William II of England

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William II
William II of England.jpg
William II drawn by Matthew Paris
King of England
Reign26 September 1087 
2 August 1100
Coronation 26 September 1087 [1]
Predecessor William I
Successor Henry I
Bornc. 1056
Normandy, France
Died2 August 1100 (aged c. 43–44)
The New Forest, England
House Normandy
Father William I of England
Mother Matilda of Flanders

William II (Old Norman: Williame; c.1056 – 2 August 1100), the third son of William the Conqueror, was King of England from 1087 until 1100, with powers over Normandy, and influence in Scotland. He was less successful in extending control into Wales. William is commonly known as William Rufus (Rufus being Latin for "the Red"), perhaps because of his ruddy appearance or, more likely, due to having red hair as a child that grew out in later life. [2] [lower-alpha 1]

Old Norman, also called Old Northern French or Old Norman French, was one of many langues d'oïl dialects. It was spoken throughout the region of what is now called Normandy and spread into England, Southern Italy, Sicily and the Levant. It is the ancestor of modern Norman, including the insular dialects, as well as Anglo-Norman. Old Norman was an important language of the Principality of Antioch during Crusader rule in the Levant.

William I, usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. A descendant of Rollo, he was Duke of Normandy from 1035 onward. After a long struggle to establish his power, by 1060 his hold on Normandy was secure, and he launched the Norman conquest of England six years later. The rest of his life was marked by struggles to consolidate his hold over England and his continental lands and by difficulties with his eldest son.

Duchy of Normandy Medieval duchy in northern France

The Duchy of Normandy grew out of the 911 Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte between King Charles III of West Francia and Rollo, leader of the Vikings. The duchy was named for its inhabitants, the Normans.


William was a figure of complex temperament, capable of both bellicosity and flamboyance. He did not marry, nor did he father any offspring, which has led to speculations of possible homosexuality by historians. [4] He died after being struck by an arrow while hunting, under circumstances that remain unclear. Circumstantial evidence in the behaviour of those around him raises strong, but unproven, suspicions of murder. [5] His younger brother Henry I hurriedly succeeded him as king.

Homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" to people of the same sex. It "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions."

Henry I of England 12th-century King of England and Duke of Normandy

Henry I, also known as Henry Beauclerc, was King of England from 1100 to his death in 1135. Henry was the fourth son of William the Conqueror and was educated in Latin and the liberal arts. On William's death in 1087, Henry's elder brothers Robert Curthose and William Rufus inherited Normandy and England, respectively, but Henry was left landless. Henry purchased the County of Cotentin in western Normandy from Robert, but William and Robert deposed him in 1091. Henry gradually rebuilt his power base in the Cotentin and allied himself with William against Robert. Henry was present when William died in a hunting accident in 1100, and he seized the English throne, promising at his coronation to correct many of William's less popular policies. Henry married Matilda of Scotland but continued to have a large number of mistresses by whom he had many illegitimate children.

Barlow says he was "A rumbustious, devil-may-care soldier, without natural dignity or social graces, with no cultivated tastes and little show of conventional religious piety or morality—indeed, according to his critics, addicted to every kind of vice, particularly lust and especially sodomy." On the other hand, he was a wise ruler and victorious general. Barlow finds that, "His chivalrous virtues and achievements were all too obvious. He had maintained good order and satisfactory justice in England and restored good peace to Normandy. He had extended Anglo-Norman rule in Wales, brought Scotland firmly under his lordship, recovered Maine, and kept up the pressure on the Vexin." [6]

Frank Barlow was an English historian, known particularly for biographies of medieval figures.

Maine (province) Place in France

Maine[mɛːn] is one of the traditional provinces of France. It corresponds to the former County of Maine, whose capital was also the city of Le Mans. The area, now divided into the departments of Sarthe and Mayenne, counts about 857,000 inhabitants.

Vexin Former French county

Vexin is a historical county of northwestern France. It covers a verdant plateau on the right bank (north) of the Seine running roughly east to west between Pontoise and Romilly-sur-Andelle, and north to south between Auneuil and the Seine near Vernon. The plateau is crossed by the Epte and the Andelle river valleys.

Early years

William's exact date of birth is not known, but it was some time between the years 1056 and 1060. He was the third of four sons born to William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders, the eldest being Robert Curthose, the second Richard, and the youngest Henry. William succeeded to the throne of England on his father's death in 1087, but Robert inherited Normandy. Richard had died around 1075 while hunting in the New Forest. [7]

Matilda of Flanders 11th-century Flemish noblewoman and Queen of England

Matilda of Flanders was Queen of England and Duchess of Normandy by marriage to William the Conqueror, and sometime Regent of these realms during his absence. She was the mother of ten children who survived to adulthood, including two kings, William II and Henry I.

Robert Curthose 11th and 12th-century Duke of Normandy, crusader, and claimant to the English throne

Robert Curthose, sometimes called Robert II, succeeded his father, William the Conqueror as Duke of Normandy in 1087 and reigned until 1106. Robert was also an unsuccessful claimant to the throne of the Kingdom of England. The epithet "Curthose" had its origins in the Norman French word courtheuse "short stockings" and was apparently derived from a nickname given to Robert by his father; the chroniclers William of Malmesbury and Orderic Vitalis reported that William the Conqueror had derisively called Robert brevis-ocrea.

New Forest area of southern England

The New Forest is one of the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in Southern England, covering southwest Hampshire and southeast Wiltshire.

William had five or six sisters. The existence of sisters Adeliza and Matilda is not absolutely certain, but four sisters are more securely attested:

Adeliza or Adelida was a daughter of the English king William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders. There is considerable uncertainty about her life, including her dates of birth and death. In a mortuary roll prepared at her sister's religious house, she was listed first among the daughters of William the Conqueror. She was usually the first daughter in lists of William's children, and thus probably the eldest. Her inclusion in the mortuary roll indicates that her death preceded the date of its 1113 compilation.

Adela of Normandy 11th and 12th-century daughter of William the Conqueror and Countess of Blois

Adela of Normandy, of Blois, or of England, also known as Saint Adela in Roman Catholicism, was Countess of Blois, Chartres, and Meaux by marriage to Stephen II, Count of Blois. He greatly benefited from the increased social status and prestige that came with such a marriage. She brought with her not only her title, but a wedding gift of cash and other movable goods from the prodigious store of Anglo-Norman wealth. She was regent of Blois during the absence of her spouse in 1096–1100 and 1101–02, and during the minority of her son from 1102 until 1120.

Stephen, Count of Blois Count of Blois

Stephen II Henry, Count of Blois and Count of Chartres, was the son of Theobald III, count of Blois, and Gersent of Le Mans. He is numbered Stephen II after Stephen I, Count of Troyes.

Cecilia of Normandy 11th and 12th-century daughter of William the Conqueror and abbess

Cecilia of Normandy is thought to be the eldest daughter of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders. Her brothers were kings William II and Henry I of England. She was very close to her other brother, Robert Curthose, and was educated by the abbess Matilda.

Records indicate strained relations between the three surviving sons of William I. William's contemporary, chronicler Orderic Vitalis, wrote about an incident that took place at L'Aigle in Normandy in 1077 or 1078: William and Henry, having grown bored with casting dice, decided to make mischief by emptying a chamber pot onto their brother Robert from an upper gallery, thus infuriating and shaming him. A brawl broke out, and their father had to intercede to restore order. [9] [lower-alpha 2]

According to William of Malmesbury, writing in the 12th century, William Rufus was "well set; his complexion florid, his hair yellow; of open countenance; different coloured eyes, varying with certain glittering specks; of astonishing strength, though not very tall, and his belly rather projecting." [10]

England and France

Great Seal of William II, King of England Great Seal of William Rufus.jpg
Great Seal of William II, King of England
Silver penny of William II showing a crowned head facing forward (1089), Yorkshire Museum, York Silver penny of William II (YORYM 2000 2062) obverse.jpg
Silver penny of William II showing a crowned head facing forward (1089), Yorkshire Museum, York

The division of William the Conqueror's lands into two parts presented a dilemma for those nobles who held land on both sides of the English Channel. Since the younger William and his brother Robert were natural rivals, these nobles worried that they could not hope to please both of their lords, and thus ran the risk of losing the favour of one ruler or the other, or both. [11] The only solution, as they saw it, was to unite England and Normandy once more under one ruler. The pursuit of this aim led them to revolt against William in favour of Robert in the Rebellion of 1088, under the leadership of the powerful Bishop Odo of Bayeux, who was a half-brother of William the Conqueror. [12] As Robert failed to appear in England to rally his supporters, William won the support of the English with silver and promises of better government, and defeated the rebellion, thus securing his authority. In 1091 he invaded Normandy, crushing Robert's forces and forcing him to cede a portion of his lands. The two made up their differences and William agreed to help Robert recover lands lost to France, notably Maine. This plan was later abandoned, but William continued to pursue a ferociously warlike defence of his French possessions and interests to the end of his life, exemplified by his response to the attempt by Elias de la Flèche, Count of Maine, to take Le Mans in 1099. [13]

William Rufus was thus secure in what was then the most powerful kingdom in Europe, given the contemporary eclipse of the Salian emperors. As in Normandy, his bishops and abbots were bound to him by feudal obligations; and his right of investiture in the Norman tradition prevailed within his kingdom, during the age of the Investiture Controversy that brought excommunication upon the Salian Emperor Henry IV. The king's personal power, through an effective and loyal chancery, penetrated to the local level to an extent unmatched in France. The king's administration and law unified the realm, rendering him relatively impervious to papal condemnation. In 1097 he commenced the original Westminster Hall, which when completed in 1099 was the largest hall in Europe, built "to impress his subjects with the power and majesty of his authority". [14]

Relations with the Church, and personal beliefs

Less than two years after becoming king, William II lost his father William I's adviser and confidant, the Italian-Norman Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury. After Lanfranc's death in 1089, the king delayed appointing a new archbishop for many years, appropriating ecclesiastical revenues in the interim. In panic, owing to serious illness in 1093, William nominated as archbishop another Norman-Italian, Anselm  – considered the greatest theologian of his generation – but this led to a long period of animosity between Church and State, Anselm being a stronger supporter of the Gregorian reforms in the Church than Lanfranc. William and Anselm disagreed on a range of ecclesiastical issues, in the course of which the king declared of Anselm that, "Yesterday I hated him with great hatred, today I hate him with yet greater hatred and he can be certain that tomorrow and thereafter I shall hate him continually with ever fiercer and more bitter hatred." [15] The English clergy, beholden to the king for their preferments and livings, were unable to support Anselm publicly. In 1095 William called a council at Rockingham to bring Anselm to heel, but the archbishop remained firm. In October 1097, Anselm went into exile, taking his case to the Pope. The diplomatic and flexible Urban II, a new pope, was involved in a major conflict with the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, who supported an antipope. Reluctant to make another enemy, Urban came to a concordat with William Rufus, whereby William recognised Urban as pope, and Urban gave sanction to the Anglo-Norman ecclesiastical status quo. Anselm remained in exile, and William was able to claim the revenues of the archbishop of Canterbury to the end of his reign. [16]

However, this conflict was symptomatic of medieval English politics, as exemplified by the murder of Thomas Becket during the reign of the later Plantagenet king Henry II (his great-nephew through his brother Henry) and Henry VIII's actions centuries later, and as such should not be seen as a defect of William II's reign in particular. [lower-alpha 3] Of course, contemporary churchmen were themselves not above engaging in such politics: it is reported that, when Archbishop Lanfranc suggested to William I that he imprison the rebellious bishop Odo of Bayeux, he exclaimed "What! he is a clergyman." Lanfranc retorted that "You will not seize the bishop of Bayeux, but confine the earl of Kent." (Odo held both titles.) [18]

Also, while there are complaints of contemporaries regarding William II's personal behaviour, he was instrumental in assisting the foundation of Bermondsey Abbey, endowing it with the manor of Bermondsey; and it is reported that his "customary oath" was "By the Face at Lucca!" [lower-alpha 4] It seems reasonable to suppose that such details are indicative of William II's personal beliefs.

War and rebellion

William II, depicted c. 1310 Willhelm Rufus.jpg
William II, depicted c.1310

William Rufus inherited the Anglo-Norman settlement detailed in the Domesday Book, a survey undertaken at his father's command, essentially for the purposes of taxation, which was an example of the control of the English monarchy. If he was less effective than his father in containing the Norman lords' propensity for rebellion and violence, through charisma, or political skills, he was forceful in overcoming the consequences. In 1095, Robert de Mowbray, the earl of Northumbria, refused to attend the Curia Regis , the thrice-annual court where the King announced his governmental decisions to the great lords. William led an army against Robert and defeated him. Robert was dispossessed and imprisoned, and another noble, William of Eu, accused of treachery, was blinded and castrated. [19]

In external affairs, William had some successes. In 1091 he repulsed an invasion by King Malcolm III of Scotland, forcing Malcolm to pay homage. In 1092 he built Carlisle Castle, taking control of Cumberland and Westmorland, which had previously been claimed by the Scots. [12] Subsequently, the two kings quarrelled over Malcolm's possessions in England, and Malcolm again invaded, ravaging Northumbria. At the Battle of Alnwick, on 13 November 1093, Malcolm was ambushed by Norman forces led by Robert de Mowbray. Malcolm and his son Edward were killed and Malcolm III's brother Donald seized the throne. William supported Malcolm's son Duncan II, who held power for a short time, and then another of Malcolm's sons, Edgar. Edgar conquered Lothian in 1094 and eventually removed Donald in 1097 with William's aid in a campaign led by Edgar Ætheling. Edgar recognised William's authority over Lothian and attended William's court.

William made two forays into Wales in 1097. Nothing decisive was achieved, but a series of castles was constructed as a marchland defensive barrier. [20]

In 1096, William's brother Robert Curthose joined the First Crusade. He needed money to fund this venture and pledged his Duchy of Normandy to William in return for a payment of 10,000 marks—a sum equalling about a quarter of William's annual revenue. In a display of the effectiveness of English taxation, William raised the money by levying a special, heavy, and much-resented tax upon the whole of England. William then ruled Normandy as regent in Robert's absence. Robert did not return until September 1100, one month after William's death. [21]

As regent for his brother Robert in Normandy, William campaigned in France from 1097 to 1099. He secured northern Maine but failed to seize the French-controlled part of the Vexin region. According to William of Malmesbury he was planning to invade Aquitaine at the time of his death. [22]


Death of William Rufus, lithograph by Alphonse de Neuville, 1895 Death of William Rufus.JPG
Death of William Rufus, lithograph by Alphonse de Neuville, 1895
Tomb of William Rufus, Winchester Cathedral (Robert Chambers, p.161, 1832) Tomb of William Rufus, Winchester Cathedral (Robert Chambers, p.161, 1832) - Copy.jpg
Tomb of William Rufus, Winchester Cathedral (Robert Chambers, p.161, 1832)

William went hunting on 2 August 1100 in the New Forest, probably near Brockenhurst, and was killed by an arrow through the lung, though the circumstances remain unclear. The earliest statement of the event was in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , which noted that the king was "shot by an arrow by one of his own men." [24] Later chroniclers added the name of the killer, a nobleman named Walter Tirel, although the description of events was later embroidered with other details that may or may not be true. [25] The first mention of any location more exact than the New Forest comes from John Leland, who wrote in 1530 that William died at Thorougham, a placename that is no longer used, but that probably referred to a location on what is now Park Farm on the Beaulieu estates. [26] [27]

The king's body was abandoned by the nobles at the place where he fell. A peasant later found it. William's younger brother, Henry, hastened to Winchester to secure the royal treasury, then to London, where he was crowned within days, before either archbishop could arrive. William of Malmesbury, in his account of William's death, stated that the body was taken to Winchester Cathedral by a few countrymen. [28]

To the chroniclers – men of the Church – such an "act of God" was a just end for a wicked king, and was regarded as a fitting demise for a ruler who came into conflict with the religious orders to which they belonged. [29] Over the following centuries, the obvious suggestion that one of William's enemies had a hand in this event has repeatedly been made: chroniclers of the time point out themselves that Tirel was renowned as a keen bowman, and thus was unlikely to have loosed such an impetuous shot. Moreover, Bartlett says that rivalry between brothers was the pattern of political conflict in this period. [30] William's brother Henry was among the hunting party that day and succeeded him as King.

Modern scholars have reopened the question, and some have found the assassination theory credible or compelling, [31] but the theory is not universally accepted. Barlow says that accidents were common and there is not enough hard evidence to prove murder. [32] Bartlett notes that hunting was dangerous. [33] Poole says the facts "look ugly" and "seem to suggest a plot." John Gillingham points out that if Henry had planned to murder his brother it would have been in his interest to wait until a later time. It looked as though there would soon be a war between William and his elder brother Robert, which would result in one of them being eliminated, thus opening the way for Henry to acquire both England and Normandy through a single assassination. [34] Tirel fled immediately. Henry had the most to gain by his brother's death. Indeed, Henry's actions "seem to be premeditated: wholly disregarding his dead brother, he rode straight for Winchester, seized the treasury (always the first act of a usurping king), and the next day had himself elected." [35] [36]

William's remains are in Winchester Cathedral, scattered among royal mortuary chests positioned on the presbytery screen, flanking the choir. [37] His skull appears to be missing, but some long bones may remain. [38]

Rufus Stone

A stone known as the "Rufus Stone", close to the A31 near the village of Minstead (grid reference SU270124 ), is claimed to mark the spot where William II fell. The claim that this is the location of his death appears to date from no earlier than a 17th-century visit by Charles II to the forest. [39] At the time the most popular account of William's death involved the fatal arrow deflecting off a tree, and Charles II appears to have been shown a suitable tree. [39] Letters in The Gentleman's Magazine reported that the tree was cut down and burned during the 18th century. [39] Later in that century the Rufus Stone was set up. [39] Originally it was around 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall with a stone ball on top. [39] King George III visited the stone in 1789, along with his queen, and an inscription was added to the stone to commemorate the visit. [39] It was protected with a cast iron cover in 1841 after repeated vandalism. [39]

The inscription on the Rufus Stone reads:

Here stood the oak tree, on which an arrow shot by Sir Walter Tyrrell at a stag, glanced and struck King William the Second, surnamed Rufus, on the breast, of which he instantly died, on the second day of August, anno 1100.
King William the Second, surnamed Rufus, being slain, as before related, was laid in a cart, belonging to one Purkis [lower-alpha 5] and drawn from hence, to Winchester, and buried in the Cathedral Church, of that city. [42]

Contemporary assessment

William was an effective soldier, but he was a ruthless ruler and, it seems, was little liked by those he governed. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , he was "hated by almost all his people and abhorrent to God." [43] Chroniclers tended to take a dim view of William's reign, arguably on account of his long and difficult struggles with the Church: these chroniclers were themselves generally clerics, and so might be expected to report him somewhat negatively. His chief minister was Ranulf Flambard, whom he appointed Bishop of Durham in 1099: this was a political appointment, to a see that was also a great fiefdom. The particulars of the king's relationship with the people of England are not credibly documented. Contemporaries of William, as well as those writing after his death, roundly denounced him for presiding over what these dissenters considered a dissolute court. In keeping with tradition of Norman leaders, William scorned the English and the English culture. [44]

Possible homosexuality

Contemporaries of William raised concerns about a court dominated by homosexuality and effeminacy. [45] For example, Orderic Vitalis in his Historia Ecclesiastica complained that at the court of William, "the effeminate predominated everywhere, and revealed [reveled?] without restraint, while filthy catamites, fit only to perish in the flames, shamelessly abounded themselves to the foulest practices of Sodom." Archbishop Anselm is said to have warned the king about the damage to his reputation of such a permissive court. [46]

Emma Mason has noted that while during his reign William himself was never openly accused of homosexuality, in the decades after his death numerous medieval writers spoke of this and a few began to describe him as a "sodomite". [47] Modern historians cannot state with certainty whether William was homosexual or not; however, he never took a wife or a mistress or fathered any children. As a bachelor king without an heir, William would have been pressed on all sides to take a wife and would have had numerous proposals for marriage. [47] The fact that he never accepted any of these proposals nor had any relations with women may show that he either had no desire for women, or he may have taken a vow of chastity or celibacy. [47]

Barlow says that the Welsh chronicles claim that Henry was able to succeed to the throne because his brother had made use of concubines and thus died childless, although no illegitimate offspring are named. Barlow also allows that William may have been sterile, but concludes "On the whole the evidence points to the king's bisexuality. [48]



  1. De Miraculis Sancti Eadmundi is alone in calling him William Longsword. [3]
  2. Barlow suggests that William and Henry probably urinated over Robert. [9]
  3. According to Eadmer, an unusually well placed witness, William II "protested that Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury could not possibly keep at the same time both the allegiance which he owed to the King and obedience to the Apostolic See against the King's will." [17] Anselm found himself in similar conflict with William II's successor, Henry I, as also reported by Eadmer.
  4. For an interesting discussion of such blasphemous oaths, see Barlow, F., William Rufus, Univ. of California Press, 1983, pp. 116–8. An alternative, pagan interpretation of this oath proposed by Margaret Murray is that William II swore by the "face of Loki": Murray, Margaret A., The God of the Witches, OUP, 1970, p. 164.
  5. The claim was first made by a certain Mr Purkis of the family of charcoal-burners and cottagers remaining at the same spot, who claimed descent when, in 1806, he sold a bridle he claimed was the king's to Sir Richard Phillips, claiming also to have possessed a wheel from the cart that carried his body. [40] Sir Francis Palgrave in his The History of Normandy and of England, reported the story uncritically. The Purkis family cottage remained at Canterton until the end of the 19th century [41]


  1. Tout An Advanced History of Great Britain from the Earliest Times to 1918. p. 94
  2. Barlow William Rufus pp. 11–12
  3. Mason, King Rufus: The Life and Murder of William II of England, p. 10
  4. Mason, King Rufus: The Life and Murder of William II of England, p. 16
  5. Mason, King Rufus: The Life and Murder of William II of England, pp. 9-11
  6. Frank Barlow, "William II (c.1060–1100)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) online accessed 28 Nov 2013
  7. Douglas William the Conqueror p. 393
  8. Douglas William the Conqueror p. 395
  9. 1 2 Barlow William Rufus pp. 33–34
  10. William of Malmesbury History of the Norman Kings p. 70
  11. Carpenter, Struggle for Mastery, p. 125 f.
  12. 1 2 Carpenter, Struggle for Mastery, p. 129.
  13. Barlow, William Rufus, pp. 402–406.
  14. Cescinsky, Herbert; Gribble, Ernest R. (February 1922). "Westminster Hall and Its Roof". The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs. 40 (227): 76–84. JSTOR   861585.(subscription required)
  15. Bosanquet (tr.) Eadmer's History p. 53
  16. Carpenter Struggle for Mastery p. 132
  17. Bosanquet (tr.) Eadmer's History p. 54
  18. William of Malmesbury History of the Norman Kings p. 60
  19. Carpenter, Struggle for Mastery, p. 131.
  20. Philip J. Potter, Gothic Kings of Britain: The Lives of 31 Medieval Rulers, 1016-1399 (2009), p. 47.
  21. "Robert II | duke of Normandy". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  22. Gillingham, John (2015). William II: The Red King. Allen Lane. p. 97.
  23. Chambers, Robert (1832). The Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities in Connection with the Calendar, Including Anecdote, Biography, & History, Curiosities of Literature and Oddities of Human Life and Character, Volume 2. London: W. & R. Chambers Limited. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  24. Quoted in Barlow William Rufus p. 421
  25. Barlow William Rufus pp. 420–423
  26. Lloyd, Arthur (2000). The Death of Rufus. The New Forest Ninth Centenary trust. pp. 19–20. ISBN   0-9526120-5-4.
  27. Lloyd, Arthur (2000). The Death of Rufus. The New Forest Ninth Centenary trust. p. 1. ISBN   0-9526120-5-4.
  28. Lloyd, Arthur (2000). The Death of Rufus. The New Forest Ninth Centenary trust. pp. 11–12. ISBN   0-9526120-5-4.
  29. Plumtree, James. "Stories of the Death of Kings: Retelling the Demise and Burial of William I, William II and Henry I", Southern African Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 21 (2012 for 2011), pp. 10-17
  30. Robert Bartlett, England under the Norman and Angevin Kings 1075-1225 (2000) p 6
  31. Grinnell-Milne Killing of William Rufus
  32. Barlow William Rufus pp. 408–432
  33. Robert Bartlett, England under the Norman and Angevin Kings 1075-1225 (2000) p. 240
  34. John Gillingham, "The Early Middle Ages" in The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain ed. Kenneth O. Morgan, Oxford University Press 1984, p.115
  35. Austin Lane Poole, From Domesday Book to Magna Carta 1087-1216 (1955) p 113-14
  36. C. Warren Hollister, "The Strange Death of William Rufus," Speculum (1973) 48#4 pp. 637-653 in JSTOR
  37. "Royal connections". Winchester Cathedral website. Dean and Chapter of Winchester Cathedral. 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  38. Lloyd, Arthur (2000). The Death of Rufus. The New Forest Ninth Centenary trust. p. 41. ISBN   0-9526120-5-4.
  39. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Lloyd, Arthur (2000). The Death of Rufus. The New Forest Ninth Centenary trust. pp. 22–26. ISBN   0-9526120-5-4.
  40. Timbs Historic Ninepins p. 92
  41. Rodgers and Parson "New Forest" English Woodland p. 51
  42. Hollister Henry I pp. 102–103
  43. Garmonsway (ed.) Anglo-Saxon Chronicle p. 235
  44. Cantor Civilization of the Middle Ages pp. 280–284
  45. James Neill, "The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies" 1993
  46. James Neill, "The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies" 1993
  47. 1 2 3 Mason, King Rufus: The Life and Murder of William II of England, pp. 9–25
  48. Barlow p. 109.
  49. Carpenter Struggle for Mastery pp. 531–532
  50. Green, Judith (2009). Henry I: King of England and Duke of Normandy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 322. ISBN   978-0-521-74452-2.

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William de St-Calais 11th century Norman Bishop of Durham, England

William de St-Calais was a medieval Norman monk, abbot of the abbey of Saint-Vincent in Le Mans in Maine, who was nominated by King William I of England as Bishop of Durham in 1080. During his term as bishop, St-Calais replaced the canons of his cathedral chapter with monks, and began the construction of Durham Cathedral. In addition to his ecclesiastical duties, he served as a commissioner for the Domesday Book. He was also a councilor and advisor to both King William I and his son, King William II, known as William Rufus. Following William Rufus' accession to the throne in 1087, St-Calais is considered by scholars to have been the new king's chief advisor.

The Charter of Liberties, also called the Coronation Charter, was a written proclamation by Henry I of England, issued upon his accession to the throne in 1100. It sought to bind the King to certain laws regarding the treatment of nobles, church officials, and individuals. The nineteenth-century historians Frederick Maitland and Frederick Pollock considered it a landmark document in English legal history and a forerunner of Magna Carta.

Gerard was Archbishop of York between 1100 and 1108 and Lord Chancellor of England from 1085 until 1092. A Norman, he was a member of the cathedral clergy at Rouen before becoming a royal clerk under King William I of England and subsequently his son King William II Rufus. Gerard was appointed Lord Chancellor by William I, and he continued in that office under Rufus, who rewarded him with the Bishopric of Hereford in 1096. Gerard may have been with the king's hunting party when William II was killed, as he is known to have witnessed the first charter issued by the new king, Henry I of England, within days of William's death.

Robert Bloet was Bishop of Lincoln 1093-1123 and Chancellor of England. Born into a noble Norman family, he became a royal clerk under King William I. Under William I's son and successor King William II, Bloet was first named chancellor then appointed to the See of Lincoln. Continuing to serve the king while bishop, Bloet remained a close royal councillor to William II's successor, King Henry I. He did much to embellish Lincoln Cathedral, and gave generously to his cathedral and other religious houses. He educated a number of noblemen, including illegitimate children of Henry I. He also was the patron of the medieval chronicler Henry of Huntingdon, and was an early patron of Gilbert of Sempringham, the founder of the Gilbertine monastic order.

Thomas of Bayeux Norman Archbishop of York

Thomas of Bayeux was Archbishop of York from 1070 until 1100. He was educated at Liège and became a royal chaplain to Duke William of Normandy, who later became King William I of England. After the Norman Conquest, the king nominated Thomas to succeed Ealdred as Archbishop of York. After Thomas' election, Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, demanded an oath from Thomas to obey him and any future Archbishops of Canterbury; this was part of Lanfranc's claim that Canterbury was the primary bishopric, and its holder the head of the English Church. Thomas countered that York had never made such an oath. As a result, Lanfranc refused to consecrate him. The King eventually persuaded Thomas to submit, but Thomas and Lanfranc continued to clash over ecclesiastical issues, including the primacy of Canterbury, which dioceses belonged to the province of York, and the question of how York's obedience to Canterbury would be expressed.

Hervey le Breton 12th-century Bishop of Ely and Bangor

Hervey le Breton was a Breton cleric who became Bishop of Bangor in Wales and later Bishop of Ely in England. Appointed to Bangor by King William II of England, when the Normans were advancing into Wales, Hervey was unable to remain in his diocese when the Welsh began to drive the Normans back from their recent conquests. Hervey's behaviour towards the Welsh seems to have contributed to his expulsion from his see. Although the new king, Henry I wished to translate Hervey to the see of Lisieux in Normandy, it was unsuccessful.

Osbern fitzOsbern was a Norman churchman.

William Warelwast, was a medieval Norman cleric and Bishop of Exeter in England. Warelwast was a native of Normandy, but little is known about his background before 1087, when he appears as a royal clerk for King William II. Most of his royal service to William was as a diplomatic envoy, as he was heavily involved in the king's dispute with Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury, which constituted the English theatre of the Investiture Controversy. He went several times to Rome as an emissary to the papacy on business related to Anselm, one of whose supporters, the medieval chronicler Eadmer, alleged that Warelwast bribed the pope and the papal officials to secure favourable outcomes for King William.

John of Tours or John de Villula (died 1122) was a medieval Bishop of Wells in England who moved the diocese seat to Bath. He was a native of Tours and was King William I of England's doctor before becoming a bishop. After his consecration as bishop, he was either given or purchased Bath Abbey, a rich monastery, and then moved the headquarters of the diocese from Wells, to the abbey. He rebuilt the church at Bath, building a large cathedral that no longer survives. He gave a large library to his cathedral and received the right to hold a fair in Bath. Not noted for his scholarship, he died suddenly in 1122.

Godfrey was a medieval Bishop of Chichester. The first Bishop of Chichester, was Stigand who died in 1087, it seems that he was followed by Godfrey. Confusion over the succession, was generated by William of Malmesbury, who suggested that Stigand was succeeded by a Bishop William.

Robert de Limesey was a medieval cleric. He became Bishop of Chester in 1085, then his title changed to Bishop of Coventry when the see was moved in 1102.

Events from the 1070s in England.

Anselm of Canterbury 11th and 12th-century Archbishop of Canterbury, theologian, and saint

Anselm of Canterbury, also called Anselm of Aosta after his birthplace and Anselm of Bec after his monastery, was an Italian Benedictine monk, abbot, philosopher and theologian of the Catholic Church, who held the office of archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109. After his death, he was canonized as a saint; his feast day is 21 April.

The Canterbury–York dispute was a long-running conflict between the archdioceses of Canterbury and York in medieval England. It began shortly after the Norman Conquest of England and dragged on for many years. The main point of the dispute was over whether Canterbury would have jurisdiction, or primacy, over York. A number of archbishops of Canterbury attempted to secure professions of obedience from successive archbishops of York, but in the end they were unsuccessful. York fought the primacy by appealing to the kings of England as well as the papacy. In 1127, the dispute over the primacy was settled mainly in York's favour, for they did not have to submit to Canterbury. Later aspects of the dispute dealt with concerns over status and prestige.

Hamo Dapifer was an Anglo-Norman royal official under both King William I of England and his son King William II of England. He held the office, from which his epithet derives, known in Latin as dapifer and in French seneschal, in English "steward", as well as the office of Sheriff of Kent.

Walter Giffard, Lord of Longueville in Normandy, 1st Earl of Buckingham was an Anglo-Norman magnate.


William Rufus
Born: 1056 Died: 2 August 1100
Regnal titles
Preceded by
William I
King of England
Succeeded by
Henry I