Charles I came to the throne in 1625. He was proud, but arrogant. His reign began badly in the disastrous wars he fought against Spain and France.
Costly (expensive =costose) wars had left him short of money ( = a corto di denaro) and Charles turned to Parliament to ask them to raise (increase = aumentare) taxes. Parliament refused to help him and so it was dissolved. Charles made him unpopular by attempting (trying = cercando) to force (oblige = obbligare) a new prayer book onto the people of Scotland. They rose up (= si ribellarono) against him and defeated the weak (fragile = debole) and badly led (commanded = coman date) English armies sent to fight them. Parliament was reformed and a new group known as the Puritans began to criticise the king. Charles led his soldiers into Parliament to arrest the Puritan leader John Pym, but he had already fled (gone away, escaped = fuggito).
King Charles had enraged (made furious = fatto arrabbiare) the Parliament once again with his behaviour (= comportamento) and he was forced to flee from London. The country was now divided and both sides raised their armies in a bloody civil war.
The war began well for Charles, but his luck did not last (= durare) for long. Parliament raised a new force called the New Model Army under the command of the brilliant General, Oliver Cromwell. He won great victories at the battles of Mars ton Moor and Naseby. Charles and his Royalist armies soon crumbled (= si divise)
The desperate King persuaded his old enemies the Scots to join (= unirsi) him, but they were defeated at Preston. King Charles was arrested and then executed at Whitehall in 1649.
During his days in prison in Carisbrooke Castle, on the Isle of White, Charles was allowed to play bowl (=bocce) outside.
In the days of Queen Elizabeth, English sailors first began to find their way across the seas to new lands, from which they brought home many strange, and rich, and beautiful things.
The Spaniards sailed across the seas too, to take gold and Silver from the mines (= miniere) in Mexico, which belonged to the King of Spain. Sometimes the English ships met the Spanish ones, and robbed them of their gold, for it was thought quite right and reasonable in those days to take every opportunity of doing harm (hurt = fare del male) to the enemies of England. Of course the Spaniards hated the English for this, and whenever they met English ships which were weaker than theirs they attacked them, and robbed them, killing the sailors, or taking them prisoners. |
Once, a small ship, called the Revenge, was sailing home to England, when it met with fifty great Spanish vessels.
The captain of the Revenge was Sir Richard Grenville, and he had a great many sick men on board.
There was no time to escape from the Spanish ships, which soon surrounded the little Revenge. So there were only two ways which Sir Richard could take. One was to give up (= consegnare) his ship to the Spaniards; the other was to fight with them till his men were all killed, or his ship sank. (= affondata) |
Some of the sailors suggested him to take the first way, but the others, and all the sick men, said: “No, let us fall into the hands of God, and not into the hands of Spain.” This they said because they thought it better to die, than to be made prisoners by the cruel Spaniards.
Sir Richard made up his mind to fight. It was afternoon when the firing (battle = combattimento) began, and all night long, until daylight carne, the little English ship kept (= tenne testa) the fifty Spanish vessels at bay. Then it was found that all the powder was gone (= era finito), and all the English were dead or dying. And then only was the flag of the Revenge pulled down (= ammainata), to show that she surrendered to her enemies.
The brave Sir Richard was taken on board a Spanish ship, where he soon died of his wounds (= ferite).
These were his last words: ” Here die I, Richard Grenville, with a joyful and quiet mind, because I have fought for my country and my queen, for honour, and for God.”
Elizabeth and Raleigh
Sir WALTER RALEIGH was a favourite courtier of Queen Elizabeth. An old story tells us of the way he won her favour.
One day, as the queen and her ladies were out walking, dressed in fine robes of silk and lace (= vestiti di seta ricamati), they carne to a muddy pond (=pozza fangosa) in the road. The queen stopped disappointed (=scocciata), for (because) she did not like getting her feet wet and dirty. As she was thinking how best to step through (=scavalcare) the mud, a young man in a rich suit (= vestito da uomo) carne along the road.
Directly he saw the queen, young Raleigh, for it was he, sprang forward (= fece un balzo), and, taking off his velvet cloak (= mantello), spread it over the mud for her to walk upon.
Elizabeth was much pleased; she rewarded (= premiò) Raleigh with a post in the palace. There, one day, he wrote upon a window which he knew the queen would pass: ” Fain would I climb, but that I fear to fall”. When Elizabeth saw this, she added these words: ” If thy heart fail thee, climb not at all “. However, Raleigh did climb very soon to a high place, for he was clever and brave as well as polite, and he served the queen in many ways.
It is said that his ships first brought potatoes and tobacco to England from America, and that he was the first man in this country to smoke. One day, a servant brought a jug of ale into the room where Raleigh was sitting and smoking. The man was much alarmed to see smoke coming from his master’s mouth, and he quickly emptied the jug of ale over Raleigh’s head, to put out the fire which he thought was burning within him.
In the time of James I, many of the English people were very hardly (cruelly = malamente) treated because of their religion. At last they could bear (= sopportare) the ill-usage (= maltrattamenti) no longer, and they thought of a plan to get rid of (= disfarsi) the king and queen and their eldest son.
Many barrels (= barili) of gunpowder (= polvere da sparo) were secretly put into a cellar (= cantina)under the Parliament House, where James was to meet his lords and commons (le due camere del Parlamento) on November 5 ; and a man named Guy Fawkes was hired (= mandato)to set fire /=incendiare) to it at the right time, and so to blow up (= far esplodere) the hall above, and all in it.
All was ready, when one of the plotters (0 membri del complotto) remembered that a friend of his would be at the meeting next day. As he did not wish (want = volevano) him to be killed, he sent him a letter, without signing (= firmare) his name, saying: ” Do not go to the House, for there shall be a sudden blow to many, and they shall not see who hurts them”.
The lord who received this letter took it to the King’s Council, and when King James saw it, he guessed (= indovinò) what the ” sudden blow ” would be. Men were sent to search the cellars, and there, on the very night before the deed (= gesto) was to be done, Guy Fawkes was found waiting till the time should come to set fire to the powder. He was cruelly tortured to make him tell all he knew, but he was a brave man, and he died without betraying (= tradire) his friends.
Since that time, every year, on the 5th of November, bonfires (= fuochi d’artificio) have been lighted in many places in England, and “guys” (= pupazzi) burned, to remind people how an English king was once saved from a great danger.
Lathom House is an old English castle. When the war broke out (=scoppiò) between King Charles and his people, the Earl of Derby, who was the master of this castle, went away to fight for his King. He left the countess at home with her children and a small band of men to guard (protect = proteggere) her and her castle. One day an army of the people’s soldiers came to the castle, and the leader of the army sent word (= mandò a dire ) to the countess that she must give up (= arrendere) the castle at once.
But the countess was a brave woman. She replied that she would rather set fire (= avrebbe piuttosto dato fuoco) to the castle, and die with her children in the flames, than give it up to the king’s enemies.
Then began a fight which lasted (= durò) many weeks. The large army outside the walls did her best o break a way in , but the small company inside defended the castle bravely. At last the leader of the besiegers (= assediatori) brought a strong new gun, and it was soon seen that this would break down the walls. Then one night the Countess sent out a party of brave men, who seized (= presero) the new gun and brought it into the castle, and so the worst danger was over (= finito). Soon afterwards (= subito dopo) Prince Rupert, one of the King’s generals, came with an army to help the Countess, and Lathom House was saved.
The prince drove away the soldiers of the people, and took from them 22 banners (= insegne), which he sent as a present to the countess, to show how much he admired her bravery.
The Spanish Armada was a great fleet which the King of Spain sent to attack England, in the days of Queen Elizabeth. There were more than a hundred ships, so large and high that they looked like towers on the sea; and they carne sailing along arranged in the shape of a big half-moon. The great English admiral, Sir Francis Drake, was playing at bowls when messengers carne hurrying to teli him that the Armada was approaching. He quietly finished his game, and then set sail to fight the Spaniards. His fleet was not so large as the Armada, and the ships were small, but they were light and fast. They met the Armada in the English Channel, and sailed round it, attacking any ship that dropped out of line, and speeding away before the clumsy Spanish vessels could seize them. In this way they did much harm to the enemy. Then, one night, when it was dark, and the Spanish vessels were lying quietly at anchor, Admiral Drake sent eight blazing fire-ships into their midst. In great fear, the Spaniards cut their anchor-ropes, and sailed out to the open sea, and the English ships followed, firing upon them as they fled. For two days the English chased the flying Spaniards. Then their powder and shot failed, and a storm arose; so they had to go back. The Armada sailed on, hoping to escape, but the wild tempest tossed many of the great vessels on the rocks and cliffs of the coast, and dashed them to pieces. Only a few, broken and battered, with starving and weary men on board, ever reached Spain again. And so England was saved.
Sir Francis Drake
Francis Drake was born in Devonshire between 1541 and 1543. He had a poor childhood and at the age of 13 went to sea. Over the next few years he proved to be (fece notare le sue qualità di) an excellent sailor and soon was rewarded with two ships of his own (sue). Drake was given permission to attack England’s enemy, the Spanish, wherever (ovunque) they could be found. He plundered (robbed = derubava) Spanish ships and towns and after his audacious attack on Panama city, he was the first Englishman to see the Pacific Ocean. After a brief period of peace between Spain and England, Drake returned to the seas in his new flagship (nave di bandiera), the Golden Hind. He entered the Pacific Ocean and sailed up the coast of south America attacking Spanish ships along the way. When his fleet returned to Plymouth harbour in 1580 the ships were loaded (cariche) with Spanish gold. Queen Elizabeth I visited the Golden Hind and Drake was given a knighthood (cavalierato) onboard the ship. He defeated the Spanish Armada burning the Spanish ships into the harbour of Calais. Drake last voyage was in 1596, but after catching a fever he died in the west Indies. His body was placed in a lead casket (cassa di piombo) and he was buried (sepolto) at sea.
Lathom House and the Civil War
Lathom House is an old English castle. When the war broke out (scoppiò) between King Charles and his people, the Earl of Derby, who was the master of this castle, went away to fight for his King. He left the countess at home with her children and a small band of men to guard (protect = proteggere) her and her castle. One day an army of the people’s soldiers came to the castle, and the leader of the army sent word (= mandò a dire ) to the countess that she must give up (arrendere) the castle at once. But the countess was a brave woman. She replied that she would rather set fire (avrebbe piuttosto dato fuoco) to the castle, and die with her children in the flames, than give it up to the king’s enemies. Then began a fight which lasted (durò) many weeks. The large army outside the walls did her best o break a way in , but the small company inside defended the castle bravely. At last the leader of the besiegers (assediatori) brought a strong new gun, and it was soon seen that this would break down the walls. Then one night the Countess sent out a party of brave men, who seized (presero) the new gun and brought it into the castle, and so the worst danger was over (finito). Soon afterwards (subito dopo) Prince Rupert, one of the King’s generals, came with an army to help the Countess, and Lathom House was saved. The prince drove away the soldiers of the people, and took from them 22 banners (insegne), which he sent as a present to the countess, to show how much he admired her bravery.
Bonny Prince Charlie
The history of Scotland that fashinated so much writers like Sir Walter Scott, is sometimes as romantic as a novel. Scotland suffered from the efforts of the Stuarts to win back the throne. The first “Jacobite” revolt to get back the crown for James II’ s son, in 1715, was unsuccessful. The Stuarts tried again in 1745, when James II’ s grandson, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, famous as Bonnie Prince Charlie, landed (= sbarcò) on the west coast of Scotland. He persuaded some clan chiefs (= capi) to join him (= unirsi a lui) and these chiefs convinced their men to fight menacing to burn down (= radere al suole) their houses. Most clans did not join the rebellion, and nor did the men of the Scottish lowlands. At first Bonny prince Charlie was successful: his army (= esrcito) of Highlanders entered Edinburgh and defeated an English army in a surprise attack. Then he marched south. His success depended on English men who wanted to join his army. When the army was half way (= a mezza strada per) to London, however, it was clear that few of the English would join him, and the highlanders themselves were unhappy at being so far from home. The rebels moved back to Scotland. Early in 1746 they were defeated by the British army at Culloden, near Inverness. The rebellion was finished. The English army behaved with cruelty: many highlanders were killed, others were sent to work in America. Their homes were destroyed, and their farm animals killed. The fear of the highland danger was so great that a law was passed forbidding (= proibendo) highlanders to wear their traditional skirts, the kilt. The old patterns of the kilt, called tartans, and Scottish musical instruments, the bagpipe, were also forbidden. Some did not obey this law and were shot. After the Battle of Culloden Bonnie Prince Charlie fled (= scappò) Scotland and lived in France where he died age 67. He became a romantic hero for the Scots and the story of his escape with the help of Flora MacDonald, still captures the imagination.
Mary Read and Anne Bonny
Nearly all pirates were men- with some notable exceptions. Mary Read and Anne Bonny were two women who disguised themselves as men and became pirates. They were better sailors than most of the men on their ships. Mary was a young Englishwoman who run away to find adventures. Anne went to sea when she fell in love with the famous pirate Calico Jack Rackham. She soon decided to become a pirate, too. Mary and Anne met when Mary’s ship attacked a merchant ship o which Anne was hiding. Together, the two women terrorized the Caribbean until they were captured near Jamaica in 1720.
Rum, unfortunately, also caused the downfall of many pirate crews. In military and merchant ships the authorities measured out the consume of rum; in a pirate ship, the code of discipline was quite weak and usually did not care about alcohol abuse. Stories say that many pirate ships were easily boarded because the mariners were too drunk to fight. One of the most famous example is the capture of the ship run by the notorious pirates Anne Bonney, Mary Reed, and Calico Jack Rackham.
Mary Read and Anne Bonny