Nursery Rhymes

Kings and Queens of England Poem

Middle Ages - Lords and Ladies

Kings and Queens of England

A Poem by

Mary Ann H. T. Bigelow

Written in 1851

First, William the Norman lays claim to the crown
And retains it till death; then follows his son

The red headed William, whose life is cut short
By a shot from his friend, when hunting for sport.

Then Henry his brother takes quiet possession,
As Henry the first, of the great English nation.

Next Stephen, a kinsman gets the crown by his might,
But no one pretends to say he had a right.

Then comes Hal the second, who cuts a great figure
With Becket, fair Rosamond and Queen Eleanor.

The Lion-hearted Richard, first of that name,
Succeeded his father in power and in fame;
He joined the Crusade to a far distant land
But his life was cut short by a murderous hand.

Next comes the cruel and cowardly John,
From whose hand, reluctant, Magna Charta was won.

Then his son Henry third, deny it who can?
Though unfit for a King, was yet a good man,
And his reign though a long one of fifty-six years
Was full of perplexities, sorrows, and fears.

His son Edward first next governs the nation,
Much respected and feared, in holding that station.

The Principality of Wales was annexed in his reign,
And his son Edward second, first Prince of that name.

But what shall I say of King Edward the third,
The most remarkable reign, that yet had occurred;
Fire arms in the war, were first used in his reign,
And the battle of Crecy of great note and fame,
To their introduction has the right to lay claim.
The knights of the Garter, first made in his reign
In honor it seems of a fair English dame,
The Duchess of Salisbury to whom it is said,
From Edward peculiar attentions were paid.

Of Richard the second we have little to say,
And take up the fourth Henry, the next on our way,
Who reigned fourteen years, when death cut him down
And left his good Kingdom to Henry his son;

But ere nine years had past, the fifth Henry was borne
To the region of darkness from whence none return.

The next reign is full of commotion and strife,
And Henry the sixth is seen flying for life;
For though King of England, we cannot but see
He’s but the shadow of a king that should be;
And during the thirty-nine years that he reigned
His crown and his sceptre were feebly retained.
It was in this reign on her mission intent,
That Joan of Arc to the battle field went:
The French troops were elated, the English dismayed
At the wonderful victories achieved by her aid;
At length fortune turns, and ’tis needless to tell
Of the fate of this maiden, it is all known too well.

Of Edward the fourth it seems proper to say
That he fancied Dame Shore, when wed to Bess Gray.
But the fate of Jane Shore, should be warning to all
Who from love, or ambition, are tempted to fall.

When Edward the fourth departed this earth,
He left two little sons, both Royal by birth;
But ere three years had pass’d, both met with their doom,
By a most cruel uncle, cut down in their bloom
Of youth, love, and beauty, and laid in the tomb.
King Edward the fifth was the eldest one’s name,
Though never permitted by his uncle to reign.

Next comes cruel Richard, the third of that name,
Whose vices surpassing put others to shame.
When unhorsed in battle, he’s so anxious to live,
That he cries “for a horse, my kingdom I’ll give.”
But in the same battle he had his last fall
Lamented by none, but detested by all.

In the next reign the wars of the roses, all ended,
And the red rose and white, forever were blended;
For when Henry the seventh took Bessy his bride,
The knot of the roses forever was tied;
And when the sceptre descended from father to son,
The red and the white leaves all mingled in one.

King Henry the eighth had quite a long reign
Mixed up with his Anne’s, his Katy’s and Jane.
But from this King we turn with disgust and with shame,
And greet with delight, the sixth Edward by name.

But only six years did this King fill the throne,
When called to resign it and lay his crown down.
A worthier we think, has never set
On the throne of Great Britain,at least not as yet.
With pleasure we love to contemplate him now,
With a bright crown of Glory, encircling his brow,
In the region of light, love, peace, and of joy,
Where pleasures eternal can have no alloy.
Sin, sickness, and death, never find entrance there,
For the air is all balm, and the skies ever fair;
The clouds of his young life have all passed away
And he enjoys the full light of an endless day
For all who find footing on that peaceful shore,
Shall hunger, and thirst, and sorrow no more.

But once more we return to this “dim speck of earth,”
And revisit the clime that gave Edward his birth.
Bloody Mary his sister, next mounted the throne,
But when five years had pass’d, was obliged to lay down,
Notwithstanding reluctance, her Sceptre and Crown.
For death to whom she had sent many a one,
Now called for his victim, and made her his own.
Not by fire and by faggot was she hurried away,
But by painful sickness and loathsome decay.

Now commences the reign of the “Good Queen Bess,”
But why she’s called good I never could guess:
Yet justice constrains me to allow in the main,
That her’s was a glorious and most prosperous reign.
She had the good sense to know whom to admit
To her private councils, as men the most fit;
And by their advice, good sense and discretion,
She managed with fitness to govern the nation.
As a Queen she seems great, though weak as a woman,
And when praised as a Goddess, was no more than human;
At the age of threescore, she loved to be compared
As a beauty to Venus, though crook’d and red haired.
Of lovers she had full many a one,
Who sought, through her hand, a pass to the throne,
But chose to remain single; for full well she knew,
That in giving her hand, she gave away her power too.
In this reign we find ineffacible blots,
In the treatment of Essex, and Mary of Scots;
The death of the former, the Queen sorely repents,
And for her lost Essex she deeply laments.
The remorse of a Countess, in keeping his ring,
I leave to some rhymer, more able to sing.

Next James sixth of Scotland, first of England became
In peace and security permitted to reign.
In the person of James, two crowns were united,
And England and Scotland remain undivided.
With this king the reign of the Stuarts began,
And continued to the end of the reign of Queen Ann.

In the reign of Charles first, commences a strife
Between King and Parliament, that ends but with life;
This poor King was beheaded, his son had to flee,
And in his place Oliver Cromwell we see.

Now in Cromwell the ruler of England we find;
Right or wrong, I never could make up my mind;
Still all must allow (for deny it who can?)
That this same Oliver was a very great man.

In eleven years the days of the Commonwealth ended.
And gay Charles the second, the throne then ascended.
This second king Charles king of hearts might be call’d,
For many a fair one he seems t’ have enthrall’d.

James second, brother of Charles second succeeded,
But after a reign of four years, he seceded;
When quitting his throne, and his country he flies
Over the channel to France, where he dies.

Next the Prince of Orange, (from Holland he came,)
For the crown of old England, asserted his claim
Through right of his wife, Princess Mary by name.
And William the third with Mary his wife
Are crowned King and Queen of England for life.
This princess was lovely in person and mind,
As a wife most devoted, a friend ever kind.

Queen Anne’s is the next reign that in order appears
And it covers the space of thirteen full years.
Her death brought the reign of the Stuarts to a close,
But firm on their ruins, the House of Hanover rose.

With this house the reign of the Georges begins
And four in succession we count up as Kings.

George the third, grandson of the second, so called,
Was for virtues and goodness of heart much extolled.
His reign the longest of any appears,
Bearing title of king for sixty-two years.
But when aged four score, this good king we find
Bereft of his senses and hearing, and blind.
In this reign America declared herself free,
And independent of rulers over the sea.
At length death relieved him, and he was cut down,
To make way for his eldest and libertine son.

But though of talent acknowledged the son possessed more,
The sire’s heart was good, the son’s corrupt at the core;
Though admired for his beauty, and manners, and wit,
As a husband and father he never was fit.
But before we pass on to the next reign in course,
We have a most sorrowful tale to rehearse,

Of the young princess Charlotte, next heir to the crown,
In the spring time of life, scarce with warning cut down.
If ever the nation were mourners sincere,
’Twas when they united around the sad bier
Of this youthful princess so deservedly dear;
And stout-hearted men unaccustomed to mourn,
Let bitter tears fall, as they gazed on her urn.

But who can describe the anguish of one,
The heart-stricken husband apart and alone.
As the sun of his happiness rose to its height,
Death enters his dwelling, and lo! it is night;
The light of his house forever has fled,
For his loved one, his dearest, lies low with the dead.
In the same day all his fair prospects were crossed,
When a wife, and a son, and a kingdom he lost.

Next William the fourth, is proclaimed Britain’s king,
For between him and his brother two deaths intervene.
No legitimate child did he leave in possession
Of the Crown of old England, in right of succession;

So the diadem passed to the youthful brow
Of his niece Queen Victoria, who honors it now;
And for her we wish, as our rhyming we close,
A long, peaceful reign, an old age of repose.

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