William I of England

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William Duke of Normandy (1027-1087), was also King William I of England from 1066 to 1087. He was an illegitimate son of Robert I, Duke of Normandy. William's invasion to England in 1066 is known as the Norman Conquest. He is identified as William II, Duke of Normandy and as William I, King of England. Some of his other names include William the Conqueror and William the Bastard.



In 1035, William succeeded his father as the Duke of Normandy when he was 7 years old. Several Normans became William's guardians, and many plots failed to usurp his place. By the time he was 19 years old, William was already dealing with invasions and rebellion. He won the Battle of Val-es-Dunes in 1047, and defeated the rebel Norman barons with the assistance of King Henry I of France.

He married his cousin Matilda of Flanders, and together they had four sons and six daughters.

Conquest of England

After the death of King Edward the Confessor of England, William's cousin, William claimed that King Edward named him his heir.

The Witenagemot, England's royal council approved Harold Godwinson's coronation in 1066. Godwinson was the brother-in-law of King Edward, and he became known as King Harold II of England. William obtained the support of the Pope in order to pursue his own claim. Later, he assembled a Norman invasion fleet and landed in Sussex, England. King Harold fought William in the Battle of Hastings, in October 1066. However, Harold was killed during the battle. William was crowned King of England in December 1066.

Resistance continued in the north and east of England for many years. Harold's sons attempted an invasion, as well as the Danes and the Scots. However, William crushed all of these attempts. He invaded Scotland in 1072, and forced King Malcolm III of Scotland to pay him homage.

William's reign

Several changes happened during King William's reign. In order to secure England against any internal rebellions, he built many castles and keeps, including the Tower of London.

He introduced the Feudal System. By the Oath of Salisbury in 1086, all landlords had to an oath of loyalty to William, establishing the precedent that loyalty to the king is superior to loyalty to any lord of the kingdom. Normans were given almost all the land in England as well as titles to public offices. The Norman language replaced English as the language of the ruling classes for almost 300 years.

One of his most significant achievements was to commission the Domesday Survey, which catalogued the population of England. This survey is still used by historians.

Death and succession

William died in 1087, at the age of 60. He was succeeded by his son William Rufus as King of England, and by his son Robert Curthose as Duke of Normandy. His son Henry also became King of England later, succeeding his brother William II.