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Reign of Henry III. Part 3 page 3

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As the body of the king was about to be lowered into the grave, the barons who were present placed their hands in turn upon it, and took an oath of allegiance to Edward, then absent in the Holy Land. Henry III. died at the age c: sixty-five years, during fifty-six of which he had worn the crown. A few words only are needed to sum up the character of this prince as it is presented to us in contemporary records. He was certainly not without good qualities, which would probably have been more conspicuous in a humbler sphere of life. He was, as had been said of one of his predecessors, rather a monk than a king; he was humane, generous, true to his friends, but he was guided in the choice of those friends rather by his own inclinations than by any regard for the public good, or to the characters of the persons whom he so distinguished. He was remarkable for weaknesses rather than for vices; but in the case of oue placed in the seat of authority, it may be considered that such weaknesses are not less than vicious, and may be productive of more serious injury to the governed than positive vices. Few men who have occupied the English throne have rendered themselves so thoroughly contemptible in the eyes of all men as did Henry III. During the whole of his long reign, from the regency of the Earl of Pembroke to the assumption of power by the Earl of Leicester, Henry was a king only in name, and in those instances where he exercised the royal authority, he did so for purposes of exaction and extortion of money from his oppressed subjects.

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