William I-------------------Henry I

England: The Medieval Period

1066 to 1603 A.D.

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William II, 'Rufus' 1087 - 1100

William,, named 'Rufus' because of his ruddy complexion and red hair, was the third son of William I and Matilda of Flanders. The eldest, Robert Curthose, succeeded as Duke of Normandy; the second, Richard, had predeceased his father. Rufus was born in Normandy, circa 1056 and ascended the throne on 9the September 1087. He crushed revolts of Anglo-Norman vassals in support of Robert and laws gained control of Normandy - which was vital in order to end the dual loyalty of his chief vassals - when Robert went on crusade. He invaded Scotland, killing Malcolm III, and forced obeisance among Scots and Welsh.

Rufus incurred the hostility of the Church, keeping bishoprics and abbeys vacant to milk their revenue and driving the reforming Archbishop of Canterbury, Anselm, into exile. Since chronicles were written by monks, Rufus acquired a poor reputation.

The chronicler William of Malmesbury hinted that Rufus was homosexual, surrounded by young men who `rival young women in delicacy'. Rufus seems never to have shown interest in the latter.

Like his brother Richard (gored by a stag), Rufus died in the New Forest. He was shot while hunting by a knight named Walter Tyrel. Tyrel claimed it was an accident. There were no other witnesses. The Rufus Stone in the New Forest marks the alleged site of his death. He was buried in Winchester Cathedral.

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