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Queen's temper was so haughty that she
made innumerable enemies. The people of
London rose, and, in alliance with the troops
of Stephen, besieged her at Winchester,
where they took her brother Robert prisoner,
whom, as her best soldier and chief general,
she was glad to exchange for Stephen
himself: who thus regained his liberty. Then,
the long war went on afresh. Once, she was
pressed so hard in the Castle of Oxford, in the
winter weather, when the snow lay thick upon
the ground, that her only chance of escape
was to dress herself all in white, and,
accompanied by no more than three faithful Knights
dressed in like manner that their figures
might not be seen from Stephen's camp as
they passed over the snow, to steal away on
foot, cross the frozen Thames, walk a long
distance, and at last gallop away on horse-
back. All this she did, but to no great purpose
then; for, her brother dying while the struggle
was yet going on, she at last withdrew to

In two or three years after her withdrawal,
her cause appeared in England, afresh, in the
person of her son Henry, young Plantagenet,
who, at only eighteen years of age, was very
powerful, not only on account of his mother
having resigned all Normandy to him, but
also of his having married ELEANOR, the
divorced wife of the French King, a bold, bad
woman, who had great possessions in France.
Louis, the French King, not relishing this
arrangement, helped EUSTACE, King Stephen's
son, to invade Normandy; but Henry drove
their united forces out of that country, and
then returned here, to assist his partisans
whom the King was then besieging at
Wallingford upon the Thames. Here, for two
days, divided only by the river, the two armies
lay encamped opposite to one anotheron the
eve, as it seemed to all men, of another
desperate fight, when the EARL OF ARUNDEL
took heart and said, "that it was not
reasonable to prolong the unspeakable miseries
of two kingdoms, to minister to the ambition
of two princes." Many other noblemen
repeating and supporting this when it was
once uttered, Stephen and young Plantagenet
went down each to his own bank of the river,
and held a conversation across it, in which
they arranged a truce; very much to the
dissatisfaction of Eustace, who swaggered
away with some followers, and laid violent
hands on the Abbey of St. Edmundsbury,
where he presently died mad. The truce led
to a solemn council at Winchester, in which
it was agreed that Stephen should retain the
crown, on condition of his adopting Henry as
his successor; that WILLIAM, another son of
the King's, should inherit his father's rightful
possessions; and that all the Crown lands
which Stephen had given away should be
recalled, and all the Castles he had permitted
to be built, demolished. Thus terminated the
bitter war, which had now lasted fifteen
years, and had again laid England waste. In
the next year, STEPHEN died, after a troubled
reign of nineteen years.

Although King Stephen was, for the time
in which he lived, a humane and moderate man,
with many excellent qualities; and although
nothing worse is known of him than his
usurpation of the Crownwhich he probably
excused to himself by the consideration that
King Henry the First was an usurper too:
which was no excuse at allthe people of
England suffered more in these dread nineteen
years, than at any former period even of their
suffering history. In the division of the
nobility between the two rival claimants of the
Crown, and in the growth of what is called the
Feudal System (which made the peasants the
born vassals and mere slaves of the Barons),
every Noble had his strong Castle, where he
reigned the cruel king of all the neighbouring
people. He was uncontrolled by any superior
power, because such superior power as there
was, courted his help. Accordingly, he
perpetrated whatever cruelties he chose. And never
were worse cruelties committed upon earth,
than in wretched England in those nineteen

The writers who were living then, describe
them fearfully. They say that the castles
were filled with devils, rather than with
men; that the peasants, men and women, were
put into dungeons for their gold and silver,
were tortured with fire and smoke, were hung
up by the thumbs, were hung up by the heels
with great weights to their heads, were torn
with jagged irons, killed with hunger, broken
to death in narrow chests filled with sharp-
pointed stones, murdered in countless fiendish
ways. In England there was no corn, no meat,
no cheese, no butter, there were no tilled
lands, no harvests. Ashes of burnt towns and
dreary wastes were all the traveller, fearful of
the robbers who prowled abroad at all hours,
would see in a long day's journey; and from
sunrise until night, he would not come upon
a home.

The clergy sometimes suffered, and heavily
too, from pillage, but many of them had castles
of their own, and fought in helmet and armour
like the barons, and drew lots with other fighting
men for their share of booty. The Pope (or
Bishop of Rome), on King Stephen's resisting
his ambition, laid England under an Interdict
at one period of this reign; which means that
he allowed no service to be performed in the
churches, no couples to be married, no bells
to be rung, no dead bodies to be buried.
Any man having the power to refuse these
things, no matter whether he were called a
Pope or a Poulterer, would, of course, have the
power of afflicting numbers of innocent people.
That nothing might be wanting to the miseries
of King Stephen's time, the Pope threw in
this contribution to the public storenot
very like the widow's contribution, as I think,
when Our Saviour sat in Jerusalem over-
against the Treasury, "and she threw in two
mites, which make a farthing."