William the Conqueror (1027-1087)

William the Conqueror

1027 William I of England or William the Conqueror was born in Falaise, Normandy, France. He was illegitimate son of Robert I, Duke of Normandy and of his mistress Arlette, the daughter of a peasant tanner from Falaise. Later, his mother married Herluin of Conteville and together they had two children. Except his two step-brothers, Odo of Bayeux and Robert, Count of Mortain, William had a sister, Adelaide of Normandy, another child of Robert I.

1035 William was appointed Duke of Normandy when he was only 8 years old. Many members of his father’s family wanted to take advantage of his death, and the legitimacy of this position was questioned because William was an illegitimate son. His childhood was sprinkled with many dangers: three of his guards and his guardian were killed.

1042 He started to lead himself and efficiently his dukedom and succeeded to strengthen the power of the ducal family despite of rebellious barons’ attacks. Moreover, he declared his independence in front of France’s king and reduced his authority over Normandy to a purely formal stage for the next 150 years.

1052 William began to laid claims to England’s throne, when he started to negotiate with his cousin, Edward the Confessor, in order to create an alliance against the rebellious who threatened the Eastern borders.

1064 Norman chroniclers, after conquering, sustained that England’s king himself promised the throne to Duke of Normandy because he did not have heirs. But this is an unlikely fact. Chronicler also said that this event had been confirmed by Harold, Count of Essex, too during a trip made by this to Normandy.

1066 Edward died without heirs, Harold was crowned King of England, even if William was very angry.

William’s armies crossed the Fosse on September and were encountered by King Harold, who had just returned from the Southern shore of the island after he had fought against another pretender to the throne, Harald Hardraada. After a march of more than 400 km, from Stamford Bridge, near York, British army fought valiantly at Hastings, but it was defeated by William’s more rested troops. Normans were able to defeat and because of the sly tactics used – they seemed to withdraw and then attacked again the British who wanted to follow them. He was crowned King of England at Westminster Cathedral, on Christmas Day. In order to show everybody that he was leading the country, he ordered the lifting of London Tower, his own fortress.

William I was a king with a strong will, who ruled the peace and shared the justice with violent methods.

After the successful invasions in Scotland – 1072 and Wales – 1081, William created defensive formations along the borders of the two countries. William chose some loyal and skilled people, who he let to manage the new kingdom while he was to Normandy. A big part of English Norman government’s successes can be attributed to his old friend, too, Lanfranc, who he made Archbishop of Canterbury.

1086 He ordered the performance of Domesday census. In foreign policy, William felt threatened by the alliance between Philip I of France and his son, Robert Curthose.

1087 This alliance made William so angry that, dying out (he had been wounded by the handle of his horse’s saddle, in Mantes), he disowned Robert and let the England’s Kingdom to his second son, William Rufus. Robert inherited only Normandy.

1087 On September 9th, he died at Rouen, France.



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