William the Conqueror

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William the Conqueror

King of England
In office
December 25, 1066 – September 9, 1087
Preceded by Edgar the Atheling (disputed)

Harold Godwinson

Succeeded by William II

Born September 1028
Falaise, Normandy
Died September 9, 1087
Priory of Saint Gervase, Rouen
Children 8 children

William the Conqueror lived from c.AD 1027 to 1087. His capital city was at Caen in northwestern France. He invaded England as the Duke of Normandy and won the Battle of Hastings in 1066. He then ruled England as William I. He is remembered as a harsh king who replaced most of the English landowners with a foreign aristocracy from France. He put down revolts with ruthless brutality.

In 1086 he compiled a book called the Domesday Book which listed every single town and village in England south of the River Tees, and how much tax it was possible to extract from them. Today this is a priceless document of medieval history and is an invaluable source in tracing ancestry. In principle entries in the book can still be used to raise taxes, although this rarely happens in practice.

He died in a battle in Normandy in 1087, and his body was so fat that his coffin burst during his funeral ceremony. He appointed his second and favourite son William Rufus as king of England in his place, leaving Normandy to his eldest son Robert.

Early life

William was the illegitimate son of Robert I, Duke of Normandy. For this reason, he was called William the Bastard by his contemporaries. William's father died in 1035 when he was seven years old. William was declared his heir, with his great uncle serving as regent. William assumed more control of the government in 1042 when he put down a series of rebellions. In 1053, William married Matilda, the daughter of Count Baldwin of Flanders.

See also

Further reading

  • Bartlett, Robert. England Under the Norman and Angevin Kings, 1075-1225 (2002) excerpt and text search
  • Chibnall, M. Anglo-Norman England, 1066—1166 (1986)
  • Huscroft, Richard. The Norman Conquest: A New Introduction. (2009) 369 pp. excerpt and text search