Biography of William the Conqueror


William I. Surnamed the Conqueror, King of England, founder of the Norman Dynasty. Was born in 1027. He was the bastard son of Robert I or II, Duke of Normandy, and a tanner's daughter of Falaise named Arletta, and succeeded to the dukedom when eight years old. He claimed the throne of England through Emma, sister of his grandfather and mother of Edward the Confessor. When Harold, son of Earl Godwin, visited the Norman court about 1065, he was compelled to swear fealty to William; but on Edward's death in 1066, Harold procured his own elevation to the throne. William then prepared to enforce his pretension by arms, and on September 23, 1066, landed at Pevensey with 60,000 men. On October 14th was fought the Battle of Senlac or Hastings, in which the Saxons were defeated and their king was slain. William was crowned in London, December 25th. At first his rule was mild and just, but after the sanguinary suppression of a league of the Saxon nobles he treated the Saxons as a conquered nation, distributed their estates among his Norman followers, and deposed the principal Saxon clergy. Died 1087.