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upon them and shot down several of their

number. He then made his escape into Sherwood forest, where he became the head of a

band of outlaws like himself. Their practice

was to pillage the estates of the rich, to rob

the wealthy and titled personages, distributing

the proceeds of their lawlessness to the poor

and needy. So persistently was this policy

pursued by the merry Robin and his men that

they gained a great reputation among the

peasants, insomuch that ballads commemorative of his exploits and chivalry became the

most popular literature of the times, and have

ever since remained as a witness of the esteem

in which even a lawless benefactor is held by

an oppressed people.

On the death of the king the crown descended to his eldest son, Henry of Winchester, who took the title of Henry the Third.

Being only eight years of age at the time of

his father's death, the management of the

kingdom was intrusted to the Earl of Pembroke. The latter had the wisdom during his

administration to confirm the articles of Magna

Carta, and by this means those English barons who had still adhered to the fortunes of

Prince Louis of France were won

back to the. royal cause. Louis,

though his forces were greatly reduced, ventured on a battle in 1217,

in which he was so disastrously defeated that he was glad to escape

with the remnant of his followers

from the kingdom. Two years afterward the Earl of Pembroke died, and

his office of protector was given to

Hubert de Burgh.

When King Henry reached the

age of sixteen he was declared capable of conducting the government.

In the following year, 1224, Philip

of France died and was succeeded by

his son Louis, but the latter soon

after passed away and the crown descended to his son Louis IX., who

being a mere child was left to the

guardianship of his mother, Blanche

of Castile. Perceiving the exposed

condition of the French kingdom on

account of the minority of Louis,

King Henry determined to invade

France and attempt the recovery of

Normandy. He accordingly raised a

large army, and in 1230 undertook

an expedition against the French. But

he soon showed himself to be of little

competency for such an undertaking.

One disaster followed another until in

the course of a few months the king

was glad to give up the enterprise and

return to England. In his matrimonial adventure he was scarcely more

fortunate than in war. In his search for a

queen he chose Eleanor, daughter of the Earl

of Provence, who brought with her into England a retinue of friends, for whom important places in the government were provided.

A great offense was thus given to the English

barons, who would not quietly brook the elevation of strangers and foreigners to the chief

offices of England.

While the king was thus exhibiting his folly