William I The Conqueror (b.1028 r.1066-1087)
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William I The Conqueror (b.1028 r.1066-1087)

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William, indeed, seems to have been astute without wisdom, resolute without foresight, powerful without ultimate purpose, a man of very limited aims and very limited vision, narrow, ignorant and superstitious.
R.G. Richardson and G.O. Sayles, The Governance of Medieval England.

Additional Information on
William I The Conqueror (b.1028 r.1066-1087)

William, Duke of Normandy invaded England in 1066, defeating King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings - on the premise that he was in fact the rightful heir to the throne. William destroyed the Saxon line of nobility. He was crowned on Christmas day 1066 in Westminster Abbey.

He was a ruthless, hard man in every sense - a ferocious warrior, harsh ruler, driving administrator and man of vigorous principles. His willpower was massive and his temper fearsome. William strengthened Edward the Confessor's legal system and created a feudal society in England (it being divided into hierarchical groups) - an idea brought across from Normandy. In 1085-1086 William ordered the first census of the country to be undertaken for tax purposes. This has since come to be known as the Doomsday Book - because, like the Day of Judgement there could be no appeal against what it contained. Much land was given to Norman barons (ie. rewarding Norman supporters with land seized from the English) and there was inevitable Saxon resistance, but William put down all outbreaks with relentless severity. 'William set his grip on England and changed it to suit his needs'.

Originally, William built a simple timber and earth castle, but in 1078 construction of the residential suite for the royal family began - the White Tower of London - so he and his family would be safe from attack in his capital city. William died in France in 1087 of injuries received when his horse threw him whilst fighting the King of France.


A French bastard landing with an armed banditti and establishing himself King of England against the consent of the natives is, in plain terms, a very paltry rascally original. The antiquity of the English monarchy will not bear looking at.
- Tom Paine, Common Sense, 1776.

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