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House of Normandy - King William I The Conqueror

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King William I The Conqueror
Name: King William I The Conqueror
Father: Robert I, Duke of Normandy
Mother: Arlette (Herleva) daughter of Fulbert (illegitimate)
Born: September 1028 at Falaise, Normandy
Ascended to the throne: December 25, 1066 aged 38 years
Crowned: December 25, 1066 at Westminster Abbey
Married: Matilda, Daughter of Count of Flanders
Died: September 9, 1087 at Rouen, France, aged 59 years, and 7 days
Buried at: St Stephens Abbey, Caen, Normandy

King of England from 25 December 1066. He was the illegitimate son of Duke Robert the Devil whom he succeeded as Duke of Normandy in 1035. Claiming that his 2nd cousin King Edward the Confessor had bequeathed him the English throne, William invaded England in September 1066, defeating Harold II Godwineson at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066.

William's coronation took place in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. He completed the establishment of feudalism in England, compiling detailed records of land and property in the Domesday Book, and kept the barons firmly under control. He died in Rouen after a fall from his horse and is buried in Caen, France. He was succeeded by his son William II.

William's early years were marked by violence and disorder. In 1046 his cousin, Guy of Burgundy, led a revolt which forced the young duke to seek the aid of his overlord, Henry I of France. With Henry's help, William defeated Guy at Val-és-Dunes, and firmly secured control over Normandy. In 1051–52 William and Henry besieged and captured Domfront castle and Alençon in Maine, France. Almost immediately afterwards, William, Count of Arques, rebelled against the duke with the support of Henry I, who was increasingly concerned about Normandy's growing power. William quickly besieged the rebel Arques-la-Bataille castle and it was surrendered to him in 1053. In 1054 Henry I and Geoffrey of Anjou invaded Normandy, but the annihilation of part of their force at Mortimer forced them to withdraw. Their second invasion, in 1057, was defeated at Varaville. In 1051 Edward the Confessor had nominated William as heir to the English throne, but when he died in January 1066 Harold (II) Godwinson was crowned. William immediately began preparations for an invasion of England. On 28 September his forces landed unopposed at Pevensey, Sussex. Harold was in the north of England defeating an invasion led by Harald Hardrada, King of Norway, but immediately marched south to meet William. Their armies clashed in the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066. Harold was slain and William achieved a decisive victory. In 1067 William forcibly brought southwest England under his control.

In 1068 he marched north and east to establish a number of strategic fortifications. In the summer of 1069 Swein Estrithson of Denmark landed with a considerable force in the Humber and was welcomed by the northern English earls who joined him in expelling the Norman garrison at York. William immediately marched north, destroying everything in his path, and reoccupied York. He undertook a systematic harrying of the north, setting his troops to kill and burn in order to leave nothing that could support future rebellion. The Danish fleet was bought off and departed. In 1072 William led an invasion that forced King Malcolm of Scotland to surrender hostages and swear fealty. In 1073 he was back in France suppressing rebellion in Maine. His regents dealt with a rebellion by the English earls in 1075, and in the latter years of his reign, William twice faced rebellion in Normandy led by his eldest son, Robert (II) Curthose. In 1087 William sacked the French-controlled town of Nantes in the Vexin. In the fighting he suffered a fatal internal injury after being thrown against the pommel of his saddle. He was taken to the priory of Saint-Gervais near Rouen where on 9 September he died.


Timeline

 1066 

 William and his Norman army defeat Harold II and the Anglo Saxons at the Battle of Hastings. Harold is killed and, after subduing the south of the country William is crowned King of England. 

 1067 

 William suppresses a Saxon revolt in the southwest of England. William's Earls are given lands driving out the Anglo Saxon lords. Norman French becomes the language of government. 

 1068 

 William puts down a revolt in the northern counties led by Edwin and Morcar and establishes fortifications. The region is laid waste in an action known as 'Harrying the North'. 

 1069 

 Swen Estrithson of Denmark lands in the Humber and is welcomed by northern English earls who join him in expelling the Norman garrison at York. William marches north and reoccupies York 

 1070 

 Hereward the Wake leads a revolt against the Normans. 

 1071 

 William defeats the revolt led by Hereward the Wake in East Anglia, thus putting an end to Saxon resistance to his rule. 

 1072 

 William invades Scotland and compels Malcolm III to pay homage to him. 

 1073 

 Suppresses rebellion in Maine in France 

 1078 

 Work begins on the Tower of London 

 1079 

 William begins the construction of a Norman Cathedral at Winchester. 

 1079 

 Robert, William’s eldest son, leads a rebellion in Normandy, but is defeated by his father at the Battle of Gerberoi and his life is spared. 

 1085 

 William orders a survey of the shires of England; the information is recorded in the Domesday Book, which is completed the following year. 

 1086 

 William writes to the Pope that England owes no allegiance to the Church of Rome 

 1086 

 Domesday survey of England completed 

 1087 

 William dies of his injuries after falling from his horse while besieging the French city of Nantes. 

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