William the Conqueror: Interesting Facts and Stories

This “illegitimate son,” the duke of Normandy, forever changed the course of English history. Several genealogical tables are included.

He was the duke of Normandy, a wealthy region in northern France, in 1037, but he had to fight to keep this territory that was surrounded by neighbors who wanted it when William was young and inexperienced, from 1047-1060.

In 1060 he fought and won it. He was strong and politically astute enough to win the attention and admiration of King Edward the Confessor of England and the nobility around Europe. Edward handed on the throne to him, but Earl Harold disagreed.

Battle of Hastings: 14 Oct 1066.

Source

We are (supposedly) connected to William through our “royal gateway ancestor” William Clopton.

Let’s set the stage, first.

ABBREVIATIONS AND TERMS

r. = ruled or reigned, from a monarch’s crowning to his death (or removal)

OSPL = obiit sine prole legitima = died without legitimate issue

A magnate is a very large landowner.

Thegn = thane = landholding baron.

W = William before he became the Conqueror and king

WtC = William the Conqueror and king of the English

Vassal = a person under protection of his lord like a king, but vassals were not always submissive

Vassalage = the homage, fealty, and service from a vassal to his lord, but it was often ignored

GENEALOGICAL TABLES

Here are three Genealogical Tables by David C. Douglas (see below for reference).

More Genealogical Tables by Douglas:

 

Here is the encyclopedia of Medieval France‘s table about the early Capetians:

One more genealogical table at the very end.

BASIC FACTS ABOUT WILLIAM AND MATILDA

Let’s first summarize the basics of Matilda’s life.

Also named Maud, she was of diminutive (short) size. Her parents were Baldwin (Baudouin) V, the Count / Marquis of Flanders, from 1035 to 1067 and Regent of France 1060-1067, son and heir. He was born about 1010. One researcher says Baldwin married at Paris in 1028 Adele of France, daughter of Robert II, King of France, son of Hugh Capet, namesake of the Capetian dynasty of French kings. Adele was Robert’s daughter by his third wife Constance, daughter of William II, Count of Arles. Adele was born at Ypres, probably in 1009. Baldwin died at Lille on 1 Sep 1067 and was buried in the church of St. Pierre (Peter), Lille. Adele retired to the Abbey of Messine near Ypres, where she died on 8 Jan 1079.

Matilda died 2 Nov 1083 and was buried in St. Trinité in Caen. The inscription around her tombstone survives.

Her parents had two sons: Baldwin (VI) Count / Marquis of Flanders, Count of Hainault; and Robert the “Frisian,” Count of Flanders;

They also had one daughter: Matilda, also called Maud. She is the one who married William.

Here are the basics of William’s life. For more information, see his biography, below.

He was born an illegitimate son. His father was Robert, Duke of Normandy and his mother was Robert’s mistress Arlette or Herleve or Herleva. William was born probably at Falaise 1027-28, probably in fall of 1028. He was injured while riding a horse at the border town of Mantes. He was carried back to Rouen and moved to the Priory of Saint Gervais outside the city. Surrounded by clergy and magnates, he died on 9 Sep 1087. His corpse was transported by river and sea to Caen and was buried in the Abbey church of Saint-Etienne (Stephen).

WILLIAM AND MATILDA’S CHILDREN

William and Matilda had four sons:

1.. Robert: He was nicknamed Curthose or shortstocking or short-shanks because he himself was short; he was also another “fat prince.” He would later become duke of Normandy. He was born about 1054, but some place the range from 1051 to 1054. He married in Italy in Sep 1100 Sibyl of Conversano, daughter of Goffredo (Geoffrey), Count of Conversano and Bindisi. They had one son, William Clito, soon to be installed as Count of Flanders (“Clito” is the Latin equivalent of the Anglo-Saxon “Ætheling,” and the Æthelings were direct descendants of the sixth-century warrior Cerdic, the first Saxon King of Wessex). Robert had two illegitimate sons Richard and William and one illegitimate daughter (unnamed), who married of Helie de Saint-Saens. Sibyl died 18 (or 21) Mar 1103. He died in comfortable confinement at Cardiff Castle, where he lived the contemplative life, wrote poetry, and learned Welsh, on 10 or 11 Feb 1134, and was buried before the altar in the Abbey church of St. Peter, Gloucester.

2.. Richard: He was born before 1056 and died 1069-75, in a hunting accident.

3.. William: he was nicknamed Rufus or ruddy or reddish, later king of England. He was also nicknamed Longsword, indicating military prowess. He was born 1056-1060, but probably 1058. Normandy and Maine passed over to his older brother Robert. Now what about him? He was crowned at Westminster 26 Sep 1087. He was killed in a hunting accident (or murder), shot by an arrow through the heart, on 2 Aug 1100. He was buried in Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire.

4.. Henry: He was later king of England. He was born in late 1068. He married Matilda (or Maud) of Scotland, daughter of Malcolm III, King of Scots, by his second wife St. Margaret, daughter of Edward Aetheling, a descendant of the Anglo-Saxon kings. Matilda was born in 1079 and died at Westminster on 1 May 1118.

He remarried at Windsor, Berkshire 29 Jan 1121, to Alice, young daughter of Gottfried or Godfrey I, duke of Lower Lorraine, Count of Louvain. They had no issue.

Henry I died at Lyon-la-Foret (near Rouen, Normandy), 1 Dec 1135 and was buried at Reading Abbey, Berkshire. His widow Alice remarried.

William the Conqueror and Matilda are supposed to have had six daughters, though not much is known of their birth order; the evidence of Agatha’s and Adeliza’s separate existences is thin, and so is Matilda’s:

1.. Agatha: Betrothed successively to Harold, earl of Wessex, to Alphonse of Leon, and possibly to Herbert, count of Maine. She died a virgin.

2.. Adeliza or Alice: nun at St. Leger in Préeaux. She died in 1073.

3.. Cecily: She was born before 1066, abbess of Holy Trinity in Caen, Normandy; d. 30 July 1126 (one researcher says she was born after Constance).

4.. Adela: She was born about 1060-2. She married at Chartres in 1080, Stephen-Henri, Count of Blois; He was born about 1046. He was killed at the siege of Ramallah 19 May 1102. Adele died at the monastery of Marcigny 8 Mar 1138 and was buried in the Abbey of Holy Trinity, Caen. They had four children: William, Count of Chartres; Theobald, Count of Blois, Champagne and Troyes; Eude or Stephen, future King of England; and Henry, Bishop of Winchester. They also had five daughters: Maud (wife of Richard, earl of Chester); Agnes, Adele (wife of Milon II de Montlhery; Alix or Alice (wife of Renaud III, Count of Joigny); and Eleanor (wife of Raul, Count of Vermanois).

5.. Constance: She married in 1086, Alan IV, Count of Brittany, son and heir of Hoel, Count of Duke of Nantes. They had no issue. Constance died 13 Aug 1090 and was buried in the church of St. Melans, near Rhedon in Brittany. He remarried.

6.. Matilda or possibly Maud: If they are the same, then she died 26 Apr, year unknown.

BASIC FACTS AND STORIES

William’s Early Life

  1. W was the bastard son of Robert I duke of Normandy. Thus his early life is relatively unknown.
  2. He was born at Falaise in 1027 or 1028, probably in the fall of 1028.
  3. His mother was Herleva, a girl of the town. Robert was probably 17 years old, and she the same.
  4. The girl’s father was Fulbert, a tanner (treats hides) who was given a subordinate office at Norman court.
  5. After W’s birth. Herleva was married off to Herluin, viscount (vice-count or deputy count) of Conteville. Robert never sought to legitimize W by making Herleva his wife.
  6. Thus the whole of England and northern France was determined by this obscure but remarkable girl.
  7. Emperor Charles III (the Simple) gave Normandy to Rolf the Viking (see the Genealogical Tables, above) because the Viking was a successful warrior and raider. Charles wanted peace.
  8. “Normandy” is related to “Norman” = “Northman” = Scandinavian or Viking.
  9. Normandy was the product of history more than geography—people fought over it. It was invaded by Vikings in the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries. The regions around it in Frances also fought for it.
  10. Rouen was the capital of Normandy.
  11. At first the leaders of Normandy were counts, but soon they took the higher title duke.
  12. On 5 or 6 August 1027 duke Richard III suddenly died. Did his brother Robert kill him? Whatever the case, Robert (W’s father) took over, even though Richard left a legitimate son Nicholas, who was young; Robert whisked him away to two monasteries.
  13. Robert’s rule was marred by civil war over the duchy of Normandy. Robert prevailed.
  14. He decided to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, against the council of his closest advisers. He never came back, but died at Bythinian Nicaea in early July 1035.
  15. W was seven years old and illegitimate. Who would take over Normandy?
  16. For a while, King Henri I of France protected the boy, for Henri saw the entire duchy as his, and W his vassal. The surrounding counts were too weak compared to Henri, so they couldn’t take over, but military disturbances did happen.
  17. In 1047 the Truce of God was proclaimed at Caen, Normandy. The Truce of God means no more fighting, and especially not on holy days or seasons, like Christmas.
  18. However, skirmishes and sometimes full-scale war happened from 1047-1060.
  19. For example, in 1054 King Henri I enviously eyed Normandy and so gathered strong allies. Yet W successfully resisted then and resisted another invasion in 1057-1058.
  20. On 4 August 1060 King Henri I died. His son Philip came under the guardianship of W’s father-in-law Baldwin V, count of Flanders.
  21. Peace was established in 1060.
  22. W left behind his youth and minority and was becoming a successful warrior and politician. He was mentally and physically strong, of unusual size and bulk.
  23. W had married Matilda, daughter of Baldwin V and Adela, of Flanders; Adela was a daughter of Robert II, king of France. The wedding was planned for 1049, but Pope Leo IX objected for reasons not known now, but probably because the couple was too closely related, a rule often ignored or enforced when convenient.
  24. The wedding happened anyway in 1052-1053.
  25. Matilda was of diminutive size (see below, The End).
  26. Only in 1059 did a new Pope, Nicholas II, remove the ban on their marriage, with the promise that W and his new wife would each build and endow a monastic house at Caen.
  27. From 1060 to 1066, W consolidated his rule over his duchy.
  28. W’s counts and administrators would not respect a man who was weak, for they were unruly. But W’s military prowess had gained wide attention and admiration.
  29. He attended and even presided over church councils. He administered his duchy by his counts and viscounts.
  30. With his administrative rule solidified, he was now ready to cast his eye on England.
  31. The connections between Normandy and England were strong and ancient. When the Scandinavian Vikings invaded western England, sometimes the English royal family fled to Normandy. Example: In 1013 Sweyn Forkbeard invaded England and the West Saxon royal family fled to Normandy.
  32. Harold was a powerful earl in England. His position in England improved, but so had W’s prospects in Normandy.
  33. Edward the Confessor ordered Harold, earl of Wessex, to go to Normandy to confirm in the presence of W the grant of succession to the English throne to W. Harold did, but not before Guy, the count of Ponthieu, arrested him when Harold’s ship sailed off course under a stiff wind. W paid a ransom to release Harold and then escorted him into Normandy. So Harold was obligated to W even more. Humiliating.

Year 1066: the Conquest of England

  1. On 5 January 1066 Edward the Confessor died childless. Could it be that he, from his own free will or by persuasion, changed his mind while he was dying and said Harold should be his successor? Harold and his Wessex men thought so. Historian David Douglas says, “Very probably.”
  2. On the day of Edward’s burial, the next day, Harold Godwineson, earl of Wessex, crowned himself king.
  3. A comet appeared on April 24, 1066. Evidently this was Halley’s Comet.
  4. Three main competitors for the English throne: Earl Harold; Harold Hardraada, king of Norway and the most powerful warrior of his age; Tosti, brother of Harold and exiled earl of Northumbria; and Duke W.
  5. W scored two diplomatic coups: Pope Alexander supported Duke W, and so did the Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich (Henry) IV. Now W could fly the pope’s and the emperor’s two banners while fighting. W’s claim to the throne was not mere aggression.
  6. Duke W had to build ships to cross over to England. Harold moved his troops down to the coast to wait.
  7. Problem during the waiting: W controlled his men so they didn’t ravage the local population for food. Harold couldn’t manage it. So he had to disband and withdraw to London.
  8. In May 1066 Tosti sailed up the east coast to the mouth of the Humber with a fleet of sixty ships. While raiding in north Lincolnshire his force was cut to pieces by Earl Edwin of Mercia; many of his followers deserted. He took refuge with Malcolm, king of Scotland.
  9. King Harold of Norway launched his attack on England up north. King Harold of England regrouped and marched northward.
  10. On 20 September 1066 the Norwegian king marched to York, and at Fulford Gate he fought Edwin and Morcar, two earls, who summoned an army from the north. Harold Hardraada won. Tosti was very much this Harold’s man. York welcomed the victors with enthusiasm.
  11. Fulford Gate is the first of three famous battles for England in 1066.
  12. On Monday, 25 September, King Harold of England won at Stamford Bridge on the Derwent. King Harold of Norway and Tosti were slain.
  13. Stamford Bridge is the second battle for England in 1066.
  14. On 28 September, W and his men landed at Pevensy almost unopposed. He was on his wife Matilda’s provided ship, the Mora. The knights took their warhorses with them, which contrasts with the practice of Vikings, who got the horses from the invaded territories.
  15. Up to this time, this landing was the most important amphibious operation in the history of war, until D-Day and the invasion of Normandy (reverse direction).
  16. On 14 October, Hastings: Harold got to Telham Hill late last night or early in the morning. His men were tired. Many of his infantry and archers were left up north. W was camped on a neighboring hill. Harold: 7,000 men; W’s numbers were a little less but high in a large contingent of professional warriors and archers.
  17. Sensing the fatigue in Harold’s men, W went on the attack. Wearing his relics, he was in the middle of the main Norman contingent in middle of the formation.
  18. But the English had the advantage of the high ground. The Normans wavered. Hand-to-hand fighting ensued. Harold’s two brothers, Gyrth and Leofwine, were killed.
  19. Now the Normans were on the verge of a disordered flight. Rumor flew that W had been killed.
  20. Harold’s men left the hill to pursue in an undisciplined manner, and it was a miscalculation. Now W’s mounted knights could swoop in and finish off the infantry.
  21. W doffed his helmet to show he was still alive. He sent his wearied horsemen up the hill again, and this time they were successful.
  22. Harold was killed sometime during the melee. The Bayeux Tapestry says he was shot in the eye with an arrow.
  23. It was a “victory over infantry by cavalry supported by the long-range weapons of the archers” (Douglas p. 202; he does not talk about stirrups). But it was a “close-run thing” (Crofton p. 45)
  24. Duke W once again proved himself able to the task. “Outstanding intelligence had brought him from obscurity to be the central figure in a crisis of European history: will and tenacity, which for so long had been his companions, had enabled his cause to survive in the culminating conflict” (Douglas p. 204).
  25. Hastings is the third great battle for England in 1066.
  26. Waiting for reinforcements, W made his way up north to the Thames River and then reached London.
  27. In December 1066, before his official coronation, Duke W was presented to the sorrowing and defeated and deeply moved English magnates at Berkhamstead, so they could make their submission official. W received them kindly and promised to be their good lord.
  28. On Christmas Day, 1066, William, duke of Normandy, was hallowed as king of the English in Edward the Confessor’s abbey of Westminster, the unction performed by Alfred, archbishop of York.
  29. King WtC was presented to the people in English and French.
  30. WtC returned to Normandy under great celebration.
  31. In 1067, Philip I King of France left the tutelage of Baldwin count of Flanders and was setting his own strategy that worked against Normandy and WtC.
  32. Meanwhile, WtC’s men set about building the Tower of London.
  33. At Pentecost 1068, Matilda was crowned Queen of the English.
  34. By WtC’s contemporaries, the brief reign of Harold Godwineson is treated as an interregnum (an in-between period when the throne is vacant of a monarch), while WtC is seen as a direct successor of Edward the Confessor.

Here is David Douglas’s timeline for those most pivotal battles in English history:

William the Conqueror Consolidates His Anglo-Norman Rule

  1. One would think that the people of Maine and Anjou and Brittany would let things go after WtC’s victories. But he had to defend himself against neighboring aggressions.
  2. Of course only part of England and Scandinavia accepted the new king.
  3. So WtC had to defend his Anglo-Norman realm.
  4. He seems to have zigzagged between Normandy and England.
  5. He conquered Exeter, Warwick and York, just to cite those examples. The Northeast was the center of the crisis. WtC wasted the countryside, killing the men, innocent or not. The bodies lay outside and pestilence spread. An estimated 150,000 were killed, a huge amount in the Middle Ages in England. Even WtC’s contemporaries were shocked. Yorkshire’s prosperity was lost all the way to the reign of Stephen (r. 1135-1154).
  6. In summer 1069 Dane Sweyn Estrithson launched an attack on England. In spring 1070 King Sweyn himself came over. He entered Petersborough and set the abbey on fire. WtC persuaded Sweyn with a bribe, and the Danish fleet returned home laden with booty.
  7. At the same time the Danes came over Edric the Wild and the Welsh princes revolted, but WtC suppressed it without much difficulty.
  8. Le Mans, France, revolted in 1069 and again in March 1070.
  9. Norman rule in Maine (south of Normandy and north of Anjou) collapsed.
  10. On 16 July 1070 WtC’s brother in-law Baldwin VI, count of Flanders died. He was replaced with Robert le Frison, a son of Baldwin V, an opponent to WtC.
  11. Before Easter in 1072, he launched an attack on Scotland. Malcolm negotiated at Abernethy a few miles from the Norman ships.
  12. Despite the revolts, by the time 1084 rolled around, WtC had created a unified defence on the north-south axis from Abernethy, Scotland to Nonancourt, France, and the east-west axis in the north of France from Flanders to the border with Brittany, but the threat subsisted.
  13. WtC is the king over Normandy and England, yet he often retained his title duke.

Here is David Douglas’s (very sparse and incomplete) timeline for this era in WtC’s reign:

The End

  1. The Oath of Salisbury was taken by the landholding men of account, who swore their direct allegiance to the king in Salisbury in 1086.
  2. In the last two years (1085-1087) these people rose in revolt: Cnut IV, son of Sweyn Estrithson, king of Danemark; Harold Hardraada and Magnus; King Philip I of France; WtC’s son Robert; Odo, WtC’s half-brother and bishop of Bayeux (town in Normandy), though in captivity, incited treason among restless English and Normans; Malcolm, king of Scotland; and Fulk of Anjou.
  3. His wife recently died, on 2 November 1083.
  4. As for the threats, Cnut was murdered in the church of Odensee, so his expedition was abandoned.
  5. When WtC went to England to deal with the threats there, Philip I launched some attacks in the Vexin (territory between Normand and “France” (the constricted land held by the French king). WtC struck out to get the Vexin for himself. He burned the town of Mantes and devastated its surrounding area.
  6. Then something happened to WtC. While riding through the burning town, his horse may have reared and he hit the pommel on his saddle, lethally rupturing his intestinal area. Or maybe not. He had some intestinal troubles, though. Speculation: A ruptured appendix?
  7. While he was dying, he turned over Normandy to Robert who was still in revolt so he didn’t get England. WtC’s second son Robert did. Henry his fourth son got £5000.00
  8. In a few days he died, early in the morning on Thursday, 9 September 1087 in Rouen, France, the capital of Normandy. The threats died with him.
  9. He was to be interred in the monastery of St. Stephen, which had had founded in Caen.
  10. The king’s son Henry was there, but not Robert.
  11. Funeral disruption: A local worthy named Ascelin “protested that he had been robbed of the ground in which the king was to be buried and claimed compensation, which he received” (Douglas p. 362)
  12. Another macabre occurrence: the attendants couldn’t handle the corpulent body when trying to put it in a stone coffin, and the body broke open. The stench was so unbearable that the priests were forced to hurry the service to a close.
  13. In 1522 Rome ordered the tomb to be opened at Caen. The remains were well preserved. He was a man of notably long arms and legs, standing at five feet ten inches, tall for his age. But he was extra-fat and had a full face and russet (reddish-brown) features. He resembles King Henry VIII.
  14. In 1562, the Calvinists destroyed the tomb. The remains were scattered and lost except one thigh bone. In 1642, it was reburied.
  15. Then in 1793 the French Revolutionaries demolished the monument.
  16. Today a simple stone slab with a nineteenth century inscription records the burial place of William the Conqueror.
  17. In 1961 the casket of Matilda his wife was opened. She was a mere fifty inches (4 ft. 2 in. or 1.27m).
  18. Standing side-by-side, they must have been a startling couple.

Class Hierarchy

England and Normandy (and the sophisticated French court in Paris) now interact with each other. Here is a comparison of England and Normandy, in some cases. (But we’re not covering the church hierarchy here.) Let’s start from the top.

  1. The king rules over a kingdom, in England as in France. WtC had absolute power, but eventually the aristocracy will rebel under later kings, like John and the Magna Carta.
  2. The Conquest was catastrophic for the old English nobility. It is rare to find in the Domesday Book an English name among the magnates; almost all were French. By 1087 the household of the king of the English was overwhelmingly Norman.
  3. A duke (dux in Late Latin) rules over a duchy and has a higher status than count. This is the same in France.
  4. A count (comes in Late Latin) rules over a county in Normandy. In England, he is an Earl, but his landholdings can be much more extensive than those of the count in France.
  5. A viscount is a vice-count or deputy count. He took care of the practical business in a county, like raising the levy. In England, this is the sheriff, who was the chief royal financial officer who collected the royal dues.
  6. A knight swore an oath of fealty to his lord in Normandy and this more refined ceremony was brought to England. He could own a modest land called a fief, but it was under the control of his lord. The enfeoffed knight was recognized not only as a military man but a land owner.
  7. Now the administrative level.
  8. The English royal household under WtC reflected the French court’s three divisions of steward (an estate manager of broad power), butler (household management), and chamberlain (could oversee the exchequer). However, deputies handled the day-to-day personal affairs of the royal household.
  9. A chancellor (Medieval French chancelier from Late Latin cancellarius, door keeper or secretary) presided over the scriptorium or the writing center, where the documents were written up for the business of the court.
  10. A constable (Late Latin for comes stabuli, literally officer of the stable), but even in WtC’s day it meant warden or governor of a royal castle or keeper of the peace.
  11. As WtC used the vicomtés (small units) for local justice, so he found something similar in England, local courts of ancient origins in the shires and smaller units of hundreds. No need to innovate here. Use it as is.
  12. Commissioners holding local courts were substantially an innovation already in use in England, in other words a jury of men appointed by the royal court to give a collective verdict upon oath. However some historians see that the jury system came through Normandy that had been used by the Carolingian kings, so maybe it was not a substantial innovation.
  13. Peasants made up 90% of society in Normandy and England and (1) had personal freedom or (2) were heavily burdened cottagers or (3) slaves who were nothing more than human chattels.
  14. The villain was intermediate among the peasants and was a central figure; he had a share in the open fields of the village and performed forced labor on several days each week on his lord’s land. He was liable to forced payments in money or in-kind. When he died, his land was forfeit to his lord.
  15. “Few conquerors, Medieval or modern, have shown more statesmanlike concern for the traditions of countries recently won by the sword” (Douglas p. 308). In other words, no need to innovate when a system was already in place that got the job done. But surely this must be counterbalanced with the changes WtC instituted.

This class hierarchy survives and grows and evolves and changes in Medieval England for centuries. Some of the titles and roles, like knight and sheriff are used in the Virginia colony in the 1600s and into the early 1700s. They also levied taxes, but early on it was tobacco.

William the Conqueror’s Notable Achievements

  1. WtC conquered England and skillfully and bloodily suppressed revolts.
  2. The ‘Norman Yoke” became a rallying cry for rebels, radicals, and democrats throughout English history up to the 20th The Norman takeover was remembered as a time of oppression (Crofton p. 42).
  3. WtC ordered the survey of his newly conquered England, and the assessments were summarized in the Domesday Book of 1087. The fact that it was done is unprecedented in western Europe. It shows WtC’s indomitable will.
  4. Before the Conquest, there were 4000 thegns (thanes or barons), but after the Conquest, the land was confiscated and shared among 200 French aristocrats; only two Anglo-Saxon landowners remained (Philips p. 36)
  5. Countless numbers of French words still survive in English today. It is no exaggeration to say that without this French cultural imposition, the English-speaking people today would be largely speaking Scandinavian languages (e.g. a hybrid of Norwegian-Swedish-Danish). Sorry, Scandinavians (and my dad was one), but your languages are not very attractive!
  6. A general tax was described as a “geld” (a Scandinavian term), which was organized on similar principles as the Anglo-Saxon kings. Each shire was assessed everywhere by organized units (in Wessex and southern Midlands called “hides”). The assessments were subdivided among the “hundreds,” which were further subdivided into smaller hides.
  7. This general tax system enabled the king to impose a uniform tax over the whole realm, which was described as the “first system of national taxation known to western Europe” (Douglas p. 299).
  8. WtC tried to suppress the Bristol slave trade, but was largely unsuccessful.
  9. Rouen Jews came over to England, at WtC’s instigation, and by 1130 they were a settled and established community.
  10. The next point may not be a notable achievement from an American point of view today that allows freedom of religion, but “William was determined to assume responsibility for the Church within his dominions and to prevent his bishops from becoming subject to a dual claim upon their loyalty” (Douglas p. 338). In other words, the bishop is loyal to him over the pope. So begins (or continues) the fight between the popes and the kings of the English.
  11. Edward the Confessor was credited with healing Scrofula (swelling of lymph glands in neck or leukemia of glands in neck; or one historian says it is a skin disease), as was Robert II of France, Philip I of France, Henry I of England and Normandy (WtC’s son). WtC was also credited with this divine gift.

William the Conqueror’s Tomb in the church of St. Etienne (Stephen’s), in Caen, France

HOUSES OF NORMANDY AND BLOIS

Rolf or Rollo the Viking

William Longsword, a Norman

Richard I, Norman Marquis and Count

Richard II, Duke of Normandy

Robert I, Duke of Normandy

William the Conqueror

Matilda, Wife and Queen of William the Conqueror

William II, Rufus

Henry I

Stephen

Matilda, Empress

RELATED

Henry II, Plantagenet

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Richard I

King John

Henry III

Edward I Plantagenet

William Longsword and His Life in the Medieval Age and His American Descendants

Royal gateway ancestors of the Northeast

Royal gateway ancestors of the Middle Colonies

Royal gateway ancestors of Virginia

Glossary of Medieval Terms A to J

Glossary of Medieval Terms K to Z

ADDENDUM I:

Even though his book has been replaced by David Bates 2018 biography of WtC, David Douglas put together a timeline of events that still holds up.

 

ADDENDUM II: PLANTAGENET ANCESTRY

(Source)

The above table gives a good overview of the entire Plantagenet family. Henry II is William the Conqueror’s great-grandson. As noted, William the Conqueror was a Norman, so he is not shown on the table.

SOURCES

Marjorie Chibnall, The Normans (Blackwell, 2000, 2006).

David Crouch, The Normans: The History of a Dynasty (Hambledon and London, 2002).

Ian Crofton, The Kings and Queens of England (New York: Metro Books, 2006).

David C. Douglas, William the Conqueror: The Norman Impact upon England (UC P, 1964). This older biography was “replaced” by Bates’s version. In a post like this, I mainly used Douglas’s.

Earl of Onslow, The Dukes of Normandy and their Origin (Hutchinson, 1945)

Ivan Gobry, Robert II: Fils de Hughes Capet, Histoire des Rois de France (Pygmalion, 2005).

John Le Patourel, Norman Barons (The Historical Association, Hastings and Bexhill Branch, 1966).

—, The Norman Empire (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1976, and special edition for Sandpiper Books, 1997).

Medieval France: An Encyclopedia, eds. William W. Kibler and Grover A. Zinn (New York: Garland, 1995).

The Plantagenet Encyclopedia: An Alphabetical Guide to 400 Years of English History, gen. ed. Elizabeth Hallam, (Crescent Books, 1996).

Charles Philips, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain (New York: Metro Books, 2009).

 

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