William (II, Rufus, King of England 1087-1100)

 Born  1057   Born At  Normandy
 Died  2 Aug 1100   Buried At  Winchester Cathedral
 Father  William (I, the Conqueror, King of England 1066-1087)   Mother  Matilda (of Flander)
Preceded by  William (I, the Conqueror, King of England 1066-1087) Succeeded by  Henry (I, King of England 1100-1135)
 Royal House   Norman

Titles Include

King of England from 1087 to 1100


illiam Rufus was the third son of William the Conqueror and Matilda. William's two elder brothers were Robert and Richard. Robert was the eldest and the chief heir of William the Conqueror. Richard died in an accident while on a hunting trip. William Rufus was loyal to his father, much more than his elder brother Robert, and when William the Conqueror died it was William Rufus who was at his father's side while Robert attended the court of the Conqueror's enemy Philippe the King of France. In the Conqueror's will the title of Duke of Normandy was bestowed upon Robert and the crown of England was bestowed upon William Rufus. On September 26 1087, William Rufus was crowned at Westminster as William II by Lanfranc, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Disputed Rule

William the Conqueror's land was divided in two. William Rufus had England and his brother Robert had Normandy. This made life difficult for those Norman barons who had interests in both England and Normandy. In 1088 a revolt, led by William's uncle Odo and supported by some Norman barons attempted to remove William from the throne. Robert failed to come to England to assist the rebels and William put the revolt down. Odo was banished to Normandy. In 1096 William was able to turn the tables on his brother and he invaded Normandy. William had gained support from the Norman barons, and Robert's position became weak. Robert took the opportunity of Pope Urban II's call for a Crusade to loan Normandy to William in return for money to fund the expedition.


On the 2nd of August, 1100, William was hit with an arrow while hunting in the New Forest. Whether this was an accident or by design is not known. William was buried under the tower of Winchester Cathedral which collapsed the following year.

Family Tree Details
Father: William (I, the Conqueror, King of England 1066-1087) (b.1028 - d.1087)
Mother: Matilda (of Flander) ( - d.1083)
William (II, Rufus, King of England 1087-1100) (b.1057 - d.1100)

View Graphical Family Tree


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1087   30yrsWilliam Rufus gives Manor of Tewkesbury
 William Rufus gave the Manor of Tewkesbury to his cousin, Robert FitzHamon. Together with the patronage of the Priory of Tewkesbury. 
 Sep 26  William II (Rufus) crowned at Westminster
 William II (Rufus) was crowned at Westminster Abbey by Archbishop Lanfranc after the death of his father William the Conqueror. 
1088   31yrsEarldom of Warwick created
 The earldom of Warwick was created by William II and given to Henry de Beaumont. Henry de Beaumont changed his name to Newburgh. 
 Feb  Revolt against William Rufus
 Many Norman barons held land both in England and Normandy. With two opposing lords, William in England and Robert in Normandy, the barons were finding it difficult to know who to support. A revolt led by Odo sprung up in England with the aim of removing William from the throne. Odo's revolt in Kent and Sussex was supported by barons across the country. Roger Bigod from Norwich and Geoffrey of Coutances and Robert Mowbray from Bristol supported Odo. In Worcestershire Roger de Lacy captured Hereford and attacked Worcester. In the south-east Roger Montgomery at Arundel Robert of Mortain at Pevensey and Gilbert de Clare at Tonbridge also prepared to fight the King. Robert of Belleme, a Norman baron, who was able to bring support from Normandy. Robert also controlled castles in the Welsh Marches where the revolt also took place. 
 Spring  Worcestershire Rebellion put down
 The Worcestershire rebellion led by Robert of Lacy was dealt with quickly by Wulfstan, the Bishop of Worcester, who called on those knights and local landowners still loyal to the King to defend Worcester. Many of the rebels were captured or killed.[1] 
 Spring  William Rufus calls for support
 William Rufus had insufficient men at his disposal to deal with the rebellion in the south-east as there were too many ports to guard. The King called the representatives of the fyrd (the ordinary people of the country organised into an army) to a meeting in London where, with the support Lanfranc, he promised the people better laws and the removal of unfair taxes if they supported him against the rebels. The people agreed and together with the King they captured the castle at Tonbridge after a two day siege.[1] 
 Apr  Pevensey Castle siege
 William Rufus lay siege to Pevensey Castle where Odo had taken shelter with Robert of Mortain. The siege lasted for six weeks. Robert, the Duke of Normandy, sent a force to support the rebels at Pevensey but they were unable to land because the King had made sure the ports were well guarded. Robert admitted defeat and withdrew his support for the rebels. Odo had little choice, other than that to starve, and surrendered to the King. Odo agreed to go to Rochester where he would convince the rebels to accept William Rufus as the rightful King of England. 
 May  William puts down the revolt
 Odo was accompanied to Rochester Castle by an escort but When they reached the castle the rebels captured the escort and refused to accept William Rufus as their King. Again William called for the people of England to support him against the rebels and together they lay siege to the castle. Odo surrendered when it was agreed that those in the castle would have their lives spared if the they came out. Odo and the rebels were allowed to leave but their lands in England were taken from them. Odo went into exiled in Normandy. 
1089 May 24  32yrsLanfranc dies
 After the death of Archbishop Lanfranc William Rufus held open the post of Archbishop of Canterbury for four years taking the revenues for his own purposes. 
1091 May  34yrsMalcolm III invades the North
 The fourth major invasion into the north of England by Malcolm III started in May when the Scots began a siege of Durham. The Normans led by William Rufus went north to deal with the Scots but a conflict was averted and a renewal of the treaty of Abernethy was agreed.[2] 
 Nov  William Rufus renews agreement with Scots
 William Rufus renewed the arrangement that his father had with Malcolm III, King of the Scots. This may have included letting Malcolm have some areas of northern England. Even so this did not prevent further attacks on England in the north by the Scots.[3] 
1092   35yrsTewkesbury Abbey Founded
 Robert FitzHamon, the cousin of William Rufus, together with Abbot Giraldus, founded the present Abbey at Tewkesbury.  
1093   36yrsConstruction of Carlisle Castle
 William Rufus ordered the construction of the castle at Carlisle because of the thrreat that Malcolm III posed. 
 Spring  William Rufus seriously ill
 William fell ill early in this year and the illness was so serious that reports went out saying that he had died. William granted land to many religious houses in preparation for his death but when he recovered he claimed the land back.[4] 
 Nov 13  Battle of Alnwick
 Malcolm III, the king of Scotland, and his son Edward were both killed at the battle of Alnwick in Northumberland. Malcolm had invaded England after William II had made moves to take more control over Cumbria and had fortified Carlisle. 
1095   38yrsRobert Mowbray's Rebellion
 After attacking four merchant ships Robert Mowbray was called for by William Rufus to explain his actions. Instead Mowbray rose up in rebellion against the king along with other powerful Norman Barons. 
1096   39yrsWilliam buys Normandy
 Robert of Normandy became under pressure from William who laid claim to Normandy. William was gaining support from some Norman barons and Robert took the opportunity to leave Normandy to answer Pope Urban II's call for a Crusade. Robert agreed that William could lease Normandy for three years for a sum of 10,000 marks. This money would help him fund the expedition. 
1097   40yrsAnselm goes into exile
 Conflicts between Archbishop Anselm and William Rufus resulted in the Archbishop leaving England and heading for Rome. William confiscated Anselm's land. 
   Construction of Westminster Hall
 William Rufus arranged the construction of a new hall outside of London near Westminster Abbey. Westminster Hall was the largest hall in England and designed, no doubt, to impress and somewhere to hold banquets, ceremonies and a place to celebrate the coronations that took place in teh Abbey near by. The hall is the earliest surviving building on the site. 
1099   42yrsFlambard is made Bishop of Durham
 Ranulf Flambard is made the Bishop of Durham by William Rufus. 
1100 Aug  43yrsWilliam buried at Winchester
 William Rufus was buried under the tower of Winchester Cathedral. The tower fell down (either in 1101 or 1107 ?). The cause was blamed on the wickedness of the King's bones but was probably due to poor construction or uncertain foundations. 
 Aug 2  William II (Rufus) is killed while hunting
 William II (Rufus) was (accidentally ?) killed while hunting in the New Forest. He was succeeded by Prince Henry, his younger brother, who became King Henry I.[5] 
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