William II of England

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William II (French: Guillaume II d'Angleterre) (c. 1056 – 2 August 1100), the third son of William I of England (William the Conqueror),[1] was King of England from 1087 until 1100, with powers over Normandy, and influence in Scotland. He was less successful in extending control into Wales. William is commonly known as William Rufus, perhaps because of his red-faced appearance.[2]

Although William was an effective soldier, he was a ruthless ruler and, it seems, was little liked by those he governed: according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he was "hateful to almost all his people and odious to God."[3] However, chroniclers tended to take a dim view of William's reign, arguably on account of his long and difficult struggles with the Church: these chroniclers were themselves generally products of the Church, and so might be expected to report him somewhat negatively. The particulars of his relationship with the people of England are not credibly documented. William was roundly denounced in his time and after his death for presiding over what was held to be a dissolute court, in terms which, in modern times, have raised questions over his sexuality.[4] In keeping with Norman tradition, William scorned the English and their culture.[5]

William seems to have been a flamboyant character, and his reign was marked by his bellicose temperament. He did not marry, nor did he produce any offspring, legitimate or otherwise. His chief minister was Ranulf Flambard, whom he appointed Bishop of Durham in 1099: this was a political appointment, to a see that was also a great fiefdom.[6]


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