Young Folks' History of England HTML version

19. Henry IV, A.D. 1399—1413
The English people had often chosen their king out of the royal family in old
times, but from John to Richard II., he had always been the son and heir of
the last king. Now, though poor Richard had no child, Henry of Lancaster was
not the next of kin to him, for Lionel, Duke of Clarence, had come between
the Black Prince and John of Gaunt; and his great grandson, Edmund
Mortimer, was thought by many to have a better right to be king than Henry.
Besides, people did not know whether Richard was alive, and they thought
him hardly used, and wanted to set him free. So Henry had a very uneasy
time. Everyone had been fond of him when he was a bright, friendly, free-
spoken noble, and he thought that he would be a good king and much loved;
but he had gained the crown in an evil way, and it never gave him any peace
or joy. The Welsh, who always had loved Richard, took up arms for him, and
the Earl of Northumberland, who had betrayed Richard, expected a great deal
too much from Henry. The earl had a brave son—Henry Percy—who was so
fiery and eager that he was commonly called Hotspur. He was sent to fight
with the Welsh: and with the king's son, Henry, Prince of Wales—a brave boy
of fifteen or sixteen—under his charge, to teach him the art of war; and they
used to climb the mountains and sleep in tents together as good friends.
But the Scots made an attack on England. Henry Percy went north to fight
with them, and beat them in a great battle, making many prisoners. The King
sent to ask to have the prisoners sent to London, and this made the proud
Percy so angry that he gave up the cause of King Henry, and went off to
Wales, taking his prisoners with him; and there—being by this time nearly
sure that poor Richard must be dead —he joined the Welsh in choosing, as
the only right king of England, young Edmund Mortimer. Henry IV. and his
sons gathered an army easily —for the Welsh were so savage and cruel, that
the English were sure to fight against them if they broke into England. The
battle was fought near Shrewsbury. It was a very fierce one, and in it Hotspur
was killed, the Welsh put to flight, and the Prince of Wales fought so well that
everyone saw he was likely to be a brave, warlike king, like Edward I. or
Edward III.
The troubles were not over, however, for the Earl of Northumberland himself,
and Archbishop Scrope of York, took up arms against the king; but they were
put down without a battle. The Earl fled and hid himself, but the archbishop
was taken and beheaded—the first bishop whom a king of England had ever
put to death. The Welsh went on plundering and doing harm, and Prince
Henry had to be constantly on the watch against them; and, in fact, there
never was a reign so full of plots and conspiracies. The king never knew
whom to trust: one friend after another turned against him, and he became
soured and wretched: he was worn out with disappointment and guarding
against everyone, and at last he grew even suspicious of his brave son Henry,
because he was so bright and bold, and was so much loved. The prince was