William II

William II of England
Depiction of William II from the Historia Anglorum by Matthew Paris, c. 1250. Public Domain

William II was also known as:

Wlliam Rufus, "the Red" (in French, Guillaume Le Roux), though he may not have been known by this name during his lifetime. He was also identified by the nickname "Longsword," given to him in childhood.

William II was known for:

His violent rule and his suspicious death. William's forceful tactics earned him a reputation for cruelty and led to extreme dissatisfaction among the nobility.

This has caused some scholars to theorize that he was assassinated. 

Occupations:

King
Military Leader

Places of Residence and Influence:

Britain: England
France

Important Dates:

Born: c. 1056
Crowned King of England: Sept. 26, 1087
Died: Aug. 2, 1100

About William II:

A younger son of William the Conqueror, upon his father's death William II inherited the crown of England while his elder brother Robert received Normandy. This caused immediate turbulence among those who thought it best that the Conqueror's territory remain united under one rule. However, William was able to crush the rebellion of those seeking to put Robert in charge. Several years later, he had to put down a revolt by English noblemen.

William also had trouble with the clergy, most especially Anselm, who he appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, and earned the enmity of Anselm's supporters, some of whom later wrote chronicles casting the king in a bad light.

In any case he was much more interested in military matters than clerical issues, and saw successes in Scotland, Wales and, eventually, Normandy. 

In spite of the friction William seemed to spark throughout his reign, he managed to keep the political ties between England and Normandy strong. Unfortunately for him, he was killed in a hunting accident when he was only in his 40s.

Although theories still circulate that he was murdered by his younger brother, who followed him to the throne as Henry I, there is no strong evidence to support this hypothesis, which on close inspection seems fairly unlikely.

For more about the life and reign of William II, see his Concise Biography.

More William II Resources:

Concise Biography of William II
Dynastic Table: Monarchs of England

William II​ in Print

The links below will take you to an online bookstore, where you can find more information about the book to help you get it from your local library. This is provided as a convenience to you; neither Melissa Snell nor About is responsible for any purchases you make through these links.

William Rufus
(English Monarchs)
by Frank Barlow

King Rufus: The Life and Mysterious Death of William II of England
by Emma Mason

The Killing of William Rufus: An Investigation in the New Forest
by Duncan Grinnell-Milne

The Normans: The History of a Dynasty
by David Crouch
 

 

William II on the Web

William II
Brief but informative bio from The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia at Infoplease.




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