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Two-minute tales from history, myth and fiction, accompanied by word games, grammar games and writing practice, all based on traditional school textbooks.

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St Nicholas and the Empty Granary
Music: Charles Villiers Stanford
The saintly Bishop helped the captain of a merchant ship to cut through the red tape, and save his town from starvation.

IN 333, Lycia suffered one of the worst famines anyone could remember. It was especially bad in Myra, where St Nicholas was bishop, and the granary at the port of Andriaca, built by the Emperor Hadrian, stood empty.

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Two Posts
St Nicholas and the Golden Dowry
Nicholas used his inheritance to help three vulnerable girls escape a life of exploitation.

IN Nicholas’s hometown of Patara there lived a man who had once been very wealthy, but had now fallen into desperate poverty.

He had three daughters, but they had already had to move away to find work, and as they were all remarkably beautiful he was increasingly anxious that a brothel was their most likely fate.

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St Nicholas and the Luckless Sailor
Music: John Field
After surviving a terrible storm, a crew-member on St Nicholas’s ship met with a tragic accident.

INTENDING to visit the Holy Sepulchre, Nicholas boarded an Egyptian ship headed for Jerusalem. One night during his voyage, he dreamt that the ship was caught in a terrible storm, and that Satan had cut the rigging and broken the wheel.

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AZ Index

See a complete A-Z List of all the stories on this website.

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Mediaeval History’ (59 posts)
page 1
1 The Bishop and the Chatterbox
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
One week into a Lenten retreat with the Bishop of Hexham, a boy’s miserable life is turned right around.
2 Fair Rosamund
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
Charles Dickens tells the story of King Henry II and the enchantingly beautiful Rosamund Clifford.
3 The Lion and the Ant
Richard I thought a veteran Crusader and conqueror of Saladin could handle a few French peasants.
4 The Arts of Fair Rowena
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
Charles Dickens believed that Britain’s Saxon invaders gained power by force of arms – but not by weapons.
5 Birds of Paradise
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf paints a word-picture of heaven and the seraph-band that swoops and soars before the throne.
6 Lambert Simnel
Henry VII must decide how to deal with a boy calling himself ‘King Edward VI’.
page 2
7 The Last Commandment
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf imagines the farewell between Jesus and his Apostles, forty days after his resurrection.
8 The Battle of Nechtansmere
King Ecgfrith of Northumbria dismissed repeated warnings about his imperial ambitions.
9 The Six Leaps of Faith
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf explores a prophecy from the Song of Solomon.
10 At Heaven’s Gate
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf takes us to the threshold of God’s holy city, and gives us a choice.
11 Annunciation
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Cynewulf reflects on the mystery of the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary.
12 The Battle of Brunanburh
Athelstan confirmed himself as King of the English, and also reawakened a feeling that all Britain should be a united people.
page 3
13 The Battle of the Standard
Scottish King David I hoped to exploit the unpopularity of the Normans by trading on his own English heritage.
14 The Voyage of ‘Golden Hinde’
Elizabethan adventurer Sir Francis Drake combined sailing round the world with really annoying the King of Spain.
15 Wenceslaus: A Life for a Life
The murder of the ‘good king Wenceslas’ led to a flowering of Christian faith in Europe.
16 Gytha and Vladimir
Scandinavian tradition says that the daughter of King Harold was consort to one the great rulers of Kievan Rus’.
17 Mary Queen of Scots
Henry VII’s great-granddaughter Mary never grasped that even royalty must win the people’s respect.
18 The Battle of Agincourt
One of the best-known of all battles in English history, but not because of the conflict of which it was a part.
page 4
19 Gregory and the Slave Children
How some English slave children sparked the conversion of Britain to Christianity.
20 Our Lady’s Mantle
Shortly after Askold and Dir founded Kiev in 862, they launched a brazen but ill-fated assault on the capital of the Roman Empire.
21 Merchants of Muscovy
In 1553, Richard Chancellor set out on a perilous voyage to Russia in order to bypass the Hanseatic League’s single market.
22 Sir Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter’s dizzy life brought him fame and fortune in dangerous places, the most dangerous of which was Court.
23 Britain and the Tsars
Britain’s ties to the rulers of Russia go back to the time of the Norman Invasion.
24 Flodden Edge
The Scots paid a heavy price for honouring their ‘Auld Alliance’ with France.
page 5
25 The Kings of Northumbria
Out of a restless alliance between two 6th century kingdoms came a civilisation that defined Englishness.
26 Vinland
Based on
The Saga of Eric the Red
Scandinavian warrior Leif Ericson was sent to bring Christianity to Greenland, but accidentally discovered North America instead.
27 The Re-rediscovery of America
John Day of Bristol did not want Christopher Columbus to labour under a misapprehension.
28 Turning the Tide
By Henry of Huntingdon
(?1088-?1157)
King Canute enacted a memorable demonstration of the limits of government power.
29 The Last English King
The Normans conquered England in 1066, and the country would never be the same again.
30 Kings and Queens: Alfred to Ethelred
England’s rulers from the only one named ‘the Great’, to the king who lost his crown to the Danes.
page 6
31 Wulfstan and the Seal of Approval
Based on an account by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
William the Conqueror’s purge of the English Church was halted by a humble bishop and a dead king.
32 The Fall of Constantinople
Hospitality and sympathy, but no help - the Byzantine Emperor learns a bitter lesson about western diplomacy.
33 The Nine-Day Queen
Lady Jane Grey’s accession was almost instantly overturned.
34 The Spanish Armada
Philip of Spain’s attempt to teach Elizabeth I a lesson did not go as planned.
35 The Langbaurgh Charter
Peter de Brus and his tenants agreed to work together after King John ordered a crackdown on unpaid rents.
36 St George, Patron Saint of England
George was born in Israel and served in the Roman army, yet makes an ideal patron for England.
page 7
37 The Signing of the Great Charter
King John promised his nobles respect, but he was not a man to regard his word as his bond.
38 Welcome to Micklegarth
After the Norman Conquest, thousands of worried Englishmen departed for a new life in the Byzantine world.
39 High Beneath Heaven’s Roof
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The Cross of Christ speaks, and tells of the amazing transformation from sign of shame to sign of redemption.
40 Alfred Learns To Read
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
Even as a child, King Alfred couldn’t resist a challenge.
41 King Edwin and the Hand of Destiny
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
Forced from his throne and threatened with murder, Edwin makes a curious bargain for his deliverance.
42 The Tichborne Dole
The strange-but-true story of a Lady Day tradition.
page 8
43 Richard of York: One Hand on the Throne
Based on an account by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
The Wars of the Roses pitted two royal houses against each other for the crown of England.
44 The Wars of the Roses
A struggle between rival Royal Houses during the 15th century
45 King Henry II
The great-grandson of William the Conqueror, whose knights assassinated Thomas Becket and whose family harried him to an early grave.
46 The Disaster of the White Ship
The loss of the heir to the throne threw England into crisis.
47 The Alleluia Victory
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
How hard-pressed Christians on the Welsh border won a battle without bloodshed.
48 The Gift Thrice Given
By Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
A story about William the Conqueror’s father, Robert the Magnificent.
page 9
49 How Alfred Burnt the Cakes
By Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
A popular tale of scorched cakes and a scolded king.
50 Edith and Edward
Based on an account by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
A King and Queen gentler than the times in which they lived.
51 The Hermit of Handbridge
By Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
King Harold died at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Or did he?
52 The Battle of the Winwaed
In 655, the future of England as a Christian nation hung by the slenderest of threads.
53 The Selfless Courage of Leo the Cook
In 6th century France, a faithful kitchen servant sold himself into slavery to rescue a kidnapped boy.
54 The Assassination of Thomas Becket
Four knights thought they were helping their King, but they could not have made a greater mistake.
page 10
55 The Tale of Dick Whittington
The 14th century Mayor of London owed his fortune (and his wife) to his cat.
56 The Battle of Neville’s Cross
Ralph Neville spoiled David of Scotland’s alliance with France in the Hundred Years’ War
57 The Peasants’ Revolt
In 1381, fourteen-year-old King Richard II was faced with a popular uprising against excessive taxation and government meddling in the labour market.
58 Black Agnes Dunbar
When Edward III sent the Earl of Salisbury to take her absent husband’s castle, Agnes brushed his attack aside - literally.
59 The Daring Escape of Richard the Fearless
Based on a story by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
The ten-year-old got away from a royal castle disguised as a bundle of hay.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Subject and Object

Use each of the words below as either the subject or the object of a verb.

Worth. Love. Husband.

JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Inlet’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Do you know ‘conscientious’ (7 letters), and ‘unreturned serve’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘popular Asian chilled fruit drink’ (7 letters), and ‘bear witness’ (6 letters)?
Do you know ‘perceptive’ (5 letters), and ‘English artist’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘a temperature scale’ (6 letters), and ‘a bit of useful advice’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘additional’ (5), and ‘reject contemptuously’ (5)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
A word-making and word-searching game with a dash of strategy to it.
top topics
History (379)
Fiction (82)

letters game

Make words from two or more of the tiles below. What is the highest-scoring word you can make?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

More like this: High Tiles (Letters Game) Games with Words

numbers game

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

More like this: Maths Steps (Mental Arithmetic Game) Mental Arithmetic