cousins. The indignation and anger of the mighty Cid may be imagined when
he heard how his children had been treated. Doña Ximena was more dead than
alive, and she was thankful indeed when she had her dear daughters safe at
home with her once more.

Great preparations were made for the day of trial. The walls of the palace,
where judgment was to be given, were hung with cloth of gold, rich carpets
were spread on the floor, and a great throne was placed in readiness for
the king. The Cid left Hieronymo and Martin Pelaez in charge of his city,
and set out betimes for Toledo with so great a host of followers that it
looked like an army. When he drew near Alonzo came out to meet him, but he
would not cross the Tagus that night, and had candles lighted in the church
of Saint Servans on the shore, and kept a vigil there a great part of the
night with his friends. And he ordered one of his hidalgos to set a
beautiful ivory chair he had won from the Moors close beside the king's
throne, and sent a hundred squires, each one an hidalgo, to stand around it
all night to guard it, with swords hanging from their necks.

There were many people in Toledo who were friends of the Infantes of
Carrion, and therefore ill-disposed towards the Cid, and they thought he
was taking a great liberty in having his chair set beside the king's
throne: but Alonzo honoured him, and he suffered it to remain.

It was a stately meeting; we are told that when the day came Ruy Diaz wore
a tunic of gold tissue, and over that a red skin with points of gold; this
he always wore, and on his head he had a coif of scarlet and gold: his long
beard, which was getting white, was tied up with a cord.[10] When he came
into the hall, the king and all the people stood up, except those who were
on the side of the Infantes of Carrion.

Alonzo gave judgment against those wicked men, and made them give up the
golden-hilted swords Colada and Tizona, which they did not indeed deserve
to keep. But the Cid was not content when judgment was pronounced; he
thought the dishonour was not yet wiped away, and he stood up and required
that three knights should fight for his cause against three of Carrion.

When he said this the three brave knights named Martin Antolinez, Pero
Bermudez, and Nuno Gustios, entreated him to let them fight on his side;
and a terrible quarrel arose; the Infantes said many rude things of the
Cid, and his haughty hidalgos would not suffer their insults to pass; they
quarrelled and fought until the king could scarcely hear himself speak, and
he rose from his seat and called the Alcaydes, and went to confer with them
in a chamber apart, while the Cid and all the others remained in the hall.
When he came back he sat down on his throne with great solemnity, and told
the people to listen to the sentence, which decreed that a combat should
take place three weeks from that day between the Infantes and their uncle
Suero Gonzalez on the side of Carrion, and the three brave knights who were
willing to fight for the Cid.

Ruy Diaz was now content; he rose from his seat and kissed the king's hand,
and prayed that God might have him in His holy keeping for many good years,
so that he might administer justice worthily, as he had done that day.

In the midst of all this, messengers arrived at the palace from the kings
of Arragon and Navarre, demanding the daughters of the Cid in marriage for
their sons, when the unhappy marriage they had made with the Infantes of
Carrion should be dissolved. Ruy Diaz went back to Valencia in joy, and
told the glad news to his wife; adding that they need have no fear now for
their daughters' happiness, because the princes of Arragon and Navarre
were known far and wide to be honourable men. The combat took place on the
appointed day. The Cid lent Colada and Tizona to his knights, and Diego and
Fernan Gonzalez, and their uncle Suero, were all three overcome and wounded
in the presence of King Alonzo; and, they crept away in disgrace and were
never seen more, and Carrion, after the death of Don Gonzalez, their
father, went back to the crown of Castille.

When the three victorious knights returned safe and sound to Valencia, and
made known there the result of the combat, the joy of the Cid was beyond
all bounds, and as for Doña Ximena, and Elvira, and Sol, they would fain
have kissed the feet of their valiant defenders. There was rejoicing in the
city for eight days, and banquets were held every day, the silver dishes
being filled with the flesh of many extraordinary animals, which were
cooked in Spain for the first time, having been sent to the Cid with a
number of rare and beautiful presents from the Soldan, or Sultan of Persia.
The Soldan paid great court to Ruy Diaz, and made known to him how a vast
army of Christians had come out to the East and lay before Jerusalem,
hoping to conquer that city from the Saracens; and that was the first
crusade which had been preached by Peter the Hermit, when William Rufus was
reigning in England.

The Cid remained in peace at Valencia for five years, and kept the Moors so
quiet that they no longer molested the Christians, but lived with them on
friendly terms. At the end of this time news came suddenly that Bucar had
stirred up all the chiefs in Barbary to cross the sea in revenge for the
victory that Ruy Diaz had gained over him in the field of Quarto.

The Cid sent the Moors who dwelt in the city to the suburb of Alcudia,
where he thought they had better remain until the affair was ended. His
strength was failing fast; and one night, as he lay wakeful on his bed, his
chamber was filled with a strange brightness and fragrance, and he had
another wonderful vision, in which Saint Peter appeared to him, aged and
white as snow, with a bunch of keys in his hand, and told him now to mind
other things besides the coming of Bucar, for that in thirty days he should
die, and yet by the help of Saint James he should conquer his foes after he
was dead. When the vision disappeared the Cid was lost in wonder, but he
felt greatly comforted; and early in the morning he called the hidalgos
around him and told them what he had seen, and how they should conquer the
Moors. The last day that he was able to rise from his bed he ordered the
city gates to be shut, and repaired to the church of Saint Peter, where he
spoke long and earnestly to the people assembled there, reminding them
that, however great and honourable their estate in life might be, not one
of them could escape death. Then he took leave of them all, and confessed
his sins at the feet of Bishop Hieronymo. From that time until his death,
seven days afterwards, he took no nourishment except a little myrrh and
balsam stirred in rose water, such as was used to embalm the dead bodies of
kings in the East, and had been sent among the gifts of the Soldan in a
casket of gold. He bequeathed great riches to his knights, leaving a
thousand marks of silver to those who had only served him one year, and he
ordered four thousand poor persons to be clothed at his expense. On Sunday,
the 25th of May, 1099, the Cid died, in the seventy-third year of his age.
These were his dying words: "Lord Jesus Christ, Thine is the kingdom; Thou
art above all kings and all nations, and all kings are at Thy command. I
beseech Thee to pardon my sins, and let my soul enter the light that hath
no end."

Three days after his death King Bucar came, and with him thirty-six kings
or chiefs. It is said that fifteen thousand tents were pitched around
Valencia. As all was quiet inside the city, the Africans thought that their
enemy dared not come out against them.

Meanwhile the body of the Cid had been embalmed and fixed in a wooden frame
upright upon Bavieca, and the frame being painted to represent armour, it
looked really as if he were alive. A mournful procession went out at
midnight from the gate towards Castille. First the banner of the Cid was
carried, guarded by five hundred knights; then came one hundred more,
around the body of their lord; and lastly, Ximena followed sorrowfully with
all her company, and three hundred knights in the rear. By the time they
had all passed out the summer night was spent, and it was broad daylight.

Alvar Funez now fell upon the Moors with the forces that remained in
Valencia; and so great was the terror and uproar he caused that they fled
towards the sea, leaving their riches for the spoils of the Christians. The
Moors who had retired to the suburb saw the procession pass, and thought
that their lord had gone forth alive. But when they entered the city from
whence all the Spanish knights had gone, they marvelled at the strange
silence in the streets, until they saw written on the walls in Arabic that
the Cid Campeador was dead. From that day Valencia remained in the power of
the Moors until it was won by King Jayme of Arragon, in the year 1238; but
the city was always known by the name of "Valencia of the Cid."

The body of Ruy Diaz was placed in his ivory chair at the right of the
altar of Saint Peter in the church of Cardeña. It was clothed in purple
cloth which had been given to him by the Soldan, and remained thus more
than ten years. When that time had passed it was buried in a vault beside
the grave of Doña Ximena, who only survived him three years. And Bavieca,
his favourite horse, was buried not far from his master, under some trees
in front of the convent of Saint Peter of Cardeña.


[7] Like the Alhambra court in the Crystal Palace.

[8] _Sol_, Spanish for sun.

[9] _Tablas_, in the Spanish tables, probably the game of draughts.

[10] See Southey's "Chronicle."


The good king Louis the Ninth, commonly called St. Louis, because he led so
holy a life, was born at Poissy, in the year 1215, whilst his grandfather,
Philip Augustus, was still on the throne of France. Poissy was a beautiful
place, just as Fontainebleau is now, where the kings of France used to go
and hunt, and enjoy the sweet fresh air; and the queens passed many happy
days with their little children, away from the cares and the splendour of
the court.

Louis was always of a meek and gentle disposition, truthful and upright.
His mother, Blanche of Castille, watched over him tenderly herself, and
took care to place around him as early as possible the holiest and most
learned men in France, in the hope that through their influence he might
grow up to be a good king. Blanche was a woman of great piety, and she was
very clever and beautiful besides; she had many children, but although
Louis was always her favourite amongst them all, she did not indulge him
either in luxury or pleasure, and used often to say to him, "My son, I love
you more than I can tell; yet I would rather see you lying dead at my feet
than know you were guilty of a mortal sin."

Louis did indeed try earnestly to be good, and to remember the words of
his mother; he was obedient to his instructors, and is said to have
understood Latin well, and to have been versed in the works of the fathers
of the Church, and in the history of the kings who reigned before him; and
that was knowing a great deal, for the times he lived in were called "the
dark ages," because so very little was learnt or known, especially in
Europe. His amusements were hunting and fishing, and playing at chess, but
he did not care for these as he cared for the services of the church,
attending them daily with his little brothers, and loving the holy chants
and hymns he heard there more than any songs of merriment.

Louis was only eleven years old when his father, King Louis the Eighth,
died, after a reign of less than four years. He had then four brothers
younger than himself--Robert, John, Alphonse, and Charles; and one little
sister named Isabel. As he was so very young, his mother, Queen Blanche,
governed his kingdom for him, and she had many troubles to contend with, on
account of the quarrels and revolts of some of the most powerful nobles in
the land. Several of these refused to attend the coronation of Louis, which
took place at Rheims, after he had been knighted, according to the custom
of the time, at Soissons. The ceremony was very solemn; Queen Blanche would
not let it be made an occasion of rejoicing, because her heart was so full
of sorrow for the death of her husband; and the day after she took Louis to
Paris, and began at once to think what would be the best measures for
securing his safety and the welfare of the country.

It was at the siege of Bellesme that Louis gained his first experience in
war, when he was only twelve years of age. The Count de Bretagne, foremost
of the rebellious nobles, had invaded the territory of the king, and was
causing great misery to the country people by laying waste their land and
destroying their villages. To chastise him, and bring him to obedience,
Queen Blanche set off in the depth of winter with her son Louis and only a
few followers, to lay siege to the Castle of Bellesme, where the count had
first set up his standard of rebellion.

The snow lay deep on the ground, and icicles hung from the trees along the
road-side: the cold was intense, and the march was difficult in the short
winter days, but little Louis was as brave as he was gentle, and cared
nothing for the cold and discomfort, nor did he tremble the least at the
idea of the coming affray; his mother had taught him to endure manfully
hardships and pain and fatigue, and to trust in God, whatever danger was at

The Castle of Bellesme exists no longer; its ruins have long crumbled away:
in those days it was a strong fortress, surrounded by thick walls flanked
with towers. The Count of Bretagne was inside the castle with all the
bravest of his men, and the queen's party made two assaults upon it in
vain. The cold had numbed the energies of the knights and the soldiers in
the camp, and they were very nearly frozen to death. Queen Blanche then
published a decree which promised large rewards to all persons who should
cut down the trees in the forests around, and bring the wood to the camp.
The peasants were soon seen joyfully bringing the wood on their shoulders
and in carts: enormous fires were kindled, and the warmth so quickly
restored the spirits of the besiegers, that before two days had passed, the
greater part of the fortification was thrown down, and the haughty Count de
Bretagne, seeing no hope of succour, was obliged to surrender. Queen
Blanche and her little son treated the garrison with great kindness when
they came out; and a treaty was soon after made, by which it was agreed
that Louis's brother John should marry, when he grew up, the daughter of
the Count de Bretagne.

Whilst Louis was growing out of childhood, and striving day by day to
become more holy in the sight of God, the rebellions of the nobles were
continually breaking out afresh, and had to be put down by force of arms,
or the crown would have lost much of its power. This chapter, however, is
not to be a record of all the disturbances that occurred in France during
the early part of the good king's reign, but rather a description of the
events which brought to light most strikingly his piety, his courage, and
his patience.

In the year 1233 Louis was persuaded by his mother to bestow his hand on
Marguerite, daughter of Raymond Berenger, Count of Provence. Raymond had
four daughters, and Marguerite was the most beautiful and talented of them
all. Her sister Eleanor was married soon after to Henry the Third of
England, and another sister, named Beatrice, to Louis's brother Charles,
Count of Anjou.

The royal marriage was celebrated with great magnificence at Sens; and when
Louis was twenty years of age he took the reins of government into his own
hands: nevertheless Queen Blanche continued to influence him by her advice,
and was obeyed by him until her death, on all occasions save one, as will
be seen hereafter.

The peace of the country was not really established until the year 1239,
when some of the quarrelsome nobles had gone on a crusade to the Holy Land.
The enterprise did not succeed; the Christian army was entrapped and
defeated by the Saracens, and Jerusalem became a possession of the Sultan
of Egypt. The king was deeply grieved at the failure; he was always
thinking of the miseries and oppressions the Christians were forced to
endure in the East, and resolved to go and help them as soon as he could
leave his country in prosperity. When the rumour of this was spread in
Palestine, the sheik, or old man of the mountain, singled out the King of
France for his victim, and despatched two of his assassins to Paris,
thinking thus to put an end to all idea of a fresh crusade.

Having boasted, however, of his intended deed before some of the knights
templars, he was told by them that if he put Louis to death, his brothers
would certainly avenge the crime, and draw upon him the ill will of many
nations besides France. The sheik now became as anxious to preserve the
king's life as he had been to take it, and sent off in a great hurry two of
his emirs to the court of France to warn Louis of his danger. The king
received the intelligence calmly, and only instituted another company of
guards, who were armed with maces of brass. But when the assassins could
not be discovered, notwithstanding the marks by which the emirs declared
they would be known, these men hastened to Marseilles, and luckily arrived
there before the Arabs set foot on shore. When they had told them how the
sheik had determined not to take the king's life, they conducted them to
Paris, and all four were received with kindness by Louis, and went back to
the East much impressed with the magnificence of the French court; for
although the king loved neither luxury nor pleasure, his court was always
kept up with dignity and splendour. The Sire de Joinville, who was
twenty-two years in his company, tells us how, at a great festival held at
Saumur, which was called a plenary court, the king wore a coat of blue
samite, a species of satin, with overcoat and mantle of crimson samite,
bordered with ermine, and strangely enough, a cotton cap on his head, which
did not become him at all. His hair, which was fair, he wore short,
according to the custom of the time. At this feast there were at least
three thousand knights present, and so many robes of cloth of gold and of
silk had never been seen before. King Louis, his brothers, and the King of
Navarre sat at one table, Joinville himself carving for them; the queen
mother and her ladies sat at another, and the archbishops and bishops at a
third; and to guard the king's table stood three of the greatest barons in
the land; and to guard them stood thirty knights, in garments of rich
silken stuff; and these again had a retinue of the royal officers behind

During the whole time that the plenary courts were held, the king was
obliged to dine in public, and it was an old custom, that before the
dinner was ended, three heralds at arms, each with a rich cap in his hand,
cried out three times, "Bounty of the most powerful King!" and then threw
gold and silver to the people, so that the poor had their share of the
rejoicing as well as the rich.

The king was seized with a dangerous illness at Pontoise in the year 1244.
This was a very great sorrow for his people, since it was feared that he
would die, and they joined in solemn processions all over the kingdom, and
went to the churches to pray to the Almighty to restore him to health.
Queen Blanche was the saddest of all, and passed her time between the sick
chamber of her son, and the foot of the altar, where she knelt for hours in
silent prayer.

When Louis felt that he was getting weaker, he sent for all the members of
his household, and thanked them for their services; after which he
recommended them to serve God with earnest and faithful hearts. Then he
sank into a lethargy, which those who were watching by his bedside at first
mistook for death. The lethargy lasted several days, and then the king gave
signs of returning life. The first words he spoke after opening his eyes
were these:--"By the grace of God the light of the East has shone upon me
from the height of heaven, and recalled me from the dead." He summoned the
Bishop of Paris to his presence, and required him to affix the cross to his
shoulder, as a sign that he bound himself to go on the crusade.

The sorrow which had been forgotten when the king gave signs of recovery,
now broke out afresh. The two queens, Blanche and Marguerite, threw
themselves on their knees, and implored him with many tears not to go on
the crusade; even the bishops, who stood by, tried to persuade him not to
engage in so difficult an enterprise, but all in vain. Louis would take no
nourishment until the cross was really fastened to his shoulder; and his
people heard of the vow he had taken in gloom and regret, for they thought
if he once set sail for the Holy Land, they would never see him again.

The king did not really recover until several months had passed, and then
he wrote to the Christians in the East to tell them that he was coming to
their aid. But it was a long time yet before he was able to set out,
because he loved his people very dearly, and wanted to provide everything
for their comfort and happiness during his absence, when his mother, Queen
Blanche, was to rule over them in his stead. He persuaded the most
turbulent of the nobles to go with him on the crusade, and when the best
measures had been taken for securing the peace of the kingdom, he made
known that he was ready to redress every injury he had offered, it being
the custom then for all good crusaders to make their peace with God and man
before they embarked in their enterprise.

Louis then went with his brothers, Robert of Artois and Charles of Anjou,
to the church of Saint Denis to receive his pilgrim's scrip and staff, and
the oriflamme, or sacred banner of Saint Denis. This was a banner of
flame-coloured silk, which was always carried before the French armies on
solemn occasions for the encouragement of the soldiers. The king, having
requested all holy persons to pray that his undertaking might prove
successful, came back to Paris, and heard mass at the great church of Notre
Dame, and then went out of the city he was not to behold again for so long,
followed by the clergy, the nobles, and multitudes of the common people.

The crimson and the samite, the gold-embroidered garments with the ermines,
were now laid aside for a plain grey robe trimmed with grey and white fur.
The trappings of the king's horses were no longer adorned with gold, but
the steel of their harness was polished until it shone like silver. Louis
computed before he left France how much his former luxuries had cost him
yearly, and then caused the amount to be regularly distributed to the poor.

At Cluny, Queen Blanche bade her son a long sad farewell: it was the first
time he had ever thwarted her wishes by refusing to give up the crusade,
when she urged that a vow made in a time of extreme weakness was not
binding. His young wife could not bring herself to part with him, and
declared she would follow him to the end of the world.

When all was ready, the king, with his brothers Robert and Charles, Queen
Marguerite, and the young Countess of Anjou, and a vast number of crusaders
of all nations, embarked at Aigues-Mortes, a port on the Mediterranean,
which had been constructed for the occasion. They took the direction of
Cyprus, and the winds being favourable, all the vessels except one, which
was unhappily shipwrecked, reached the island in safety. Here the crusaders
remained during the winter. For two years before they arrived, the king's
people had been bringing wine and various provisions for the army from the
most fertile countries of Europe, and had laid up their store in the
island. The tubs of wine they had piled one upon the other, until they
looked like great barns; and the wheat and the barley lay in heaps in the
fields, green on the outside, where the warm rains falling softly upon them
had made them sprout. The crusaders found an abundant supply of food in
Cyprus, without having recourse to their stores, and when in the spring
they wanted to set out for Egypt, they took off the outer covering of the
heaps, and saw the wheat and the barley beneath, as fresh as if it had just
been cut.

The departure from the island was fixed for Ascension Day in the year 1249.
The crusaders embarked towards evening at the port called Limesson, where
they had landed. The vessels large and small amounted to 1,650, and were
thronged with a vast assembly of people of all callings and nations, 2,800
of them being knights. The next day the king sent a sealed packet into
every vessel, with orders for it to remain unopened until the fleet had set
sail; the purport of this was that they should proceed direct to Damietta.
The wind, however, blew against them, and forced them to return to the
port; and when they had got out to sea again a few days after, a violent
tempest arose from the side of Egypt, and scattered all the vessels. Louis
himself was obliged to go back to the port of Limesson, and found on
arriving there that his fleet was diminished by one hundred and twenty
vessels, and that the number of knights was reduced to seven hundred! But
he would not suffer the followers who remained to him to be cast down, and
on Trinity Sunday they set sail once more, and although in continual dread
of another storm, they went on their way safely, until a sailor who knew
the coasts of Egypt, and served as a guide, warned them that they were
before Damietta, the great stronghold of the Saracens in Egypt. All the
other vessels now crowded around the one which bore the king, who stood up
among his people calm and trustful, encouraging them to persevere for the
love of God, and not to flinch in the moment of danger.

Saleh, the Sultan, was at some distance from Damietta; he was supposed to
be dying, and had confided the care of his army to the emir Facardin. The
Saracens had seen the sea covered with masts and sails by seven o'clock in
the morning, and had rung the bell of their great mosque to spread the
alarm in the city: the Christians heard the sound across the sea in the
clear summer air. Facardin ordered four Corsair vessels to approach the
fleet, but three of these ventured too near, and were overwhelmed by
showers of stones from the larger vessels. The fourth went back to convey
the tidings that the King of France had come with a number of foreign

At mid-day the fleet of the Christians cast anchor in the roads of
Damietta. The port was full of men-of-war, and the flat country of Egypt
was covered with rich tents, whilst crowds of people on foot and on horse
stood along the shore, sounding their twisted horns, and their great
cymbals, two of which were a sufficient load for an elephant; and making,
as the Sire de Joinville affirms, "a sound horrible to be heard!"

A council was held on board the king's vessel, at which it was resolved to
land the next day, although only a portion of the fleet had as yet arrived
in the roads; but Louis thought that delay would inspire fear, and perhaps
afford the Saracens the opportunity of destroying his army by degrees. So
when it got dark, the crusaders lighted a great number of torches, and kept
watch all night; and they confessed their sins one to another, and prayed
for those they loved, and had left behind in Europe; and as many as had
quarrelled made friends, that they might be ready for death, if it should
meet them in the struggle on the morrow.

At daybreak they lifted anchor, and sailed for the island of Giza, which
was joined to Damietta by a bridge of boats across the river Nile. The king
commanded his people to get down into the flat boats they had brought with
them, because the large vessels could not approach the shore: the boat
Joinville was in soon distanced the one which bore the Oriflamme, and was
first to gain the land.

Suddenly the air was darkened by a flight of arrows from the bows of the
Saracens. Louis, seeing this, gave orders for each man to disembark as he
could, and jumped from his boat into the water, covered as he was by his
armour, with his shield on his breast, and his sword in his hand. The water
was deeper there than elsewhere, and he was immersed up to his shoulders,
but the sight of the Oriflamme safely landed encouraged him in his efforts,
and he got to the shore before any of the others. Although countless swords
and pike points were aimed at him as he landed, the good king did not
forget to kneel down for a moment on the sand, to thank the Almighty for
having preserved him thus far; then, rising, he would have rushed on the
Saracens at once and alone, if his knights, who were now gaining their
footing on shore, had not prevented him.

All the rest now followed; Louis put his people in battle array as they
landed, and ordered an attack to be made on some of the enemy's larger
vessels. Before the day was ended the Christian army had driven the
Saracens from the western shores of the Nile, and had got possession of the
bridge of boats; they would have pursued their foes, but night coming on,
the king sounded a retreat, and encamped on the ground he had conquered.
Meanwhile the poor queen and the Countess of Anjou had been in terrible
anxiety and distress when they watched from their vessel afar the
multitudes rushing into the water, and could not tell whether their
husbands were alive or drowned. And great must have been their joy when the
news was conveyed to him that those they loved so dearly were safe on
shore, and that their efforts, as yet, had been crowned with success.

Early the next morning, which was Sunday, the king was giving orders for
the siege of Damietta, when two Christian captives came to the camp and
told him that the city was deserted. The king could scarcely credit their
words, and sent one of his knights to the spot to see if they were really
true. The knight returned with the same account; the Saracens had gone back
to Damietta in great distress the evening before, and on their arrival had
heard that the Sultan was dead.

The rumour struck dismay into the heart of Facardin, and he only waited to
put the Christian slaves who were in the city to death, and to burn the
bazaars where the provisions were sold, and then he went out at the gates
the same night with his army and the garrison; old men and women, children
and sick persons following in the rear of the craven-hearted troops, until
by daylight the whole city was deserted.

Damietta was now open to the Christians; they had only to cross the bridge
of boats and enter its gates. The king in his thankfulness thought that he
ought not to enter the city as a triumphant warrior, but humbly, and clad
as a pilgrim; and he walked thither barefoot, followed by the King of
Cyprus, who had joined the crusade, the patriarch of Jerusalem, the legate,
and all the bishops and priests who had accompanied the army. A mosque,
where the Saracens had worshipped, was hastily converted into a Christian
church, and a solemn chant of thanksgiving ascended from its altar. The
crusaders had indeed reason to be thankful because Damietta was so strong a
place, protected by a double wall on the side of the Nile, and by a triple
one on the side of the flat country. The king determined to remain there
until the autumn, and thus avoid marching in the great heat, and the danger
which his army would be exposed to from the rising of the Nile, for the
river begins to rise in the month of June, and mounts higher and higher
until September, overflowing the land along its course so that it looks
like a great marsh, and the villages and trees appear like islands above
the water. By November the fields are dry again and covered with a rich
brown slime, and the people then begin to sow their corn. The soil being
so fertile, in the winter months the valley of the Nile presents the
appearance of a beautiful garden; indeed, the natives are obliged sometimes
to mix sand with the loam, or the fruits and vegetables would grow and
ripen too quickly.

When the water had risen to a certain height, the Saracens used to open
their dykes with great solemnity and let it flow over the land; and it was
remembered with sadness in the Christian camp how they had used it for the
destruction of the crusading army in the enterprise which had failed only a
few years before.

The queen and her sister, with their ladies in attendance, were lodged in
one of the palaces in the city, and the pilgrims who had come in the hope
of reaching Jerusalem in another; but the king remained in his tent outside
with the army.

The crusaders soon began to suffer from the intense heat of the climate,
and the flies and noxious insects which infested the camp.

The report of the sultan's death had been false. Saleh was still living,
but almost at his last gasp; and finding he could not dictate to the King
of France the hour when a battle should take place between them, he devised
a sure method of annoyance by offering a reward of a besant of gold for
every head of a Christian which should be brought to him. The Arabs or
Bedouins undertook to perform this service. Clad only in the skins of wild
beasts, they would suddenly appear in the camp, and vanish on their
swift-footed horses as soon as they were seen. On dark nights they used to
put their ear to the ground, as the Arabs do to this day, and listen if
the night watch had gone its rounds before they began their dread work; and
as there were always people sleeping on the outskirts of the camp, who had
gone out in search of prey, scarcely a night passed but some heads were
missing at daybreak. The king, to mislead them, ordered the night watch to
be made by foot soldiers instead of horsemen, but it did not prevent the
maurauders from coming, and at last the crusaders had to dig a deep trench
all round the camp as a surer means of keeping them away.

Louis was anxiously awaiting the arrival of his brother Alphonse, Count of
Poitou, Prince John being left in France to assist the queen-mother in the
cares of the government. The Count came at last, bringing with him the wife
of Robert of Artois. The time was wearing on, and a council was held to
determine which way they should next proceed. Robert, who was as zealous in
the crusade as Louis himself, but who had not his brother's patience and
calmness of mind, strongly advised that they should pursue the road to
Cairo, or Babylon, as it was then called, and so aim a blow at the whole
dominion of the Sultan in Egypt. The king yielded to his wishes, and
leaving the queen and the princesses in the city, with a sufficient number
of guards to protect them, he set out from Damietta, although he was in
weak health from the effects of the climate. The army crossed the bridge of
boats, but it could only go slowly along; there were so many things, such
as engines, arms, harness, and provisions, to be transported. The crusaders
imagined that they were going to Babylon, the great city of the East, on
the banks of the Euphrates; but the city they were approaching was only so
named by some settlers from the Eastern Babylon, and was what is now called
"Old Cairo," although in those days it was almost as great a place as
Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt. They were much astonished at the
abundant vegetation on the shores of the Nile, and the treasures to be
found even in its waters; for the Sire de Joinville tells us how the
country people used to throw their nets into the river at evening, and take
them up in the morning filled with cinnamon, aloes, ginger, rhubarb, and
things of a like nature; the common belief being that these riches dropped
from the trees in the garden of paradise, and were wafted up the river to
their feet!

The Egyptian fleet was stationed at Massoura, a city nearly a third of the
way between Damietta and Cairo. The sultan was now dead, but his widow
would not let it be known until her son could arrive to take the government
into his hands, for fear that the people should get discouraged.

The crusaders had not gone far from Damietta, when they found their passage
barred by the Thanis, a branch of the Nile, the opposite shore of which was
guarded by a body of five hundred Saracen horsemen. The Thanis was the
river they had to cross; it was deep near its steep shores; there was no
bridge, neither did they know of a ford, so they encamped on the ground
which formed the extremity of the angle between the two rivers, only
separated from the town of Massourah by the stream and a part of the plain.
Their situation soon became very dangerous, because the Saracens were
constantly attacking their side which was unprotected by the waters: the
machines of the enemy, too, were better than their own, and poured upon
them a continual volley of stones, darts, javelins, arrows, and heavy
pieces of wood. Then at night the Saracens would throw upon them their
terrible Greek fire, which appeared with a loud hissing noise, "like a
fiery dragon flying through the air," and rendered the camp as light as
day. The Saracens were more skilful in the art of making fireworks than the
Europeans, and always employed them in warfare. The basis of the Greek fire
was naphtha, a clear, thin mineral fluid, which is very inflammable, and
burns with much smoke. When it came, the Christians would throw themselves
down on the ground and hide their faces, and the king, whenever he heard it
explode in the night, would rise in his bed and say, "Blessed Lord God,
save my people!" and every night he would send round the camp to inquire
who had been injured by it. Sometimes it was put out with vinegar and sand,
but it usually occasioned great harm, not only to the people in the camp,
but also to the machines.

The king, having tried in vain to construct a dyke, had now to think
seriously of returning to Damietta, or of remaining in this corner between
the rivers, surrounded by the enemy, and almost in total want of
provisions. He was about to retreat, notwithstanding the sorrow and
disappointment it cost him to give up the enterprise, when a Bedouin, who
had abandoned the Saracens, came to the camp and said that he knew of a
ford which the horsemen might pass, and would show it to them for the sum
of five hundred besants of gold, but not until he had the money safe in his

The king joyfully accepted his offer, and arranged that the Duke of
Burgundy should be left with the infantry to guard the camp, whilst he,
with his brothers and all the rest, should attempt the passage. The Count
of Artois begged for the honour of passing first, and the king somewhat
reluctantly granted him his request, on condition that he should not
venture to fight until the whole army had assembled; he knew so well his
brother's ardent spirit and rashness.

Before daybreak they all set out for the ford, with the Arab marching at
their head, and went out of the straight road to avoid being seen by their
foes. The Arab plunged into the water first of all, and as he knew the way
perfectly it was not difficult for him to cross, but Robert of Artois did
not find it so easy to effect a footing, the opposite shore being high and
slippery from the richness of its soil. Next to him went the Templars, and
then William, Earl of Salisbury, surnamed "Longue Epée," who had joined the
crusade with two hundred English knights. Ah! little those brave men knew
they were going to their death, and that of all who crossed in hope and
ardour that morning, only enough should survive to come back and tell the

The sight of the Arabs fleeing who guarded the ford, made Robert forget the
oath he had sworn to his brother; he rushed after them in pursuit; the Emir
Facardin coming out to ascertain the cause of alarm, was quickly surrounded
and killed, and numbers of the Saracens, in dismay at the loss of their
leader, left their camp to their foes, and retired in disorder to Massoura.

Meanwhile the king had passed the ford in his turn, with all the rest of
the horsemen, and was greatly surprised that he did not find his brother
and the advance guard waiting for him on the other side. Fearing some
misfortune had happened, he told ten of his knights to go in search of
Count Robert, and remind him that he was to attempt nothing until the whole
army had assembled. After this he set out quickly in the direction of the
Saracens; but what was his astonishment when he found that instead of being
able to stand against them, he was surrounded by them on all sides, whilst
the air was filled with their hideous cries, and the noise of their
barbarous instruments! The Saracens, terror-stricken at first by the
approach of the Christians, had now rallied in multitudes, and completely
closed in the army of the crusaders between the river and the town of
Massoura. The king, undismayed, prepared for immediate battle, although his
knights and nobles tried to persuade him that it would be hopeless to
combat so large a force. Just at that moment the constable Imbert de
Beaujeu rode up to tell him that the Count of Artois was besieged in a
house at Massoura, and would perish if succour did not arrive. The king
sent a body of troops to his aid, and promised that he would soon be with
him himself; and then he turned to his people and exhorted them to keep
their ranks firm; and told them that the soldiers of Christ ought not to
fear a set of miscreants like those who were crowding around them. The
whole aspect of the king that day inspired courage; his face was calm, his
eyes shone with a steadfast light; he had a helmet of gold on his head,
which from his great height towered above the ranks of his army; his
double-edged sword was so heavy, that to strike a blow with it, he had to
grasp it with both hands.

The signal being given, the bravest of the crusaders rushed on the
Saracens; others, less courageous, tried to regain the camp of the Duke of
Burgundy, but were most of them drowned in the attempt. The king was sure
to be found where the fight was the thickest, or where the weak were in
want of succour; and once during the battle he was surrounded by six
Saracens, who seized the bridle of his horse, and yet he freed himself by
his own aid alone.

The Duke of Burgundy and his men heard the conflict going on from the
opposite shore; they longed to fly to the king's assistance, but their very
eagerness hindered them, and it was a long time before any of them could
cross the river. When a body of the king's archers arrived on the plain,
they found that Louis had maintained his ground, and that the battle of
Massoura was won: yet, had it not been for the king's example, the day had
been lost, so great was the fury and strength of the enemy.

Both Christians and Saracens were now utterly wearied out with fighting;
the heat had been intense, and Louis, having waited for all the wounded who
could be assembled, set out at sunset for the Saracen camp on the Thanis.
His golden helmet oppressed him, and he was glad to accept from Joinville a
casque of steel, which enabled him to breathe more freely. He had only gone
a little way on the road when a prior of the knights hospitallers met him
and asked if he knew where his brother was, the Count of Artois.

"Yes," replied the king, "I know that he is in heaven." And then he said
that the Lord should be praised equally for what He gave and for what He
withheld; and in the dark of the evening his tears began to flow, not only
for his own sorrow, but for that of the young Countess of Artois, who had
only come out to the East to bid her husband a last farewell.

For Robert indeed was slain; deaf to the remonstrances of the Grand Master
of the Templars, an old man, whose advice had been well heeded, and to
those of the Earl of Salisbury, he persisted in following the Saracens to
Massoura, and had met there the fate he had drawn upon him by his untimely
zeal and rashness. His brave companions perished with him, with the
exception of the Grand Master, who lost an eye in the conflict, and one or
two others; the Englishman who bore the standard wrapped it around him as
he fell. And as the king appeared to have known beforehand what had
happened, so it is said the mother of the Earl of Salisbury had a vision of
her son ascending to heaven, with a crown of glory on his head, before she
received the tidings of his death.

The king encamped that night close by the machines of the Saracens, and on
the second day after the battle of Massoura, the struggle began afresh. The
Saracens had taken the victory to themselves, and had sent the news of
their supposed triumph to Cairo by their carrier pigeons. Bondocar, the
chief, who had rallied the troops in Massoura appeared on the field in the
coat of arms starred with lilies which Robert of Artois had worn. The Greek
fire was poured forth incessantly from the front line of the Saracens as
they came up in battle array; the king had the crupper of his horse covered
with it once during the conflict, when he had gone to the rescue of his
brother Charles, who was in danger. The Saracens were repulsed a second
time, but the victory was dearly bought, so many men and horses being
wounded, and the crusaders passed a dreary time before Massoura, whilst
their provisions grew less and less; and it being Lent, they lost their
strength by eating only roots, wheat, and fruit; fish they had in plenty at
first, but to their horror they found out that they had fed on the dead
bodies which the Saracens had thrown into the river. A pestilence broke
out, and the camp was like one vast hospital. The king, in mistaken zeal,
had caused the bodies to be taken out of the water, that those of the
Christians might receive Christian burial, and helped to bury them himself.
This only increased the unwholesomeness of the air, and at last Louis fell
ill too. The crusaders now began to despair; the king had been as brave in
misfortune as he had been on the battle-field, and had cheered the spirits
of his followers: he visited the sick day and night, and sat beside the
bedside of the dying, reminding them of their Saviour's love, and
comforting many a poor soul with the hope of heaven. It is recorded how one
of the lowliest of the army declared as he lay dying that he could not
depart until he had seen the kind face of his master bending over him once

The Saracens having prevented the approach of the vessels that were coming
to the camp with provisions, the king, as a last resource, offered to give
up the city of Damietta to the Sultan Malek al Moadhem, if he would agree
to restore Jerusalem to the Christians, the Counts of Poiton and Anjou
remaining in Egypt as hostages.

The Sultan would have no other hostage but the king himself, and Louis
would willingly have sacrificed himself for his people if his nobles had
allowed him to do so. There was no alternative but to retreat to Damietta,
and the army decamped one spring night in the dark, the old people and the
sick and wounded being carried out first, and the king leaving the camp the
last of all with the barons Gautier de Chatillon and Geoffray de Sardines.
He was so weak and ill that he could hardly sit upright on his little Arab
horse; yet he was the bravest among the brave in that troop which went
slowly and sadly along in the dark, defending themselves as they could from
the attacks of the Arabs, who had been bribed for the purpose of molesting

Geoffray de Sardines had to deal many a blow to keep the Saracens from his
master, who soon became too feeble to lift his sword, and they were in the
greater danger because the whole of the Egyptian army was behind them. At
last they reached a little village, and the king, having fainted away, was
carried into the first house they met with, whilst Chatillon stood outside
in the street defending it until he fell mortally wounded.

When Louis had recovered a little, Philip de Montfort came to him, and told
him that he had seen an emir, to whom he had been sent on a mission once
before, and if he liked he would make a treaty with him on the terms
desired by the Saracens.

The king agreed to the plan; De Montfort went to the emir, and all would
have been well if a sergeant belonging to the French army, thinking to save
the king's life, had not cried out to the knights who were standing around,
"Surrender, Sir Knights! the king commands you to do so!" The Christian
warriors, believing that the king had really commanded them to give way,
lay down their swords, and the emir, seeing they were all prisoners, said
there was no further need of a treaty. Then cords and chains were thrown
around them, and they were all conducted to Massoura.

The king was shut up in the house of a scribe; he was loaded with chains,
and strictly watched, while the barons and knights were huddled together in
a court which was open to the sky. King Louis was very unkindly treated by
the Sultan at first; he was only allowed to have one attendant with him;
this man, whose name was Isambert, nursed him tenderly, dressed him, and
made his bread; and said afterwards that he had never heard his master
utter one word of complaint or impatience during the whole time of his
captivity. It was a marvel how Louis ever lived through his illness; his
strength was almost spent; and at night, to add to his discomfort, he had
nothing to cover him as he lay on his wretched bed but an old cloak, which
a poor man had given him out of compassion in Massoura.

After a time, Malek al Moadhem, fearing the reproaches of the European
nations, treated his captive more kindly; he had his chains removed and
sent him his own physicians, and delicate food from his royal table, and to
keep him warm he gave him two robes of black samite, trimmed and lined with
fur, which were plentifully adorned with gold buttons. And best of all he
allowed him to have his almoner and a priest with him, and something like
joy came back to the poor king when the Saracens brought him one day his
missal, or book of prayers, which he had lost and never thought to see
again. And so, comforted and strengthened by prayer, Louis was not unhappy
even within prison walls, away from all he loved, and waited patiently
until the Almighty should see fit to make a way for him to regain his

And a way came at last: the sultan agreed to release him on condition of
his giving up Damietta and paying a ransom of a million besants of gold.
Louis agreed to the terms, but he said that the liberty of the King of
France should not be bought with money, and that the gold should be paid
for his people, and the city should be his own ransom. The sultan, struck
with the spirit of his reply, reduced the sum he had asked by two hundred
thousand besants, and a truce was concluded between the Christians and the
Saracens of Egypt and Syria. It was arranged that half the ransom should be
paid at once, and the other half as soon as the king should reach the port
of Acre in Palestine, his brother Alphonse remaining in Egypt as hostage.
Louis was then set at liberty; he had recovered from his illness through
the skill of the Arabian physicians, and he repaired to Acre where the
queen and the princesses had already arrived, having quitted Damietta a
little while before. It was a joyful meeting, for Marguerite had been very
unhappy through all those long sad months at Damietta, not only on account
of the miseries of the crusaders, but also from the constant fear of
falling into the hands of the Saracens herself. And a little son who was
born to her there received the name of "Tristan," in memory of the sorrows
she had endured.

Louis did not return to France at once, but remained some time at Acre, in
the hope of inducing the Christian powers to enter into a league for the
recovery of the Holy Land, and it was not until the news of his mother's
death reached him, and his presence was required in his country, that he
bade farewell to the East, where he had bravely striven for so much, and
yet had gained so little.

The king was received with great joy by his people on his return to France,
but they were less happy when they saw the cross still on his shoulder, as
a sign that he meant to engage in another crusade when the truce should
have expired. As soon as he arrived he occupied himself in making good laws
for his country, and was so greatly famed for his justice that other
sovereigns were glad to benefit by his example. His laws against evil-doers
were very severe; no murderer or thief dared abide in Paris, and merchants
and tradesmen who gave false measures were punished with extreme rigour.
The king used often to sit beneath an oak in the Bois de Vincennes, or on a
carpet spread in a garden, to hear the complaints and grievances of the
common people, and to administer justice to them. He had always been
charitable from his earliest years: a hundred and twenty poor persons were
maintained in his house, and three poor old men, besides those who were
crippled and lame, dined with him every day at his own table; the king
would cut their bread and meat for them, and pour out their wine, and
would serve them before he ate anything himself. And beyond this, he gave
large sums to hospitals, religious houses, and colleges, and succoured
widows and poor ladies and gentlemen, and all those who by reason of age or
illness could no longer work for their living.

The good king used to employ the morning with the affairs of the state; he
dined at mid-day, and after dinner his readers would come to him, and he
read the Bible with interpreters, or the works of the fathers of the
church: sometimes, instead of reading, he would converse with good and
learned men, who always found a welcome at his court. In the evening,
before he retired to rest, he used to assemble his children around him, and
hear them repeat their prayers and the tasks they had learned during the
day. Then he would tell them of the deeds of good emperors and kings, and
of the fate that generally befel those who were idle, or careless of the
happiness of their subjects. At midnight he would rise from his bed to
attend Matins, and so afraid was he of being asleep when any of the church
services began, that he had candles lighted which only burnt a certain
time, that his servants might not fail to awaken him as soon as they were
spent. His brothers used to share with him works of charity and holy
offices. When Baldwin II., Emperor of Constantinople, sent him as a gift
the Crown of Thorns supposed to be the one worn by our blessed Saviour, and
part of the word of the True Cross on which He died, in return for the aid
Louis had afforded him when he was in great need, we read how the king
received the sacred relics in the deepest humility, and bareheaded and
barefoot carried the Crown of Thorns with his brother Robert of Artois to
the church of Notre-Dame. It was to form a shrine for these relics that
Louis built the beautiful Sainte Chapelle in Paris. Again, we read how,
when a new hospital was completed, the king carried in the first bed
himself, with his son-in-law, the King of Navarre, whilst his brothers
conveyed the remainder of the sick people into the wards. The whole family
were united in deeds of love and compassion. There was no office too lowly
for Louis to perform; no person, however mean and wretched, who had not a
place in his heart. And if we except the harsh laws he made against the
Jews through his zeal for the Christian faith, no sovereign ever showed
more mercy and justice towards his people.

One Good Friday, when the king was going his rounds to all the churches in
Paris, according to his custom, he saw on the other side of the way a leper
who was shunned by every person he met. The king immediately crossed over
the muddy road and gave the poor man some money, and kissed his hand to
show that he loved him, although he was despised and avoided by all others.
The king never resumed his costly robes after his return from the Holy
Land, but wore dark-coloured garments of cloth and silk, and instead of
handsome furs he only wore the skins of hares, rabbits, and squirrels, that
he might have the more money to spare for his charities.

In the summer of the year 1270 the Christians set out once more from the
port of Aigues-Mortes on the seventh and last crusade. Bondocar had become
a very powerful sovereign, and the Saracens were making so great progress
in the East, that all Christian princes became alarmed, and were urged by
the Pope to hasten to the relief of Palestine.

The Crusaders, with Louis and three of his sons at their head, directed
their course this time to Tunis, hoping by gaining possession of that city
to cut off all communication between the Saracens of the East, and those of
Morocco and Spain.

As soon as they arrived before Tunis the enemy came in sight, as if they
were going to attack the camp, and then retired. Just as they were
vanishing in the distance two Spanish slaves came and told the king that
the Lord of Tunis had arrested all who were Christians amongst his troops,
and intended to cut off their heads directly the march should begin upon
Tunis. The next night three Saracens appeared before the advance guard of
the Christians, and touching their turbans in token of respect, made known
by signs that they demanded baptism.

The king did not know what to think of the matter, and ordered them to be
guarded in a tent; and a little while after a hundred more appeared, making
the same signs. Whilst they were amusing the soldiers by their odd
gestures, other Saracens rushed unexpectedly upon the camp, and after
killing many of the Christians, ran away before they could be captured. The
army thought to revenge the affront on the three men, but they began to
shed tears, and one of them declared that a captain of more than two
thousand men like himself wanted to ruin him by treachery, and if the king
would send one of the two others to the camp of the Saracens, the whole
army would pass over to the Christians. The king did not dare to trust him,
and thought it wisest to send them all away, for fear he should be guilty
of shedding innocent blood. As the Crusaders were making a very deep ditch
the next day all around the camp, the entire body of the Saracens came in
sight, spreading from the sea on one side, to the country on the other.
They meant to surround the army, but Louis rushing out upon them, a
skirmish ensued, and when a few of their number were slain, all the rest
took flight. Thus they kept on harassing and dodging the army; the
Christian warriors had no peace with them; and if ever they took off their
armour they had to put it on again directly for some fresh alarm, although
the Saracens never ventured to give them battle.

Louis was desirous of waiting before Tunis until the arrival of his brother
Charles, now king over Sicily; and he prepared meanwhile by sea and land
for the siege of the city, which was very strongly fortified. The delay
proved the source of misfortune; the Christians had worse evils to contend
with than those occasioned by the Saracens. The heat was intense, and the
reflection from the sunlit mountains caused a dazzling light which almost
blinded their eyes. When the wind blew it came loaded with burning sand,
and the plague broke out on the coast. Then the Crusaders drooped one by
one; the young Count de Nevers, the son whom Louis loved best of all, was
seized with the sickness and died, and on the day of his death the good
Saint Louis fell ill himself. When he felt that he should never rise from
his bed again, he set all his earthly affairs in order, and gave good
advice to his children, telling them always to love one another, and
maintain the peace of their country. For the rest of the time he lived he
prayed in patience, and praised God for all that had befallen him
throughout his life; and one night he uttered the word "Jerusalem," adding,
"Let us go to Jerusalem." It was to the heavenly Jerusalem the king was
going, the eternal city, where all weeping and sorrow and trouble should be
hushed for ever. Before he died he prayed long and earnestly for his
people, that they might be delivered from their enemies, and last of all,
with peace in his face, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, "Lord, I
will enter into Thy house; I will adore Thee in Thy holy temple, and I will
glorify Thy name."

When Charles of Anjou arrived at Tunis a little while after the king had
ceased to breathe, he was surprised to find that the camp was all silent,
and that no one had come to meet him on the shore. And hastening to the
royal tent, the sight that greeted him was the dead body of his brother
clad in a hair shirt, and stretched on a bed of ashes; for thus had Louis,
in his humility, desired to die. Charles shed many tears, and kissed the
feet of his dead brother again and again, and the whole camp was filled
with sorrowful faces, so dearly had the good king been loved by his

Louis, having reigned over France for nearly forty-four years, left the
kingdom to his eldest son Philip, who carried on the crusade for a while
with the other princes, and defeated the Saracens on several occasions. By
November, however, all the French Crusaders had quitted the East, and
Philip occupied himself in the affairs of his own country. His father
wrote him some instructions, which he was to read after his death, and
which have been carefully preserved. The following maxims were amongst
those they contained:--

     "Dear son, the first thing I teach thee is to set thy
     heart to love God, for without Him none can be saved.

            *       *       *       *       *

     "If God send thee adversity, receive it with patience,
     and thank the Lord for it, and think that thou hast
     deserved it, and that it will turn to thy profit. If He
     give thee prosperity, thank Him for it humbly, so as
     not to lose by pride or otherwise what ought to render
     thee better; for one ought not to abuse the gifts of

     "Be kind and charitable to the poor, the weak, and
     those who are in trouble, and aid them according to thy

     "Maintain the good customs of thy country, and destroy
     the bad ones. Only have in thy company prudent and
     unambitious men. Flee and avoid the company of the

     "Listen willingly to the word of God, and keep it in
     thy heart. Let no one be so bold as to speak a word
     which might lead to sin in thy presence."


There was once a princess named Margaret, daughter of Waldemar, King of
Denmark, who on her father's death married Haquin, king of Norway. When her
husband died she reigned over Norway alone; and when her son Olaus died she
reigned over Denmark too. Margaret governed her people well, but she dearly
loved power, and was not content with the countries she already possessed;
so she went to war with her near neighbours, the Swedes, and defeated and
captured Albert, their king. Margaret kept him in prison seven years, and
then only released him when he had agreed to give up his crown as the price
of his liberty. In the year 1397 a great meeting of the States General of
the three countries was held at a place called Calmar, and there it was
settled that Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, should all be governed by one
sovereign. After Margaret's death the Swedes were very unhappy for many
years, because they were so sorely oppressed by the Danes: they did not
submit tamely, and a long series of troubles and wars ensued.

When Gustavus Vasa, the great hero of the North, was born in the year 1490,
Sweden had in some measure freed itself from the Danish yoke, and was
governed by Sten Sture, a Swede, who had the title of Adminstrator. Sture
was a man of firm and upright character, who had never suffered the Danes
to triumph over him, although they were always trying to regain full power
over his country, and had made a solemn vow with the Russians to subdue it

Gustavus Erickson, commonly called Gustavus Vasa, was born at the Castle of
Lindholm, near Stockholm. His father, Erick Johannson, was descended from
the royal houses of Vasa and Sture, both of which came from the Old
Norwegian kings, and were connected with many of the royal families of
Europe. They had always been renowned for their love of freedom, their
steadfast spirit, and their valour. Sten Sture had given to Erick Johannson
a beautiful estate, called Castle-holm, and the Island of Aland, in the
Gulf of Bothnia. He loved to have him with him at his court, and took
charge of his little son Gustavus, because he wanted to see him grow up
worthy of his royal birth, and to teach him to love his unhappy country
with all his heart; hoping that he might one day restore to it the freedom
it had enjoyed before it was overcome by the ambitious Northern queen.

The boy was brought up simply and without luxury; he ate coarse food, and
learned to hunt, and was allowed to climb about the mountains around
Lindholm as much as he liked, so that he grew very strong, and could endure
great fatigue without a murmur, whilst he thoroughly enjoyed his sports and
his liberty in the keen, fresh air. When John, the reigning king of Denmark
came in State to visit Sture at Stockholm, he was struck by the spirited
bearing, and free, open nature of Gustavus; and fearing that when he was
older he might prove the source of danger to himself, he asked Sture to let
him take care of him, and bring him up at the Danish court. Sture, however,
wisely declined his offer, and sent the child to Aland to be out of danger,
and watched over him until his death, when Svante Sture governed Sweden in
his place. Gustavus was treated with great kindness by the new
Administrator, who loved peace, and only suffered good men to be around
him, thus making his Court a school for all knightly virtues. Gustavus
remained with him until he was eighteen, and then went to Upsal to attend a
school which had been founded there by the elder Sture. A story is told of
him which shows how deeply the teaching of his friend had taken root in his
heart. In one of the divisions of the school he was accustomed to read the
classics with a Dane, who once happened to let fall some remarks against
Sweden. In a moment, the Swedish youth drew his sword, plunged it through
the book which was open before him, and rushed out of the place, never to
return to it again. For all this, he was very happy at Upsal, and they were
merry days when a flock of students, in their red gowns, rushed out of the
city gates to enjoy a holiday in the open country beyond. Gustavus studied
with great diligence, and was more learned than most of the other noble
youths of his time, for in general they were quite content if they knew how
to handle their weapons, and cared very little for learning out of books.
Gustavus made himself perfect in all knightly accomplishments, and could
play on several musical instruments, which were all kept long afterwards,
hung up in the Castle of Stockholm, in remembrance of the happy days of his
youth. He never touched them after he had once given his whole thought to
the rescue of his country, but I dare say, when his great work was done,
and Sweden was free and happy once more, and he looked at them as they hung
on the walls, he seemed to hear all the old tunes which had gladdened his
youth, and thought kindly of the companions of his early years, who had
many of them died, or passed out of his sight.

Gustavus was tall, slender, and fairhaired; his countenance was open and
expressed kindness; his temper was cheerful, and his courage could never be
daunted: he had a wonderful memory to the very last hours of his life. When
he had been in Upsal six years he came back to the Court of Stockholm,
where he went on with his studies, and lived until he was twenty-five years
of age, beloved by his friends, and esteemed by all for his upright

In the meantime a change had taken place in the affairs of Denmark. King
John was dead, and his son Christiern the Second had come to the throne.
The new king suffered himself to be advised by his mother-in-law Sigbritt,
a spiteful and meddling Dutchwoman; and he began his reign with many unjust
actions towards the Swedes, which provoked them to fight once more for
their freedom. Sten Sture the younger had succeeded his father Svante; he
resolved to free his country from the bondage of Denmark, and he spoke
earnest words in the Council House.

"We must be firm," he said. "We must offer up our blood, and show the
people who come after us, how dear to us was our freedom, rather than sit
still with a weight upon our shoulders, which crushes us to the ground."

And very soon the war began. King Christiern came himself to the scene of
action, and lay siege to Stockholm. Sture and Gustavus Erickson, who bore
the banner of Sweden, gained two victories over the Danes; the king was in
danger, being nearly surrounded by his enemies, and was obliged to think of
returning to his own country. He made it appear as if he wished for peace,
and agreed to meet Sture in order to treat for terms, provided hostages
were sent to his quarters in the persons of Gustavus and five Swedish
statesmen of high rank. It was arranged that when these hostages reached
his vessel at a place called Krongshamm, he should present himself in the
quarters of Sture, and that when he returned to his vessel the Swedes
should be free to depart.

Although it was well known that the promises of Christiern were not to be
trusted, the six hostages set out in a boat with a crew of twelve men, but
they had hardly got half-way when a Danish vessel, having a hundred men on
board, met them, and closed their path. The captain told them that the king
wished to meet them at a place called Elfsnabbe, where he had some
important matters to discuss with them. Gustavus replied with spirit that
they had simply come as hostages, and had no power to transact business;
they would therefore either await the king at Krongshamm or return at once
to their own quarters.

The Swedes soon found, however, that it was of no use to resist, and they
were forced on board the Danish vessel, and thus conveyed to the king. The
tyrant rejoiced that he had Gustavus Vasa, the most dreaded of his enemies
in his power, and without taking any heed of his promise, sailed with his
booty to Denmark as quickly as he could. The people of Sweden were very
sorrowful, and angry too when they knew Gustavus had been thus captured,
for his brave conduct and his success had already made them hope that
better days were in store for them. Sture also was grieved at Christiern's
breach of faith--the more so that he had been too generous to suspect him
of such deceit--and only a short time before, when the king had been
brought very low by sickness and famine, had sent him succour, and cared
for him as if he had been his warmest friend instead of his most bitter

When the Swedes arrived in Denmark they were shut up in the citadel of
Copenhagen, and it was decided that they should be put to death at once.
Only, as they had been guilty of no crime, it was not easy to find a
pretence for passing sentence upon them. Whilst their fate was pending,
Sigbritt urged the king to spare their lives, saying, that so long as he
had them in his power, he could impose upon the Swedes laws more and more
severe, with the threat of putting their countrymen to instant death if
they did not obey them. Christiern, as usual, followed the advice of his
mother-in-law, which for once proved the source of blessing to Sweden, and
Gustavus and his companions were only shut up in prison.

Gustavus had a kinsman at Copenhagen of the name of Banner, who was much
attached to him, and feared that if he lived solely under the eye of the
tyrant he would be exposed to many insults. So he prevailed with Christiern
to let him keep him in his castle of Calloë, a strong fortress in Denmark,
and made himself a surety for him to the amount of six thousand dollars.

In the early part of the year 1520 Christiern declared war. The Swedes were
prepared to resist him, for the peasants had come down from the mountains,
and had flocked to the standard of Sture until the army was increased to
the number of 10,000 men. The cause of the king of Denmark was strongly
favoured by the Pope and Trolle, Archbishop of Upsal, who were both very
angry because the Protestant faith was daily gaining ground in Sweden.
Trolle came of an ancient house, only second in rank and dignity to that of
Sture, and a long standing quarrel between these two houses served at the
present moment to widen the breach between them.

The Swedes fought bravely, but they were soon overcome, and in a battle at
Bogisund, Sture received a wound in the head, of which he died a few days
after. The state of the country now seemed hopeless; its regular army only
numbered 500 men; those who had crowded its ranks when the war began were
brave-hearted men, eager to defend the right, but they were not trained and
skilful soldiers. Sture dead, and Gustavus Vasa in prison, there was
neither ruler in the land nor leader in strife. The Swedes began indeed to
be disheartened; a few of the bravest clung to the hope that a fresh
attempt might yet be made to resist the tyrant's power; some, less
hopeful, thought it best to lay down their swords and submit; others again,
said that they would rather die first. Sture's widow, Christina--herself of
royal birth--and a woman of great spirit, came forward to revenge her
husband's death, and to implore the Swedes not to desert the cause of
freedom. She sent her little son Nil Sture to Dantzig to be out of danger,
and went to Stockholm, where she made the people swear rather to bury
themselves beneath the ruins of the city, than become the slaves of the
Danish king.

For a short time a little gleam of hope broke over the land, but Christiern
feeling assured that he could not really call himself King of Sweden until
he had Stockholm in his power, resolved to come in person with a great
fleet and besiege the capital.

In the meantime Gustavus was sorrowing for the troubles of his fatherland,
and his face was clouded and sad when he followed his kinsman Banner to the
gay festivals of the Danish court, and heard people tell how the king had
triumphed over his countrymen, and was bending by degrees their proud
spirit. He was heartily tired, too, of his prison, although he was guarded
less strictly now than he had been at first, and was allowed to wander
about by himself within one mile of the castle. During his lonely walks he
revolved many plans in his mind, and at last one morning at sunrise he put
on the disguise of a peasant, and made his escape from Calloë. The first
day he wandered about a part of the country unknown to him, and the next
day at noon he reached the town of Flensburg, where he feared he should
have been betrayed. But outside the town, for his good fortune, he found a
number of Saxon merchants who had been buying oxen in Jutland, and were on
their way back to Germany; without much trouble he entered their service,
and thus got safely out of Denmark.

In the September of the year 1519 he came to the free city of Lubeck, where
he made himself known at the Council House, and asked to be received as a
guest, secure from the tyranny of the Danish king. Soon after he arrived,
Banner came in search of him. He was very angry with Gustavus for having
escaped out of his hands, and exposed him to the king's wrath, and wanted
him to return with him to Denmark. Gustavus promised to refund the six
thousand dollars Banner would be obliged to forfeit, but it was not likely
that he would agree to go back to his gloomy prison. So he remained some
months at Lubeck, and heard there of the death of Sture and the defeat of
his countrymen. It was at this time, when Martin Luther, the great
Reformer, came to visit the city of Lubeck, that Gustavus Vasa declared
himself a convert to the Protestant faith.

The Council at last promised to assist him with men and money, and granted
him a merchant's vessel in which he reached the coast of Sweden towards the
end of May in the year 1520. As he approached Stockholm, he found its haven
filled by the Danish fleet, and not caring to show himself yet, he landed
at a promontory a short distance from Calmar. Stockholm was now possessed
by the Danes, King Christiern had taken up his abode in one of the palaces,
and Christina had been forced to retire to the castle, which was strongly
guarded, and still held out against the Danes. Gustavus entered the city
secretly and found his way to the castle, where he was welcomed and
received with great honour by Sture's widow. He then went to the market
place, and made himself known to the people who had assembled there in
crowds, and he told them what a disgrace it was for them to be in bondage
to Christiern. The people listened in silence and hung their heads; it
seemed as if all spirit had been crushed within them. So Gustavus went back
to the castle to see if he could arouse a better feeling there, but the
German soldiers who were employed to guard it broke out into fury at the
very idea of fighting, they were so utterly tired of all the misery of war,
and they would have murdered Gustavus on the spot if Christina had not been
there to protect him.

He now saw that his only safety would be at the head of an army: the Danes
were all ready to besiege the castle, and it was therefore no longer a
place to shelter him; but the moment for action was not yet come, and he
roamed about in the country around Stockholm in disguise, now in the
forests and now in the fields, hiding by day and travelling by night, and
mingling sometimes with the Danes for the purpose of gaining news. And on
Sundays, when the peasants were in the churches, he would stand amongst
them, and try to cheer them by telling them that happier days were in store
for them when they should be free once more. Still the people did not care
to listen: they said that so long as they obeyed the King of Denmark, they
had salt and herrings in plenty; what more did they want? And sometimes
when Gustavus had turned away from them they would shoot after him with
their arrows. Such was the abject state they had been brought to by
long-continued insult and oppression. Besides this Christiern had spies in
all parts, and had set a heavy price upon the head of Gustavus, and
threatened all persons who should attempt to conceal him with the
punishment of death.

After escaping from many dangers, he came through Ludermannland to the
house of Joachim Brahe, a noble councillor of Sweden, who had married his
sister Margaret. The meeting between brother and sister was full of joy,
and Gustavus hoped that Brahe would have been prevailed upon to take up
arms in the defence of his country, but the prudent statesman was not to be
enticed. Christiern, whose presence had for a time been required in
Denmark, was now on his way to Stockholm, and Brahe was one of the guests
invited thither to behold the crown of Sweden placed upon his head. He
could see nothing but rashness and certain failure in the project of taking
up arms against so powerful a foe. Gustavus, therefore, bade his sister
farewell with a heavy heart, and went on his way once more, and after
wandering about some time longer in disguise, he retired to a country house
at Rafnäes, which belonged to his father, to think over in solitude what
was best to be done.

King Christiern arrived in Stockholm with his wife, leaving Sigbritt to
manage the affairs of Denmark. With the help of the Pope, and the
Archbishop of Upsal, he had himself declared heir to the Swedish throne
before an immense concourse of people, and was crowned in their presence.
Before this he promised to release all captives, and conferred many marks
of royal favour upon the chief men of Stockholm. The first days after he
was crowned were given up to knightly sports, and feasting, and merriment.
But before three days had passed, the king's cruel temper got the better of
him, and he withdrew from the scene of rejoicing to a secret council
chamber, where he sat thinking over the best means of getting rid of the
bishops and senators, and all men of high estate in Sweden, that his own
position on the throne might be quite secure.

Soon it appeared as if a shadow of gloom had fallen over the city, where
all had been noisy mirth: the castle was suddenly filled with prisoners;
bishops and statesmen were alike consigned to its dark dungeons; in all the
market places scaffolds were erected; and the unhappy captives were told
that they must die.

The 8th of November in the year 1520 was the day on which the fearful deed
began, a deed never equalled in horror in the annals of Swedish history.
Early in the dark morning all the gates of the city were shut to prevent
anybody from taking flight, and making the affair known in the country
beyond. Every new comer was let in, but no one was allowed to go out. The
streets were guarded, and field-pieces were placed upon the great market
place, levelled towards the people. The way from the castle to the market
was lined with Danish soldiers; trumpeters rode about the streets and
proclaimed that all persons were to retire to their houses; and close their
doors on pain of death. But the common people were horror-struck at these
preparations they dared to disobey the king's orders, and crowded together
to see what would happen next.

Towards noon the castle gates were opened, and bishops and nobles,
councillors and burgomasters, were led between executioners and common
soldiers to the appointed place on the market, just in front of the Council
House. The bishops were clad in their sacred robes, the councillors had not
had time to take off the dress they wore in council. Oh what a sad
procession it was, as they came slowly along, with erect heads and a proud
and calm demeanour worthy of their race! Sobs and murmurs were heard
amongst the crowd; the roughest of the soldiers and headsmen were touched
with pity and respect as these innocent men, most of them grey-headed,
walked to their death. As soon as they reached the market place, a speech
was made to the mob in which it was declared that the king was deeply
grieved to be obliged to have recourse to such severe measures, but that he
felt himself bound to punish the Swedes for the offence they had given to
the Pope by becoming Protestants. And thus he made the terrible crime he
was about to commit even worse, by his falsehood!

One of the bishops, an aged man, then declared his innocence, and asked
that a clergyman might be allowed to attend himself and his companions in
their last moments; but his request was refused, and a noise was made to
prevent his words from being heard by the people. Then the headsmen began
their dread work; the fourth victim was Erick Johannson the father of
Gustavus. In a little time the market place was filled with dead bodies
and the streets streamed with blood. Some of the mob, roused to a state of
frenzy by the dreadful spectacle, made an attempt to rescue those of the
doomed ones who were yet living, but they were cut down by the soldiers who
had received orders to quell any outbreak on the part of the common people
with the punishment of death. Escape was not to be thought of, because the
gates of the city were always kept closed; the frightened people crept into
cellars and corners. And when the king heard that they had hidden
themselves, he caused a decree of pardon to be read, so that many of them
came out believing it to be true, and only fell into the trap he had thus
artfully laid for them.

Ninety-four Swedes fell the first day. For two days and two nights the
corpses lay on the market place, and the cattle and the fowls strayed
amongst them. To add to the horror the king caused the dead bodies of Sture
the younger and his son Sten to be disinterred and thrown amongst the
murdered to be buried with them.

Sture's widow, Christina, did not escape the king's wrath; she was summoned
to his presence and condemned to die, but some persons present asked the
tyrant to spare her life, and she was only sentenced to be imprisoned for
the rest of her days.

In other parts of Sweden deeds equally cruel were enacted. Numbers of the
peasants were deprived each of a leg and a hand, and, thus maimed, they
were supposed to be able to till the land although they could not possibly
fight. For these acts of cruelty and oppression Christiern the Second
justly gained the title of the Wicked, and his own people soon began to
hate him as much as the Swedes hated him for all the evil he had done.

In the meantime Gustavus was sought for in vain. He was still in his
hiding-place at Rafnäes, sending out his peasants now and then to collect
news. And one sad day a grey-haired man came to the neighbouring castle of
Gripsholm which belonged to Joachim Brahe. It was Brahe's steward; he had
followed his master to Stockholm, and had witnessed his unhappy fate. The
old man could not speak for crying, and could only make known by signs the
terrible events that had happened. Soon after, a peasant came by, and told
the same story. And Gustavus sat in the lonely house, sorrowing for his
father and his friends, and many of his kindred besides; yet although he
was forsaken by all, and surrounded as it were by enemies, he would not
give up hope, but only longed the more to succour his unhappy country. So
one day he packed up all the money and valuable things he possessed, and
taking them with him, left Rafnäes on horseback with the idea of persuading
the brave people of Dalecarlia to stand by him in the struggle for freedom.

This province, which was the scene of his adventures for some time, is
bordered on its western side by Norway: the mountain ridge which divides
the sources of its two rivers Dalef from Lake Fämund in that country rises
to between three and four thousand feet above the level of the sea.
Dalecarlia abounds in rivers and lakes; the winters there are long and
severe; corn will not grow, and the tender bark of the pine trees is mixed
with the scanty supply of rye or barley of which the people make their
bread. Wolves and bears frequent the forests, and fish is plentiful in all
the lakes, except in those near Fahlun, now the capital of the province,
where the vapours for ever rising out of the great copper mine there, drive
away to a distance birds, beasts, and fishes, and destroy, all verdure in
the country around. Fahlun lies in a wide valley between two lakes; the
mine is a vast abyss, and is worked open to the sky, and besides copper
produces gold, silver, vitriol, ochre, and brimstone. The natives of
Darlecarlia are hardy from the nature of their climate; they have always
been very brave, trusting in their own strength, and having very little
intercourse with the other people of Sweden. At the time Gustavus was
amongst them they were so simple in their manners that the noblemen could
scarcely be distinguished from the peasants. There was not a town then in
the whole province, the people clustered together in villages, which were
divided into parishes. Some of these lay along the rivers and lakes, others
were hidden among the mountains, and were only to be approached by the
steepest and most difficult of paths.

Gustavus took with him as he supposed the most faithful of all his
servants, but the cowardly man thought the fortunes of his master much too
insecure to be followed, and contrived to get away from him with the
valuable things it had been his duty to carry. Gustavus soon found out his
treachery, and pursued him until his horse could go no farther; then, being
in great danger himself, he was obliged to leave the horse and the few
things he had with him on the road and run for very life. Thus, without
friends or money, clad in a coarse peasant's frock, he wandered about the
dark pine forests and the mountains, only occasionally finding a roof to
shelter his head from the inclement winter nights, or food to satisfy his
sharp hunger. Still he never despaired, but trusted that God would let him
live until he should have given back to his country the happiness it had
lost for so long.

On the last day of November he arrived at Fahlun, and there he cut his hair
short, and put on a round hat, such as the Dalecarlians wore, and a rough
woollen vest, and set out with an axe on his shoulder in search of work. In
a little time he found employment in the mines of Fahlun, by which he
earned barely enough for his support; and finding that the noxious vapours
and the closeness of the mines impaired his health, he left them, and
wandered farther until he came to the house of a rich man named Andres
Fehrson. Here he was hired as a farm-labourer, and set to work in the
barns. The other farm-servants soon began to watch the new comer with
interest. In their intercourse with him they soon found that he was not
quite like one of themselves; he had been observed, too, to wear a rich
silken handkerchief, beneath his woollen vest, and they suspected that he
was some nobleman in disguise. Reports of this reached the ears of Fehrson,
and he desired that the stranger should come to him. The very moment he saw
him he recognised him as a fellow student in the school at Upsal, but
although he was very glad to see his old comrade again, he dared not keep
so dangerous a person in his house, and he urged him to go higher up the
mountains and not to stay too long a time in one place. Gustavus was
therefore obliged to set out on his wearisome travels once more: the winter
had set in with all its rigour, the lakes and rivers were frozen, and as he
was crossing some ice between Wika and Torsanga, a part of it gave way, and
he fell up to his shoulders in the water, and was very nearly drowned.
However, he managed to clamber out, and he found his way to a cottage,
where some kind peasants gave him food and shelter, and afterwards brought
him to the country house of Arendt Fehrson, a relation of Andres, who had
served under Gustavus in the war with the Danes.

This man appeared to receive him with respect and courtesy, but soon after
his arrival he rode swiftly to one of his friends to tell him of the prize
concealed in his house, and to ask him to join him in making the affair
known to the king;--for it will be remembered that a heavy price had been
set upon the head of Gustavus--and the man who would have been base enough
to betray him would have reaped great gain to himself. This friend was too
honourable to listen to such a proposal, and Fehrson, enraged at his
refusal, went to another of his friends, an officer in the Danish service,
who had fewer scruples. Fehrson passed the evening at his house in feasting
and drinking, and it was planned between them that he should return home
the next morning, accompanied by twenty men, and seize the fugitive by

But Barbro Stigsdotter, the wife of Fehrson, had guessed the treachery of
her husband, for she had seen him ride past his own house as he came from
Magno Wilson, and take the road which led to the officer's dwelling.
Touched with pity, she warned Gustavus of his danger, and kindly provided
him with a horse and sledge, so that he might fly at once.

Gustavus was very thankful to avail himself of the means of escape, and was
soon flitting over the snow in his sledge beneath the starry sky in search
of another place of refuge. The next morning, when Arendt Fehrson arrived
with his twenty men, he was told that his guest had been missing since the
evening before, and that no one knew whither he was gone.

Gustavus at last reached the house of a true friend, a Swedish pastor, who
helped him with good advice during the eight days he remained with him, and
strengthened him in his resolve to arouse the Dalecarlians. But he dared
not stay longer in this part of the country, because Arendt Fehrson had
already spread the report of his being alive; and the pastor drove him to
the village of Isale, where he was received into the cottage of an honest
peasant named Swen Nilson, who did him good and faithful service.

One day when Gustavus was standing in the cottage, clad in his peasant's
garb, which was beginning to be the worse for wear, a body of Danish
soldiers employed to track the fugitive, rushed in, breathless and anxious,
and asked if a young nobleman, a well known traitor to the king, were not
concealed about the place. Nilson answered, No; and his wife, to remove
suspicion, gave Gustavus a sharp blow with a long wooden spoon, and scolded
him loudly for standing idle instead of going to work in the barn with the
others. Gustavus took the hint, and hastened out of the cottage, thus
escaping from his pursuers, who did not for one moment suppose that the
general of the Swedish army, and the descendant of kings, was concealed
beneath so humble a disguise.

[Illustration: Front. _Gustavus Vasa in the Swedish peasant's hut.--p.

After this Swen Nilson had the courage to drive his guest in a cart loaded
with straw to Rättwik. It was a dangerous journey: the Danish soldiers
guarded all the passes and bridges, and some of them plunged their weapons
into the straw, and wounded Gustavus severely in the leg as he lay covered
up at the bottom of the cart. He bore the pain in silence, but
unfortunately the blood dripped from the wound through the cart, and would
have betrayed the fact that he lay hidden there, had not Nilson thought of
cutting open the heel of his horse, so that the blood appeared to be
trickling from that. Happily the hurt was not dangerous, and the moment
after it was bound up on his arrival at Rättwik, Gustavus went to the
church, where a great crowd of people had assembled, and without making
himself known, he told them of the horrible cruelty of the King of Denmark,
and how Sweden would never be free unless they roused themselves, as their
brave ancestors would have done, to shake off the shameful bondage.

The peasants listened in horror, they were moved by his words, and said
they would take up arms as soon as they could find out how their neighbours
were disposed in the matter. Gustavus thought he had gained something, and
went on joyfully to Mora, the largest and most populous parish in the
valley. The news of his coming got spread abroad, and the Danish governor,
who dwelt in the strong castle of Westeras, began to tremble; he knew that
the inhabitants of the valleys, if once aroused, could make themselves
very terrible. So he doubled the heavy price already set upon the head of
Gustavus, and told the people around that none of the deeds reported to be
done at Stockholm had really been carried out, and that Christiern was a
most kind and merciful sovereign!

It was Christmas-time when Gustavus arrived in Mora: the peasants had come
down from their distant mountain homes to make merry with their friends in
the valley, and one day he went up to the top of a hill, and spoke to a
vast concourse of people, who had followed him out of curiosity. Here again
some of the peasants were touched by his words; their eyes filled with
tears, and they signified by their shouts and cheers that they were willing
to aid him. But others were of a different mind; they did not want to go to
war; the nobles had hitherto been chiefly the objects of the king's
cruelty, and they thought that they should be left in peace themselves.
They were very near fetching their weapons, and chasing the speaker by
force from the spot. A turn of good fortune, however, came to Gustavus
whilst he was still at Mora.

A party of a hundred Danes, having heard that he was there in the hope of
rousing the peasants, rushed suddenly upon the place, making the air
resound with their wild cries, and threatening to put every one they met to
the sword if he were not given up. The peaceful people of Mora were unused
to be thus disturbed, and they hastened to ring the church-bells, which
were only rung when some great danger was at hand. The wind carried the
sound of the bells to the neighbouring villages, and in a little while
some thousand armed peasants were seen pouring into Mora. They stormed the
great walled-in court around the pastor's house, where the Danes (alarmed
in their turn) had taken refuge, broke down its gates with heavy wooden
stakes, and only spared the lives of the soldiers on condition that they
should not attempt to lay hands on Gustavus. This was the first time that
arms had been taken up in his cause: it was a feeling of honour that
prompted the Dalecarlian peasants to defend him, because they said that
they should have been ashamed if any one demanding their help had been
taken by force from amongst them.

Gustavus, thankful to his preservers, now quitted Mora, and took his way
towards the western valleys, so that he might conceal himself in the wilder
parts of the country, if the fury of his pursuers increased. Many Swedish
nobles had already fled thither, and they came out of their hiding-places,
and met together in the valley. And there came to Mora an old man named
Lars Olosson, who had always been faithful to his country, and another
brave man came from the forest, and entreated the people to take up arms.
The peasants now saw that they were in earnest, and they hastened to seek
for Gustavus, fearing that he might already have passed the boundary and
entered Norway. But Swedish messengers can go on their errands very
quickly, because all through their nine months of dreary winter the
peasants wear long sliding-shoes, which enable them to flit over the snow
with almost the speed of an arrow. These shoes are very strange looking
things; they are long, narrow pieces of fir-wood, the one worn on the
right foot being three feet in length, and that on the left foot seven. The
messengers found Gustavus in a parish called Lima, and he was joyful indeed
when he came back to Mora, and saw that two hundred peasants were ready to
follow him at once. Their numbers soon increased, and he divided them into
little companies, which had their headquarters, so that they could all
fight in unity: they were hardy, long-lived men, and could be quite content
to live upon coarse meal stirred in water, or a little bread made of the
bark of the trees if they could get no better food. And Gustavus still went
up the steep mountain paths from cottage to cottage, and from one country
house to another to try and persuade the people to help him, and before the
ice had melted on the rivers and lakes the number of his followers had
increased to several thousand. He chose sixteen of the youngest and bravest
for his bodyguard, and maintained strict discipline amongst his men,
although he was greatly beloved by them for his kindness of heart.

The first attempt they made was on the strong castle of the Governor of the
Koppar Mountain, which they captured, together with the stores of
provisions it contained. Amongst these was a large chest full of money,
which Gustavus divided amongst his followers, and another day they captured
some pieces of silk, which they made into banners, but they had neither
powder nor balls as yet.

Now that Gustavus had so large an army he wanted to begin the war by a bold
stroke, and he drew off towards Westeras, the governor of the strong
fortress there, being at the time absent in Stockholm. Here he gained a
great victory over the Danes, which prepared the way to future success, but
the manner in which a great part of his army rejoiced over the triumph they
had won, was not at all to his taste. It happened thus: some of his troops
had gone on in advance, and after a desperate struggle got possession of
the place, whilst Gustavus was still in the forest with the rear of his
army. After the affray they found some huge casks of wine and brandy, which
they carried off to the Council House, and foolishly regaled themselves
with until they all fell to quarrelling, or were heavy with sleep. The
greatest disorder prevailed; the Danes took advantage of the tumult to
renew the attack; and would have recovered the fortress had not Gustavus
appeared with the rest of the army. He was very angry indeed with his men,
and had to fight hard to drive back the Danes, so that a great number of
soldiers were killed on either side; and when the battle was over he caused
the hoops to be removed from the casks of wine that remained, and let it
all flow away on the ground in sight of his whole army. This was in the
month of May in the year 1521, when the short Swedish spring was changing
to summer, and the land, having cast off its mantle of snow, looked fresh,
and green, and full of hope. In the northern climes the flowers bloom, and
the leaves come back to the trees very quickly, and a few weeks sunshine is
sufficient to ripen the barley and the rye, or the corn, in the places
where it will grow.

After the battle of Westeras the peasants armed themselves in the plains of
Sweden; the nobles headed them, and many officers deserted from the
Viceroy whom King Christiern had left in Stockholm to manage the affairs of
the State. The Viceroy and Trolle were friends; they soon began to be
greatly alarmed; but they could get no succour from Denmark because the
people there disliked them so much, and were getting so tired of the evil
doings of their king. Many battles were fought, and the Swedes were not
always successful, but at last Gustavus got possession of Stockholm after
having besieged it three times; and a happy day came, when he entered the
capital surrounded by senators, officers, and the first nobles in the land,
and repaired to the great church, where--kneeling at the foot of the
altar,--he thanked the Almighty aloud, for having preserved him through so
many dangers, and granted him success. And then he went to the palace,
where he wept for those whom he had loved very dearly, and now missed on
this day of his triumph. Not only had his father and his brother-in-law
perished in the massacre at Stockholm, but his mother Cecilia, and two of
his sisters, had been cruelly put to death during the siege. It is said
that if the siege had been raised their lives would have been spared, but
these brave women knew in that case their country would have been lost, and
they were content to die for its sake.

In the year 1523 the Danes would not have Christiern to reign over them any
longer, and made his uncle Frederic, Duke of Holstein, king in his stead.
Christiern was forced to leave the country, and retired into Flanders, with
his wife and children. When Sigbritt had to leave the royal palace, she did
not dare venture out of it, even in disguise, and was carried to the
vessel destined to receive her concealed in a large chest.

The Swedes, full of gratitude and love for their preserver, wanted him to
be crowned King of Sweden. Gustavus, however, refused this honour, and
governed the country for some time as administrator. But as the years went
on and it was in danger from the plots made by the Roman Catholics and the
friends of Christiern, he yielded to the wishes of the people, and in June,
1527, was solemnly crowned King of Sweden under the title of Gustavus the
First. He had long forgiven all the offences that had been offered him,
whilst he remembered every little act of kindness that had been shown him
when he was wandering about, a wretched fugitive, in hourly danger of his
life. During the thirty-three years he reigned his great care was to make
his subjects happy, and he was fully employed in setting his country in
order, after the misery it had suffered for so many years. It was Gustavus
who settled the Protestant faith throughout the land, and Luther, and
Melancthon, and other great Protestant divines, used frequently to visit
his court. He wished to inspire his people with a taste for arts and
sciences, and encouraged learning by inviting studious and clever men to
Stockholm: printing had been already introduced into Sweden about the year
1483, when Sten Sture the Elder founded the famous School or University at
Stockholm. The king employed his peasants in working fresh mines and salt
springs; he caused hops to be grown in Sweden, so that the iron sent out
yearly in exchange for that produce might be kept in the country, and prove
the source of comfort and wealth. Any merchant or tradesman convicted of
dishonesty was punished with extreme rigour, and the bad laws were done
away with, and good ones ordained in their place. The palace was open to
all who demanded audience, when the king was ever ready to hear complaints,
or to give advice. He thought the Bible the best of all books, and grounded
his actions on its holy precepts; and the Swedes were so happy under his
just and merciful rule that they always cried when he went abroad, "Long
live Gustavus, the best loved of kings!" Soon after he came to the throne
he married Catherine, daughter of the Duke of Magnus, whose sister had just
espoused the Crown Prince of Denmark. Catherine died young, and Gustavus
next married Margaret, daughter of an ancient senator, the Governor of East
Gothnia: this lady was amiable and beautiful, and made her husband and her
children very happy. The king used to tell his children not to be proud of
their high estate, saying, "One man is as good as another, and when the
play is over we are all equal;" meaning, when the life of trial upon earth
was ended. The only approach to vanity in his character was to be seen in
his love for magnificent apparel; but this was quite an excusable fault,
when it is remembered how content he was to wear the coarse peasant's dress
in the days of his misfortunes.

At the last assembly he convoked at Stockholm in the year 1560, he was led
into the Senate House, where his four sons, Erick, John, Magnus, and
Charles, and all the orders in the kingdom were assembled. He then caused
his will to be read, and made his children swear to obey it. Erick was
declared successor to the throne; John, possessor of Finland; Magnus of
Eastern Gothnia; and Charles of Sudermania. In a few earnest words he urged
his people to obey his successor and to preserve the greatest unity among
themselves; since on that would depend their strength and their freedom: he
said also, that if he had ever done any good, thanks for it were to be
ascribed to God alone, and implored pardon for all the faults he had

Very soon after this he died, leaving a name which is still cherished in
the heart of every Swede; for he was called not only the king, but the
father and the instructor of his people. It must not be thought that his
long reign was free from care, since he had constantly to preserve himself
from the attempts that were made by the friends of Christiern to take his
power from him.

When he came to the throne he found the country laid waste by the ravages
of war, and its people almost without hope. He left Sweden free and happy,
an army ready to march at a moment's notice, and a treasury full of money;
indeed, it is said, that after his death a great vaulted chamber was found
so full of silver that the door of it could scarcely be opened.

Gustavus never forgot that he owed his success to the brave Dalecarlians;
and his watch word, when about to engage on any expedition attended with
danger, was always, "God and the Swedish peasants!"



About the year 1320 Bertrand du Guesclin was born in the castle of La Motte
Bron, which stood in a picturesque part of Bretagne, about six leagues from
the city of Rennes. His father, Reynauld du Guesclin, was a brave and loyal
knight, who served God truly, and was very kind to the poor, giving them a
great part of his substance, although he was not at all rich himself.

Bertrand was the eldest of ten children. Unhappily his excessive ugliness
made him an object of dislike to his mother, and she was not nearly so kind
to him as she was to her other children. Besides this, he was self-willed
and savage, and his temper would break out into fits of violence which
terrified his little brothers and sisters, and exposed him to the contempt
of the whole household. This rough and repelling exterior, however, only
hid for a time a generous nature and a feeling heart, and many were the
tears poor Bertrand shed in solitude, for he was too proud to let them be
seen, when he rebelled against the harsh treatment he received on account
of his ill-behaviour.

One day the lady of La Motte was seated at table in the dining-hall of the
castle with her younger sons, Guillaume and Olivier, whilst Bertrand was
eating his dinner in a corner apart. It was very sad to know that the
eldest son of the family behaved so rudely that his parents would not allow
him to take his place at the table. But this day it happened that some
chance word of ridicule reached him in his corner, and he arose in fury,
and, rushing towards the table, commanded his brothers to make room for him
at the upper end, where his place as the eldest child should have been by
right. His brothers, surprised at the tone of his voice, obeyed, and his
mother suffered him to sit in the highest place; but he had not been there
long before his awkward and uncouth manners obliged her to order him to
return to his corner. Bertrand arose, and in his rage clenched his hand,
and hit the oaken table so hard a blow that it overturned, and emptied the
contents of the dishes into the laps of the persons seated around it. This
passionate act of course called down a fresh torrent of reproaches on his
head. In the midst of all the disorder a lady, who was a frequent visitor
at the castle, entered the hall. She asked Bertrand's mother why she was so
angry. The lady of La Motte answered her by pointing to her little son, who
was now sobbing bitterly in his corner. The lady went up to him, and
although he was sullen at first, she soon persuaded him to tell her his
sorrows. She invited him to return to the table, and Bertrand, to the
astonishment of all who were present, took the dish of peacock which the
steward was just bringing into the hall, and a goblet of wine, and served
her with them himself, awkwardly it must be confessed, but in a spirit of
gratitude for the few kind words she had spoken.

The lady who had thus befriended him was the daughter of a Jewish
physician, but with her father had been converted to Christianity. She was
reputed to be very clever, and was skilled in an art which was much
practised in those days, namely, that of foretelling future events by
observing the lines in people's hands, very much in the same manner as
gipsies pretend to tell fortunes, even in our own time. After dinner she
called Bertrand to her, and attentively examined his face and his hand, and
presently told his mother that she ought to be proud of having such a son,
instead of despising him, because she was convinced that when he grew up to
be a man he would do great things for the glory of his country. From this
day his mother looked more kindly upon him; she had him dressed for the
first time in a manner suitable to his rank, and commanded the servants to
treat him with the respect due to the eldest son of their master.

Bertrand's fiery temper, however, and his love of fighting, were a
continual source of trouble and anxiety to his parents. Before he was nine
years of age he would often leave the castle without their knowledge, and
collect all the children he met with on his way, and then fight them one by
one, or try his strength against a number of them together. When he
returned home, bleeding, and with torn and soiled garments, his mother
would justly reprove him for behaving so little like a gentleman.

At last his fighting propensities increased to such a pitch that the
country people complained of him to his father, and the Sire de la Motte
was obliged to order a forfeit to be paid by the parents of all children
who were found in his company. Nevertheless Bertrand still contrived to get
out of the castle secretly, and to lead the little villagers to their mimic
battles. His father, as a last resource, shut him up in the dungeon of the
castle, and in this dreary place he remained four months. But one evening a
maid-servant, whose office it was to bring him his food twice a day, left
the door open behind her, and Bertrand managed to slip out, not forgetting
in his haste to turn the key upon her, in case she should betray him to his
parents. Then he ran as fast as ever he could to a field, unfastened a mare
from one of his father's ploughs, mounted it, laughing heartily the while
at the ploughman, who was rushing after him, and galloped as far as Rennes,
without saddle or bridle, to the house of his aunt, a sister of the Sire de
la Motte, who was married to a knight of great honour.

His aunt had often heard of his misconduct at home, and was not at all
pleased to see him arrive in such plight. She began scolding him in harsh
words, when luckily for him his uncle intervened in his favour, reminding
his wife that Bertrand was only a child, and had done nothing yet to
forfeit his honour. "He is brave and spirited," said the good knight; "let
us keep him in our house, and see if we cannot transform him into a great
captain for the glory of Bretagne."

Bertrand remained with his uncle at Rennes until he was sixteen, and
learned from him all the accomplishments necessary for a knight. Moreover,
he learned to be gentle and courteous to those around him, and in these
happier circumstances the good points of his character shone forth, and
his violent temper was curbed, whilst his spirit remained free. It is
related of him that he was so generous, that when he met with any poor
persons, and had no money with him, he would give them some of the very
clothes he wore, and if he had only a penny would share it with those who
were in need. He found his greatest delight in listening to his uncle's
stories of battles and sieges, and when some noble exploit was related,
would clap his hands for joy, whilst his eyes shone like fire.

A very great fault, however, still remained to him, and that was his love
of fighting. One Sunday it was announced in the city of Rennes that a prize
would be given to the youth who should acquit himself best in single
combat. Bertrand burned with impatience to enter the lists, and his aunt,
fearing the temptation might prove too strong for him, carried him off with
her to church, thinking he would certainly be safe there under her vigilant
eye. As soon as Bertrand saw that her attention was fully absorbed in
listening to the sermon, he took the opportunity of slipping out of church,
and ran at full speed to the market-place. Here he was recognised by some
of his opponents of former years, but he made them promise not to betray
him to his aunt, and was just going to enter the lists, when a young
Breton, who had thrown twelve of his competitors to the ground, advanced
proudly to claim the prize, which was a hat with feather and silver band.

Bertrand defied him to the combat, and after a long struggle succeeded in
overthrowing him; but during the time he had happened to fall on his
opponent, and in so doing had cut his knee severely with a stone. This
accident caused him so much pain that he could hardly stand, and he begged
his comrades to take him to a surgeon's, where his wound could be dressed.
The prize was brought to him there, but he dared not accept it, for fear
his aunt, of whom he always seems to have had a wholesome dread, should
hear of what he had done. She had indeed missed him, and had sought for him
everywhere, and she did not spare her reproaches when she discovered the
state he was in. Nevertheless she showed him greater kindness than he
deserved, and nursed him until he had recovered from his wound.

The knight at last persuaded his father to recall him to the castle of La
Motte Bron. Now Bertrand tasted the real joy of home for the first time,
for his father was so delighted at the improvement in his character that he
no longer withheld his love from him, and every member of the household had
a kind word for him; while in former times, when he was so very naughty and
unruly, there had only been complaints and reproofs.

The Sire Du Guesclin took care that the martial studies of his son should
be completed, and gave him a little horse, on which Bertrand rode about to
visit the great lords in the neighbourhood, and was present at the jousts
and tournaments which were so often held at that time. Du Guesclin's
poverty and youth prevented him, however, from entering the lists, and
making known his courage and martial skill to the world. He grieved, too,
because he was so ugly, and so humbly equipped, his famed steed being
"little better than a miller's horse."

The time came at last when he was enabled to distinguish himself. A great
tournament was announced at Rennes on the marriage of Jeanne de Penthièvre,
heiress to the duchy of Bretagne, with Charles de Blois, who was nephew to
the King of France. The Sire de la Motte Bron judged it to be a fit
occasion for the display of his dignity, and went with the nobles of
Bretagne to Rennes, followed by a great number of his vassals; whilst poor
Bertrand, mounted on his insignificant horse, and easily recognised by the
roundness and largeness of his head, his short nose, his strongly-marked
eyebrows, and his square-set figure, was an object of ridicule to the
peasants as they flocked along the road to Rennes. The tournament used to
be held in an open space inside the city, and the ladies, richly attired,
looked on from the windows and balconies around.

Bertrand's eyes flashed when he reached the arena where the knights were
already engaged, and heard the sound of the trumpets and the clashing of
the weapons. "I shall never please the ladies," he said, as he had said
many a time before, "but I will make my name to be feared by the enemies of
my country."

Seeing one of his relations retire from the combat, he followed him to his
house, and, throwing himself on his knees before him, implored him to lend
him some armour and a horse. His cousin good-naturedly lent him a fresh
horse, and armed him himself, and Bertrand rushed back to the tournament,
and, having entered the lists without naming himself, challenged a knight,
and quickly overthrew him. Another knight now came forward to avenge the
vanquished one, and Bertrand was just going to attack him, when he saw his
father's arms upon his shield, and bowing low, withdrew, to the
astonishment of the spectators. After this he challenged no fewer than
fifteen knights without coming to grief himself. All the people present
were now very anxious to know his name, and one of the ladies who sat in
the great balcony entreated a Norman knight to descend into the arena, and,
if possible, remove the visor from the victor's face. The knight went down,
and had just succeeded in removing the helmet from Bertrand's head, when a
strong arm suddenly lifted him off his horse and laid him in the dust. Then
Reynauld du Guesclin recognised his son, and hastened to embrace him in his
pride and joy, and Bertrand was proclaimed victor over all to the sound of
the trumpets, and received the prize, which was a beautiful silver swan,
life size. The prize, however, he did not keep for himself, but gave it to
his cousin, whose kindness had enabled him to win so great renown.

When Bertrand was twenty years of age he was no longer contented with
displaying his prowess in tournaments, but began to fight in good earnest,
taking the part of Charles de Blois in a quarrel that lasted for a very
long time between that prince and his rival, Jean de Montfort.

Jean de Bretagne, known by the name of the Good Duke, had died without
leaving any childhood, and was succeeded by his brother, Guy, Count of
Penthièvre, whose daughter's marriage with Charles de Blois had occasioned
the festivity at Rennes. Charles thus claimed the duchy in right of his
wife; but Guy was no sooner dead than his half-brother, Jean de Montfort,
came forward, and maintained that his title to Bretagne was a better one
than that of his niece.

This was not true, because the right of female succession had been fully
established in the duchy, and the King of France and many of the Breton
nobles sided with Charles, while the King of England sent assistance to De

The wives of both princes were women of extraordinary spirit. Jeanne,
Countess de Montfort, defended her husband's rights whilst he lived, and
after his death those of his son, who was likewise named Jean; and once
during the war, when she was shut up in the town of Hennebon, she held out,
like a brave and skilful general, against all the attacks of the enemy
until Sir Walter Manny arrived with succour from King Edward the Third of
England. Jeanne de Penthièvre was a woman of equal courage, but her pride
and ambition caused her husband to risk the battle which cost him his life,
and proved, as will be seen hereafter, the ruin of her own cause.

Du Guesclin chose the side of Charles de Blois because he believed it to be
the right one. "Never," said he, "while I live, will I maintain an
unrighteous cause." He was soon at the head of sixty men, in readiness to
serve, and sold his mother's jewels that he might be able to buy horses,
harness, and arms. His chroniclers tell us, however, how he very soon
captured from an English knight, whom he met in a forest, a treasure
consisting of jewels, which he gave to his mother in compensation for those
she had lost. Although gunpowder was known in those days, it was very
little used; the chief weapons were swords, lances, battle-axes,
cross-bows, and clubs; and every warrior defended himself with the shield.
Bertrand's name came to be feared by his enemies, as he had predicted in
the days gone by: his first attempts in warfare were chiefly against the
English, who held many of the fortresses in Bretagne for Jean de Montfort.
A story is told of the manner in which he gained possession of one of
these, the Castle of Fougeray, which was a very important place.

Bertrand knew all the ins and outs of the castle, because in the chances of
war he had once been a prisoner for a short time within its walls, and he
disguised himself, and about twenty of his companions in arms, as
wood-cutters, in white gowns reaching down to the knee, and with bundles of
faggots on their shoulders, as he had often seen the poor peasants bringing
wood to the castle. He divided his men, to make it appear that they were
coming from different parts of the country to sell their wood, and waited
for the time when the governor should have gone out of his stronghold with
a part of the garrison. When all was ready they passed the night securely
in the forest, and came out of it in the grey dawn of the morning with
their bundles on their shoulders.

The watchman of Fougeray saw them dimly in the distance, and rang the bell,
to give the alarm, but all fear vanished when it was seen that only
wood-cutters were coming towards the castle. Bertrand advanced to the
drawbridge, and asked the porter if he did not want wood. The porter said
that he did, and not suspecting any harm, let down the drawbridge at once.
Du Guesclin laid down his heavy load of wood so as to prevent the bridge
from being drawn up, and rushed on to the castle, shouting "Guesclin," the
war cry which afterwards became so terrible to his enemies. His comrades
followed quickly at his summons; the unhappy porter fell wounded in the
struggle, and as there were a hundred men in the place and Bertrand had
only sixty when all had come to his aid, the conflict was very sharp; women
and children even throwing showers of stones on the heads of the Bretons.
Du Guesclin himself was severely wounded, and was found defending himself
to the last, without his hatchet, when a party of cavalry belonging to
Charles de Blois came up in time to secure possession of the castle. The
whole affair may have been considered an ingenious trick, but I think it
would have been more noble for Bertrand to have ridden up openly to his
enemies, clad in his armour, and with his sword in his hand, than to have
deceived them by the woodcutter's guise.

The war went on, and at last the King of England sent Henry, the good Duke
of Lancaster, to Bretagne at the head of a large force, with orders to lay
siege to Rennes, the city where Bertrand had passed the happiest days of
his boyhood, and which had twice been the scene of his triumphs. Besides
all the great English nobles who had accompanied the duke, the army was
increased by many Breton gentlemen who had enlisted themselves on the side
of Jean de Montfort, and Lancaster made a solemn vow not to depart from
Rennes until he had planted his standard upon its walls.

Bertrand concealed himself in a forest near the city, and constantly
harassed his enemies by rushing suddenly upon them, by day and by night,
and always to the cry of "Guesclin," until at last the Duke of Lancaster
swore that if ever the brave Breton captain fell into his hands, he would
never let him free, however large a ransom might be offered for him.

Lancaster made several attempts upon Rennes, but with little success. One
day an English officer who had been captured by Du Guesclin, told him that
his countrymen intended to undermine the city and open a breach. Upon this
news Bertrand contrived one very dark night to glide with his Bretons into
the midst of the English camp, where all was silent, and set fire to some
of the tents. The enemy, awakened by the usual cry of "Guesclin," thought
that Charles de Blois had fallen upon them with his army, and were very
angry as they put out their fires to find it was only Bertrand with his
handful of men.

The governor of Rennes now gave orders that in all the houses near the
ramparts little copper basins should be hung with one or two balls of brass
in each, so that by the jingling of the metal, which the movement of the
miners would cause, it might be known in what direction they were at work.
By this means the garrison were enabled to work against them until the mine
was pierced, and the besiegers found a body of troops ready to beat them

The Duke of Lancaster now thought of another plan for subduing the people
of Rennes. Knowing that they were almost without provisions, he caused two
thousand pigs to be assembled in a field near the walls of the city, hoping
that the hungry inhabitants would come out for the purpose of capturing
them. The governor, however, was not to be outwitted, and had a sow
attached by a rope to the gate of Rennes, with its head downwards. The sow
struggled so hard to free itself and grunted and squeaked so loud that the
other pigs were naturally attracted to the spot. When the besieged saw that
the pigs were coming in that direction they lowered the drawbridge, and cut
the rope. The sow, thus released, ran joyfully back into the city, followed
by all the other pigs, and it was certain that the famished people of
Rennes had a good meal that day and for many days after.

Du Guesclin performed numerous acts of daring during the siege, and one
day, when the Bretons had eaten up the two thousand pigs and were very near
dying of hunger again, he intercepted and captured a hundred waggons,
loaded with wine, flour, and salt meat, which were on their way to the
English camp; but when he found that the waggoners were supplying these
provisions to the enemy at their own cost, he paid them liberally for all
that he had seized.

The Duke of Lancaster now prepared a huge machine which was often used in
those times of warfare. This was a wooden tower on wheels, as high as the
walls of the city, which contained a number of men inside, who shot surely
from it with their arrows. The tower would have caused great havoc, had not
Bertrand one night crawled out with his Bretons, and completely destroyed
it by fire.

Winter was now coming on: the lengthened siege had lost the lives of many
brave men, and Henry of Lancaster at last sent a herald to Du Guesclin to
tell him that he desired to speak with him. The herald brought a written
passport which, alas! Bertrand was obliged to have read to him by one of
his comrades. He had always been so heedless and disobedient in the old
days at La Motte, that no one had been able to teach him to read or write,
and he had never succeeded in learning in after years, although some
authors assert that he could really sign his name.

Bertrand dismissed the herald with a handsome present of clothes and money,
and then repaired to the camp of the brave English duke. When there he was
asked by Lancaster, whom he owned for his master. "Charles de Blois," he
replied promptly, "to whom Bretagne belongs in right of his wife."

The Duke was much pleased with his boldness and resolution, and offered him
a high rank in his army if he would consent to enter his service; but
Bertrand replied that nothing should ever shake him in his fidelity to
Charles de Blois.

Lancaster now received orders from his father to raise the siege: yet he
could not depart, in remembrance of the oath he had taken, and Du Guesclin
proposed that he should enter the city with ten of his knights, and plant
his standard on its walls. When this was done, Du Guesclin politely asked
him where the war was to be carried on in future. "Bertrand, my fair
friend," replied the duke, "you shall soon know." He had scarcely gone past
the barrier when he saw his standard thrown down into the moat;
nevertheless he had kept his oath, and having raised the siege, he decamped
with all his host, and went to pass the winter at Auray.

Du Guesclin was quick to resent an affront offered to any member of his
family. The Duke of Lancaster with the brave Sir John Chandos was before
Dinan, which town Bertrand, his brother Olivier, and the governor who had
defended Rennes, had hastened to enter before the enemy could invest it.
One day when all was quiet, Olivier Du Guesclin had gone out of the town
unarmed for the purpose of amusing himself in the open country, when he met
with an English knight, who asked him his name, and behaved in a very
haughty manner towards him, and made him walk on first, vowing that he
should not escape until he had given him a thousand good florins. A Breton
knight, however, who had seen Olivier made prisoner, hastened to tell Du
Guesclin what had happened. Bertrand instantly mounted his horse and rode
off to the English camp, where he found the Duke of Lancaster in his tent
playing at chess with Sir John Chandos, whilst several of the chief nobles
were standing around looking on. They were all glad to see Bertrand because
they had a great respect for his valour, and it is true that he had many
qualities which endeared him to his fellow-men, and gained for him
friendships which lasted as long as life.

Du Guesclin would not drink the wine they poured out for him until justice
had been done to his brother. Henry of Lancaster was an upright man, and
promised to settle the matter fairly. He summoned the offending knight to
his presence, and ordered him to release Olivier at once. But the knight,
who was called Thomas of Canterbury, would not allow that the complaint
made against him by Bertrand was just, and threw down his iron glove in
defiance. It was soon known in Dinan that a terrible combat would take
place between the two knights, and the people feared that Du Guesclin would
fall, because the Englishman was possessed of such extraordinary strength
and skill. But a very beautiful young lady of noble family in Dinan, named
Tiphaine de Raguenel, whom Bertrand married soon after the siege was
raised, predicted that he would triumph over his foe. Tiphaine was called
an astrologer, because she professed to foretell by observing the stars in
the heavens, whether people were to be prosperous in their lives or
unfortunate; happy or miserable. This was very foolish, and we know better
in our own times than to put faith in such a science; and even in Dinan,
when by chance Tiphaine's predictions came true, the people looked upon her
with distrust and called her a witch. The Duke of Lancaster with all his
nobles came into the town to witness the combat, which ended to the great
joy of the inhabitants of Dinan in the triumph of Bertrand, and the
offending knight was ordered by Lancaster to retire from his service.

The siege of Dinan was raised by our King Edward, who had King John of
France at this time a prisoner in the palace of the Savoy. Du Guesclin went
on fighting for Charles de Blois, until at last the younger Jean de
Montfort got weary of the war, and proposed to his rival that the Duchy of
Bretagne should be halved between them; and that Rennes should be the
capital of Charles's dominions, and Nantes the capital of his own. Charles
de Blois was a man who loved peace; he agreed solemnly to divide the duchy
as Jean had proposed, and would have kept faith with him, had not his wife
broken out into a violent passion as soon as she heard what he had done,
and overruled him by saying that she would never consent to so shameful a
settlement, and that she had married him to defend the whole of her duchy,
and not the half of it. The war must have broken out again at once if the
good offices of Lancaster had not effected a truce for a time.

When King John came back to France he invited Du Guesclin to enter his
service, and gave him the command of a hundred lances. Each lance, or
man-at-arms, was attended by three archers, a man armed with a cutlass, and
a page, so that a company of a hundred lances really included six hundred
men. Du Guesclin had the permission to form his troop of the gentlemen of
Bretagne, of whom many were his relations and friends; and with these he
set out hopefully to take part in a war which King John was carrying on in
Normandy against the wicked King of Navarre.

Bertrand did the king good service in Normandy, and captured the towns of
Mantes and Meulan. At the latter place he lost all patience with the
tardiness of the besiegers, and seizing a ladder, began to mount it with
his sword in his hand, and his shield on his breast. He was just mounting
the last steps and boasting to the Baron of Mereuil who was on the other
side of the wall, that he would soon make him feel the strength of his arm,
when the baron threw some heavy stones on the ladder, which dashed it to
pieces, and Bertrand fell with his head downwards into the ditch around the
city wall. The ditch was full of water, and Bertrand was taken out by his
comrades half dead, but he scarcely waited for his injuries to be healed,
before he began to fight with greater vigour than before, and a little
while later gained the battle of Cocherel over the Captal de Buche, who was
fighting for the King of Navarre, and took the Captal prisoner.

King John was now dead, and Charles the Wise was on the throne of France.
The victory at Cocherel had served to raise the spirits of the French, who
had been much cast down by their defeats during the two last sieges, and
the fame of Du Guesclin was spoken all over the country.

But the war unhappily broke out in Bretagne once more. Jean de Montfort,
angry with his rival for his breach of faith, came with his army to invest
the town of Auray. The people there were in great need and misery, and
lighted fires every night on the summits of their towers in token of their
distress. Charles de Blois set off at once to assist them in their danger,
but his wife at parting, charged him on no account whatever to agree to any
division of the duchy. Du Guesclin and many brave nobles and knights
hastened to join his army; and when they arrived in sight of Auray, De
Montfort sent a herald to them to propose peace on the terms that had
already been made, or to demand an immediate battle.

Charles de Blois, weakly dreading the anger of his wife if he gave way,
sent the herald back without an answer, although in his heart he was
longing more than ever to be at peace.

In the disastrous battle of Auray which began soon after, and lasted for
seven hours, Charles de Blois lost his life, the celebrated Oliver Du
Clisson an eye, and Du Guesclin his liberty. It was late in the day, and
Bertrand was left almost alone upon the battle field with the dead lying
around him; he had been thrown from his horse, and surrounded by his
enemies, but he had risen from the ground and defended himself
single-handed to the last. Now the blood was flowing from his wounds; his
sword was broken; the handle had been wrenched off his battle-axe, and Sir
John Chandos found him armed only with an iron hammer. It was useless for
him to resist longer, and when he had given up the broken piece of his
sword into the hands of the English knight, the battle was at an end.

Charles de Blois had fought that day like one in despair. With his last
breath he had said that he had long waged war against his conscience. And
thus the feud was ended which had lasted for nearly twenty years; Jean de
Montfort could have the whole duchy of Bretagne for himself, and the
unhappy widow of his rival had the sorrow of remembering that it was her
own pride and unbending spirit which had cost her the life of her husband.
The people of Bretagne were so tired of war that when, a little while
after, the treaty, which Jean de Montfort was making with Jeanne, could not
be settled, they assembled in a vast concourse and throwing themselves on
the ground, implored the Count to give them peace.

The King of France did not suffer Bertrand to remain a captive long. The
country was at that time infested by bands of lawless men of various
nations, who called themselves "Free Companies," and used to go about
laying waste the orchards and fields, sacking and burning the castles of
the nobility; and making war just as they pleased. The greater number of
these men were disbanded soldiers, whose services were no longer needed now
that the war was at an end.

Their power became very formidable when such men as Sir Hugh de Caverlay,
the Green Knight, Sir Matthew Gournay, and many others who were renowned
for their valour, joined them, and elected themselves their leaders.

The thought occurred to King Charles that Du Guesclin was the one man
capable of ridding his country of so terrible a scourge, and he hastened to
pay the hundred thousand francs which his enemies had required for his
ransom, and told him that if he would consent to drive the Free Companies
out of France, he might choose his own method of carrying out his purpose.

Du Guesclin went to the camp where the Free Lances were assembled, and, as
many of the leaders had already served under his banner, he found little
difficulty in persuading them to go with him into Spain on a crusade
against the Saracens, who still retained possession of a part of that
country. But a war had already broken out between Pedro the Second of Spain
and his half brother, Henry of Trastamare. Pedro had made himself hateful
to his subjects by repeated acts of tyranny, and worst of all had suffered
his wife, Blanche de Bourbon, to be cruelly murdered. This princess was
very amiable and lovely; she was sister to the Queen of France, and
granddaughter to the good Saint Louis, and Charles, indignant and sorrowful
at her unhappy fate, thought the services of Du Guesclin would be better
employed in driving Pedro from the throne than in making war on the

Bertrand was therefore ordered to hasten to the assistance of Henry of
Trastamare, and one day he collected all the Free Companies at a place
called Chalons sur Saone, and marched from thence southwards, to the great
delight of the French nation, taking Avignon on his way, where the Pope
then resided, instead of at Rome.

The companies went to Avignon to ask for absolution, because they had been
excommunicated, that is to say, cut off from all fellowship with the
church, on account of their lawless deeds. The Pope readily granted them
absolution, but he was not nearly so ready to give them a large sum of
money--which they asked for in addition to the 200,000 gold florins which
they had already received from Du Guesclin--and it was only after a long
delay, that he could be persuaded to give them any money at all.

The troops Du Guesclin led himself were called "The White Company," because
they all wore a white cross on their shoulder, as a sign that they meant to
abolish the religion of the Jews, which Pedro was supposed to favour. Pedro
was very much alarmed at the approach of so vast an army; he happened to be
engaged at the time in laying waste with fire and sword the lands belonging
to his brother, whilst Henry himself was hiding in a castle with his wife
and children, and for a long while could not be made to believe that the
French hero was really coming to his aid.

Du Guesclin soon enabled him, however, to gain possession of several
cities, and at a frontier town, called Maguelon Home, he took the title of
King. And when the people of Burgos (which was the Christian capital of
Spain at that time) heard of the approach of the White Company, they
brought the keys of the city, and laid them at the feet of Henry, and
joyfully acknowledged that he was King over Castille. Henry made a
triumphant entry into Burgos, with Bertrand, his deliverer, clad in
complete armour by his side; they went to the palace, where a great banquet
was served before them, with the richest viands, while the whole city was
one scene of rejoicing and merriment, and wine flowed in the streets like
water; the people were so glad to be freed from the tyranny of Pedro the

Bertrand having thus placed Henry of Trastamare on the throne, urged him to
send for his wife Jeanne, that they might both be crowned the same day. And
when the Queen was seen approaching the capital, Bertrand went out to meet
her, accompanied by the bravest of his knights. As soon as the Queen
perceived that it was Du Guesclin who was advancing towards her, she
alighted from her mule that she might render him the greater honour, and
turning to his whole company, she exclaimed, "Friends, and gentlemen, it
may truly be said that we hold the crown of Castille through you alone."
Henry and Jeanne were crowned at Burgos on Easter-day of the year 1366, and
the King, in gratitude for the services of Du Guesclin, gave him the Duchy
of Molina, and made him constable of Castille.

Pedro meanwhile was in great terror at the approach of his brother, and
kept himself concealed with his treasures in a forest a hundred leagues
long. One of his treasures was a table of pure gold, inlaid with jewels,
and engraven with the portraits of Charlemagne's twelve peerless knights.
Amongst the gems was a carbuncle, which is said to have had the peculiar
property of shining by night as brightly as the sun shines by day; and one
very dark night, when Pedro was outside the walls of a city, and beset with
dangers on every side, he was obliged to have his table fetched out from
among his treasures, that he might discover by its light the means of
escape. The stone may have possessed a singular brilliancy, but for the
fact of its shining as brightly as the sunlight, I cannot vouch. It was
said to have another strange property, that of changing colour and turning
black directly poison approached it.

The forest was near the town of Cardonna, where Pedro had taken refuge,
immediately after the great city of Toledo had surrendered to his brother.
Henry supposed him to be still in the town, and went in pursuit of him with
Du Guesclin, Hugh de Caverlay, Olivier de Mauny, and many other valiant
men. Their way between Toledo and Cardonna lay through the long forest,
which was full of wild beasts and snakes, and had neither villages nor
houses of any kind in its depths. They were in this wild tract seven days,
and lost many of their men there; some of them being devoured by the wild
beasts, and others dying from the bites of the snakes. When they got to
Cardonna they found, of course, that Pedro had fled, but they took
possession of the town.

Now that Henry had really been placed on the throne, Bertrand thought he
might carry out his original plan, and proceed to Granada, which was the
stronghold and capital of the Moors in Spain. The Queen, however, with
many tears implored him not to forsake her husband; she dreaded so much the
anger and cruelty of Pedro, when he should come out of his hiding-place.
And Pedro soon made himself dreaded once more, for he had found his way to
Guienne and entreated the Black Prince, who held his court in that
province, to protect him, and assist him with troops; and had offered him
his golden table, and part of his treasures as an equivalent for his aid;
promising him, besides, a large sum of money to defray the cost of an army.
The Black Prince, either out of compassion for the fallen King, or because
he did not like to see his rival in league with France, agreed to assist
him; and in the spring of the year 1367 crossed the province of Navarre
with Pedro, and a large army of Gascons, Normans, and English, and entered

The fortunes of Henry already began to decline: several of the Companies
withdrew from his service, and enlisted themselves in preference under the
banner of the Black Prince. Du Guesclin urged the King not to risk a
decisive battle too soon, but he would not listen to him, and the two
armies met at Najara, on the right bank of the river Ebro. The watchword of
the Black Prince's army was "Guienne and St. George!" and that of King
Henry's, "Castille and St. James!"

The battle proved disastrous for the King of Castille, his cavalry were
forced to give way, and the rout becoming general he escaped from the field
with very few of his followers. When Bertrand saw the King's discomfiture,
he stationed himself against a wall, and with a battle-axe defended
himself so vigorously that several Englishmen were overthrown by him; and
at last his enemies dared not approach him, but only hurled at him their
daggers and swords. The Black Prince, hearing of this, desired to see him,
and went with his standard unfurled to the place where he stood. Bertrand
recognised the Prince, and kneeling on one knee before him said, "To you,
Sire, the Prince of Wales, I surrender myself and to no other; for I will
never be the captive of Pedro, e'en though I die in my defence!"

The Prince received the submission of Du Guesclin graciously, and confided
him to the keeping of the Captal de Buche, who in remembrance of his own
capture by Bertrand in the battle of Cocherel, told him kindly that he
might live with him at large, if he would give him his word not to escape.
Du Guesclin, much pleased with the confidence reposed in him, swore, like a
true knight, that he would rather die than break his word.

For six months he remained with the English army, and during that time had
no cause to complain of his treatment. But as soon as he arrived at
Bordeaux, where the Black Prince held his splendid Court, he was shut up in
the prison of Hâ. One morning whilst he was there, three pilgrims, who had
arrived in Bordeaux the evening before, had gone to hear mass in the Church
of Notre Dame. One of these pilgrims was Henry of Trastamare, who had
disguised himself thus in the hope of journeying safely to the Duke of
Anjou, to entreat him to support his cause.

Several knights happened to be in the church, who had fought with Du
Guesclin in the battle of Najara; they began talking of their common
misfortunes, and Henry, taking one of them apart, asked news of Bertrand,
and learned with sorrow that the Black Prince had made a vow never to
ransom him or set him free. Henry went home with the knight to whom he had
spoken, and told him who he was, and persuaded him to procure him the means
of seeing Du Guesclin. So the knight concealed the King in his house, and
went to the prison of Hâ, and told the gaoler that he was going to Bretagne
to seek for money to pay his ransom, and that he greatly desired to see Du
Guesclin before he started.

The gaoler did not admit him at once, but only hinted that such things were
not done without a bribe. The knight assured him that Du Guesclin was most
liberal, and would amply reward him if he would procure the interview. The
gaoler owned that he was so proud of his prisoner, that he hoped such a man
might never go out of his hands, and after a little more delay he conducted
the knight to Bertrand, who thought that his visitor had come to borrow
money, and was much surprised to hear that Henry of Trastamare was in
Bordeaux in the disguise of a pilgrim of St. James. He called the gaoler,
and told him that there was a poor pilgrim in the city, a native of
Bretagne, and one of his own vassals, whom he wished to assist with money
to enable him to complete his journey; and he begged him to take his seal
and go to a certain Italian jew in the city, and ask him for the sum of 400
florins. The gaoler fetched the money; Du Guesclin gave him a hundred
florins for himself, and by noon the King was admitted into the prison. A
more sumptuous dinner than was usually seen within its walls was served in
his honour, and they lingered over it, talking of their misfortunes and of
the King's project for seeking aid from the Duke of Anjou; Du Guesclin
would not, however, on any account suffer him to ask the duke to pay his
ransom. Whilst they were at dinner the gaoler began to feel the pricks of
his conscience, and he took his wife apart, and told her that he suspected
some treason was going on between the pilgrim and Du Guesclin against his
master the Black Prince, and that he must acquaint him with the whole
affair. The gaoler's wife whispered her husband's intentions to Bertrand,
and the brave knight, with a dexterity similar to that he had employed,
when as a boy he freed himself from the dungeon of La Motte, did not suffer
his keeper to pass through the prison wicket, but dealt him so heavy a blow
with a stick that the poor man fell on his knees: then taking the keys from
his pocket, he opened the door to Henry, who quickly disappeared with his
two companions and the knight who had accompanied him thus far. Bertrand
closed the door upon them, and keeping the keys, came back to the gaoler
and, after giving him a good beating, shut him up in a room by himself, as
a warning that the transaction was not to be breathed beyond the prison

The Duke of Anjou assisted Henry, and enabled him to enter Burgos a second
time, whilst Pedro was obliged to fly from the throne he had re-ascended
after the battle of Najara. Many of the knights who had been taken
prisoners in that contest were now ransomed, but Du Guesclin, "the scourge
of the English," as he was called, was deemed too formidable an enemy to
be set at large; and he might have remained in prison until his dying day,
had not some of the English nobles, who held his qualities in high esteem,
remonstrated with their prince in his favour, and taunted him by saying
that he only retained his prisoner through fear.

The Black Prince at last resolved to have an interview with his captive,
and Du Guesclin, overjoyed at the prospect of obtaining his release, rose
hastily at the prince's summons, and appeared before him in the soiled and
coarse grey robe he wore in his prison, but which could not detract from
the dignity of his bearing. He told the prince that he was indeed weary of
his long confinement; "I have listened to the rats and mice long enough,"
he said, "and I would fain go where I can hear the birds sing once more."

The prince told him that he would set him free that very day without a
ransom, if he would swear never again to bear arms against him for France;
or against Pedro for Henry. These conditions Bertrand of course could not
accept, and before the interview was ended he had spoken with so much
honesty and candour, that the Black Prince could not but own the
righteousness of his cause, and requested him to name his own ransom.
Bertrand fixed it at 100,000 gold florins, and when the prince asked him
why he named so large a sum, he declared his ransom should not be less than
70,000 florins, adding that although he was a poor knight, the Kings of
France and Castille would assuredly pay that sum for him; and that if they
did not that the Breton women would spin till they had gained the money for

He was now set at liberty on condition of obtaining his ransom. The people
of Bordeaux flocked to see him when he came out of his prison, and the
Princess of Wales, Joanna the Fair, journeyed expressly from Angoulême to
Bordeaux that she might have the honour of entertaining him at a banquet,
and presented him besides with 10,000 francs towards his ransom. Sir John
Chandos and Hugh de Caverlay helped also to raise the sum required. Chandos
was always his friend, although he fought on the opposite side; and it may
be that these brave men esteemed one another the more for clinging to what
each one believed to be the right.

Du Guesclin had hardly gone a league on his way homewards when he met a
poor knight who was returning to his prison in Bordeaux on foot, in a very
forlorn condition, because he was unable to pay his ransom. Bertrand not
only gave him the money to pay it, but also enough to set him up in arms.

The knight told him that the Duke of Anjou was then besieging the town of
Tarascon. Bertrand was bound in honour not to fight; but he could not
resist going to Tarascon, to aid the duke with his advice, and made the
besieged tremble at the very sound of his name. And there he was in the
midst of all the danger, and the clashing of weapons, mounted on his horse,
but with a peeled rod in his hand, instead of a sword, for his oath's sake!

When he reached his own estate in Bretagne, he begged his wife to give him
her jewels, and all the valuable things she possessed; but she told him
that a number of poor knights and squires, all taken at Najara, had come
to her in great distress, and that she had given them all she could find in
the castle. Bertrand was very glad that his wife had been so kind to the
poor men, and had not sent them away empty handed. The sum for his ransom
was raised amongst his relations and friends, and he had set out for
Bordeaux, when he met ten poor knights, whose ransoms he could not resist
paying; preferring to remain a captive himself rather than to know that so
many others were languishing in prison, away from their homes, and all whom
they loved.

When the Black Prince heard of Bertrand's generosity, he did not shut him
up in a dungeon again, but let him go about the city as he pleased on his
word of honour that he would not escape. A day came when mules were seen
approaching Bordeaux loaded with 70,000 good gold florins which the kings
of France and Castille and the Duke of Anjou had sent to purchase his

Du Guesclin, a free man once more, devoted himself entirely to the cause of
Henry, and defeated Pedro in a great battle near Toledo, notwithstanding
the help afforded the Spanish King by the Moors. The fortunes of Pedro now
rapidly declined, the Black Prince not caring to aid him again, because he
had not kept the promises he made before the battle of Najara.

After a battle fought near Montiel,[11] in the south of Spain, Pedro took
refuge in the Castle of Montiel, in which there was only one way of going
in or coming out, and before this entrance Le Bègue de Vilaines, who was
fighting for Henry, stationed himself with his pennon. In this extremity it
was arranged that Pedro should make his escape from the castle at midnight
with twelve of his companions. It was a dark misty night, and when Pedro
crept out of the castle, Le Bègue, who stood waiting for him with three
hundred men, could not see him, but fancied he heard the sound of

"Who art thou?" he cried, "Speak, or thou art a dead man." The first one
addressed escaped in the darkness. The next who came, Le Bègue believed to
be the king, and asked him who he was with the dagger held close to his
breast. Then Pedro, seeing he had no chance of escape, cried "Bègue, Bègue,
I am the King, Don Pedro, of Castille;" and surrendering himself to him he
implored him to take him to some place where he should be beyond the reach
of his half-brother.

Le Bègue took him to his own quarters, but he had not been there long
before Henry of Trastamare and some of his followers entered the chamber
where he was concealed; and in the furious struggle which ensued Pedro was
slain by the hands of his brother. Thus died this unhappy king, whose many
evil deeds gained for him the surname of "The Cruel;" but Henry was very
wicked and cruel also to take his brother's life, and could not have been
happy when he remembered Montiel, although he had now undisputed possession
of the throne.

Du Guesclin was now at liberty to return to his own country. The King of
Castille parted from him with great regret, and gave him some handsome
presents in token of gratitude for the services he had rendered him. Du
Guesclin on his return, was constantly employed in the war which broke out
again between England and France, and regained many of the places which
the English had taken from the French. The time came when King Charles
thought that the wisest measure he could pursue would be to make Bertrand,
Constable of France, which was the highest office in all the realm.
Bertrand was unwilling to accept so great an honour, saying that there were
many men more worthy of it than himself. Charles declared, however, that
there was neither prince nor noble in the land who would not cheerfully
obey the brave knight, and Du Guesclin was made Constable. From that time
he was surrounded by all the dignity and splendour of the court, and always
sat at the table with the king.

But certain it is when men have reached their highest estate, they are very
often near a fall. Bertrand was again employed in Bretagne, when meeting
with some reverses, he incurred the king's displeasure. Charles, having
listened to some evil reports which were spread against him, did not
scruple to express his discontent, and Bertrand took the matter so much to
heart that he resigned his Constable's sword, and was only induced to
resume his office when the king found out that the reports were untrue, and
tried to atone to him for the mistake he had made. In the year 1380,
Bertrand was sent to drive the English out of the south of France. He was
very glad to go thither, because it always grieved him to make war on the
people of his own province of Bretagne. After reducing some places of
little importance, he went to help his friend Sancerre in the siege of the
Castle of Randan, which was possessed by the English, and some Gascons, who
were unfriendly to France. The Constable pressed the siege with vigour and
vowed that he would never depart from the spot till the castle was taken.
And he never did depart from thence alive, for he was seized with a violent
fever, which in a short time proved fatal. The knowledge of his danger made
the besiegers more anxious than ever to gain the fortress, and the garrison
were obliged at last to agree to surrender on a certain day.

The Sire de Roos, the governor of the castle, having been informed of the
dangerous condition of Du Guesclin, desired to render up the keys into his
own hands; and when the appointed day had arrived, he came out of the
gates, followed by all the garrison. It was summer time, and the rays of
the setting sun shone on their unfurled banners, as they went to the tent,
where the dying Constable lay. His knights were standing sorrowfully around
him; they could not bear to think that he would never rise from his bed
again, that his voice would never more cheer them on to victory. The
English themselves shed tears at the mournful spectacle.

When Du Guesclin had prayed that his sins might be forgiven him, he
entreated the nobles and knights to be faithful to their king, and not make
war, which would cause the blood of peasants, and defenceless old men, and
women and children to be shed; remembering with sorrow how heedlessly he
had himself waged war in the days of his youth. Then dismissing them all
except his friend Du Clisson, he asked for his constable's sword, and
prayed him to deliver it into the hands of the king, and when they had
bidden each other a last farewell, Du Clisson stood by him in tears and in
silence until his spirit passed away.

So died Du Guesclin, the Hero of Chivalry, a man with many failings, but
brave and generous beyond comparison, and ever faithful to his friends.
Although the violence of his temper broke out at intervals all his life
long, he could be kind and gentle. Queens and princesses esteemed him for
his respectful courtesy, and we like to read, how, when the Black Prince
summoned him to his presence, the stern warrior was found playing merrily
with his gaoler's children, inside the dreary walls of his prison.

Some authors assert that the governor of the Castle of Randan only laid the
keys on the coffin of Du Guesclin; but the most probable account is that he
really gave them into his hands before he died.

Charles the Wise grieved sincerely for the loss the country had sustained,
and ordered the remains of the Constable to be interred in the Church of
Saint Denis with almost regal pomp.

Jeanne de Laval, the second wife of Du Guesclin, founded several religious
houses, and instituted services in memory of her illustrious husband.


[11] The green knight fell in this battle.


Christopher Columbo, or Columbus, was born in the city of Genoa, about the
year 1436. His father, Domenico Columbo, earned the bread of his family by
combing wool, which, however lowly it may be thought at the present time,
was once a very honourable occupation, and was invented three hundred years
after the birth of our Lord by Blaise, the good martyr-bishop of Armenia,
who to this day is regarded as the patron of woolcombers.

Christopher had two brothers, Bartholomew, and Diego, and one sister; of
the latter there is nothing particular recorded. The three brothers loved
one another dearly. Bartholomew had a brave and ardent spirit, and was fond
of an active life; in the troubles and dangers they shared in after years
Christopher would call him "another self;" and he said not long before he
died that his brothers had always been his best friends. Christopher as a
child was quiet and thoughtful. He loved to stand on the shore of the
beautiful bay spreading out at the feet of Genoa, "the city of marble
palaces," and to watch the waves under their different aspects; now dancing
joyously in the sunshine; then great sea-horses, foaming and dashing with
terrible noise on the sands; now again, loveliest of all, lying at rest as
if tired, in the solemn quiet of night, and giving back myriads of golden
gleams for every star that twinkled in the clear Italian sky. And whilst
Christopher thus watched the sea, he had very strange ideas for a young
child, for he thought that the whole of the world had not been discovered,
and that beyond the great Atlantic Ocean, which he had only heard of, there
were lands that had never yet been trodden by Europeans. At the time he
lived the Portuguese had discovered the Cape Verde Isles in the Atlantic,
much of the western coast of Africa, and the Cape of Good Hope. They wanted
some of the gold, amber, and ivory, the rich silks, and the fragrant woods
and spices of India, and to trade in these things they had to find out a
way to the East by sea, because the Venetians took care to keep the
overland route to India clear for themselves. Venice, on the eastern side
of Italy, and Genoa, on the western side, shared all the commerce of that
country, but they were not on friendly terms; and for years and years the
Genoese were trying to drive the Turks, Venetians, and Spaniards out of the
Mediterranean Sea, that they might carry on their own commerce without
being molested.

When Domenico Colombo found that his son Christopher had a very strong
desire to be a sailor, he did not force him to pass his life in combing
wool, but sent him to a famed school at Pavia, where he might learn such
things as would be useful to him in the career he had chosen. So Columbus
learned diligently about the earth, the sea, and the stars, and something
of drawing and mathematics beside. When he was fourteen he returned to
Genoa, and went to sea for the first time with one of his relations, who
was likewise named Colombo. This man was a corsair, and had many a bold
skirmish with the Turks and Venetians. During several years Christopher
sailed with him from one place to another, and got used to a seafaring
life. It happened in one of the skirmishes which took place between Lisbon
and Cape St. Vincent, that fire broke out in a huge Venetian galley to
which the vessel Christopher commanded for his kinsman had been chained
during the fight; the flames quickly spread to the spot where he stood, and
to save his life he was obliged to jump from the deck into the waves.
Fortunately he had grasped an oar, and with this he was enabled to reach
the shore of Portugal, at the distance of two leagues from the burning
vessels. From thence he went to Lisbon, where he was kindly received by
some Genoese, and he determined to remain in that city, because there were
better means there of studying and of carrying out the plans he was making
for a voyage in search of unknown lands. The Portuguese themselves were
eager to make fresh discoveries: their mariners, sailing westward from the
Azores, had seen floating on the waters corpses belonging to a race of men
unknown in Europe, Africa, or Asia; besides these there were trunks and
branches of strange trees, and huge sugar-canes which had been wafted
through the Atlantic by the Gulf Stream. All these objects made them think
that only a portion of the inhabited world had yet been revealed to them.

Two centuries had passed since Marco Polo, the bold Venetian explorer, had
set out from Constantinople for the land of the Tartars. There he had found
a friend in the great Kublai Khan, who ruled over Tartary and China, and
was sent by him on a mission to China and India, being thus the first
European who visited China Proper. On his return he told such extraordinary
tales of the people he had seen, and their customs, that most men were
afraid to believe in them, and thought they were pure inventions. Years
after, when the countries he had described became known to the Europeans,
it was found that he had spoken a great deal of truth, and his example
caused fresh enterprises to be projected. Men must not despair because they
do not at once see the fruit of their labour: if they only undertake it in
a true and steadfast spirit, it is sure to turn sooner or later to the
benefit of their fellow-creatures. Truly great men do not toil for
themselves but for the good they may do to others; they sow the seed, and
in God's time, not theirs, it will bear fruit.

In Lisbon Columbus married Doña Felippa, the daughter of a poor but noble
Italian named Perestrello, the governor of the island of Porto Santo, one
of the Madeiras, which had only lately been found. Perestrello was a very
famous navigator, and lost his life in the service of Portugal. After his
marriage Columbus went to live in the house of his wife's mother, and she
gave him all the charts her husband had drawn, and the accounts he had
written of his voyages, which proved very useful to him because they made
him familiar with all the parts of the world the Portuguese had hitherto
explored. So he lived on in Lisbon, supporting his wife and his mother by
making and selling maps and globes, besides which he used to send a part of
the money he earned to his aged father at Genoa, and helped his brothers
also by enabling them to go to school. Sometimes he would leave home for a
while, and take part in the expeditions that were directed towards the
coast of Guinea, or he would visit Porto Santo, where he had a friend in
Pietro Correo, who had once been governor of the island, and was married to
his wife's sister. Yet although he was made very happy by the birth of his
son Diego, it was sad to wait year after year without any chance of
starting on his voyage; for, poor as he was, it was quite impossible for
him to buy vessels and man them at his own expense.

Some of the ancient philosophers who flourished centuries before the birth
of our Lord had convinced themselves that the earth was round. That such is
the case is shown by the appearance of a vessel after it has left the
shore. At a certain distance the whole of it is seen; farther off only its
hulk or body; at a greater distance still, the topmast alone is visible.
This proves that something hides the lower part of the ship from the
spectator, and that something, is the roundness of the earth. Again--when
an eclipse of the moon takes place the moon enters the shadow of the earth,
and cannot get the light of the sun, which, reflected on her surface, gives
her the bright silvery glow which makes her so lovely by night, and so we
appear to lose the whole, or part of her face. Now the shadow that is seen
being round, the earth must be round from which it is cast. And when men
found, in the days when very long voyages were undertaken, that by sailing
and journeying in one direction they came back to the point whence they had
started, they wanted indeed no further proof that such was the correct
figure of the earth. Thus it was natural for Columbus to expect to reach
the eastern shore of India, or of Cathay (as China was then called) by
sailing westward across the Atlantic, never dreaming that the earth was so
large as it is, and that the pathway he went would make known to the people
of the Old World the whole vast continent of America, and the Pacific, the
greatest of all Oceans!

Having been refused assistance in his native city, he resolved at last to
lay his plans before John the Second of Portugal. The king referred the
matter to a Council, where it was soon decided that the voyage could not be
carried out, but Columbus was not easily disheartened, as his patience
during one-and-twenty years proved, and he begged the Portuguese monarch so
earnestly to assist him that he had almost been supplied with the vessels
he required, had there not been in Lisbon some persons who were very
jealous of him, and wanted the glory of making the attempt themselves.
These persons gained information of the proposed route, and then set out in
secret to try it, not unknown, as it is said, to the king. But when they
had been out at sea some time, and saw the waves spread out around them as
far as sight could reach, they lost all courage, and put back to Lisbon as
quickly as they could, saying on their return that the voyage could never
be tried.

Columbus was indignant at being treated thus: he had passed fourteen years
of his life in waiting, and had thought and studied so much for the
enterprise on which he had set his heart that he had made no fortune for
himself. His gentle wife Felippa was dead; and one day he bid farewell to
his home in Lisbon and quitted Portugal with the idea of laying his cause
before Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. First of all, however, he went to
Genoa, where he saw his father, and provided out of his own scanty means
for the old man's comfort.

When he arrived in Spain he sought the favour and assistance of two
powerful Spanish nobles, the duke of Medina Sidonia and the Duke of Medina
Coeli. The latter was the kinder of the two; he was just going to give
Columbus three or four caravels, which lay opposite the port of Cadiz, when
he suddenly thought that the enterprise was so vast, that none but a king
should direct it. He spoke so kindly, however, of Columbus to Queen
Isabella, that she desired him to repair to her court at Cordova.

When he arrived he found the city like a camp, and the king and queen
entirely occupied in preparing for a grand campaign against the Moors. One
Moorish city after another had indeed yielded to the Spanish arms, but the
invaders who had held ground in Spain for nearly eight hundred years, were
still in possession of much of the southern part of the country. At such a
moment Isabella had no time to listen to the demands of a needy adventurer
like Columbus, and his humble dress and his poverty made him an object of
contempt in the eyes of the haughty Spanish grandees. At last, through the
efforts of the Grand Cardinal of Spain, he was allowed to enter the
presence of Ferdinand. The king ordered him to plead his cause before a
great council of learned monks at Salamanca. During the time it was held,
Columbus was a guest in the convent of St. Stephen, which was the
foundation of the famous university of Salamanca. The monks of the convent
were kind to him; they entered into his plans, and believed that the voyage
he proposed would lead to great discoveries; and prove the source of
infinite benefit to mankind; but those who came to confer with them were
not of the same opinion, and they tried, by quoting the Holy Scriptures, to
convince Columbus that he was in error. Now Columbus was a very devout man,
and one strong inducement for him to undertake the voyage was, the hope of
spreading the gospel in distant parts of the world, and he must have been
greatly pained when sentence was passed against him, and his views except
by a few, were misunderstood and treated as idle dreams. Nevertheless he
lingered on in Spain, in the hope that his appeal for aid might be heard
one day by Isabella herself, who was of a more noble and generous character
than her husband. So he followed the court from place to place as the seat
of war changed, and in one campaign he bore an honourable part in the
struggle with the Moors; while part of the time he remained in Spain he
lived quietly at Cordova, earning his bread by making charts, and maps, as
he had done before at Lisbon. When he heard that the city of Granada, the
stronghold of the Moors, was to be invested by the Spanish army, he
determined to make one more appeal, for he was sure that the king and queen
would be too busy to listen to him, when the siege had once begun. All they
would do was to promise to hear him when they should be released from the
cares of war, and Columbus, grieving to think that he had wasted so many
years of his life in useless waiting, made up his mind to leave Spain for
ever, and apply for aid at the court of France.

From the time he left Cordova little is known of him until he appeared at
the gate of the Convent of St. Maria de Rabida, which stood in the midst of
a forest of pine trees, near the port of Palos, in Andalusia. His son Diego
was with him; the boy was both tired and hungry, for they had come a long
way without resting. Just as Columbus was asking for some bread and water
for him at the gate, Friar Juan Perez, the guardian of the convent happened
to pass by. The good friar welcomed the strangers kindly; he bade them
enter, and in the course of conversation Columbus opened his heart to him
and told him about his plans, and his firm trust that by the grace of God
he should be able to carry them out. Friar Juan had already thought on the
subject himself, and he was so delighted with the ideas of Columbus that he
sent for two friends to confer with him: one was Fernandez Garcia, a
physician of Palos, who had a great longing to go in search of unknown
lands; the other was Martin Alonzo Pinzon, a merchant who had vessels of
his own, and traded with many foreign ports. These were presently joined by
some mariners of Palos, who had had much experience at sea.

Friar Juan persuaded Columbus to stay a little longer in Spain, and wrote a
letter to Queen Isabella, hoping that his influence might induce her to
sanction the enterprise, since he had once been her confessor, and had
always been held by her in great esteem. The court had removed to Santa Fé,
and an honest pilot, named Sebastian Rodriguez, undertook to convey the
letter thither. At the end of a fortnight he brought back an answer from
the queen which gave hope and joy to Columbus and his friends, and caused
Friar Juan to saddle his mule in haste, and set out at midnight for the
Spanish court. Isabella was indeed beginning to think the voyage worthy of
consideration, and wished to talk on the subject with Juan himself. And
very soon she summoned Columbus to Santa Fé, and sent him some money to
enable him to buy a mule for his journey, and a dress suitable to appear in
at court, so that he might no longer be despised for his needy attire.

Columbus arrived in time to see Boabdil, the last of the Moorish kings in
Spain, deliver the keys of the Alhambra into the hands of the Spanish
sovereigns: the hundred thousand Moors, who had shut themselves up within
the massive walls of Granada, had been forced to yield; the Crescent was
thrown down, and the Royal standard of Spain was planted on the red towers
of the most beautiful of Moorish palaces. There were rejoicings and
festivities without end among the Spaniards, but Columbus was sad and
forlorn in the midst of all the gaiety; the courtiers were jealous of the
favour Isabella had shown him on his arrival, and although the king and
queen kept their promise and listened to him once more, they were
persuaded, by a haughty and powerful priest named Talavera, now Bishop of
Granada, to offer him terms which he could not accept. He began to feel
utterly disheartened, and resolving again to leave Spain and ask help from
France, he mounted his mule and quitted Santa Fé. He had reached the pass
of Pinos, two leagues from Granada, when to his surprise a courier overtook
him and recalled him to the Court. Some of his friends had at last
persuaded Isabella to grant him real assistance, and she became all at once
so eager for the voyage to be carried out, that she declared her kingdom of
Castille should defray the cost of it, and offered to pledge her own jewels
to furnish money besides.

The king and queen then signed a decree by which Columbus was to be
supplied with vessels and men; to be named Admiral of the Fleet, and
Viceroy of all the lands he should discover; and to have a right to a tenth
part of all the gold, silver, pearls, precious stones, and spices he might
find within the limits of the land he was to rule over for the Spanish
sovereigns. Besides this the title of Don was to be prefixed to his name
and to the name of his heirs.

All the doubts, the long weary days of waiting, were at an end. In deep
thankfulness and joy Columbus went back to Palos, from which port it was
arranged that the fleet should set sail. And one May morning a Royal decree
was read in the porch of the largest church there which ordered the
authorities of Palos to have two caravels[12] ready for the sea within ten
days, Columbus himself having the right to fit out a third vessel.

But now his troubles broke out afresh, no one would furnish barks, not a
mariner could be pressed into the service; it was believed that all who
engaged in such a voyage must surely perish. After tumults and disputes
which lasted many weeks, Martin Pinzon and his brother came forward with a
vessel of their own, and two other caravels were with the greatest
difficulty procured.

Thus the days which still elapsed before the fleet could sail, so full of
joy and hope for the Admiral, were passed by the sailors and the friends
they were to leave on shore in terror and deep gloom. At last, on Friday,
August the 3rd, in the year 1492, the caravels sailed at daybreak from the
bar of Saltes, near Palos, having on board one hundred and twenty persons,
who before starting had all joined in fervent prayer that God would protect
them from danger, and grant them success. A favourable wind bore them in
the direction of the Canary Islands. The vessel Columbus sailed in was
called the _Santa Maria_; the second, the _Pinta_, was commanded by Martin
Alonzo Pinzon, and the third, the _Niña_, by his brother Vincent Yañez
Pinzon. When they had been out at sea three days the _Pinta_ made a sign of
distress; either by accident or through malice to Columbus her rudder had
been broken. Martin Pinzon repaired it as well as he could with cords, but
the next day the wind broke them, and all the vessels put in towards the
Canary Islands, and waited thereabouts three weeks whilst a new rudder was
made for the damaged bark. This occasioned much loss of time, and news
being brought that some Portuguese ships were sailing towards the Island of
Ferro, Columbus set sail again in a great hurry, fearing that the jealousy
of the King of Portugal might even now prevent him from finishing his
voyage. For three days the caravels were held in a deep calm, and all the
men on board felt very anxious until the winds arose, and carried them on
their way. The last land they saw was the Island of Ferro, and when they
lost sight of that, the spirits of most of the mariners began to droop, and
a wreck which they came upon a hundred and fifty leagues from Ferro, did
not tend to make them more hopeful.

On the 14th of September they saw a heron and a water wagtail, which very
much surprised them, as they were the first birds they had seen. The next
night there fell from the sky, only four or five leagues from the vessels,
a wonderful stream of fire, although the sea was calm, and the winds were
asleep, and the currents steady to the northward. This was probably one of
the meteors which are often seen in warm climates. After that, from day to
day, they perceived an abundance of grasses and herbs on the surface of the
water--which appeared to have been plucked only a short time before from
some island or rock--the green patches looked almost like floating islands
themselves. Then they saw many tunny and gold fish, and a white bird of the
tropics that never passes a night on the sea. They thought, too, that the
waves were less salt than those they had crossed at first. All these signs
made the mariners very desirous of going in search of islands, but Columbus
would not yield to their wishes, and pursued the steady course he had
planned towards the west. On the 18th of September the captain of the
swift-sailing caravel _Pinta_ told the Admiral that he had seen a number of
large birds flying towards the north, and that he thought there was land in
that direction. This time, however, Columbus felt sure that the supposed
land was nothing but a bank of clouds. The next morning a bird of the
tropics alighted on the Admiral's ship, and the day after two more came
with a black bird which had on its head a tuft of white feathers; besides
which, at dawn, three little singing birds had perched themselves on one of
the masts, and only flew away at dark. Their sweet song must have made some
of the forlorn mariners think of their homes and the pine forest of Palos
and the gardens of southern Spain, with their orange and pomegranate trees,
whilst to others it may have said, "God, in His infinite love, has sent the
little birds to cheer your hearts, and to tell you that land is near, and
that you need not fear to tread the shore of strange men, since He is the
father of all."

There came a time, indeed, when these things vanished, and as the wind
always blew from the east, the men despaired of ever being able to return
to their homes. They began to reproach Columbus bitterly for having led
them, as they supposed, on a lost track, and distrusted the signs of land
even when they were renewed by fresh patches of verdure appearing, and
whole flights of singing birds coming to the caravels early in the morning,
and flying away to their unseen nests at dusk. Some of the seamen in their
frenzy were so wicked as to make a plot to throw the Admiral overboard, and
they meant after that, to turn the vessel homeward, and to say, if they
ever got back to Spain, that he had fallen from the ship's side whilst
gazing at the stars. Columbus had enough to do to pacify the crews. To the
gentle he spoke kind words; those who were eager for riches he flattered
with hopes of gain, and the most violent of all he threatened with the
severest punishment if they should attempt to prevent the voyage from being
completed. At this time he was exposed to extreme danger, but he had a
brave heart, and trusted in God, and did not feel afraid even when he knew
that the plot had been made to take away his life. And although he was more
anxious than any man on board, and passed many a sleepless night, looking
vainly across the starlit sea for land, he never despaired of finding it at

So the days passed in alternate hope and fear. Once Martin Pinzon felt so
sure that he saw land, that the crews of each vessel knelt down and chanted
a solemn thanksgiving, "Glory to God in the highest," such were the words
that rose up in the calm evening air, but, alas! the land turned out to be
only a cloud.

When the mutiny was at its greatest height the heavenly Father let the men
who had murmured look on the blessed signs of land until their wicked
thoughts passed away, and hope and trust came back to their hearts instead.
For, on the 10th of October, there could be no doubt that they were near
some shore. Beside fresh herbs and grasses, they saw a green fish, which is
only found near rocks, a reed and a carved stick, a little plank, and a
branch of thorn covered with red berries, which looked as if it had only
just been plucked.

[Illustration: _Columbus pointing to the Land.--p. 159_]

After evening prayer on that day Columbus ordered a careful watch to be
made, and remained himself on the high stern of the _Santa Maria_ during
the night. Now and then he observed a glimmer of light, which he supposed
came from the shore, and at two o'clock in the morning the firing of a gun
from the _Pinta_ was the signal that land had really been seen. Not an eye
closed that night; the sails were taken in, and the whole company on board
the caravels waited in breathless suspense for the dawn. As the day broke,
Columbus perceived a level island stretching out before them covered with
trees; the natives were already coming out of the woods and rushing towards
the shore, evidently astonished at the sight of the strange vessels. The
boats were manned and armed, and Columbus, Martin Pinzon, and Vincente, his
brother, each got into a boat, Columbus bearing the royal standard of
Spain, and the others banners with green crosses upon them. The natives
stood around as they landed, and looked on, half fearful, in silence.
Columbus kissed the earth on which he first set foot, and planting the
cross upon it, called it by the name of St. Salvador.[13] Then the
Spaniards hailed him as Admiral, and swore obedience to him: those who had
rebelled were now thoroughly ashamed of their wicked conduct, and entreated
his pardon--a pardon he readily granted--for it was not in his noble nature
to resent an injury done to himself.

The Spanish government had decreed a reward of 10,000 maravedis[14] to him
who should first discover land; to this Columbus added a promise of a
doublet of silk or velvet. But although Rodrigo de Triana was the mariner
who first saw land from the _Pinta_, it was agreed by all that the Admiral
should have the prize, because it was he who had perceived the light,
probably of some torch the natives had carried, at intervals, during the

The island Columbus first landed upon was one of the Lucayos or Bahamas; in
his delight he fancied he had really reached the eastern shores of India,
and hence it was that the natives of the New World were called Indians. He
stayed a day or two at the island, making friends with the
dark-complexioned men, who soon lost all fear of the strangers, and
regarded with great curiosity the cups, glass beads, and hawks' bells they
gave them in exchange for the parrots, the balls of spun-cotton, and the
cassava bread, made from a great root called "yuca," which they brought
down to the shore. They were simple in their manners, and evidently thought
the shining armour and weapons of the white man very strange. They did not
know the use of iron, and taking the swords by the blades they cut
themselves with them. Some of them wore little ornaments of gold in their
noses, and when the Spaniards asked them by signs whence they got the gold,
they answered by pointing to the south.

Columbus now resolved to go in search of the precious metal, and left the
island, taking with him seven Indians as interpreters. When he returned to
his ship the natives crowded around him in their canoes, each of which,
small or large, was made in one piece out of the trunk of a tree. After
finding some little islands, he came upon the lovely island of Cuba. Here
the caravels glided down a great shining river, with waters deep and clear,
and anchored not far from the sea. It seemed to the mariners a fairy
region, in which they forgot all the care and the terror of their voyage.
Trees, higher than any they had seen in Europe, were covered with the most
tempting fruits and brilliant flowers, birds of gay-coloured plumage sang
on their branches or flitted about. The sunshine falling on the scales of
the fish made them look like precious stones, and at night, fireflies
flashed through the air, and moon and stars shone with a strange lustre
unknown in Europe. The cabins of the natives of Cuba were more elegant in
their construction than those of the other islands, and were all well
covered with branches of palm trees. That the people were accustomed to
fish was shown by the nets, made of the fibres of palm leaves, which were
found in some of the empty dwellings. Here was seen for the first time the
"batata," or potatoe plant, which has since proved such a blessing to
Europe, and some Spaniards, whom Columbus, believing that he had indeed
reached Cathay, sent on a mission to the Grand Khan, tell how, when they
came back from their fruitless journey, they met on the road numbers of
people, men and women, who held in one hand a lighted brand, and in the
other some leaves of a plant called "tabacas," rolled up in the form of a
little cylinder, one end of which they lighted and the other they put into
their mouths. It is needless to say that this was the origin of smoking
amongst the Europeans, and hence the city of Havannah in Cuba has always
been famous for the manufacture of cigars.

One night when the caravels were out at sea, not far from Cuba, on a voyage
of fresh discovery, the _Pinta_ suddenly disappeared. The merchant Martin
Alonzo Pinzon was greedy of gain, and wanted to go to some island in search
of gold by himself. One reason of his desertion is said also to have been
his dislike of serving under another, after having been his own master for
so many years. Columbus had now only the two caravels, but he was not
deterred from making fresh attempts, and he soon found the large island of
Haiti, or Saint Domingo, to which he gave the name of Hispaniola, because
it was like the fairest parts of Spain. The land here was mountainous and
rocky, but the rocks rose up out of forests. The harbour the caravels
entered was surrounded by great trees, most of them being covered with
fruit, which gleamed red, green, and golden in the bright sunshine of the
tropics. The natives were very timid at first, as those of Cuba had been,
and fled from the coast on the approach of the strange vessels; but an
Indian woman who was captured and carried on board the _Santa Maria_ was
treated so kindly that, when she went back to the shore, her own people
began to lose all fear, and brought the Spaniards many gifts of fish,
fruit, and roots, and their famed cassava bread. Another day, when Columbus
was cruising about the island, and a gale was blowing, he saved an Indian
from perishing as his fragile canoe, and the man thus rescued told the time
tale of the kindness of the Spaniards. Columbus became very friendly with a
chief, or cacique, named Guacanagari, which is a terribly long name, and
since he always remained true to the Spaniards I will only call him in
future the faithful chief, to distinguish him from others in the same
island. The Admiral had set out by sea to visit him in his own village,
when a great disaster happened. It was Christmas Eve; the ocean was calm
and smooth, and about an hour before midnight the caravel _Santa Maria_ was
only a league from the cacique's dwelling. Columbus, having passed many
sleepless nights, had gone to rest; soon after the steersman, giving the
helm in charge to one of the ship's boys, followed his example, and it was
not long before the whole of the crew were sound asleep also. The vessel,
thus left to a careless boy, was carried by currents on to a sandbank with
such force that great seams opened in her sides. Some of the mariners,
roused to a sense of their danger, got down into their boat, and in the
confusion rowed off to the caravel _Niña_, which took them all on board.
Soon the Admiral and the remainder of the crew had to take refuge there
also; the _Santa Maria_ was firmly fixed in the sands, and was of no
farther use as a ship. When the cacique heard of the misfortune he shed
tears, and kindly sent a number of men in canoes to the Admiral's
assistance, and he helped himself to keep guard round the wrecked vessel,
that none of the valuable stores it contained might be stolen.

Little boys who are safe at home at the merry Christmas-time with all whom
they love, may think of this first Christmas of the brave and patient
Admiral, passed amidst all the horrors of shipwreck, and remember that if a
simple and ignorant heathen could thus afford kindly help and sympathy to
the distressed, how much more love and charity ought not those to show who
call themselves the followers of Christ!

The cacique came on board the _Niña_ to visit Columbus, and a little while
after, the Admiral went to his village in return. When he was there he had
a cannon and a harquebuss fired to show the might of the European arms. The
Indians were so terrified at the sound that they fell flat to the ground,
but their spirits revived when they were told that such weapons would
deliver them from the Caribs, who were constantly threatening and
tormenting their chief.

The cacique gave Columbus many extraordinary presents; one was a mask of
wood, with eyes, ears, and mouth gilded: the Indians were very fond of
carving such masks. They were delighted with the gifts they received from
the Spaniards, and most of all with the hawks' bells, dancing merrily to
the tinkling they made. They had so little idea of the real value of things
that a string of the commonest glass beads had far greater worth in their
eyes than a coronet of solid gold.

Columbus now began to think of returning to Europe, but first of all he
constructed a fort with the remains of the stranded vessel, to which he
gave the name of Navidad,[15] in memory of the Christmas morning when his
own life and the lives of his men had been so mercifully spared. Some of
the Spaniards were to be left to guard the fort, and they were very glad to
remain in the island; they had food in plenty, the natives were kindly
disposed towards them, and to live at ease in a beautiful climate was far
preferable to being tossed about on the stormy sea. When the moment of
parting came, however, all were sorrowful, and they took a kindly leave of
one another, wondering whether they would ever meet again.

Some time after Columbus had set out on his journey home, he came in sight
of the _Pinta_. The merchant made many excuses for his desertion, but
Columbus passed them over with few words, and the vessels kept company
until the _Pinta_ again disappeared one dark night during a terrific storm,
which surprised the caravels far out in the open sea. When it was at its
greatest height Columbus retired to his cabin, and wrote two copies of a
description of the lands he had seen, then he wrapped them in wax, and put
them into two casks, one of which he threw into the sea, and the other he
placed on the poop of his vessel, that it might float if she sank.

The storm abated, but Columbus was not yet destined to return to Europe in
peace. He had touched at the Island of St. Mary, one of the Azores, and
half the crew had landed to return thanks to God for their escape from the
tempest. As they were praying in a chapel they were seized by order of John
of Portugal, to whom the islands belonged. The King had watched the
movements of Columbus, and could not get over his jealousy of the Spaniards
for having succeeded in their attempt.

After some trouble the seamen were set free, but even then another storm
drove Columbus to seek shelter in the river Tagus, near the Rock of Cintra.
Whilst he was there, King John invited him to his court, which he was
holding in a lovely spot, called the Vale of Paradise, a few leagues from
Lisbon. Certain it is, that however unkind he had been hitherto, he
received Columbus as a friend, and treated him with honour, and would not
listen to some wicked men around him, who advised him to put him to death.

When Columbus did arrive at Palos on the 15th of March, 1493, the people
flocked in crowds to welcome him, and he journeyed like a prince to
Barcelona, where the Spanish court had taken up its residence for a time.
But his greatest triumph was when he had entered the gates of the city, and
went slowly along the crowded streets, surrounded by the noblest knights of
Spain, to the palace where Ferdinand and Isabella were seated under a
golden canopy in readiness to receive him. And surely the people of
Barcelona had never looked upon so strange a procession before. Six Indians
in their wild costume marched on in front; the animals belonging to the
islands, live parrots, and other gaily plumed birds, till then unknown in
Europe, the golden ornaments and the weapons of the natives, strange
plants, valuable resins and gums, all had their part in the show. When
Columbus arrived at the palace the King and Queen would not suffer him to
stand or kneel in their presence, but they knelt down themselves in the
sight of all the people, and thanked God fervently for the wondrous
spectacle before them, and the new world that the courage and constancy of
a good man had given to Leon and Castille. Whilst Columbus remained in
Spain he was treated with the highest esteem and honour, and his sons,
Diego and Fernando were appointed pages to Prince Juan, the heir to the
Spanish throne.

Martin Alonzo Pinzon arrived at the port of Palos on the evening of the day
Columbus had landed amid crowds of welcoming faces. He was so jealous of
his rival's glory, and so deeply mortified besides when he remembered his
own mean conduct towards one who had always been kind to him, that he went
on shore privately, and instead of taking part in the public rejoicings,
repaired to his home, where he fell ill, and died soon after, as it is
said, of grief.

In the autumn of the same year Columbus set out on his second voyage with a
fleet of seventeen ships, and fifteen hundred men, amongst whom were
_hidalgos_, merchants and adventurers, and several priests, intended to
convert the Indians to the Christian faith.

On his way to Hispaniola he found some islands belonging to the group of
the Antilles. The first one he saw he called Domenica, because he
discovered it on a Sunday. After that he came to a large and fertile
island, to which he gave the name of Guadaloupe, and there the Spaniards
saw for the first time the pine-apple. But although they found plenty of
luscious fruits and sweet water, which refreshed them after their voyage,
they were not at all happy there because they perceived from the remains of
human bodies hanging about the dwellings that the natives of the island
were cannibals, or Caribs, who feasted on the flesh of their fellow
creatures. Columbus was in great alarm for fear some of his crew who had
strayed into the forests should fall victims to this horrible practice; but
happily, most of the men were absent on some warlike expedition, and had
left their women to guard the island, and the missing mariners found their
way back to the sea-shore. Another of the larger islands discovered at this
time now bears the name of Porto Rico.

When the fleet arrived about a league from the settlement of Navidad, all
objects around were hidden in the darkness of night. Columbus felt very
anxious to know if the men whom he had left to guard the fort were alive
and in safety, and he had two guns fired off to announce his arrival. The
echo died away in silence, no answer came, and a terrible fear filled his
heart. About midnight some Indians came in a boat to the principal caravel,
and asked to see the Admiral. They had brought him a present of gilded
masks from the faithful chief, and told how he lay sick in a little village
near, having been wounded in an affray with another chief named Caonabo,
who dwelt on the mountains of Cibao, and was called "The Lord of the House
of Gold," because of the abundance of gold in that region. These Indians
gave very confused accounts of the Spaniards who had been left in the fort.
Some of them were dead, they said, having been killed in a skirmish; others
were dispersed. Columbus did not know what to think. Even when the day
broke, the place seemed strangely silent and deserted, and at last he sent
some of his people in a boat to the shore to gain tidings. Alas! the
fortress was a heap of ruins, the comrades of other days had all
disappeared without leaving a trace behind. Columbus soon learned that
several of the Spaniards had been faithless to the trust reposed in them,
and after quarrelling amongst themselves had gone off to the mountains of
Cibao, tempted by the prospect of finding gold. The few who remained in
the fort had been surprised by Caonabo. He had rushed down upon them with
his warriors, and had burnt all the dwellings of the white men, although
the faithful chief had done his best to help to defend them: Columbus heard
from him that the reports of the fate of the Spaniards were true.

When the cacique visited Columbus on board his ship he was greatly
astonished at the sight of the animals which had been brought out to the
west, such as cattle, pigs and calves, but most of all the Indians wondered
at the power and size of the horse, which was to tread their shores for the
first time. Besides these, Columbus had brought to the island many domestic
fowls, also vegetables and fruits which he hoped would flourish in the new
soil; among the latter were oranges, lemons, and citrons, supposed to have
grown originally in India and Persia, and to have been introduced into
Europe by the Arabs and Moors.

Immediately on his arrival Columbus founded the city of Isabella on the
north of the island. For a little time the work went on bravely, and then
troubles arose. The provisions conveyed in the vessels were nearly all
gone; the climate was found to be sultry and damp, and unhealthy for those
who had lived in the drier air of Spain. The young _hidalgos_, who had come
out in the hope of gaining riches and fame, were angry and disappointed
that they did not find gold at once in abundance. To appease their murmurs,
Columbus sent a very bold cavalier named Alonso de Ojeda to explore the
famed mountains of Cibao, with a band of men, of whom most were of noble
birth. When they came back from their dangerous expedition, they told the
Admiral that they had seen gold in plenty glittering in particles amongst
the sands of the mountain streams, and in the beds of the torrents. Several
ships returned about this time to Spain, bearing samples of the gold thus
discovered, besides various fruits and plants unknown in Europe.

The complaints of the settlers were again breaking out, when Columbus,
leaving the growing city of Isabella in charge of his brother Diego, who
had accompanied him on the voyage, set out himself for the mountains of
Cibao with four hundred men, well armed, and a great multitude of Indians.
When they arrived at the foot of the mountain land, it was found that so
large a force could not ascend the wild and difficult path which was used
by the Indians, and some brave young Spanish gentlemen who had been used to
all kinds of manoeuvres in the wars with the Moors, and were very eager
to win fresh renown, undertook to make a road by which the whole company
could pass. Thus in a few hours, by dint of hard labour, the first road in
the New World was constructed, and it was called in honour of those who had
made it, "El Puerto de los hidalgos," "The Gentleman's Pass."

When they came to the gorge of the mountain an immense plain spread out
before them covered with lovely flowers, and with trees rising out of it,
such as the graceful palm with its slender stem and feathery plume at the
top, and the wide-spreading mahogany-tree with its dense foliage. The air
was so balmy, and the whole scene was so beautiful, that Columbus gave it
the name of "Vega Real," which means Royal Plain.

As they went higher up the mountains the way became rougher, and they lost
the sweet flowers and fruits which had afforded them so much delight. Some
of them saw what it must be confessed gave them still greater pleasure, and
that was the gold which sparkled in the sands of the streams. At the top of
a steep hill they built a fort, which they called Fort St. Thomas, that
there might be a place of refuge for those who should work the mines.
Caonabo did not at all like his "golden house" to be thus invaded, and took
his revenge, as will be seen hereafter. The Indians as yet were very
willing to exchange gold for the glass beads and toys the Spaniards gave
them, and would search for it on purpose to bring it to them. One old man
parted with two pieces of gold which weighed an ounce, and thought he was
magnificently paid for it with a hawk's bell.

When Columbus returned to Isabella, he found that the building of the city
had been neglected: the workmen were either ill or weary of the task, and
he gave orders that all who had come out to the island should assist in the
labour. The proud Spanish _hidalgos_ worked with very unwilling hearts, and
never forgave Columbus for submitting them to what they considered a great
degradation. Some of them were so disappointed with the New World and the
difficulty of making themselves rich without any trouble that they fell ill
and died, bitterly reproaching Columbus until their last hour as being the
cause of all their misfortunes. These troubles made the Admiral very
unhappy; still, amidst them all he had some joys, and one very great one,
when after he had gone to coast along a part of Cuba unknown to him, he
came upon the large island of Jamaica, with its high blue mountains and its
groves of majestic trees. Jamaica thus ranks third of the great islands
made known to the Europeans. Here the natives made each of their boats out
of the single trunk of a tree, and when they used for this purpose the
enormous stem of a mahogany tree they had a very large boat indeed.

Columbus did not stay long at Jamaica, but cruised about another part of
Cuba, and found some smaller islands near its coast, which were so lovely
that he called them "The Queen's Gardens." On his way back to Hispaniola he
became very ill, and was senseless when his vessel reached the port of
Isabella. Great was his joy, when he opened his eyes once more to find his
brother Bartholomew by his bedside; he had been sent to the island by the
Spanish sovereigns, and as he was very brave and clever he was well fitted
to take the command of affairs whilst his brother was ill.

The troubles in the island rapidly increased. The chiefs, with the
exception of the faithful one, were ready to make war on the Spaniards and
drive them away. Caonabo was the fiercest of all; he lay siege to the Fort
of St. Thomas, but Alonso de Ojeda was inside with a few brave men, and
harassed his army so much by his firearms that the Indians at last withdrew
in despair. Ojeda afterwards captured Caonabo in a very daring manner, and
brought him bound to himself on his horse to the city of Isabella, where he
was imprisoned in the Admiral's house. After this the Indians were ordered
to pay tribute in gold dust, which at first only made them resist the more;
it seemed so hard to them to have to work from morning to night in search
of gold, after the free and happy life, happy for them because it was idle,
they had lived in their island before the strangers came. It was not until
a battle had been fought on the lovely plain of the Vega, and some of them
had been killed by the firearms of the Spaniards, which were far more
destructive than their own weapons, that they consented with heavy hearts
to bring their tribute.

For everything that went wrong, Columbus alone was unjustly blamed, and at
last some unkind persons went to Spain and told the King and Queen that he
had brought all the misery on the colony by his bad government. And a day
came when he set out for Spain himself to plead his cause with Ferdinand
and Isabella; because, whatever his enemies had said, his conduct had
always been loyal and upright, and the cause of all the unhappiness lay in
the violent temper and the avarice of many of the men who had embarked with
him for the sake of making themselves rich, instead of serving the king and
queen, and promoting the glory of Spain.

The vessel he sailed in was crowded with criminals, discontented persons
and Indian captives; amongst the latter was the proud chief Caonabo, but he
died during the voyage.

When Columbus arrived this time in Spain, there were neither triumphs nor
rejoicings, and he wore as he landed the dress of a Franciscan friar, a
long robe, with a cord for a girdle, in sign of humility. He was soon
cheered, however, by a kind invitation to court. Ferdinand and Isabella did
not yet forget how much they owed to him, and they gave no heed to the
complaints that had been made against him, while the massive gold ornaments
he had brought with him, and the rich products of the islands induced them
to hope that his discoveries would bring them great wealth in the time to

He therefore lived in Spain in some degree of comfort until the May of the
year 1498, when after many tiresome delays he started on a third voyage
with only six ships and took a different route to that he had gone before.
From the Cape Verde Isles he went south-west towards the region spreading
out eight or ten degrees north and south of the Equator, where the sea is
smooth as glass, and the sun shines straight down, and there is not a
breath of air to fill a sail. The heat on this occasion was intense, and
the mariners very nearly died of thirst when their supply of water was
exhausted and they could get no more. Columbus therefore sailed westward,
instead of going farther south as he had at first proposed, and one day,
just three months after he had left Spain, three mountains seemed to rise
up out of the ocean afar, and as he came nearer he found to his joy that
all the mountains rose from one island, to which in his thankfulness he
gave the name of Trinidad.[16]

On this voyage he also discovered the mouths of the river Orinoco, which it
will be seen, by the map of South America, are not very far from the island
of Trinidad. Still, Columbus did not think when he landed, that he was
treading the shores of a vast new continent, but imagined that it was a
part of Asia. After this he found the land the Indians called Paria. The
natives here welcomed him kindly, and brought him bread and maize: they
were tall and graceful, and their manners were gentle; they wore garments
of cotton wrought so beautifully with colours that they looked like rich
silks, and they carried targets besides bows and arrows. They had several
kinds of liquors which they offered to the Spaniards to drink. One was
"white as milk," made from maize; others were nearly black, and tasted as
if they were made from unripe fruit.

The country was covered with flowers and fruit-trees; vines were twined
from tree to tree and bright plumaged birds, chiefly parrots, flitted
about. Some of the natives wore collars of gold around their necks, and
some had bracelets of pearls, the sight of which gave great satisfaction to
the Spaniards, for they thought they had discovered a new source of riches.
Columbus would have liked to have spent much time in exploring the coasts
of Paria, but his stores were nearly all consumed, and he was ill and
almost blind from having strained his eye-sight during the dark nights of
his voyages, and was therefore obliged to think of returning to Hispaniola
or San Domingo, as it was called besides. Along the north coast of Paria he
saw many islands, some of which afterwards became famous for their pearl
fisheries, and in one little barren isle he got many beautiful pearls in
exchange for hawks' bells, and pieces of broken china, which the Indians
thought very precious.

At last, wearied out in mind and body he arrived at Hispaniola, hoping to
rest for a while in peace, but he found the colony in a state of
rebellion; a wicked man named Roldan, who had been raised to high estate by
Columbus, persuaded the people to rise up against the Admiral of the Indies
and his brothers: the mines were no longer worked, the building of the city
was left unfinished, and there was scarcely any food. And now we come to
the saddest part in the whole story of Columbus. Some wretched convicts who
had been sent out of Spain to the island, and who were in league with
Roldan, contrived to make their escape and return to Europe, where the
false reports they spread reached the ears of Ferdinand and Isabella, and
induced them to believe at last that he was not really worthy of the trust
they had reposed in him. Francesco Bovadilla, a man who cared very little
what he did, was therefore sent to Hispaniola with orders to govern the
island in his stead, whilst Columbus himself was to be sent back to Spain.

It had happened that at the very moment the Admiral was going to embark on
his third voyage he was deeply affronted by a follower of one of his worst
enemies in Spain; and although he had endured many wrongs and injuries in a
patient and forgiving spirit, he gave way this time to a violent fit of
passion, and struck the time-serving creature repeatedly in his wrath. The
news of this was of course conveyed to the King and Queen, and this one act
of passion on the part of Columbus made them more inclined to believe in
the reports of his ill conduct than all the complaints that had been spoken
against him: they thought that if he were capable of such an action, there
were more cruel and angry deeds to come; just as one little storm cloud
hastening across the clear blue sky makes us dread that others, heavier
and darker, are near.

As soon as Bovadilla arrived he settled himself in the Admiral's house,
Columbus being absent at one of the forts, and laid hands on all the money,
plate, jewels, and valuable things he could find. Columbus disdained to
question the acts of an unruly man like Bovadilla, and journeying in haste
and alone to St. Domingo, he calmly resigned his command. He was then put
in fetters, although for a long time no one could be found who would fasten
them. At last this shameful office was performed by one of his cooks, a
Spaniard. His brother Diego was already in chains on board a caravel:
Bartholomew would have resisted, but was advised by the Admiral to submit
calmly, and the three brothers, who were so loving and could have comforted
one another in their misfortunes, were all kept apart.

One day Columbus saw an officer named Villejo coming towards him in his
prison followed by his guards.

"Where are you going to take me, oh, Villejo?" he asked.

"To the vessel, your Excellency, to embark," he replied.

"To embark!" exclaimed Columbus, radiant with joy. "Do you speak truth?"

"By the life of your Excellency I speak truth;" said he; and they went
indeed on board the caravel which was to convey them to Spain.

During the voyage Villejo and the captain of the vessel were very kind to
him, and were grieved to see him in chains; they would have removed them,
but Columbus would not let them do so, saying that they had been placed
upon him by order of the King, and his younger son Fernando tells us that
his father, stung at last by a sense of his wrongs, kept them ever after
hung up in his room as a sign of the manner in which he had been rewarded
for his services. Yet let us hope that when he looked at them he forgave
his enemies, since there are no injuries too deep to be forgiven, if we
ourselves would receive pardon of our heavenly Father for our many

When Columbus landed at Cadiz thus shackled, a murmur of shame and
indignation was breathed throughout Spain. Ferdinand and Isabella ordered
his fetters to be removed at once, and sent him a large sum of money to pay
the expenses of a visit to court. And when he appeared in their presence,
bowed down by illness and age, and worn out with the dangers and
misfortunes he had gone through, and he saw tears in the eyes of Isabella,
who had once been his kindest friend, he knelt down and burst into a flood
of tears himself. The Queen consoled him with gentle words, and tried to
atone by her kindness for the many affronts he had suffered. Ferdinand
always maintained that he had never given orders for Columbus to be
fettered, and that Bovadilla had acted rashly on his own authority. Be that
as it may, the King was a stern and narrow-minded man; he did not like to
see a foreigner filling the important office of Viceroy of the Indies, and
he took care never to reinstate Columbus in his former dignity, whilst he
sent out a man named Ovando to govern Hispaniola instead of Bovadilla.

Columbus now formed the project of finding a strait somewhere about the
Isthmus of Darien, which should prove a shorter route to India than the
voyage by the Cape of Good Hope. Although he was getting feeble and aged he
had the same steadfast spirit which had enabled him to wait patiently all
the best years of his life, and had helped him bravely through all his
troubles, and he wanted yet to be of farther service to his fellow-men
before he died. The Portuguese under Vasco de Gama had already anchored
opposite Calcutta, and the trade with India was thus all their own, while
the discovery of the West Indian islands seemed to be less important. If
anything more were to be done by Columbus it must be begun at once, and the
King and Queen granted him four caravels with which to set out on his
fourth and last voyage. The crews of all amounted to four hundred and fifty
men. His brother Bartholomew was with him and his younger son Fernando; the
elder one, Diego, being left to manage his affairs in Spain.

The little fleet was to have gone straight to Jamaica, but the principal
vessel sailed so badly that it hindered the others, and Columbus steered
instead for Hispaniola, hoping to exchange it for one of the fleet that had
carried out Ovando. He also asked to be allowed shelter in the harbour of
San Domingo, as he believed from certain signs in the atmosphere which he
knew only too well, that a very great storm was near; but Ovando would
neither let him have a vessel nor take shelter. Just at that time, the
fleet which had brought out Ovando was ready to sail, and was to convey to
Spain, the rebel and conspirator Roldan, Bovadilla, who had treated
Columbus so ill, and many persons who had led idle and wicked lives in the
island. They had with them a great quantity of gold, some of which had been
gained by the labour and miseries of the Indians. Amongst the gold that
Roldan was going to take to the King and Queen was one enormous solid lump,
which was said to have been found by an Indian woman in a brook.

Although Columbus was denied shelter himself he sent a message to the port,
warning the men who were about to sail of the approaching storm, and
entreating them to remain in the harbour until it was over. Well had it
been for them if they had listened to his advice, but they only laughed at
it and boldly put out to sea. Before two days had passed a terrible
hurricane arose, the tempest burst over the ships, and all those men who
had been the greatest enemies of Columbus were swallowed up with their gold
by the foaming waves. The few vessels which were not entirely destroyed
returned to Hispaniola in a shattered condition; only one was able to reach
Spain, and that strangely enough had on board a large sum of money which
belonged by right to Columbus, and had been despatched to Spain by his

Columbus kept close to the shore that night, but the tempest was terrible
for him too; the caravels were dispersed and every one on board expected
death, or thought that the others were lost. At last all the vessels, more
or less damaged, arrived safely at Port Hermoso on the west of the island,
and Columbus stayed there some days to repair them. During an interval of
calm he reached the Gardens of Cuba, but soon after this his troubles
began afresh. For forty days he coasted along Honduras, while the most
fearful storms prevailed, and the whole time he could enter no port. The
sea was tremendously high, heavy rains fell continually, and the thunder
and lightning were so terrific that the mariners thought that the end of
the world was coming; added to this the sails and rigging of the caravels
were torn, and the provisions were spoiled by the damp. Columbus grieved
that his son Fernando should be exposed to all these misfortunes. He says
of him in a letter, "God gave him so great courage that he sustained the
others, and if he put his hand to work, he did it as if he had been at sea
for eighty years. It was he who consoled me; I had fallen ill and many a
time was near the gate of the tomb. From a little cabin which I had caused
to be constructed on the stern I directed the voyage. My brother was on the
most wretched and dangerous of the vessels; great was my sorrow because I
had brought him against his will." Then he goes on to tell all his
troubles; and laments that although he had served Castille for so many
years, he had not really a roof in the land he could call his own. He
thought tenderly, too, of his son Diego, in Spain, and pictured the sorrow
he would feel if he heard that all the vessels had perished. In the forty
days the fleet only made seventy leagues; but at least they reached a cape
where the coast made an angle and turned southwards, and the admiral in his
joy and gratitude gave it the name of "Gracias a Dios."[17]

Now he sailed along the Mosquito shore, the rivers of which abounded with
tortoises and alligators, and in one of these rivers they lost some of
their men who had gone in a boat to seek for provisions. This cast a great
gloom over the rest, which had not passed away when they came to a
beautiful island full of groves of cocoa nuts, bananas, and palms, and
rested awhile between it and the main land. The Indians on shore were very
proud, for when the admiral refused the gifts they brought to the ship,
they tied all the toys and bells the Spaniards had given them together, and
laid them on the sands. When Columbus quitted the spot, he took seven of
these Indians with him as interpreters, and coasted along Costa Rica for
several leagues, until he entered a great bay full of lovely islands. The
natives here wore large plates of gold hanging from chains of cotton cord
around their necks, and strange crowns made of the claws of beasts, and the
quills of birds. They told the strangers that about seventy leagues off
they would find Veragua, a country which abounded in gold. And it seemed,
indeed, as if they spoke the truth, for the nearer they came to that
country the more gold they saw. The natives wore crowns of it on their
heads, and rings of it round their wrists and ancles; their garments were
embroidered with it; their tables and seats were ornamented with it. But
Columbus had not come out this time in search of gold, but to find the
strait which should enable Spain to trade with India at ease, and he left
the land of promised riches and went on the way he thought would lead to
his discovery. Alas! it was soon found that the caravels were too leaky to
sail with safety; they had been pierced through by a worm which infests
the tropical seas, and can bore through the hardest wood;[18] and Columbus
was obliged to give up sailing, for the present, in search of the strait,
and returned to seek for the gold mines of Veragua.[19] It was now
December, and again the caravels were overtaken by one of the terrible
storms of the tropics. The poor mariners gave themselves up for lost; day
and night they confessed their sins one to another, and made vows of what
they would do if their lives were spared. The lightnings were so incessant
that the sky glowed like "one vast furnace;" and they saw, too, for the
first time a water-spout, which, advancing towards the caravels, threatened
them with destruction; but the Lord heard the prayers the terrified seamen
sent up at the strange sight, and the column of water passed by without
doing them any injury.

In the midst of the storm there was an interval of calm, during which they
saw many sharks; these fishes are supposed to scent dead bodies at a
distance, and often draw near ships when danger is at hand. The sailors
caught some of them, and took out of one a live tortoise, which lived some
time on board one of the vessels; from another they took the head of a
shark, which shows that these monsters sometimes eat one another. In the
history which Fernando wrote of his father, he says that the sufferings of
all on board were very great for want of food; the provisions being spoiled
by the damp, and they had to eat their biscuit in the dark, because it was
so full of worms that it was too dreadful to behold by clear daylight.

At last they entered a port which the Indians called Hueva, and went from
thence along a canal for three days. When they landed they found the
natives living in the trees like birds, their cabins being fastened to
poles which were suspended from one tree to another. Perhaps they did this
on account of the wild beasts, the forest being full of lions, bears,
racoons, tiger-cats, and sajinos, a species of wild boar which attack men.
After a while the caravels anchored in the mouth of a river which was
really in the country of the gold mines. The admiral sent his brother on
shore to explore the land; and as he soon satisfied himself that there was
gold to be found there in plenty, Columbus at once began to form a
settlement on the river, which he called Belen, or Bethlehem, after the
star the wise men had seen in the east, because the caravels had arrived
there on the Feast of the Epiphany. It was agreed that Bartholomew should
remain here while the admiral returned to Spain to procure fresh vessels
and supplies. So they built houses of wood, thatched with the leaves of
palm trees, on a little hill not far from the mouth of the river, and eked
out their scanty store of provisions with the pine-apples, bananas, and
cocoanuts, which grew around them in plenty; and drank the wine the Indians
made from the pine-apple, and a sort of beer prepared from maize, or Indian
corn. When the rains ceased, however, Columbus found that the river was so
shallow, his crazy and worm-eaten ships could not get out and cross the
bar, so that he was obliged to wait patiently until the rains should swell
the river again and set him free.

Now it happened that Quibain, the chief of the district, was very angry
when he saw the Spaniards had taken up their abode in his country, and
ordered all his fighting men to be ready to drive them away. A brave man
named Diego Mendez offered to reconnoitre the Indian camp, and soon
returned to tell Columbus that he had seen a thousand Indians who seemed to
be arrayed for battle. After this, with only one companion, he contrived to
get to the chief's village, pretending that he was a surgeon, and could
cure a wound Quibain had received in some skirmish. As he approached the
house a horrible sight awaited him; for on a level plain in front of it the
heads of three hundred men were fixed on poles. This was enough to give a
terrible idea of the fury of Quibain, if it were once roused. Mendez was
not allowed, however, to enter the cacique's dwelling; and went back to the
settlement to tell Columbus what he had seen, and the news he had heard
that the Indians were coming to burn their houses and ships.

Now, as we have said before, Bartholomew Columbus was a very brave man, and
he set out from Belen with Diego Mendez, and about seventy armed men in
boats, and soon landed at the foot of the hill on which the chief dwelt.
Then he ascended the hill with only Diego and four men besides, ordering
the others to rush forward at the firing of a gun. Bartholomew went alone
to the spot where Quibain was sitting in the open air, and pretending to
look at his arm, held it tight until his comrade fired the gun which should
summon the rest. He had much ado to hold the chief in his grasp, but he
kept firm until he was bound hand and foot. The house was soon surrounded,
and all the family of Quibain were taken prisoners without the shedding of
a drop of blood; and Bartholomew returned to the settlement laden with
spoils, amongst which were many massive gold ornaments, and two coronets of

Quibain was committed to the care of the pilot of the fleet, and was tied
by a strong cord to a bench in the pilot's boat. In the darkness of night
the chief complained of the tightness of the cord, and the pilot, touched
with pity, loosened it, holding the end of it in his hand. When he was
looking another way for a moment, the wily Indian plunged into the water
and disappeared; the pilot of course was obliged to let go his hold or he
would have been pulled in after him.

Columbus now thought that since the greatest enemy of the Spaniards had
thus perished, and the river was again filled by the heavy rains, he might
safely return to Spain, and he sailed out of the harbour. But Quibain had
not been drowned; he swam cleverly to the shore, and when he found his
house deserted, he assembled all his warriors, intending to take his
revenge. Some of the Spaniards who were to remain were straying carelessly
about, when these wild men rushed out of their hiding places in the deep
woods, and killed and wounded several of them. Bartholomew and Mendez soon
drove them back with their fire arms; but Diego Tristan, the captain of one
of the vessels, who had gone on shore with eleven men to get wood and
water, was cruelly killed by the Indians, and only one Spaniard of the
whole party survived to tell the tale. So the remainder shut themselves up
in a fortress they made of a boat and some chests and casks, and defended
themselves as well as they could by their fire arms.

Columbus, meanwhile, was pursuing his voyage, and meant to touch at
Hispaniola on his way to Spain. Some of the Indian captives who were on
board his ship, escaped; the others killed themselves in their despair.
Diego Tristan not having returned to the admiral's vessel with his boat, a
brave pilot swam to the shore and gained tidings of all that had happened.
Columbus now resolved to break up his settlement, and take all his people
back to Spain, but even this he could not do for a very long time. First of
all a storm arose, as terrific as the previous ones had been: he was in the
deepest anxiety, when one night he had fallen asleep, he heard, in a dream,
a voice that consoled him for all that he had suffered, and reminded him of
the never-failing mercy of God, so that when he awoke he had fresh hope and
courage in his heart.

And before long there was a calm, which enabled him to reach the fortress
where his brother and his brave comrades were in such great distress. The
caravel that was with them was too much damaged to be of farther use, and
they were obliged to leave it behind. Thankful indeed were the Spaniards to
leave the country of Veragua, where they had gone through so many troubles
and left many of their countrymen lying dead. They embarked in the three
vessels that were left, but one of these was soon found to be in a very
dangerous condition, and the whole company crowded on two wretched
caravels. They could not reach Hispaniola on account of the storms, and
were glad to put into the harbour of St. Gloria, at Jamaica, where they
gave up the struggle. The two vessels were now run aground and tied
together, and cabins were constructed at the prow and stern, which were the
only parts of the caravels above water. They were thatched with straw, to
keep out the rain, and here for one long year Columbus remained with his
crew, forsaken and in much misery. The Indians indeed brought them cassava
bread, and fish and flesh, for which they gave them the usual toys and
beads; but how were they to make known their distress to Ovando, that he
might send vessels to their relief? At last the brave and faithful Mendez,
the only one who would undertake such a perilous journey, ventured in a
canoe with six Indians and one Spaniard to reach the island of Hispaniola.
The first time he tried he was surrounded by the savages and carried off by
them, but he contrived to make his escape and returned alone to the
harbour: it is not known what became of his companions. The second time he
tried he succeeded in reaching the island. During his absence a number of
the crew rebelled; Columbus, rising from his sick bed, endeavoured vainly
to pacify them, but they forsook him and went on shore, where they behaved
very ill to the Indians.

Eight months passed before Columbus received any tidings of Mendez, and he
began to fear that he had been killed by the savages or had perished in his
frail canoe. At last a messenger came from Hispaniola, and said that Ovando
would send a vessel for the forlorn band as soon as he had one large enough
to hold them all. When Columbus knew that they would be rescued, in the
greatness of his soul he offered a free pardon to the men who had
rebelled, and offered to take them safely to Spain if they would return to
the path of duty; all that he required was that their ringleader should be
kept a prisoner. But this bad man would not let them accept the pardon, and
persuaded some of the Indians to join them and take up their weapons
against Columbus. Bartholomew, of the martial spirit, had to go on shore
and quell the disturbance by force; after this their spirit was broken, and
they confessed their misdeeds and asked Columbus to forgive them. Ovando
sent two vessels, and Columbus then took them all on board and gave them
money to buy food and clothing, of which they were in sore need: he
succoured alike those who had been faithful throughout and those who had
rebelled, remembering how the merciful Lord maketh the sun to shine on all.

On his way to Spain he touched at St. Domingo, and embarked afresh.
Scarcely had he left the shore when the mast of his ship was carried away
by a squall. Storms went with him all the way home, and he was wearied out
with pain and anxiety when he anchored in the harbour of St. Lucar, never
more to sail on the sea he loved so well.

He only lived eighteen months after his arrival. The remainder of his life
may be told in a few sad words. Queen Isabella, his friend and patron, died
only a few days after his return to Spain. The King refused to listen to
his claim for the just reward of his services and those of his brave
companions, and it reflects no honor on the Spanish monarch that he allowed
him to pass the last days of his useful life in poverty and neglect.

On Ascension day, the 6th of May of the year 1506, Columbus died at
Valladolid. Friends were around him as he sank to rest, saying, with his
last breath, "Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit." And it may be that
the hardships he had endured, and the insults and reproaches of his
fellow-men, made him long more earnestly for that better land, fairer than
the loveliest island that had risen up from the ocean before his astonished
gaze, the land of the redeemed, where "the Lamb which is in the midst of
the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them into living waters; and God
shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."

As if to make amends for the neglect he had experienced whilst on earth his
remains were interred with great pomp in the convent of St. Francis at
Seville. They were removed three times after that, and now rest in the
cathedral of the Havannah at Cuba. He made by his will his son Diego his
heir, and ordered that one of his family should always reside at Genoa,
which shows that he preserved an affectionate remembrance of his native
city until the last days of his life.

His son Fernando tells us that he had a long face, a bright complexion, an
aquiline nose, and lively eyes of clear grey, which seemed to enforce
obedience. His hair was fair in his youth, but began to turn white when he
was only thirty years of age, which made him look much older than he really
was. He was very frugal, and dressed with great simplicity. Although
naturally hasty in temper he treated all persons around him with extreme
gentleness and kindness, and was always ready to succour those who were in
trouble or need. He was sincerely religious, and never omitted to praise
and to pray to God during his voyages either morning or night. In calm
weather and in stormy the voices of the mariners chanting their matins and
vespers rose from the lonely sea. Sunday to him was always a day of rest,
and he would never set sail on that day if he could avoid doing so.

This chapter ought not to end without the relation of the well-known story
of Columbus and the egg. One day, after his triumphal return from his first
voyage, he was dining at the table of the Grand Cardinal of Spain, and one
of the grandees present asked him if he did not think others could have
found out the way to the new shore as well as himself. Upon this Columbus
took an egg, and asked each person present to make it stand on the table.
Not one being able to do so, Columbus took the egg, and, breaking one end
of it, made it stand upright. Then he said that if one showed the way it
was easy enough for others to follow in his steps, just as the company
assembled could each make the egg stand on the table now that he had shown
them how to do it.


[12] A caravel was a small light bark, more fitted to sail on a river than
to cross the stormy seas.

[13] Salvador, Spanish for Saviour.

[14] A copper coin of Spain, thirty-four of which are worth one real.

[15] _Navidad_, Spanish for Nativity.

[16] Trinidad, Spanish for Trinity.

[17] Gracias a Dios, Spanish for "Thanks be to God."

[18] See Washington Irving.

[19] Now called Panama.


Pierre de Terrail Bayard was born in the year 1475, at the castle of
Bayard, in Dauphiné. His ancestors had long been feudal lords of the part
of the province whence they took their name, and were always renowned for
their valour and loyalty. The great-great-grandfather of Pierre died in the
Battle of Poictiers at the feet of his king, John of France: his
great-grandfather fell at Cressy; his grandfather at Monthéri; and his
father received so many wounds in an action with the Germans that he could
never after leave his Castle of Bayard. And when he was getting feeble, and
felt that his days were numbered, he called his four sons around him, and
asked each one of them what state of life he would choose for himself.

The eldest replied that he would like always to live at the old Castle of
Bayard, amongst his own people; so his father said to him, "Very well,
George, since you are so fond of home, you shall stay here and fight the
bears." Pierre, the second son, then thirteen years old, said that he
desired to follow the profession of arms, as his father had done; and that
he trusted through the grace of God to acquit himself with honour therein.
The third son said he would like to have an abbey, like his uncle, the
Monseigneur of Esnay, and the youngest wished to be a bishop, like his
uncle of Grenoble.

The Sire du Bayard rejoiced very much at the choice little Pierre had made,
but as he could not decide at once where he should be trained for the
service of his country, he sent in haste for his brother-in-law, the Bishop
of Grenoble, that he might tell him the glad news and ask his advice in the

The bishop came, and made good cheer at the Castle, several gentlemen of
Dauphiné having been invited thither to render him honour. He was as much
delighted as the Sire du Bayard at the thought that Pierre would maintain
the glory of his ancestors, and the day after his arrival advised that he
should enter the service of Charles, Duke of Savoy. The Duke was then at
Chambéry, a place not far from the Castle, and the Bishop of Grenoble
proposed taking his nephew to him the next morning.

Thus it was settled that little Pierre should leave his home for ever, and
part with his brothers, his merry playmates in the woods and fields around
Bayard, and his gentle mother, who loved him perhaps above all her other
sons; but his father felt that he was getting weaker every hour, and since
he was not rich, he was very anxious to provide for the welfare of his
children as far as he could before he died.

First of all, however, it was agreed that Pierre must be equipped as a
page, and the Bishop sent for his own tailor, bidding him bring with him
satin and velvet, and all that was necessary for a page's dress in those
days. The tailor had to work hard all night, and the next morning, Pierre
in his new habit went down into the courtyard and mounted a war-horse,
which stood there ready saddled, while his father and all his guests looked
on from the lower windows of the Castle. The horse feeling so light a
burden upon him grew restive, and it seemed each moment as if Pierre must
have been thrown, but to the delight and astonishment of all who beheld
him, the boy, who had left school only a fortnight before, managed his
horse, as an old French writer tells us, with as much skill as if he had
been thirty years of age.

The Sire du Bayard now bid him not to dismount, and gave him his blessing,
after which all the rest of the people took leave of him. Pierre's eyes
filled with tears when his father looked so proudly and lovingly at him.
"Monseigneur, my father," he said, "I pray to our Lord to give you a long
and happy life, and to me grace, so that before you quit this world, you
may hear good news of me."

In the meantime his mother was weeping alone in a turret chamber of the
Castle; for although she was glad that he had chosen to follow a soldier's
life for the honour of his name, she grieved bitterly at the thought of
parting with him, and feared that she should never see him again. She came
down into the courtyard by a back staircase, and there took leave of him
with many tears, and gave him words of advice which he remembered so well
all his life long that he gained both from his friends and from his foes
the title of "The good knight, without fear and without reproach."

These were some of the words she said: That he was to love and serve God,
without giving Him offence, as far as in him lay; and that he could do no
good work in this world without His help and blessing. That he was to be
gentle and courteous to all, casting away pride; humble, ready to serve his
fellow creatures, and sober in eating and drinking. That he was never to
tell a lie, or flatter, or be a tale-bearer, or be idle; that he was to be
loyal in deed and speech, to keep his word; to succour the widows and
orphans, for which the Lord would repay him, and that he was to share with
the needy such gifts as God might bestow upon him, since giving in honour
of Him made no man poor.

When the noble lady had spoken thus, she gave her son a little purse, which
contained a few pieces of gold, and then having implored a trusty servant
of the Bishop's to be careful of him, because he was so very young to leave
home, she bade him a last farewell.

The day after Pierre's arrival at Chambéry was Sunday. After mass, a great
banquet was served in honour of the Bishop of Grenoble, who was a very holy
man, and much beloved by the Duke of Savoy. During the repast Pierre stood
beside his uncle and poured out his wine for him, and when it was ended he
did not linger over the remains of the feast with the pages and youths
belonging to Duke Charles's household, but hastened back to his lodgings
and saddled his horse, and having mounted it, went down to the courtyard of
the palace.

The Duke had remarked his graceful bearing during dinner, and now seated in
a gallery was watching him in the court below. Then the Bishop told him how
the Sire du Bayard, being too much enfeebled by his wounds to lift his
sword again, had sent his little son Pierre to him as a gift, and hoped
that he would allow him to enter his service. The Duke of Savoy said that
the present was both good and fair, and agreed to take young Bayard into
his service without delay. So the Bishop returned home, and Pierre was left
alone amongst strangers. He must have sorrowed at first for the old life at
Castle Bayard, and the watchful love of his mother, but whatever he felt,
he began to fulfil his duties with an earnest heart, and was kind and
gentle to all around him, and never forgot to pray morning and night that
the Almighty would give him grace to remain loyal and brave. Pierre lived
with the Duke at Chambéry for six months, and during that time he made
himself beloved by every inmate of the house: he was a great favourite with
the Duchess of Savoy, and had one little playmate, amongst the young
maidens who were in attendance upon her, to whom he was much attached.

When the six months had expired the whole party set off on their mules,
according to the custom of travelling at that time, to visit King Charles
the Eighth in the city of Lyons. The king, struck with the reports he had
heard of Bayard's conduct, and the knightly grace he displayed in his
presence, made him his own page, and had him lodged in the house of the
Seigneur de Ligny, a prince of the house of Luxembourg, to be trained with
about thirty other noble youths in the use of arms.

There was a squire belonging to the household of the Duke of Savoy who
loved little Pierre very much, and they had scarcely arrived at Lyons
before he told him that he knew he should never be able to keep him after
the king had once seen him exercise in the meadow of Esnay. King Charles
witnessed the wonderful evolutions he performed on his war-horse with the
greatest delight; he was never weary of seeing him spur on the animal to
fresh gambols; "Pique,[20] pique, encore une fois!" he cried, and all the
little pages echoing the words of the king, cried in their shrill voices,
"Piquez, piquez!" so that Pierre was called long after by the familiar name
of "Piquet" in memory of the day.

Before the Duke of Savoy left Lyons he gave a supper to the Seigneur de
Ligny and some of the chief nobles in the city. The repast was enlivened by
the music of the royal minstrels and singers: it was served early, and when
it was ended the company played at various games all the remainder of the
evening, and drank spiced wines before they separated. This was the usual
manner of entertainment at that time, and if ladies were included in the
invitations, there would be dancing until midnight, which was considered a
very late hour.

The years passed on, and Pierre was very happy with his companions in the
house of the Seigneur de Ligny. There was then living in Burgundy a brave
knight named Claude de Vauldré, whom the king summoned to Lyons, in order
that the young nobles of the city might contend with him, and thus give
proof of the progress they had made in their martial studies.

As soon as Claude arrived he hung up his shield, and it was a custom that
if any person touched a shield thus suspended, he gave a sign that he was
ready to engage in combat with its owner.

One day, as Pierre was passing by, he sighed deeply, and said to himself,
"Ah, if I only knew how to equip myself for the combat, how gladly would I
touch yonder shield, and so gain some real knowledge of the use of arms!"
One of his comrades, Bellabre, seeing him so full of care, asked him what
he was thinking about; and when he told him of his desire, and his distress
at having no money to buy horses and weapons, Bellabre advised him to ask
help from his uncle, the rich Abbé of Esnay.

Bayard, with hope revived by this counsel, touched the shield, and after a
sleepless night set off for Esnay very early in the morning, in a little
boat, with Bellabre. They found the abbé saying his matins. He grumbled
terribly at first at his nephew's request, saying that the money given by
the founders of the abbey was to serve God with, and not to be spent in
jousts and tilting. Bayard, however, prevailed upon him to provide him with
a hundred crowns and two horses; and the abbé, in a more softened mood,
ordered a merchant of Lyons to furnish him with all other things that he

The greatest wonder was expressed in Lyons that a youth not yet eighteen
years of age should venture to contend with an experienced knight like
Claude Vauldré; but when the day of trial came, Bayard repelled the thrusts
of his opponent in the most daring and fearless manner; and the ladies who
sat in the balconies, watching the combatants in the arena below, exclaimed
with one voice that he had done better than all the rest.

One morning, soon after the tournament, the Seigneur de Ligny called
Pierre to him, and told him that as the war the French had long been
carrying on in Italy was to be continued, he should now enter his company,
which was stationed at the little town of Ayre, in Picardy. The Seigneur
told him also that he would give him three hundred francs a year for his
service, and three horses, richly caparisoned. Bayard then went to take
leave of the king, who bestowed on him, at parting, the finest horse in his
stable; and last of all, he bade farewell with many tears to the good
seigneur himself, whose house had been for him a second happy home. It is
worthy of remark, throughout the life of the good knight, that in whatever
circumstances he was placed, he always spoke of his happiness. And what
_was_ the secret of that happiness, which neither the agony he endured when
he lay disabled by wounds could take from him, nor the hardships and toil
he had to go through during his numerous campaigns? Surely it was his
loving kindness to all around him, which sprang from his own love to
Almighty God and his Son Jesus Christ. To do good is truly to be happy, and
love begets love. Bayard was dreaded by the enemies of his country because
he was so steadfast and brave; but we never find that he had one personal
enemy, or that he harboured a quarrelsome thought.

As he drew near the little town of Ayre, his future comrades rushed out on
the road to meet him, they were so glad to have him amongst them, and the
ladies flocked to the windows to welcome him as he passed along the
streets. Bayard had sent his servant on before to prepare a great supper at
his lodgings, and there he entertained his new companions the night of his
arrival. And very soon after he had a tournament cried in Ayre, which
lasted two days and attracted a vast concourse of people to the spot.

It was the beautiful summer time, and the little town looked very gay with
the banners streaming from its windows, and the bright armour of the
knights and the jewels and silken robes of the ladies flashing in the
sunlight. The trumpets were sounded, and Bayard was the first to enter the
lists against one of his neighbours of Dauphiné, who was a very rough man
of arms. The good knight, before he vanquished him, broke his lance in five
or six pieces. The trumpets sounded again in full clang, and in the next
trial Bayard very nearly had his arm broken, but he won from his opponent a
little casque adorned with plumes. Then came Bellabre and a formidable
Scottish captain, named David Fergus, who was greatly renowned for his
strength and skill.

When the first day's contest was over, there was joyous feasting and
dancing in Ayre until midnight, and the next morning all the knights went
to mass, after which they dined together in good fellowship, and at two
o'clock in the afternoon they repaired to the arena to complete the trial.
And at evening, when they had all done their part in the sport, and the air
was filled with shouting and merry talking, the trumpets were sounded to
command silence, and to Bayard was awarded the honour of decreeing the
prizes. The young knight protested that he was not worthy of so great an
honour, and was about to withdraw, but the people present insisted that he
should adjudge them, and no other, because he had fought the best of all.
So he gave the first prize, which was a bracelet of pure gold, to his
friend Bellabre; and the second one, a fine diamond, to the gallant
Scottish captain. It was usual for the knights to present the prizes they
had thus won to the young maidens whom they had chosen for their brides.
During the time Pierre remained in Ayre he made himself very much beloved
by his liberality, and his readiness to help those who were in distress.
Many of his companions were poor, although they were of noble family, and
if any one of them wanted setting up in arms, or was in need of money,
Bayard was sure to let him share the last crown piece he had in his purse.
Besides this, he never forgot the poor, and every morning he used to attend
the service of the church, which made him happy for the day, and strong to
overcome evil.

When King Charles the Eighth undertook his expedition to Naples, the good
knight accompanied him with the Seigneur de Ligny, and in the battle of
Fornova, which the French gained over the Italians on their way back to
France, he displayed great valour, and had two horses killed under him at
the first charge. Whilst the French companies remained in Italy they were
allowed to amuse themselves in tilting and jousts, provided no particular
warfare was going on at the time; and Bayard had leisure to visit the
Duchess of Savoy, at Carignan, and held a great tournament there in honour
of the favourite playmate of his childhood, who was now married to Monsieur
de Fluxas, an officer belonging to the household of Charles of Savoy. And
here he saw many who recalled the happy days at Chambéry: it was a joyous
meeting on both sides, and Bayard remembered all those who had been kind to
him when he first left the old castle of Bayard, and to the master
palfrenier,[21] who was very fond of him, he gave a horse worth fifty
pieces of silver; and to the squire, who had been so loth to part with him
in Lyons, and had now retired from the service of the Duke of Savoy, he
sent a mule, because the old man was ill with the gout, and could not walk.

After the death of Charles VIII., the Italian war was continued by his
successor, Louis XII., and Bayard was constantly engaged in supporting the
honour of the French arms. In the year 1503 Louis declared war against
Ferdinand, of Arragon, because he had behaved very badly to him by
pretending to be his ally, whilst in reality he was planning to take from
the French all the places they had conquered in Italy. Three great armies
were prepared to invade the dominions of Ferdinand on every side. The good
knight served in the first: it was composed of 18,000 infantry, and 2,000
men-at-arms, and was destined for the recovery of the kingdom of Naples,
which had been wrenched out of the hands of the French by Gonsalvo, the
Great Captain.

By the time the army arrived in the south of Italy, the season was far
advanced, and the French and the Spaniards remained for a long time on the
opposite shores of the river Garigliano, near Naples. Pedro de Paz, the
leader of the Spanish troops, was a man of the most daring courage,
although in person he was so small, that it is said when he was on
horseback his head was all that could be seen of him above the saddle. One
day he formed a plan which, had it been carried out, would have caused very
great loss to the French. This was to cross the Garigliano with a hundred
men-at-arms, at a place where he knew there was a ford, in the hope that
the French would hasten thither to resist him, and leave his other troops
to gain possession of a bridge of boats which had been thrown across the
river. His plan was successful in the beginning; there was a sudden alarm
in the French camp. The good knight who always liked to be where the danger
was greatest, had a lodging close by the bridge; he happened to be there at
the time with only one of his squires. Having heard the noise, they were
just going to arm themselves, and hasten to join in the affray, when Bayard
perceived 200 of the enemy's horse advancing towards the bridge. He told
his companion to fly to the rest of the army and give the alarm, whilst he
amused the Spaniards until succour could arrive. The good knight then went
alone to the bridge with his lance in his hand, and found the Spaniards
just ready to cross at the other end. But he did not let them advance, and
kept the bridge single handed until his squire came back with 100
men-at-arms; the enemy thought at last his efforts could not be human! The
men-at-arms, with Bayard at their head, soon forced all the Spaniards to
quit their post, and chased them a good mile beyond it; they would have
pursued them farther, but they saw several hundred men coming to the
rescue, and they turned their horses in the direction of the camp. Bayard
was always the last to retreat; on this occasion he was far behind the
others, his horse being so tired that it could only go very slowly on its
way; and soon a body of Spaniards bore down suddenly upon him, his horse
was thrown into a ditch, and he was surrounded by twenty or thirty Spanish
knights, who kept crying "Surrender, Señor, surrender!" The good knight
defended himself to the utmost, but he thought he should not be able to
hold out long against so many, and fortunately his comrades, who had missed
him just as they had reached the bridge, were seen hastening to the spot
where he was so hardly pressed.

Directly the Spaniards heard the quick tread of their horses they carried
him off, and kept asking his name; but he only replied that he was a
gentleman; because if they had known whom it was they had captured he might
never have come out of their hands alive. A cry, however, rose on the air,
"Turn, Spaniards, you shall not carry away thus the flower of chivalry!"
The French came up, and a fierce struggle ensued. Bayard mounted another
horse, and soon extricated himself from his enemies, exclaiming the while,
"France! Bayard, whom you let go!" The Spaniards were greatly vexed and
discouraged when they found out how important a prize they had lost, and
began at once to retreat, while the French rode home in the winter dusk
joyful and triumphant to their camp.

The good knight held out bravely against the foes of his country, but the
enterprise did not succeed, and a treaty was made which obliged the French
to withdraw all their forces from the kingdom of Naples, and return by sea
or land to their own country. Bayard and another valiant knight named Louis
d' Ars, were very indignant that such a treaty should have been made; they
refused to sign it, and said they would rather stay in Italy and perish by
the sword than allow the Italians to believe that all Frenchmen were
cowards; and they undertook to defend several small towns which remained to
the French in Naples, with a few followers who would not forsake them, and
sold all their jewels and silver plate that they might be able to buy
provisions and ammunition. Thus, to the astonishment of Europe, these two
knights maintained the honour of their countrymen in Italy, and did not
give up the towns they had engaged to defend until the following year, when
the king recalled them to France, and rewarded them in proportion to their

The good knight was dangerously wounded some years later at the taking of
Brescia. This city had opened its gates to the victorious French three
years before, but had been delivered into the hands of the Venetians
through the treachery of an Italian count, who resided within its walls. As
soon as the king's nephew, Gaston, Duke de Nemours[22] heard of this, he
marched forty leagues in the depth of winter, in the hope of recovering the
town, having already sent Bayard on in advance. The day after his arrival,
they took possession of the citadel, which still held out for the French,
and the next day they agreed to take the town by assault. The road leading
down from the citadel to the rampart was very slippery on account of the
heavy rains, and the duke was obliged to take off his shoes to prevent
himself from falling; still he went bravely on, followed by the good
knight and his men-at-arms. When the Venetians saw Bayard at the first
rampart, they tried all they could to kill him; because, they said, if he
were once overcome the others would never dare approach. Bayard steadily
gained his way, however, and cheered his men on to victory until he passed
the rampart, and a thousand of the French were enabled to make their
entrance into the town. But in doing this he received a pike-wound in his
thigh; the pike going in so hard that the end of it broke, and the iron was
left in the flesh. Bayard told the captain beside him that he might lead
off his men now that the town was won, but that he should never pass from
the place again, and reckoned himself a dead man.

The knowledge that the Chevalier was severely wounded only served to make
the French captains press on the assault with greater fury, and they fought
their way into the public place, or square, where they killed many of the
Venetians, and obliged the others to lay down their arms. The good knight
was left with two of his archers, who tried to staunch the blood that
flowed from his wounds. When they saw that all the strongholds in the town
were gained, they sought around until they found a wooden plank, or door,
and on this they carried him into the best looking house they could see.
This house belonged to an Italian gentleman, who not very courageously had
fled for safety to a monastery, and had left his wife and daughters in the
town. The archers knocked at the door, and were allowed to carry in their
burden, and they afterwards stationed themselves outside to prevent the
enemy from entering. The Italian lady received Bayard very kindly; she was
grieved to see him suffering so much, and went herself with one of the
archers to fetch a good surgeon to dress his wound.

It was nearly five weeks before he could rise from his bed, and during that
time he had sent his _maître d'hôtel_ to seek for the lady's husband, so
that the whole family might live happily together under his protection,
their house being the only one in Brescia that was neither sacked nor
pillaged. And he said afterwards that although he had endured the greatest
pain from his wound, he had never once been unhappy, because he had been
with friends; it only vexed him to think that the French were getting
nearer the Spaniards every day, and that a battle would soon take place, in
which he would not be able to assist; and he used to tell the Duke de
Nemours, who came daily to see him whilst he remained in the town, because
he loved him so much, that he would rather be borne to the battle-field in
a litter than not be present at all. For it was the great object of the
king of France to drive the Spaniards out of Lombardy, since he knew that
as long as they were roving about in Italy, his duchy of Milan would never
be secure.

One day Bayard found, to his joyful surprise, that he could walk once more,
and his surgeon gave him leave to start at the expiration of two days for
the French camp. According to the custom of the victorious French, the
whole family were in reality the prisoners of Bayard, and the Italian lady
was in great trouble of mind, thinking that he would demand at least ten
or twelve thousand crowns for their ransom, which was more than they were
able to pay. So on the morning of the day when the good knight was to
depart after dinner, she came to him, and knelt down before him. Bayard
would not suffer her to kneel, so rising, she presented him with a purse
which contained 1,500 ducats. When she had opened it, he laughed: "How many
are there, madam?" he asked. The lady thought that he was laughing because
there were so few, and began to make excuses; but when the Chevalier found
out that she wanted to pay her ransom, he declared that he would take
nothing from her at all; that the welcome she had given him was worth more
than a hundred thousand crowns, and that he should feel himself bound in
gratitude to serve her until the end of his days. It was so unusual for the
French to release their prisoners without a ransom that the Italian lady
was deeply moved; she went down on her knees, and kissing the hand of the
good knight, she said, "Flower of chivalry, may the Lord reward you for
what you have done!" She pressed him so hard however to accept the purse
that Bayard consented to take it out of esteem and respect for her, and her
two daughters then came to bid him farewell. The damsels were very
beautiful; they were skilled in embroidery, and could sing and play the
lute and spinet, and many a time the Chevalier, as he lay writhing in pain,
had been cheered by their music. When they came in, they too would have
knelt to thank him for his kindness and protection, but he made them rise,
and dividing the ducats into three parts, he gave each of them a thousand
for a marriage portion, and the five hundred that remained he gave to
their mother for the relief of the religious houses in Brescia, which had
been plundered by the French. The maidens now produced the parting gifts
they had prepared; the Chevalier received them very graciously, and said
that he should wear them as long as he lived; one was a bracelet made of
gold and silver thread, and the other a purse of crimson worked in gold.
Then they all touched hands after the fashion of Italy, and the good knight
bade them farewell kneeling, and they all wept bitterly when he rode away
from the door, they were so grieved to think they should never see him

When Bayard reached the camp of the Duke de Nemours, he found that his
countrymen had arrived only that day before Ravenna, and that the enemy
were six miles off, but the next day they came nearer by two miles. The
night but one before the famous battle of Ravenna, several captains were at
supper with the Duke de Nemours, talking the while of the contest which was
so soon to take place. Bayard was amongst the guests, and the Duke told him
that as the Spaniards had a great respect for his talents, and were very
anxious to know if he were in the camp, he thought it would be advisable
for him to attempt some skirmish with them the next day, just to see how
well they could fight. The good knight was delighted with the idea;
"Monseigneur," he replied, "I promise you on my word of honour that, God
helping, I shall see them so close before noon, that I shall be able to
bring you news."

Now the Baron of Bearne, the Duke's lieutenant, coveted the glory of being
the first to attack the enemy, and although the Chevalier was known to
rise very early in the morning, he thought that he would rise earlier
still, and thus steal a march upon him. So as soon as soon as the supper
was ended, he went to tell all his followers to be ready armed before break
of day, charging them also to keep the matter a profound secret.

When the good knight returned to his tent, he also arranged with some of
the chief captains how the attack should be made, and then, they all went
to rest until the trumpet should sound to awaken them at dawn.

It was very early the next morning when they set out, carrying with them
the banners of the Duke of Lorraine unfurled, in the hope that they would
bring them good luck. They did not, of course, know that the Baron of
Bearne had already gone the same path; but the sound of weapons clashing,
and of horses' hoofs, soon fell upon their ears; the baron had indeed
crossed the canal which lay between the two armies, and had advanced to the
enemy's camp; but he had been discomfited, and was forced to retire.

When Bayard saw that Neapolitans and Spaniards were boldly crossing the
canal in pursuit of the fugitives, he called to his comrades to fly to the
aid of their countrymen, and rushed before any into the midst of a troop of
one hundred and twenty men. His comrades loved him too well not to follow
him, and he chased the enemy back right into the camp, and overthrew there
numbers of their tents, although the Spaniards were all astir and ready for
battle. When he thought he had aroused them sufficiently, he sounded the
trumpet for a retreat, and arrived in the camp of the Duke de Nemours with
the news he had promised to bring him, but without having lost a single

The Duke now assembled all the captains and knights, and told them, that
his uncle the king desired that a battle should take place at once, because
he had heard that the Venetians and Swiss were about to descend into the
Duchy of Milan; and it was agreed that the French army should pass the
bridge of boats across the canal, and attack the enemy on the morrow.

The next morning the Duke came out of his tent at sunrise. "Look,
gentlemen!" he said to his companions, "how red the sun is!" And one of
them, who was much beloved by him, replied, "Do you know, Monseigneur, what
that signifies? That a great captain will fall to-day: it will be either
you or Cardonna, the viceroy." The duke only laughed at his remark, and
went to watch the army passing the bridge with Bayard and some other
knights, while the Spaniards, in great alarm, hastened to put the whole of
their troops in battle array.

Just as the duke was telling the good knight, that they might fall an easy
prey to their enemies, if any harquebussiers were concealed thereabouts, a
body of from twenty to thirty Spaniards appeared, amongst whom was Pedro de
Pas. Bayard was the first to speak. "Gentlemen," said he, "you will linger
about here like ourselves until the play begins. I entreat that not a
harquebuss be fired on your part, and we will not fire upon you." Pedro de
Pas then asked the name of the knight who had spoken, and was overjoyed to
find that he was really in the company of the Chevalier du Bayard, who had
gained so much renown in Naples.

The Duke de Nemours was a merciful man, and he offered to settle the
quarrel by single combat with the viceroy, to spare the effusion of blood.
His followers, however, thought that the risk was too great; and the army
having crossed the canal by eight o'clock in the morning, the battle began.
It lasted many hours, and was very terrible on both sides; and although the
Spaniards were defeated, the French bought their victory very dearly, with
the life of their brave and good young prince, Gaston of Nemours. For the
prediction of his friend had indeed been fulfilled, and he lay among the
slain! The good knight fought all through that long battle like a hero; he
had gone in pursuit of the enemy, and came back to the field late in the
afternoon, to find that the duke was dead.

A short time after this, the Venetians, the Swiss, and the army sent by the
Pope pressed forward, and the French were soon obliged to retire out of
Lombardy, only leaving garrisons in some of the strong castles. At Pavia,
Bayard made himself very famous by defending a bridge of boats, during two
hours against the Swiss; he had two horses killed under him, and received a
severe wound in the shoulder before he would give way. His companions
thought that his wound was mortal, though he declared it was nothing, and
they staunched it with moss, which they tore off the stems of trees, and
with linen which they tore from their shirts. The good knight did not
recover for a very long time after the French army had recrossed the
mountains, and he went to his uncle the Bishop of Grenoble, in whose
palace he was lodged and watched over, "like the precious stone set in pure
gold." And he was so ill that he thought to his sorrow that he should die
in his bed, instead of closing his eyes for ever on the battle-field; but
all the people of Grenoble prayed for him--his good uncle, nobles,
merchants, monks, and nuns; there was not a voice that did not rise up in
prayer to the Almighty for his recovery. And after a long while his
strength and spirit returned to him, and he remained some months at
Grenoble, greatly honoured for all the brave deeds he had achieved.

In the battle of Guinegatte, commonly called the battle of the Spurs, from
the speed with which the French soldiers took flight, the Chevalier was
made prisoner, but not until he had saved his countrymen from entire
disgrace by his valour. Henry the Eighth was then at war with France, and
Maximilian, Emperor of Germany, was serving in the army of the English
monarch for the pay of a hundred crowns a day.

Before Henry and Maximilian had arrived in the English camp, the Earl of
Shrewsbury had begun the siege of Perouane, a town on the borders of
Picardy, close by Guinegatte. The besieged had defended themselves bravely,
and the governor of the province had succeeded in forcing his way through
the English camp, to bring them a large supply of bacon and gunpowder. He
had got safely back again, when the French horsemen, who had advanced to
protect him, were attacked suddenly by a body of English, whilst they were
straying carelessly about without their helmets and cuirasses, because
they were overpowered by the intense heat of the day. Thus it was that they
took flight, and that several noblemen amongst them of high rank were made
prisoners. Bayard retreated with great regret; he had only fourteen
men-at-arms with him, and yet he often turned back and faced his enemies.
At last they came to a little bridge, where only two horsemen could pass at
a time, and below it there was a deep ditch full of water. The good knight
then sent word to the camp, by an archer that he had arrested the enemy for
at least half an hour, and that delay, would give the army time to get into
order. The archer went straight to the camp, and Bayard was left with his
few men to guard the bridge. He was soon surrounded on all sides, and
advised his people to surrender; and when they were all secured, he rode
towards an English gentleman, who, either wearied with the fight or
oppressed by the heat, was resting beneath a tree. Bayard put his sword to
his throat, and exclaimed, "Surrender, man-at-arms, or you are a dead man!"
The gentleman, naturally wishing to save his life, surrendered, and asked
the stranger who he was. "I am the Captain Bayard," replied the knight,
"and now I surrender to you, and give you my sword to hold, and entreat you
to conduct me to some place of safety, and to have the kindness to let me
have my sword, if we meet with any Englishmen on our way, who may desire to
kill me." The gentleman promised this, and they set off for the camp of
King Henry, and had really to defend themselves more than once, upon the
road thither.

Bayard remained in the tent of his prisoner, who treated him well, but on
the fifth day of his captivity, he said to him, "My gentleman, I wish you
would lead me in safety to the camp of the king, my master, for I am
utterly tired of being here."

"How?" cried the other. "We have not yet agreed as to your ransom."

"To my ransom, indeed!" said the knight; "but it is rather for me to think
of yours, since you are my prisoner; and if I surrendered to you it was
only to save my life. My gentleman," continued he, "whether faith is kept
with me, or not, I feel assured that in some way I shall fight with you by
and by."

The gentleman did not quite relish the idea of a combat with the
redoubtable Bayard, so he replied in courteous terms, that he only wished
to do what was right in the affair, and would consult with his captains.

When the enemy knew that Bayard was safe in the camp, they were as much
pleased as if they had won another victory. The Emperor of Germany sent for
him to his tent.

"Captain Bayard, my friend," said he, "I have great pleasure in seeing you.
Would that I had many men like you! I think in a little while I should be
able to avenge myself of all the tricks, your master has played me in times
gone by." Presently, he said to him, "Methinks we have been at war together
before, and I remember to have heard that Bayard was one who never fled."

"Sire," replied the Good Knight promptly, "if I had fled I should not have
been here."

Then bluff King Harry came up and said, "Truly, Monsieur de Bayard, if all
men were like you, the siege which I have begun before this town, would
soon be raised; but any way you are my prisoner."

"Sire," answered the Chevalier, "I do not own it, and yet I would fain
believe yourself and the emperor."

The gentleman whose tent Bayard had shared now appeared, and related the
whole affair; and there was a discussion, as to which was really the
prisoner. The Emperor, whose advice governed the movements of the English
army, at last decided in favour of Bayard, but acquitted both on account of
their mutual courtesy; and King Henry said that the Good Knight might leave
the camp, if he would promise on his word of honour to remain unarmed for
six weeks. Bayard was very grateful, both to the emperor and to the king,
and went to divert himself in the country, in the best manner he could
until the six weeks were passed. During this time the King of England tried
by various means, to attach him to his service, but his trouble was thrown
away; it would have been impossible for the Chevalier to have entertained a
disloyal thought.

Not long after this Louis the Twelfth died, and his cousin, Francis, Count
of Angoulême, was declared King of France. Immediately after his
coronation, the young king began to prepare secretly for the conquest of
Milan, that duchy having lately returned to the allegiance of the Italian
duke Sforza. Bayard was ordered to repair with three or four thousand men,
to the borders of his native province of Dauphiné, and after performing
several brave actions, he got down quietly into the plain of Piedmont.
Prosper Colonna, the Pope's lieutenant, was there in the Castle of
Carmaignolle. When he heard of the arrival of the Chevalier, he exclaimed,
in a tone of extreme scorn, "That Bayard has crossed the mountains; I will
take him as I would a pigeon in a cage!"

The other French captains arrived in the plain, and the Good Knight advised
that they should rest their horses that night, and attack Colonna the next
day at dawn in his castle.

They had a large piece of water to cross before they could get to the
place; but they knew of a ford, and two or three hours after midnight they
mounted their horses in silence, and set out on the road. Prosper was not
alarmed, because he still thought that only Bayard was there with his
company, and he would have remained at Carmaignolle, had he not received
orders to change his quarters. He did not hurry himself in the least, and
stopped on his journey to dine at a little town called Villefranche. When
the French arrived at the castle, they found to their disappointment that
Colonna was gone, and they all agreed to pursue him. The Seigneur
d'Imbercourt was foremost in the troop; he soon reached the town; Colonna
was already there, and his people shut the gates. The Good Knight came up
in time however to gain them, and although the enemy gave the alarm to a
body of three or four thousand Swiss, he made his way into the town,
followed by his men-at-arms, and found the Italian commander seated at his
dinner. Colonna was enraged at being thus captured, like "a pigeon in a
cage" himself, instead of in battle; the Good Knight tried to cheer him up,
and make the best of it, but the whole affair cost the signor, besides his
liberty, 50,000 crowns worth of gold and silver plate, furniture, and
money, and that was quite enough to make a man look sad. The French found a
very large sum of money in the town, and nearly 700 beautiful coursers and
Spanish horses.

Francis had already crossed the mountains which separate France from Italy.
He was delighted to hear of the capture of Colonna, and soon waged the
tremendous battle of Marignano with the Swiss, who were the partizans of
Sforza and Colonna, and were indignant that Francis had succeeded in
crossing the Alps. Marignano was situate about a league from the city of
Milan. The Swiss were determined to defend the duchy to the last extremity,
and had assembled a very large army. The battle began at four o'clock on a
September afternoon in the year 1415, and was only discontinued when it was
too dark to see to fight. The king passed the night in his armour on the
carriage of a cannon, and was surprised at daybreak to find the enemy
within a few paces of him in readiness to renew the attack. The young king
and the chevalier fought at Marignano side by side, and both displayed
extraordinary valour; and when the victory was decided for the French,
Francis, to reward Bayard for the great share he had had in it, received
the honour of knighthood from his hands.

The day of Marignano, "the combat of giants," as an old Italian hero called
it, who had been in eighteen pitched battles, was disastrous indeed for the
Swiss, for it is said that when they began to retreat they left 10,000 of
their comrades lying dead upon the battle-field.

In the last charge that was made, Bayard was mounted on a fiery courser,
the first he had ridden having been killed under him. He was so closely
beset that the bridle was torn from his horse, and the animal, thus freed
from restraint, galloped off and made its way through the enemy's ranks; it
would have carried its rider right into the midst of a troop of Swiss, if
its course had not been intercepted by a field full of vines entwined from
tree to tree; the good knight but for this timely wall of defence, must
assuredly have fallen into the hands of his enemies. He had not quite lost
his senses in the rapid flight, and he glided down gently from his horse,
threw away his arms and a part of his armour, and crawled along a ditch, in
the direction as he supposed of the French camp. Fortunately he was not
mistaken; he soon had the delight of hearing the cry of "France! France!"
in the distance, and was enabled to reach his companions, and rejoice with
them over the great victory they had gained; although a victory bought with
the lives of so many fellow creatures, cannot but bring a sharp pang of
sorrow to the heart of every man.

The fame of Bayard had now risen to such a height, that nearly all the
young nobles of France, begged to be allowed the honour of serving under
him, in the defence of the town of Mezieres. Maximilian and Ferdinand were
both dead, and Charles V. was Emperor of Germany and King of Spain.
Charles, who was quite as ambitious as the young king of France, had
ordered the Count of Nassau to advance towards the frontiers, and lay
siege to the town of Mousson. The men who defended it were cowards, and
lay down their arms almost without fighting. The Count, finding this
success so easy, next besieged Mezieres, and through this town the Emperor
intended his troops to have passed into France. But Francis knew that if he
suffered Mezieres to be taken, it would be the most foolish thing he could
do; it was like giving the enemy the key of the gate that kept them out of
France. So he wisely ordered Bayard to hasten to its defence; and although
the Good Knight had only 1,000 men in the place, he obliged the Count of
Nassau, and his 35,000 Germans, to retire with shame and loss after a
lengthened siege. The service he thus performed for his country was very
great, and the king rewarded him for it with a hundred lances, and the
collar of St. Michael.

In the year 1524 he was sent into Italy to oppose the army of the Constable
de Bourbon, who had left his own king to serve the Emperor. Bourbon was led
to do this, on account of the many affronts he had received from the
beautiful and haughty Louisa, of Savoy, the mother of Francis I.; still,
however great the cause of offence may be, it is quite inexcusable for a
man to bear arms against his country.

The chief command of the army was given to Bonnivet: he was very brave, but
so rash that his zeal often did more harm than good, and he was totally
wanting in the judgment, and presence of mind a great captain ought to
possess. Lannoy, the viceroy of Naples, had collected a large number of
troops; to these were added the forces of the Marquis of Pescara, the
general of the Spaniards, and those of the traitor Bourbon. Bonnivet failed
in his plan of attack, and was obliged to try and get back into France by
crossing the valley of Aosta; but on his way he received a bad wound in the
arm, and could no longer lead on his men. In his distress he sent word to
Bayard that he alone could save the French army if he would. The good
knight had thought the whole enterprise ill-judged, and when he set out at
the head of his men-at-arms, he had not been cheerful and hopeful as he had
been accustomed to be whenever he entered on a fresh campaign. Nevertheless
he swore in reply to Bonnivet that he would either save the army or perish
in the attempt; and as he had always courted the post of danger, he took
the command of the rear, and made his men try bravely like himself to
sustain the whole shock of the enemy's troops, whilst the rest of the army
gained time to effect a retreat. This was at a place near Romagnano. As
Bayard was thus striving he was wounded by a musket-ball, and the shock was
so great that he uttered the word "Jesus," and then said that it was all
over with him on earth. Faint from pain and loss of blood, he held on as
long as he could to the bow of his saddle, but sank at last to the ground,
and desired to be placed under a tree with his face turned towards the foe.
And there the good knight lifted up the hilt of his sword, and kissed it as
though it had been the cross, and saying, softly, "Miserere mei, Deus!" lay
back pale and calm to wait for the approach of death. His faithful _maître
d'hôtel_, who had followed him through many dangers, was with him now, and
was almost beside himself with grief.

"Jacques, my friend," said the dying knight, "do not mourn for me. It is
the will of God that I should quit this world where I have ever received a
full measure of His grace, and far more honour than I deserved. The only
regret I have in dying is, that I have not done all that I ought to have
done, and if I had lived longer, I would have hoped to have made amends for
my past faults. But as it is, I implore my Maker to have mercy upon my poor
soul, and trust through his great and boundless love that he will not judge
me with rigour; feeling assured that Thou, oh my Saviour, hast promised
pardon to all those who turn to Thee with humble and contrite hearts."

In this condition he was found by the Constable de Bourbon, who spoke to
him thus; "Monsieur de Bayard, truly I pity you."

"Ah, Monsieur," replied the chevalier, "do not pity me, but rather have
compassion on yourself for having fought against your king, your country,
and your oath."

The Marquis of Pescara came by soon after, and was deeply grieved to see
him in such a state; he ordered a tent to be pitched over him, and had him
tended with the utmost care, but it was of no avail; a mortal blow had been
struck, and the good knight rendered up his soul to God, as so many of his
ancestors had done, upon the battle-field.

Pescara had his body embalmed and conveyed to his kinsmen in Dauphiné, and
the Duke of Savoy decreed that royal honours should be paid to it on its
mournful journey. When it reached Dauphiné, people of all ranks came out to
meet it, and then returned to their houses and shut themselves up in sorrow
and gloom. The body was interred at Minimes, in a church founded by the
Bishop of Grenoble.

There was mourning throughout many lands when it was known that the Good
Knight was dead. King Francis was very much attached to him, and could not
get over the loss he had sustained for a very long time. And the following
year, when he had been obliged to surrender to Lannoy after the battle of
Pavia, he exclaimed sadly within his prison walls, "Ah, Bayard, if thou
hadst been alive, I should not have been here!"

Thus had the Chevalier lived, faithful to the promise of his childhood;
ever ready to risk his life in the service of his country, helpful and
loving to all, joyous and light-hearted. When he was in the enemy's
territory he strictly defrayed every expense he incurred, and very often
left some kind remembrance for those who had served him: in success he
showed mercy, and made himself as much beloved by the vanquished as by his
own soldiers. He never wished for the highest place or envied the good
fortune of other men. Amid the spoils of war he seemed to desire nothing
for himself, and one instance alone will suffice to show how far he was
removed from any selfish feelings. During the war with the Spaniards, he
received notice one day that a large sum of money was on its way to the
Spanish commander. His own troops being in great want of necessaries he
resolved to obtain this money, which was fair to do in warfare; so he sent
some of his men to waylay the bearers of it in one part of the country,
while his companion Tardien watched for it in another. Bayard had the good
luck to seize the treasure, and found it to consist of 15,000 ducats. The
Spaniard who carried it was in great terror at having fallen into the hands
of the enemy, and gave it up without a murmur. Tardien was brave and
merry-hearted, but he had the misfortune of being very poor, and he was
terribly grieved on his return to the camp to find that he had not been the
happy man to secure the money, and declared that the half of the sum would
have redeemed his fortunes for ever.

Bayard was in a cheerful mood, and he asked his soldiers how much of the
treasure they thought Tardien ought to receive. They replied, "None at
all." Then Bayard, after enjoying for a time the dismay of his companion in
arms, called him to him, and gave him 7,500 ducats, the exact half of the
sum they had captured. The Good Knight then divided the remainder amongst
his soldiers, not keeping one farthing for himself, and sent the Spaniard
with an escort to a place of safety whence he could return to his own

[Illustration: _Queen Elizabeth's farewell to Captain Martin Frobisher.--p.


[20] "Piquer," an old French word, signifying "to spur on, to animate, or

[21] _Palfrenier_, "groom of the stables."

[22] Gaston was Governor of Milan.


One summer's day, in the year 1576, Queen Elizabeth stood at the window of
her palace at Greenwich, waving her hand in sign of farewell as two small
barks and a pinnace glided gently down the river Thames. The barks were the
_Gabriel_ and the _Michael_. On board the first one was the gallant Martin
Frobisher, who, after having waited fifteen years for funds to enable him
to carry out his voyage, was now on his way in search of a north-west
passage to China. Little is known of the early days of Frobisher, except
that he was at Doncaster, in Yorkshire, and that he was well skilled in
maritime knowledge, and one of the most experienced seamen of his time. The
passage he proposed to find, he thought would enable his countrymen to
reach the shores of China in far less time than by sailing as the
Portuguese always sailed, all round by the Cape of Good Hope; and thus for
years before he had started, he had been going from friend to friend,
nobleman and merchant, in the hope of finding some one to help him to get
together a fleet. At last he found a patron in Ambrose Dudley, the good
Earl of Warwick, and with his help, and his own untiring efforts besides,
he raised sufficient money to fit out the two vessels and the one small
pinnace, which had provisions on board to last twelve months.

After the little fleet had gone past the palace, Queen Elizabeth sent one
of the gentlemen of her court on board the _Gabriel_ to tell Frobisher how
much pleasure the enterprise afforded her, and to bid him come and take
leave of her the following day. She was proud, too, to think that one of
her subjects was brave enough to venture up into the icy seas and cold
regions, the very idea of which had struck terror into the hearts of many a
mariner, when he had met on the ocean great icebergs floating southwards,
as though they were messengers sent to warn him of approaching the frozen

When Frobisher had got as far as the Shetland Isles, he turned his course
towards the west, and on the 11th of July, nearly four weeks after he had
started, he came in sight of land, which he supposed to be the Freeseland
seen by a Venetian, named Zeno, two hundred years before. He could not land
there because of the great blocks of ice which filled the sea near the
shore, and they had much ado to keep clear of them, because there was a
thick fog. Here a great misfortune happened; the pinnace disappeared in the
mist, and the services of the four men it had on board were thus lost. The
company of the _Michael_ also began to distrust the voyage, and to repent
that they had engaged in it. Under cover of the fog, they went off towards
England, and were so wicked as to say on their arrival that the bark
_Gabriel_ had been cast away.

Thus forsaken, the brave captain went on alone; the mast of his vessel was
broken, and the topmast was blown over; nevertheless he continued to sail
towards the north-west, thinking that he must surely come to some shore.
And nine days after he had seen Freeseland, he came to a high piece of
land, which he called Queen Elizabeth's; it was part of what is now called
Labrador. Still more to the north he reached another foreland, with a great
bay or passage of sea dividing two lands, but this was so blocked up with
ice that he had to wait until it melted, or was carried away by currents.
He called the passage "Frobisher's Straits," after himself, by which name
it has been known ever since. If any little readers will unfold a map of
North America and look just north of Hudson's Straits, they will see
Frobisher's Straits, and how the land on either side is broken up into
islands, some of which are named "Hall's Islands," after Christopher Hall,
the master of the bark _Gabriel_. Frobisher thought as yet that the shores
were all firm land; and when the ice broke up, he sailed sixty leagues
along the strait, and there he landed. First of all he had to defend
himself from some great deer, which ran at him in such a manner that he had
a very narrow escape of his life. Another time when he landed he went to
the top of a hill, and saw from thence several objects in the distance
which he thought were porpoises or seals, but when they came nearer he
found that they were boats filled with men. The boats were made of
sealskins, with a keel of wood inside. The men were of dark complexion,
with long black hair, broad faces, and flat noses; the women's faces were
painted in blue streaks. Some of these people hid behind a rock, and were
evidently watching for an opportunity of stealing his boat, but he hastened
down the hill just in time to secure it, and went back to the vessel. It
was terribly cold already; in one night the snow lay a foot thick upon the
hatches: the brief summer of the northern regions was past. The natives
soon began to come on board the bark, and to talk with the sailors in an
unknown tongue; they brought the captain salmon and flesh which they eat
raw themselves; also bearskins and sealskins, for which Frobisher gave them
toys, bells, and looking-glasses. They got very friendly with his men,
although he warned them not to trust them too quickly; and one day five of
the sailors were enticed by the savages to go in a boat to the shore, and
neither men nor boat ever appeared again. What was to be done? Frobisher
was on board his bark, and now the only boat was gone, and he could not get
to the shore. He thought that he must try and capture one of the sealskin
boats of the natives, and he rang a low, sweet-toned bell, which was sure
to be a great temptation to the wild men, and made signs that he would give
it to him who should fetch it. The first bell he purposely threw into the
sea, and then he rang another. The savages, getting more eager to secure
the prize, crowded around him, and one came so very near that he had just
put out his hand to grasp the bell, when the captain pulled him, boat and
all, on board the bark. The poor savage was said to have been so angry at
being captured, that he bit his tongue in two in his rage; he was brought
to England as a specimen of the newly found race, but he fell ill soon
after his arrival and died.

As the cold was rapidly increasing, Frobisher began to think of returning
home to report what he had seen, and after many useless attempts to land,
on account of the ice along the coasts, he told his men when next they
could set foot on shore, that they were to bring him whatever they could
find in memory of the region he had taken possession of in the queen's
name. Some of them brought him a few flowers, some only grasses, and one
brought him a piece of black stone very like sea-coal, which from its
weight seemed to be a mineral. Frobisher did not think much of it at first
sight, but he brought it with him to England. He arrived in his native
country on the 2nd day of October, and all people praised him for his
courage and perseverance; and it was thought that if another expedition
were made, there would be every chance of finding the desired north-west
passage to China.

One day when he was with some friends in London, it happened that he had
nothing to show for his voyage except the lump of coal. The wife of one of
the adventurers who was present, threw by chance a piece of it into the
fire, and it burned so long that at last it was taken out and quenched in a
little vinegar, when lo! as if by magic, it appeared "like a bright
marquisset" of gold. It was then shown to some gold finers in London, who
tried it and found that it contained pure gold, and gave great hope that
more might be found in the region whence it was brought. The gold finers
even offered themselves to share in a fresh enterprise, so that a second
voyage was proposed for the following year, Queen Elizabeth herself
entering heartily into the scheme.

The second expedition was fitted out in a more important manner than the
first one had been. Frobisher sailed in a tall ship of the queen's, which
was called the _Aid_, accompanied by the two barks _Michael_ and
_Gabriel_. The vessels were provisioned for six months, and had on board in
all 140 men, although many more would have liked to go on the voyage.

They sailed northwards until they anchored in the bay of St. Magnus, one of
the Orkney Isles. The inhabitants fled in terror as soon as the ship's
company landed, and only took heart when they heard for what purpose they
had come. For few indeed were the visitors who came to those barren
islands, except perhaps the pirates who roamed the northern seas. There is
scarcely a tree amongst the whole group, and the people, having no wood,
make their fires of turf and heather to cheer them during the long stormy
winter. But the nights in these cold northern latitudes are made bright and
beautiful by the aurora borealis, which flashes across the sky, and is of
the same nature as lightning, only that it travels through a higher region
of the air. Sometimes it is purple and sometimes green, and where the air
is driest it is red. When the auroræ, or northern lights, flicker in the
sky, the inhabitants of the Shetland Isles call them, "the merry dancers."

The gold finers were very glad that they stopped on their way at the
Orkneys, for in one of the islands they found a mine of silver. The vessels
only stayed there one day, however, and then put out to sea, now drifting
to the north and now to the west, as the wind shifted. They were
seventy-six days without sight of land, but they met on their way trunks of
trees, and monstrous fishes and fowls. At length the wind was prosperous,
and they came to Greenland, where the sea near the coast was again full of
drift ice. One day whilst they were cruising about here they dropped a hook
into the sea, and caught an enormous fish called a halibut, which is said
to have furnished a whole day's food for the ship's company. It must have
been a very large fish to have dined and supped 140 persons. All along the
dreary shores the only living creatures they saw were some little birds.
The weather, being very cold and stormy they made for Frobisher's Straits,
and came again to the smaller of Hall's Islands, where the ore had been
taken up the year before, but they only found this time one little piece.
On the large island, however, they found plenty of what they supposed to be
gold, and Frobisher, with forty gentlemen and soldiers, ascended a steep
hill, and planting a column or cross upon it, he sounded a trumpet, and
called the place Mount Warwick, after the good earl. Then they knelt down
in a ring, and said their prayers and thanksgivings. As they were going
back to their boats, they saw a number of savages making signs to them from
the top of the hill, as if they wished to be friendly, but Frobisher,
remembering the fate of the five mariners, did not feel inclined to trust
them, and he only held up two of his fingers to signify that two of their
men should advance towards two of his own. This was done, and then they
began to be more confident of each other's designs. The people here had a
very odd way of bartering their wares: they would bring sealskins and raw
flesh and lay them on the ground, and make signs that the strangers should
do the same with the things they meant to exchange. Then they went away,
and if they liked the toys and the beads they saw on the ground, they came
back in a little while and took them up, leaving their own wares behind
them; and if they did not like them, they gathered up their property and

After passing through many dangers and tempests Frobisher found a bay which
he thought would be a good harbour for his ships, and he landed with his
gold finers on a little island, where all the sands and cliffs glittered so
brightly, that they thought they had indeed come to a land of gold. But
when they tried it, to their great disappointment it turned out to be only
black-lead. In the same sound they came to a small island, to which they
gave the name of Smith's Island, because the smith belonging to the ship's
company first set up his forge there. Here they found a mine of silver, but
they had a great deal of trouble to get it out of the rocks.

Soon after this Frobisher marched upon the southern shore of the strait in
search of ore with all his best men, and when he had appointed leaders, and
told all those who were to follow them that they must be orderly and
persevering, he made every man kneel down and thank God that He had
preserved them hitherto from all dangers. Then, with a banner flying, they
marched towards the tops of the mountains, which were steep and very
difficult to ascend. The whole land was silent; not a human being was to be
seen, so they went back to their ships, and landed next on the northern
shore. Here they saw people, and found hidden under a stone such things as
kettles made of fish-skins, knives of bone, and bridles. One of the
savages took a bridle and caught with it a dog belonging to the strangers,
to show how dogs were used to draw the sledges.

Five leagues from Bear's Sound, Frobisher found a bay in which he could
anchor, near a small island, which he named after the Countess of Warwick,
and this was the farthest place he visited that year. There was plenty of
ore in it, and Frobisher set the miners to work, and worked hard himself
also, that he might encourage the others by his example. And he sent the
bark _Michael_, in which he had come to the island, for the _Aid_ and the
rest of his people. They were very much astonished to see on the mainland
the dwellings of the Esquimaux; these were holes in the ground, shaped like
an oven, and were usually made at the foot of a hill for shelter, and
opened towards the south. Above ground they built with whalebone, because
they had no timber, and covered in the roof of it with sealskins, and
strewed moss on the floor for a carpet. Travellers of more recent date
describe the huts of the Esquimaux, as the people in these northern regions
were called, as being made in the same manner. A winter hut is a hole
hollowed out in the earth or snow, like a cellar; a large piece of ice
serves for a door, and a lamp burns inside, where the family sleep on the
skins of seals and sea-dogs. Close by is a similar hole, where they eat the
flesh of whales, seals, and sea-dogs--and all of it raw. The mariners who
went with Frobisher tell how the savages ate ice when they were thirsty,
and could get no water. Their dogs were not unlike wolves, and were yoked
together to draw the sledges; the smaller ones they fattened and kept for
eating. Their weapons were made of bone, and their bow-strings of sinews;
they clothed themselves in the skins of seals and sea-dogs, and sometimes
even in garments made of feathers; for God, in His loving mercy, has given
the fowls thicker feathers than those of more southern latitudes, and the
animals warmer furs for the comfort of man, just as He has given luscious
fruits to refresh his parched lips in tropical countries, and gigantic
trees to shelter him from the intense heat of the sun.

A captive, who had been taken by some of the mariners, was shown a portrait
of the savage who had been enticed on board the _Gabriel_ the year before.
When he saw it, he began talking to it, and asking it questions, just as if
it had been really alive. He told the strangers by signs that he had
knowledge of the five men who were missing, and declared that they had not
been eaten up by the savages. It is supposed that they lived the rest of
their lives amongst the savages; and Frobisher determined, as he could find
no trace of them, that he would load his ships with the ore he had found,
and return to England. He was very proud when all the labour was brought to
an end, for with "five poor miners," and a few gentlemen and soldiers, they
had carried on board almost two hundred tons of ore in twenty days. On the
night of the 21st of August the whole company were ready to embark, and
glad they were to return, for they were very weary, and the water began to
freeze around their ships at night. The next day they took down their
tents, lighted bonfires on the highest hill, and having marched round the
island with their banner unfurled, they fired a volley of cannon in sign
of farewell, and after having encountered several storms on their voyage,
they reached Milford Haven about the end of September.

When Frobisher arrived in England he hastened to Windsor, where he was very
graciously received by Queen Elizabeth. A third expedition was planned for
the next spring, both to search for gold and to try and discover the
north-west passage. A strong fort was devised, the pieces of which were to
be carried in one of the ships, and put together when they arrived in the
new region, to which Queen Elizabeth gave the name of "Meta Incognita," or
"Unknown Land." The fort was intended for the people to dwell in, who were
to remain there during the winter, whilst twelve of the vessels out of the
fifteen that composed the fleet were to come home laden with ore--that is
to say, if it were to be found. All the captains bade the queen farewell at
Greenwich, and kissed her hand, and she gave to Frobisher "a chain of fair
gold," to show the delight she took in his enterprise. They left Harwich
for the third time on the 31st of May--Frobisher sailed in the _Aid_: the
strictest order was to be observed during the voyage; the whole company on
board were to serve God twice a day with the prayers of the Church of
England: the sailors were not allowed to swear, or to play at cards and
dice. Every evening all the fleet had to come up and speak with the
admiral, and the watchword, if any came up in the night, was this, "Before
the world was God." And the answer from the other vessel was, "After God,
came Jesus Christ His Son."

On the 20th of June, after having sailed fourteen days without sight of
land, they came, at two o'clock in the morning, to the west of Freeseland.
Frobisher took possession of it in the queen's name, calling it West
England, and gave the name of Charing Cross to one of its high cliffs. The
nights in the northern regions are never dark during the summer months. As
far north as the vessels sailed the sun does not set until after ten
o'clock, and it rises again before two, so that a great part of the night,
the sky is filled with the rosy flush of sunrise and sunset. Then, in the
winter, when the days are as short as the nights are in summer, because the
north part of the world is turned away from the sun, the moon and stars are
wondrously bright, and with the northern lights enliven the long dark

The savages in West Freeseland were like those in Meta Incognita; they were
very timid, and fled at the approach of the strangers, leaving all their
household goods behind them. Amongst these the mariners found some dried
herrings and a box of small nails, also some pieces of carved fir wood; but
for whatever they took they left pins, knives, or looking-glasses in

From Freeseland they went towards Frobisher's Straits, and on the way one
of the ships, called the _Salamander_, struck a great whale such a blow
with her stern that she stood quite still. A horrible noise rose up from
the sea, and the next day the dead body of a whale was seen floating about.

One night the vessels entered somewhere inside the straits, and found the
whole place frozen into "walls, bulwarks, and mountains," which they could
not pass: they had to stem and strike the rocks of ice to make their way
at all. Some of the fleet, where they found the sea open, entered in, and
were in great danger.

The bark _Dennis_ struck against one of the rocks and sank within sight of
the fleet. In her distress she fired a gun, and happily the whole of her
crew were rescued in the boats that were sent to her aid. It was a great
misfortune, nevertheless, because part of the fort was on board, and was
thus lost. A violent wind from the south-east drove the ice on the backs of
the vessels. The mariners and miners had never witnessed such peril before,
and they were indeed in terrible plight, because they were shut in by
blocks of ice on all sides, and had to fix cables, beds, and planks around
their ships to protect them from them, or they would have been all cut to
pieces. Besides this they had to stand the whole night and the next day
beating it off with poles, pikes, and oars--Frobisher working hardest of
all, and cheering his men by his kind words, and his brave, steadfast
spirit. And those who were not strong enough to work prayed for the rest;
which the weak can always do, whilst stronger men are doing God's will by
helping their fellow-creatures; and prayer and work, blended in one, rise
up an acceptable offering to the Father in heaven.

Four of the vessels were out in the open sea, and during the storm the
mariners were in great alarm for the safety of those shut up in the ice,
and they too knelt praying for them around their mainmast. The wind at last
blew from the north-west, and dispersed the ice, and the second night the
ships in distress were seen of the four others. Then the whole fleet
veered off seaward, meaning to wait until the sun should melt the icebergs,
or the winds drive them quite away, and when they had got out far into the
sea, they took in their sails and lay adrift. On the 7th of July they
thought they saw the North Foreland of the straits, but there was a dense
fog at the time; and the snow often fell in flakes so that they could not
clearly see, although now and then the sun would shine on the vessels with
intense heat. Thus they were carried far out of the way, and the lands in
that region were so much alike that Frobisher took counsel with the
captains of the fleet, to determine what part they had reached.

The fogs lasted twenty days, and during that time they had indeed drifted
sixty leagues out of their way into unknown straits. Frobisher was very
anxious to recover the position he had lost, and as soon as he saw the ice
a little open he bravely led the way and anchored at last in the Countess
of Warwick's Sound. Just as he thought all peril was past, he met a great
iceberg, which forced the anchor through the ship's bows and made a breach.
Here they found, to their joy, two barks, which had been missing since the
night of their greatest danger: it was a joyful meeting, and a good man,
named Master Wolfall, who had left his living in his own country, and his
wife and children, in the hope of converting the heathens in the new land,
preached a sermon to the whole company, in which he told them to thank God
for their deliverance, and reminded them that they should ever watch and
pray, since none could tell how soon he might die.

Now that they were all assembled once more Frobisher lost no time, but set
at work at once to look for the ore. Gentlemen and soldiers, all helped the
miners in their labour, whilst the captains of the vessels sought out new
mines, and the gold finers made trial of the ore. But when they wanted to
raise the fort, so many parts of it had been destroyed in the storm that it
was no longer fitted for its object, and although one of the brave captains
wanted to remain there with only fifty men, it was found that a building
large enough to hold them all could not be raised before the winter set in.
The cold was now rapidly increasing; every night the ships' ropes were
frozen so that no man might handle them without cutting his hands; besides
this the vessels were leaky, and the ice at any moment might have blocked
them in altogether, when all on board must have perished.

Thus Frobisher was compelled to return to England without having found the
passage he had hoped all his life to discover. It is said that if he had
not had charge of the fleet, he would have sailed straight to the South
Sea, and thus pointed out a nearer route to China.

Before they left, they caused a house of lime and stone to be built, on the
Countess of Warwick's Island, which they hoped would remain standing until
the following year, and they left in it bells, pictures, looking-glasses,
whistles, and pipes for the delight of the savages, and an oven, with bread
baked in it, that they might taste it and see how it was made. Then they
sowed peas and corn, and various sorts of grain, to see if they would grow;
and they buried all the timber left of the fort, that it might be ready for
them to use if they came to the place again.

Whilst the ships were being laden with the ore, the admiral wanted to find
something else, and he went higher up the straits in a pinnace. It was then
that he discovered that the land on either side was not all firm as he had
imagined, but broken up into many islands.

On the voyage home some of the vessels got scattered during the violent
storms that arose, and they were kept long apart, but they all reached
England by October of the year 1578.

After this there is no account of Frobisher until he went in his ship the
_Aid_ on an expedition to the West Indies with Sir Francis Drake, and was
present at the taking and sacking of St. Domingo. When Philip II. of Spain
sent the Invincible Armada to invade England, the English fleet prepared to
resist it was divided into four squadrons, and Frobisher commanded one of
them in the ship called the _Triumph_. Lord Howard of Effingham, the Lord
High Admiral of the fleet, was a witness of his gallant conduct on that
occasion, and knighted him on board the _Triumph_ whilst the action was
going on. A little later he served under Sir Walter Raleigh in an
expedition directed towards the coasts of Spain. And in 1594 Queen
Elizabeth, having engaged to help King Henry the Fourth of France against
the Spaniards, he was sent with four vessels to protect the coasts of
Normandy and Bretagne from their attacks.

On being told that they had seized the Fort of Croysson, near Brest in
Bretagne, and that Sir John Norris was trying to regain it, he hastened to
land his troops and join the English and French. With the help he afforded
the fort was taken; and although he was wounded severely during the
assault, he brought back the fleet in safety to Plymouth.

Soon after he arrived, however, his wound proved mortal, through the
carelessness, as it is said, of his surgeon, and England lost the services
of one of her bravest and most faithful officers. His chroniclers say of
him that he was courageous, clever, upright, hasty, and severe. He was not
the less a hero because he did not succeed in his undertakings; his
attempts were made in an earnest and faithful spirit, and his example
served to encourage other men to embark in fresh voyages of discovery,
which proved more fortunate than his own.

It is said that some of the ore he brought home the third time did not
prove to be gold, and Queen Elizabeth therefore renounced the idea of a
fourth expedition.

In her wardrobe of jewels she preserved the bone of a strange fish, "like a
sea-unicorn," the mariners had found on their second voyage, embedded in
the ice. "The fish was twelve yards long," round like a porpoise, with a
bone of two yards growing out of the snout or nostrils.


Sir Walter Raleigh, famed as a soldier, a sailor, an author, and a
courtier, was born in Devonshire, in the year 1552. His father, Walter
Raleigh, whose ancestors were known before the Conquest, had an estate near
Plymouth; his mother was Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Philip Camperdown. He
received the earlier part of his education at a school in the parish of
Budely; at the age of sixteen we find that he was a commoner at Oxford, and
already distinguished as an orator and a philosopher. A year later he went
as a volunteer with one of his relations to help the Protestants in France,
and afterwards served in the Netherlands under the Prince of Orange.

Raleigh had naturally a very active mind, and when he was not engaged in
war, he would be busily employed in planning expeditions to the New World,
some of which were carried out partly at his own expense. He had read the
voyages of Columbus and of Vasco de Gama with the deepest interest, and,
like many other ardent men of his time, desired earnestly to follow in the
path of those brave pioneers.

In the year 1580 he commanded the royal troops in Ireland at the time of
Desmond's rebellion. Philip II., to punish Elizabeth for having helped his
Flemish subjects, sent a number of Spaniards and Italians to join the
rebels. The Spanish general was besieged in a fort he had built at Kerry;
he was forced to surrender, and the enemies of Raleigh cast great blame on
him for the cruelties exercised towards the unhappy prisoners, whilst in
reality he was only carrying out the orders of Lord Grey, the deputy of

In a dispute he had with Lord Grey on his return to England, Raleigh
defended himself so cleverly, that he drew upon him the attention of the
queen; and an incident which occurred about this time served to bring him
into great favour at court.

The queen was out walking with some of her courtiers, and having come to a
muddy place, she paused, as if in doubt whether to cross it or not. Raleigh
was present, and he immediately threw off a beautiful new cloak he wore,
and spread it on the ground. The queen tripped lightly over it, much
pleased with the gallant action, which she never forgot.

Raleigh was of middle height; he had dark hair, and was said to have been
very handsome, although he had an exceedingly high forehead, and was
"long-faced and sour-lidded." His dress as he stood amongst the courtiers
would have consisted of a doublet of silk or satin fitting closely to the
body, with enormous silken or velvet hose, richly ornamented; a peaked hat,
and the cloak of gay hue, "fronted with gold and silver lace," would have
completed the costume. Raleigh was always richly attired; at one time of
his life he had a suit of armour composed of solid plates of silver, with
which he wore a belt adorned with precious stones; and Sir Walter Scott
describes a portrait he had seen of him which represented him clad in white
satin, with a chain of very large pearls hanging around his neck.

The queen in the course of time bestowed on him lands in Ireland, both in
the counties of Cork and Waterford. She also gave him an estate at
Sherborne, in Dorsetshire, where he laid out some beautiful gardens. He
asked so many favours for his friends, as well as for himself, that
Elizabeth once said to him soon after she had knighted him, "When shall you
cease to be a beggar, Sir Walter?"

"When your Majesty ceases to be benevolent," he replied.

The court life, however gay and pleasant, did not satisfy his eager spirit,
and he rejoiced very much when the queen granted him a patent for the
discovery and planting of new lands in America. For this purpose he fitted
out two small vessels, which reached the coast of Florida in the year 1585.
They sailed northward as far as an island called Roanoke, and found a tract
of land on the continent, to which Elizabeth gave the name of Virginia, but
it did not really become a flourishing colony until the reign of her

Raleigh, like many other noble-minded men of his time, bore a great hatred
to Spain on account of her tyrannies; and when the invincible Armada came
to invade England, he was amongst the bravest of those who fought for their
queen and their country. And the next year he held an important command
under Drake and Norris in an expedition to place Don Antonio on the throne
of Portugal.

When he returned to England, after having won great fame by his valour, he
found that the young Earl of Essex was rising rapidly in the queen's
favour. Much jealousy existed between these two courtiers; they were
constantly quarrelling, and the following incident will show how petty were
the means used by Essex to annoy his rival.

The nobles used to make a very splendid appearance at the jousts and
tournaments which were held on the queen's birthday, and on one of these
occasions Raleigh took it into his head to accoutre all his followers in
orange-coloured plumes. Essex hearing of this, got together a much more
numerous cavalcade, decked all in the colour chosen by Raleigh, and
appeared at the head of his followers dressed in a complete suit of
orange-colour, so that when he entered the tilt-yard in sight of Elizabeth,
the followers of his rival only looked "like so many appendages to his own
train."[23] Raleigh once set out at the head of a fleet with two of the
queen's ships, and had the good fortune to capture a Portuguese vessel
which had a very rich cargo. It was in the year 1595 that he sailed with
five vessels for the discovery and conquest of Guiana,[24] a country of
South America, which was called "El Dorado," on account of the gold mines
it was supposed to contain. This was an enterprise he had planned during
some months that he had been living in retirement at Sherborne, having
incurred the displeasure of the queen. First of all he had sent out a
captain to the spot, who made a favourable report of his voyage when he
returned home. So Raleigh put out to sea and landed in the island of
Trinidad, where he burnt the fort of Saint Joseph, which had been lately
constructed by the Spaniards, and took Don Antonio, the Spanish governor,
prisoner. He treated Antonio very kindly, and gained from him some valuable
information in reference to the country he desired to explore. He was now
very eager to set out on his enterprise, and liked the idea of it all the
better because it would undoubtedly be attended with danger. He left his
ships at Cariapan, in Trinidad, and sailed with a hundred men in several
small barks to find "the golden land." And before he returned to England he
had sailed 400 miles up the river Orinoco, which flows through Guiana, thus
being the first Englishman who had ventured in that direction.

Sir Walter Raleigh wrote some strange accounts of the people he found in
the new country. Those that inhabited the mouth of the Orinoco upon the
northern branches of the river were called "Tissitinas;" they were very
brave, and talked slowly and sensibly. In dry weather they had their
dwellings on the ground like most other people, but between May and
September the Orinoco rising thirty feet and overflowing the broken land,
they lived up in the trees, as Columbus had already found men living in
other parts a century before. They never eat anything that was planted or
sown, and for bread they used the tops of the palmitos.[25] The people
dwelling on the branches of the Orinoco called Capuri, and Macureo, were
skilful makers of canoes, and sold them for gold and tobacco. When their
chief, or king, died, they had the strange custom of keeping his body until
all the flesh fell off its bones, and then they adorned the skull with
gay-coloured feathers, and the limbs with gold plates, and hung up the
skeleton in the house the chief had dwelt in when alive. The more gentle
natives used to make war on the cannibals, but all tribes were at peace
with one another, and held the Spaniards for their common enemy when the
English appeared amongst them.

Sometimes the adventurers suffered greatly from thirst and from the
excessive heat of the climate, since Guiana lies all in the torrid zone,
the hottest part of the earth. In one district they passed through, which
was low and marshy, the water that issued out of the boggy ground was
almost red, and they could only fill their waterpots with it about noon,
for if they filled them at morning or evening, it was as bad to drink as
poison, and at night it was worst of all. The wine that was used in some
parts was very strong; it was made of the juice of different fruits and
herbs, and highly seasoned with pepper. The natives kept it in great
earthen pots, which held ten or twelve gallons each.

At one time during their travels the weather became fearfully hot. The
rivers were bordered with high trees, which met overhead and shut out the
air, so that they panted for breath; the currents were against them; the
water was very unwholesome to drink, and their bread was all gone. They
lived on fish, and the fruits they plucked along the banks of the rivers.
The beautiful flowers of the tropics twined around the great trees in the
shade, and there were birds flitting about, as Sir Walter writes, "crimson,
carnation, orange, tawny, and purple!" Still, they were in great want of
bread, and an old native pilot whom they had taken, promised them that if
they would enter a branch of the river on their right hand, with only their
barge and wherries, and leave the galley they had come in to anchor in the
great river, he would take them to a town, where they would find bread and
poultry. So they set off in their wherries, and, because they thought the
place was so near, they took no food with them at all. The day wore on, and
still the pilot said "a little farther," until the sun was low in the sky,
and they had glided down the stream forty miles. Then all at once it became
dark, because there is no twilight in the tropics; dark as pitch, they
said; the river narrowed and the trees bent over it so closely, that they
had to cut their passage through the branches with their swords. They
distrusted the pilot, although the poor old man, who must have been
somewhat out of his reckoning, still kept assuring them that they had only
a little further to go; and an hour after midnight, to their great joy they
saw a light, and heard the barking of dogs, and came to a village or town
which was almost empty, because nearly all its inhabitants had gone to the
head of the Orinoco to trade for gold. Here they found plenty of fish, and
fowls, and Indian wine, and bread, for which they gave the people things in
exchange. Raleigh says that the Spaniards used to get a hundred pounds of
cassava bread for a knife.

There is frequent mention in his narrative of an old king named Topiawari,
whose son he brought with him to England. He was a hundred and ten years
old, and had been taken prisoner by the Spaniards under Berreo, and led
about by them in a chain for seventeen days, that he might guide them from
place to place, for he was "a man of great understanding and policy." He
purchased his freedom with a hundred plates of gold. This old king came
fourteen miles on foot to see the English commander, and returned to his
home the same day; which must have been a long journey for one who, as he
touchingly observed himself, was "old, weak, and every day called for by
death." A number of people came with him from the villages laden with
provisions, and amongst these were delicious pine-apples in plenty. One of
the people gave Raleigh an armadillo, which he calls "a very wonderful
creature, barred all over with small scales, with a horn growing out of
it," the powder of which he was told cured deafness.

Raleigh found out, as he thought, where the mines were, and brought some
spar with him to England, which was considered to afford satisfactory
promise of gold. The old king told him of a mountain of pure gold which Sir
Walter believed himself to have seen in the distance; it seemed to him like
a white tower, and had a great stream of water flowing over the top of it.
But since the rivers had begun to rise, and he had no tools to work the
supposed mines with, he resolved to return to England, well pleased that he
had found "El Dorado;" and prepared to give a glowing account of the
fertility of its soil, its valuable woods and rich gums, its different
berries, which dyed the most vivid crimson and carnation hues, its cotton
and silk, its pepper, sugar, and ginger, which flourished there as
luxuriantly as in the West Indian islands.

Just as the adventurers were about to return to Trinidad, they encountered
a terrific storm in the broad mouth of the river Capuri, and were obliged
to lie in the dark, close to the shore. At midnight, when the wind began to
abate, Raleigh says, "We put ourselves to God's keeping and thrust out into
the sea, and left the galley to anchor until daylight. And so, being all
very sober and melancholy, one faintly cheering another to show courage, it
pleased God that the next day we descried the island of Trinidad."

When Sir Walter arrived in England he published an account of the discovery
of the large and beautiful country of Guiana. Either he must have been
carried away by the excitement of the adventure, or he must have wilfully
exaggerated when he described the gold mines so confidently, since no one
who followed him ever found so great a treasure of the precious metal as he
declared was in existence. Queen Elizabeth could not be prevailed upon to
give orders for the planting of a colony in the new land, much as she
desired to increase her dominions, and so it was that the English did not
really make a settlement in Guiana until the year 1634.

Raleigh went after his return on a great expedition, which ended in the
conquest of Cadiz. In this Essex had the chief command, but it was
Raleigh's courage and daring that assured the taking of the city.

The favour he was held in at court now began to decline, and the great
fame he had earned as a soldier and a navigator had made him many enemies.
It is said that he connived with Cecil for the downfall of Essex, and he
was charged by those who bore him ill-will with having taken pleasure in
witnessing the execution of that nobleman. His own words, spoken just
before his death on the scaffold many years later, will best vindicate him
from such an accusation. He said that he was all the time in the armory of
the Tower, at the end where he could only just see Essex. He shed tears at
his death, and grieved that he was not with him, for he had heard that he
had desired to be reconciled with him before he died. And it is natural to
suppose that these two men, each one indeed at fault, would have been
happier, one in dying and the other while he lived, if they had exchanged a
few kind words, at which the old bitterness and hatred would have melted

The remaining part of the life of Sir Walter Raleigh was a succession of
misfortunes and sorrows: at the death of the queen his good fortune may be
said to have deserted him. The same year that James the Sixth of Scotland
succeeded his cousin Elizabeth, a plot was formed to place on the throne of
England in his stead the Lady Arabella Stuart, who was equally descended
from Henry the Seventh with himself. The Lords Grey and Cobham, Sir Walter
Raleigh, two Catholic priests, and several others were accused of conniving
at it, and arrested for high treason. How far Raleigh was implicated it is
difficult now to decide: it is probable that he knew of the plot, because
he was the intimate friend of Lord Cobham. He was carried to Winchester,
where sentence of death was passed upon him, and he remained there a whole
month, daily expecting to be led to the scaffold. At the urgent entreaty of
Lady Raleigh the king commuted the sentence of death to imprisonment in the
Tower; and there, on the 15th of December, 1603, Raleigh took up his abode,
followed by his affectionate wife and his son Walter, who had obtained
permission to share his captivity. Most English boys have looked on the
rooms in the Tower where this brave man passed more than twelve years, a
large portion out of the life on earth, especially on the narrow
sleeping-room, to enter which, he had to creep under a low stone archway.

Those years must have contrasted strangely with his past life, full of
brave deeds and adventures in a land where all things seemed new. His
friends and his enemies alike pitied him now that he was shut up within his
gloomy walls. The young Prince Henry had a great regard for him, and
admired his brilliant qualities. "Surely," he used to say, "no man but my
father would keep such a bird in a cage!"

After his first despair was over he employed himself in making chemical
experiments, in educating his children--for his second son Carew was born
in the Tower,--and in writing several works, one of which, entitled "The
History of the World," has been much admired.

And when, after so many years had passed, and the doors of his prison were
opened, he came out into the free air, "a worn, weak, and aged man," almost
without fortune, haughty, and prone to take offence no more, but still
brave and hopeful. He obtained his liberty chiefly through the interest of
the Duke of Buckingham, whose services he paid with the sum of fifteen
hundred pounds. He was released on condition of finding the gold mines of
Guiana, and having embarked in the enterprise all that remained of his own
and his wife's fortunes he set sail for South America, taking with him his
son Walter, all the while the sentence of death once passed upon him was
still hanging over his head.

But failure and sorrow were in store for him: two of his ships abandoned
him; sickness broke out amongst the crews of those that remained, Sir
Walter Raleigh was attacked by it himself, and was not able to land when
they drew near the shore of Guiana. He deputed Captain Keymis to land with
the adventurers, and to repel any Spaniards he might find near the mine. An
affray took place in which young Raleigh was killed; and Keymis, attempting
to keep a footing on shore, a second time was surprised by some Spaniards
who had been lying in wait for him. The failure of the enterprise and the
disappointment of Raleigh weighed so heavily upon him, that he killed
himself in despair.

Raleigh thus went back to England in sorrow for the loss of his son, and
with little hope left that his own life would be spared. When he landed in
England he found that the king was very angry with him for having attacked
the Spaniards, because he was at peace with their sovereign; and that he
intended to renew all his former accusations against him. This King James
was led to do by Gondemar, the Spanish ambassador, who bore an extreme
hatred to Raleigh; it is even supposed that the Spaniards in Guiana had
been secretly told to prepare to resist. James made a proclamation to the
effect that he had forbidden all acts of hostility on land belonging to the
Spaniards. Directly Raleigh heard this he wrote a letter to the king in
defence of his conduct. He was repairing to London, and was met on the road
by Sir Lewis Stukely, one of his relations, who told him that he was to
arrest him. Then it was that Raleigh yielded to weakness which he repented
of in after hours. He pretended that he was ill, that he had lost his
reason, anything to delay the moment of his arrest.

Once he planned an escape to France, but when he had got in disguise from
the Tower Docks as far as Woolwich he was overtaken by some people in the
pay of the Government; and at Greenwich was formally arrested by his
kinsman, who had accompanied him in his flight. The next morning, August
7th, he was conducted to the Tower, where he took a kind farewell of the
king, and remained imprisoned there until the 28th of October. And on that
day, as he was lying ill, the king's officers came at eight o'clock in the
morning to convey him to Westminster. Thence he was taken to Gate House,
and the next morning to the Old Palace Yard, where the scaffold was erected
on which he was to die, that the king might preserve peace with Spain! The
people of England thought James was very unkind to condemn a man whose
guilt had never been proved, and who was the most valiant and spirited in
the whole land. And indeed the execution of Raleigh has ever been
considered unjust.

He appeared upon the scaffold with a smiling countenance, and saluted all
of his friends and acquaintances who were present. Then he spoke in his
own defence, but notwithstanding the deep silence around, his words were
not heard by the Lords Arundel and Doncaster, and some other lords and
knights who sat at a window looking into the yard, and he begged them to
come upon the scaffold. When he had saluted them all he thanked God for
having brought him into the light to die, instead of suffering him to die
in the dark prison of the Tower. Then he defended himself eloquently
against the numerous charges that had been made against him, and ended by
entreating all his friends to pray for him, because he said that since he
had been a soldier, a captain, a sea-captain, and a courtier, he must needs
have fallen into many sins.

The lords and knights departed sorrowfully from the scaffold, and Raleigh
prepared for death; he gave away his hat, his wrought night-cap, and some
money to some of those who remained near him. "I have a long journey to
go," he said, "and therefore I will take my leave." And when he had taken
off his black velvet gown and his satin doublet, he called to the headsman,
and examined the axe, saying, as he felt along its edge, "This is a sharp
medicine, but it is a physician for all disorders." Being asked which way
he would lay his head on the block, he said, "So the heart be right, it is
no matter which way the head lieth." A minute later his head was severed
with two blows from his body; the story of his life was ended, and the
unjust king could keep the peace he had purchased with the sacrifice of a
man who, although faulty, had many of the attributes of true greatness.

The body of Sir Walter Raleigh was buried in St. Margaret's Church. His
sorrowing widow kept his head in a case during her lifetime; it was
afterwards buried with her son Carew at West Horsley, in Surrey. Raleigh
was tenderly attached to his wife, and wrote her an affectionate and solemn
letter during the early part of his imprisonment, in which he gave her some
good advice. "If you can live free from want," he said, "care for no more,
for the rest is but vanity. Love God, and begin betimes; in Him you shall
have everlasting felicity. When you have travelled and wearied yourself
with all sorts of worldly cogitations, you shall sit down in sorrow at the
end.... Teach your son also to serve and fear God whilst he is young, that
the fear of God may grow up in him."


[23] This story is mentioned in the "British Biography."

[24] Guiana was originally discovered to the Europeans by Vincent Pinzon
before the end of the fifteenth century. It was Juan Martinez, a Spaniard,
who first gave the name of El Dorado to the city of Manoa, in Guiana.

[25] A species of palm.


Sir Philip Sidney was born at Penshurst in Kent, in the year 1554. His
father, Sir Henry Sidney, was one of the best men that ever lived, and
governed Ireland for some time with extreme justice and prudence. His
mother was Mary, daughter of the Duke of Northumberland, who was beheaded
for maintaining the cause of Lady Jane Grey. She had the sorrow of seeing
her brother Lord Guildford Dudley also led to the scaffold; and after these
terrible events lived much in retirement, devoting herself to the care and
education of her sons Philip and Robert, and her daughter Mary, afterwards
Countess of Pembroke.

Under the guidance of such parents, the children at Penshurst grew up in
the closest bonds of family love. The grand old house they lived in was an
abode worthy of a noble race. It had been given by Edward the Sixth to Sir
William Sidney, the grandfather of Sir Philip. The park was famed for its
beeches, chestnut trees, and oaks of stately growth; one of the latter,
known by the name of "Sidney's Oak," remains standing to this day. Rich
pasture lands lay around, the streams abounded with fish, the gardens and
orchards with flowers and fruit. Here wandered Sir Philip with his beloved
sister, his young brother Robert, who succeeded to his uncle's earldom of
Leicester,[26] with the chivalrous Raleigh, the poet Spenser, the
play-writer Ben Jonson, and all the good, brave, and clever men of that

From his earliest childhood he was so sweet-tempered and intelligent that
his father lovingly called him "the light of this family." He was very fond
of study, and went first to school at Shrewsbury, where we find he
delighted his father greatly, when he was twelve years old, by writing him
a letter in Latin, and another in French. At the age of fifteen he went to
Christchurch, Oxford, where he appears to have studied with much diligence
during the short period of his college life.

In the year 1571 an embassy was sent to the Court of Charles the Ninth of
France, in order to treat for a marriage between the king's youngest
brother, Henry Duke of Alençon, and Queen Elizabeth. The queen had already
shown signs of regard for young Sidney, whom in after years she called "the
brightest jewel in her crown," and she allowed him to go abroad with the
mission, for the purpose of acquiring a perfect knowledge of foreign

Sir Philip was in Paris on the fatal day of Saint Bartholomew, but was safe
in the house of his friend Walsingham, then English minister at the French
Court, whilst the unhappy Protestants were being cruelly massacred
everywhere around him.

He afterwards travelled through Germany to Vienna, where he made himself
perfect in every martial exercise, going thence to study science at Venice,
to visit the poet Tasso at Padua, and lastly to Rome.

And whilst he was storing his mind with knowledge, and learning all
accomplishments worthy of a true knight, he tried to lead a holy life, and,
as far as it was in his power, to keep himself blameless in the sight of
God and man; so that when he returned to England at the age of twenty,
other men far older than himself looked up to him with respect, and he was
considered the brightest ornament of the English Court.

During his travels in Flanders, which at that time belonged to Spain, he
had grieved to see how unhappy the people were made by the Duke of Alva,
the State minister of Philip the Second of Spain. Philip did not love his
Flemish subjects at all; they were mostly Protestants, and he wanted to
take their liberty from them and force them to become Roman Catholics. And
when they began to rebel against his unjust treatment, he sent the cruel
Duke of Alva to them, having first told him that he might do whatever he
liked with them.

Alva arrived in Brussels, and began by arresting and imprisoning the Counts
Egmont and Horn, two noble-minded men, who, after trying in vain to make
peace between the king and the Belgians, had taken the part of the
Protestants from a love of justice and mercy. Count Egmont had helped
Philip to win the great battle of St. Quentin over the French, but he was
compassionate as well as brave, and Philip was so afraid that he would be
too kind to the people of Belgium that he advised Alva secretly to get rid
of him.

Alva kept the Counts in prison in Ghent for nine months, and then had them
carried to Brussels and beheaded, on the 4th of June, 1568, on a scaffold
raised on one of the principal squares in the city. They died with courage,
martyrs for the liberty of Flanders, but their execution was a cruel
injustice, and the people were nearly frantic with grief when the bloody
deed was done. Alva remained in Flanders more than four years, and is said
to have caused eighteen thousand Protestants to be beheaded during that
time. Then Holland rose in revolt; the Prince of Orange was made
stadtholder, and Alva, seeing that his day was over, went back to Spain,
where he must have been very unhappy when he thought over all his
wickedness. The Protestants in Germany fared very little better than those
in Flanders, for when the Emperor Rudolf the Second began to reign, he
forbade them to worship according to their faith. Sidney was sent on an
embassy to Rudolf, and did all he could whilst he was in Germany to humble

The Flemings asked Elizabeth to be their queen; this she would not agree
to, but she sent them some troops and some money, and Sidney implored her
to let him take the command in the enterprise, he wanted so much to be of
service to his fellow-men, and to deliver those who were unjustly treated
from their oppressors. The queen declared, however, that she could not
spare him from her Court, and he was obliged to wait patiently a little
longer. Meanwhile he took part in the amusements of the Court, the jousts
and the royal progresses from place to place, which were always attended
with great show. To these must be added the masques, and the first time
Sir Philip distinguished himself as an author was by writing a masque,
entitled "The Lady of May," which was performed before the queen at
Wanstead in Essex. Sidney was the patron of artists, musicians, and
authors; he was a kind and sincere friend of the poet Spenser, who had
originally been brought from his home in Ireland to the English Court by
Sir Walter Raleigh.

Weary at last of remaining inactive, Sidney planned, without the queen's
knowledge, an expedition to America, in which he was to be joined by the
bold navigator, Sir Francis Drake. He had arrived at Plymouth, whence the
ships were to start, when Elizabeth, having gained information of the
projected voyage, sent messengers with letters to Sidney, in which she
desired him not to sail, and threatened to stay the whole fleet if he did
not obey her.

Sir Philip, already on the alert, contrived to intercept the messengers;
their letters were taken from them by two soldiers disguised as sailors.
The queen, finding threats useless, then sent a positive royal command to
her favourite, which he was bound out of duty to his sovereign to obey, and
thus he was fated never to see the beautiful new land in the west, with its
growth of gorgeous flowers and rich fruits, its giant trees, and its
bright-coloured birds, its wonderful landscapes, the beauty of which far
exceeded the ideal formed of them.

Elizabeth's displeasure did not last long. It was the high esteem she held
him in that made her so loth to let him quit England, and she was not
offended with him when he had the courage to write her a letter in which he
entreated her not to marry the Duke of Alençon, now Duke of Anjou, and
pointed out the trouble such a union might bring upon England. The queen
wisely followed his advice, and gave up all idea of a marriage which her
subjects had very much disliked.

Sir Philip, one day in the tilt-yard, had a dispute with Lord Oxford, in
which both were to blame, but Lord Oxford the more so of the two. This
caused Sidney to withdraw for a time from Court, and retire to a house he
had at Wilton, where he wrote "The Arcadia," a pastoral romance, and some
other works, which gained him the fame of a poet. He did not mean "The
Arcadia" to be published, nor did it appear in print until after his death.
He wrote it to afford pleasure to his sister Mary, and sent to her each
part of it as he completed it.

A time came when the Flemings were again reduced to a state of extreme
wretchedness. The great and good stadtholder was basely murdered, and the
Spanish troops were making rapid progress through the country. So they
asked Elizabeth again to be their queen and to send them succour. She
refused the crown a second time, but agreed to help the Flemings with
troops on condition that the towns of Flushing and Brille should be placed
in her hands. And Sidney, to his great joy, was appointed governor of
Flushing, whither he went in November, 1585. The good Count Maurice of
Nassau received him as a brother, and he was made general of all the
forces, English and Dutch, in the town. Soon he had to welcome there his
uncle, the Earl of Leicester, who, by the favour of Elizabeth, was
entrusted with the command of the army.

For some time Sidney was obliged to remain inactive, but in the year 1586
he and Count Maurice surprised Axel, a town on the way to Antwerp, and the
strongest place held by the Spaniards in the Netherlands. Here he kept his
soldiers in the strictest order. When they were marching they were enjoined
to be silent, and a band of the choicest among them was stationed in the
market-place for the security of the town.

So many brave gentlemen were covetous of the honour of surprising
Gravelines, that Sir Philip Sidney, not liking to risk the lives of all,
persuaded his inferior officers to try their fortune by dice on the top of
a drum. The lot fell upon Sir William Browne, and by this game of
hazard[27] the lives of many Englishmen were saved.

On the 30th of August Sidney went with his uncle to invest Doesburg, a
fortress on the river Issel. This place was important because it opened the
way to Zutphen, and if Zutphen were once taken, the English and Dutch would
command the river. Doesburg was gained, and Zutphen soon after surrounded;
Leicester guarding it by water, and Sir Philip Sidney, Count Louis of
Nassau, and Sir John Norris, guarding it by land.

News was brought to the English camp that a large supply of food was at a
place called Deventer, not far off, and Leicester was resolved that it
should not be brought into the town, whilst the garrison were equally
resolved to receive it. On the morning of the 22nd of September, Sidney
advanced to the walls of Zutphen with only 200 men. Before he set out he
was clad in complete armour, but meeting the marshal of the camp only
lightly armed, he took off some of the armour that covered his legs. There
was a mist at the time he set out, but when he had galloped quite close to
the town, it dispersed, and he found a thousand of the enemy in readiness
to receive him. The fight soon began, his horse was killed under him, and
he mounted another. The battle was furious, and the Spaniards, although
they were five times as many as the English, were totally routed. In the
last charge, Sir Philip was wounded severely in the thigh; his horse, being
very mettlesome, rushed furiously from the battle-field, and carried him a
mile and a half, wounded and bleeding, to the spot where Leicester stood.
When he lay in his anguish on the field, a bottle of water was brought to
him that he might quench his thirst; but seeing a soldier near him, wounded
like himself, look wistfully at it, he ordered it to be carried to him,
saying, "This man's necessity is greater than mine."

His friends and his soldiers were overcome with grief when his state became
known; at the sight of his sufferings they almost forgot the glory of his
triumph; Yet amidst all his pain, he never ceased declaring that as long as
he lived his life was the queen's, and not his own, and that his friends
ought not to be discouraged. They laid him gently in his uncle's barge;
slowly it glided down the river to Arnheim, in Gelderland, and whilst he
lay patiently in it, he was heard to express the hope that his wound was
not mortal, and that he might yet have time to become holier before he

Day after day he lay in great pain, but talking kindly the while to the
friends who grouped lovingly around him, and tended by his wife,
Walsingham's daughter, who had hastened to Arnheim as soon as she heard
tidings of his disaster. When he felt he could only live a little time
longer, he made his confession of Christian faith, and settled his earthly
affairs, remembering in his will all those whom he had loved. He took a
tender farewell of his brother Robert, telling him "to love his memory and
cherish his friends, and to govern his own will by the word of his
Creator." And then having called for music, while sweet strains filled the
chamber, silent with coming death, the spirit passed from this world.

His remains were brought to England, and interred in the great church of
St. Paul, which eighty years later was destroyed by the fire of London.

"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord:" such were the words inscribed
on his coffin; and the perfectness of his character, and the regard in
which men held him, cannot be better expressed than in the language of the
old chronicle which says, "As his life was most worthie, so his end was
most godlie. The love men bore him, left fame behind him; his friendlie
courtesie to many procured him good-will of all."[28]

The Poles after the death of their king, Stephen Balori, would have
conferred the crown on Sir Philip Sidney, because he was so justly renowned
for his humane and upright spirit, but he thought that his first duty was
to his sovereign, and the idea was renounced.


[26] The Earl of Leicester, the Court favourite of Queen Elizabeth, was
brother to Lady Mary Sidney.

[27] See "British Biography."

[28] Holinshed.


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