Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A (Doggerel) History Of England

written in 2002-3 for the Time Team Forum Friends
1066 and William sees his chance for invasion
One battle later, we're ruled by a Norman
Then Rufus, and Harry, then Stephen and Maud
Next thing you know, there's a Plantagenet horde.
Starting with Henry, second of that name
...and Dicky The Lion, with his crusading game.
King John he came next, greedy for dosh,
but managed to lose it, under The Wash.
Third Harry was next, he lost at Lewes
but Evesham reprieved him, when Montfort got headless.
And here comes Longshanks, the Hammer of Scots
He hated those Scottish, and the Welsh lots!
Then Edward the Second, bit of a joker
His bum was impaled on a red hot poker.
Then on the throne was Edward the Third
He was victor at Crecy, so I've heard
His son the Black Prince battled to fame
By rampaging through France, he made his name.
Next up, young Richard and the Peasant's Revolt
Wat Tyler got stabbed,'twas Mayor Walworth's fault
Young Dick was a dandy, and popular not
So Lancaster Henry said 'Right, that's your lot!'
Henry was opposed by Glendower and the Percys
At Shrewsbury, Prince Hal showed Hotspur no mercies
So Bolingbroke's reign was chock full of strife
His tomb's at Canterbury, next to his wife
Next Henry the Fifth, warmonger par excellence
Yet another King who declared war on France
Agincourt,on St Crispins, great victory was seen
Soon after, he made Valois Katherine his Queen
His son Henry Six was pious and meek
Wed Marge of Anjou, but remained pretty weak
Under this King most of France was lost...
And two Houses warred, no matter the cost.
The White Rose, the Red Rose, battles galore
The lush fields of England, swimming in gore.
When Warwick switched sides, brave Edward held fast
After Tewkesbury, into the Tower Henry was cast.
Ed's son, also Edward, succeeded as a boy
About his fate the history books are coy.
Alongside his brother, he vanished in the Tower
His uncle Richard took the reins of power
The Cat, the Rat, and Lovell our Dog
'Twas said - ruled all England under a Hog.
The Battle of Bosworth, King Richard lay dead
The crown was placed on Henry Tudor's head.
Warbeck and Simnel, they both tried their luck
But steadfast Henry did not give a ... hoot.
His heir was Prince Arthur (Harry came last)
Wed Katherine from Aragon, then breathed his last.
So Harry succeeded, amid rejoicing and fun
Married his bro's widow, and awaited a son.
But Kate's only living child was a girl
So Henry decided to give Anne a twirl.
The Church disagreed, Hal said 'Stuff the Pope
Dissolve the monasteries, I'm sure we'll cope'
Anne too had a girl, costing her head
And Henry got frisky with Jane Seymour instead.
She died birthing Edward, and Henry did despair
He briefly wed Anne of Cleves (Flanders Mare)
And a couple more Katherines, Howard and Parr
Then young Edward succeeded, but didn't get far.
'I'm the Kings Protector now,' Lord Somerset said
'Chinny reckon,' replied Northumberland, and severed his head.
'Oh dear! Ed's croaked, could be Mary's day...'
'...but I'd prefer the Protestant Lady Jane Grey'
But Mary prevailed, and soon won her crown
Then began burning heretics across country and town.
She torched archbishops and married Philip of Spain
Lost Calais, which was something of a pain.
Her sister Liz succeeded, to the Catholic's rage
Her reign is seen as a Golden Age.
She flirted with Dudley and the Anjou Duke
The Armada's fate made the Spanish King puke.
Her spies were Walsingham and Cecil the sage
And Shakespeare wrote 'all the world's a stage'.
Under Liz, England's star was bright not dim
The kingdom was inherited by her cousin Jim.
Gunpowder Plot tried to blow him sky high
Planned by Bob Catesby and someone called Guy.
So Jim was succeeded by his Cavalier son
An Alec Guinness lookalike known as Charlie One.
Chas thought that he had a Divine Right
The Commons said no, and began to fight.
The fields of England, again soaking in gore
At Edgehill, Naseby and of course Marston Moor.
The Roundheads found victory, and the Cavaliers failed,
King Charles lost his head as Cromwell prevailed.
In the Commonwealth the Puritans took a stand,
Churches were whitewashed and then Christmas was banned.
After this, Charles Two was brought back in
The Merry Monarch, with eyes for Nell Gwynne.
First came the plague, then fire hit London
'Twas the age of Wren, Locke and Newton.
Charles' brother succeeded, Jim Two as he's known,
His Papist sympathies were met with a groan.
At Sedgemoor, young Monmouth was forced to fly
Judge Jeffreys passed sentence, the rebels hung high.
Jim was forced to swallow a bitter pill
When ousted by Mary and spouse Orange Bill.
A direct male heir, though, did not come to pass...
A mole killed King Bill, by tripping his horse.
Queen Anne was next, the Stuarts' last chance,
While the Old Pretender kept grumbling in France.
An Elector came next, from Hanover most posh
His name was George, he only spoke Bosch.
'Twas the time the rich got into trouble
By over-investing in the South Sea Bubble.
The Jacobites, at Preston, fought bravely but lost
Later, at Culloden, they again counted the cost.
Bonnie Prince Charlie tried to challenge George Two
But fled when the Cumberland Duke said 'Shoo!
George Three's reign lasted a mighty sixty year
'Tho his brain occasionally slipped out of gear
The Industrial Revolution, and America's Independence, took place
And at Waterloo, poor old Boney lost face
In the Regency, Jane Austen showed some wit
Six novels describing a gentry full of... themselves
The Regent, George Four, was quite a rake
His marriage to Caroline was clearly a fake
History considers him a bit of a clown
He built a Pavilion in Brighton (a very gay town).
Silly Billy succeeded, he was the fourth Will
During his time, we got the Reform Bill
Workhouses were introduced, enough to make you chunder
And the Tolpuddle Martyrs were transported Down Under.
Vicky came next, and to save some bother
Took husband Bert's name of Saxe Coburg Gotha.
The British Empire left a huge global mark,
The Crystal Palace was built in Hyde Park.
A time of Disraeli, Pre Raphaelites and Dickens,
In Whitechapel, Jack the Ripper found easy pickings
King Teddy succeeded, a rake in his youth,
At his coronation, already long in the tooth.
Refused to count Kaiser Bill as a pal,
His visit to Paris led to Entente Cordiale.
George Five succeeded, and the Titanic went down,
And an Archduke was assassinated in Sarajevo town.
Off to trench warfare, our lads to fight...
Easter Rising, and the Irish showed some bite.
After the war ended, votes for women came
And a General Strike, Depression was to blame.
Ed Eight succeeded, but soon he stepped aside,
And with Wallis Simpson the knot was tied.
George Six's turn, and then came a tour
of Europe by Hitler, which meant another war!
The Luftwaffe did the East End some harm,
King and Queen visited (Gawd bless ya marm).
After war, our old Empire was virtually erased
Attlee got in, poor old Winnie replaced.
The King passed away, Liz's Queen for now,
Then came a crisis at the Suez Canal.
Then came the Beatles, and the Sixties swung,
A law was passed, criminals stopped being hung
An oil crisis led to a three day week,
Then a Winter of Discontent, things seemed bleak.
Mrs Thatcher came to power, diificult to shift
Galtieri invaded the Falklands, we were rather miffed
Then yuppies pervaded all, saying greed is good,
The Nineties saw recession, as expected they would
Millenium celebrated, with a Dome and an Eye,
Then a pair of great towers fell from the sky.
The future is here, everyone is online,
Let's all party on, England will be fine!

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