King Henry and His Barons

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King Henry was a builder of beautiful churches. Westminster Abbey, as it is now, was one. And he was charitable to the poor that, when he had his children weighed, he gave their weight in gold and silver in alms. But he gave to everyone who asked, and so always wanted money; and sometimes his men could get nothing for the king and queen to eat, but by going and taking sheep and poultry from the poor farmers around; so that things were nearly as bad as under William Rufus-because the king was so foolishly good-natured. The Pope was always sending for money, too; and the king tried to raise it in ways that, according to Magna Carta, he had sworn not to do. His foreign friends told him that if he minded Magna Carta he would be a poor creature-not like a king who might do all he pleased; and whenever he listened to them he broke the laws of Magna Carta. Then, when his barons complained and frightened him, he swore again to keep them; so that nobody could trust him, and his weakness was almost as bad for the kingdom as John’s wickedness. When they could bear it no longer, the barons all met him at the council, which was called the Parliament, from a French word meaning talk. This time they came in armor, binging all their fighting men, and declared that he had broken his word so often that they should appoint some of their own number to watch him, and hinder his doing anything against the laws he had sworn to observe, or from getting money from the people without their consent.


Charlotte M. Yonge Young Folks' History of England (Boston: D. Lothrop & Co., 1879) 107


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