The career of William Fitzosbert or Longbeard, also belonging to this reign, indicates the same leaven of nationality working in the masses. Fitzosbert, one of those debauched Crusaders who came home unfit for anything but fighting and vice, quarrelled with a brother who had brought him up, and who now refused to supply him with unlimited pocket-money. Denouncing this brother as a traitor to the king, his charge was repelled by the court at Westminster. On the head of this grievance Fitzosbert allowed his beard to grow in token of his sympathy with the common people, and set up in business as a public agitator or demagogue. His fiery eloquence inflamed the minds of the Londoners to a high degree; more than fifty thousand names blackened his muster roll, and a rising against the Norman rule seemed imminent, when a sudden dash of soldiers upon him as he walked unguarded in the streets drove him for refuge into the steeple of St. Mary-le-Bow, where he held out for four days. Then smoked out by the burning of the doors, he got a knife-wound in the belly while trying to rush into the street. Dragged naked and bleeding at a horse's heels to Tyburn tree, he was there hanged with nine of his followers.
This "king of the poor," as he was called, had won the popular affection simply because from selfish and base motives he had opposed the laws they hated and groaned under. Chips of his gibbet, earth on which his feet had rested, became sacred relics, and so much did pilgrimage to the scene of his quasi-martyrdom grow into fashion among the poor, that the whip and the prison-cell had to be called in to quell the fervour of the mob. We see in the stories of both Hood and Longbeard the yearning of a wretched and trodden people after the relief that seemed so long in coming.
The darkest hour was yet to come; and then--THE DAWN.
Source: The History of England (1864). Book I. First Period.--The Celtic Time. Chapter VIII. Richard of the Lion Heart
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A Collection of Quotes Based on the Name William