William I, William the Conqueror   Home



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William the Conqueror, who was called William the Bastard before the Norman Conquest, was the Duke of Normandy. He was called the bastard since he was the illegimate child of Robert, the Devil Duke of Normandy and Herleva áš­he daughter of a tanner or embalmer, who were not married due to great differences in social status. His father Robert was called the devil because of his cruelty and use of violence. After William was crowned king of England, people would call him a bastard behind his back.

The exact date of birth of William is not known, he was probably born in 1927 or 1928 to Herleva. In 1931, William's father Robert, married off Herleva his mother to Herluin de Conteville, one of his favorite nobles. Since William's mother was not married, he would get upset when people taunted him to insult him. His mother Herleva died in 1050. His father Robert died in 1935 and since he had no other heir, William became the duke of Normandy when he was a child

Since his parents were not married, and he became the duke when he was a child, William faced opposition from his relatives and others who though that they had a greater right to the throne. Three of his guardians were killed violently,and his tutor was murdered. He finally became a knight in 1042, and assumed some of his responsibilities. He still faced opposition from people who wanted to become the Duke of Normandy

In 1049, William was married to Matilda of Flanders and initially it was difficult to finalize the marriage because of he was illegitimate. They had 10 children including at least four sons. He also faced rebellion in other parts of Normandy. However, he was supported by Henry, the King of France, so he was able to suppress the rebellion. After Edward the confessor who was a distant relative died, he decided to stake his claim to the throne.

Though he is one of the major historical figures for the conquest of England, William the conqueror was not a very flamboyant general of his army. He was a shrewd general who would ask his troops to retreat if they were being overpowered by his enemy. After defeating the English army, he still faced rebellion in different parts of England from the Anglo Saxon lords. He ordered the construction of castles all over England . For raising his army he would ask the landlords or landowners to contribute funds and knights. Hence he commissioned the Domesday book, in 1086

After his wife Matilda died in 1083, William was upset. Compared to other rulers he did not have many extra marital affairs. As he grew older, he put on weight and tried to lose weight going on diet. However he did not lose weight. When he died his attendants allegedly looted him and fled. He also could not fit into the stone sarcophus for him.

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