King William II was born to William Duke of Normandy
and Matilda of Flanders
. He was the couple’s third son and fifth child – his elder brothers Robert
and Richard and elder sisters Cecilia and Adeliza had been born earlier. He was known as William Rufus due to his red hair.
William’s sister, Constance was born to William Duke of Normandy and Matilda of Flanders.
William’s sister, Adela, was born to William Duke of Normandy and Matilda of Flanders.
William’s sister, Agatha was born to William Duke of Normandy and Matilda of Flanders
1066 (late January)
William Duke of Normandy was furious when he learned that Harold Godwinson
had seized the throne of England after the death of Edward the Confessor
. William claimed that Godwinson had sworn on holy relics to support William’s claim to the throne.
1066 (18th June)
William’s sister, Cecilia entered the abbey of the Holy Trinity in Caen as a novice
1066 (28th September)
William Duke of Normandy left Normandy at the head of an invasion fleet bound for England where he was determined to take the throne.
1066 (14th October)
Battle of Hastings
After a battle that lasted all day, William Duke of Normandy, defeated the Saxons. Harold Godwinson was killed. However, the Saxons did not surrender and William had no choice but to subdue the people by force.
1066 (25th December)
Having taken control of the south of England, William’s father was crowned King William I of England in Westminster Abbey.
With much of England now secure, William Rufus, his younger siblings and his mother Matilda went to England. William’s elder brother, Robert Curthose, was left in charge of Normandy.
1068 (11th May)
Matilda was crowned Queen of England in Westminster Abbey.
William’s brother, Henry
, was born in Selby, Yorkshire. He was the first of King William’s children to be born in England.
William’s elder brother, Richard, died while hunting in the New Forest.
William and his younger brother, Henry
, upset their elder brother, Robert, by emptying a chamber pot over his head. Robert reacted badly and a fight broke out between the three young men.
1087 (9th September)
King William of England and Duke of Normandy, died. William inherited England while his elder brother Robert
inherited Normandy. His younger brother, Henry, inherited a sum of money.
1087 (26th September)
William Rufus was crowned King William II of England in Westminster Abbey.
William’s uncle, Odo of Bayeux
, supported by a large number of barons, led a rebellion of against him. The rebels believed that William’s elder brother, Robert, should have inherited both England and Normandy. The rebels made their base at Pevensey Castle
but William successfully lay siege to the castle and the rebellion was put down. Odo was banished to Normandy.
William faced continual rebellions in Northumbria and so decided to partition the county into Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, Westmoreland and Lancashire in order to make it more manageable.
Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury died. William delayed appointing a successor.
1091 (2nd February)
William invaded Normandy and managed to take lands from his brother Robert.
Treaty of Caen
This treaty agreed a peace between William II and Robert Curthose whereby they both agreed to be each other’s heirs.
After his successful campaign in Normandy William returned to England to deal with Malcolm Canmore’s invasion. The English army marched North but Canmore retreated to Scotland rather than fight. A peace was agreed and Canmore was forced to pay homage to King William II.
William II took Cumbria from Malcolm Canmore.
1093 (6th March)
William was taken ill and believing he was dying appointed Anselem of Bec as Archbishop of Canterbury
. The appointment proved to be a disaster for William, who was not dying after all. Bec called for churchmen to be more politically aware and take a more prominent role in government.
1093 (13th November)
Battle of Alnwick
Malcolm Canmore had invaded England again and laid siege to Alnwick. An English force led by Robert Mowbray arrived to relieve the siege and in the subsequent fighting Malcolm Canmore and his son were killed. Malcolm’s brother Donald became King of Scotland.
William quarrelled with Anselem of Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury
over the way William conducted himself. William and his favourite, Ranulf Flambard
, enjoyed partying and having fun, a pastime he financed by raising taxes and selling church offices.
1094 (19th March)
William invaded Normandy but failed to make any gains.
William faced a new rebellion against his rule. This new rebellion was led by Robert Mowbray. William marched north, defeated Mowbray and imprisoned him.
1095 (25th February)
The Council of Rockingham
This was held to try to settle the ongoing disputes between King William II and Anselem of Bec. The Council was unsuccessful.
The Pope intervened in the dispute between William II and Anselem of Bec. He sent Walter of Albano as Papal Legate to England. The Legate’s remit was to find reconciliation between the King and Archbishop. The Legate managed to find a solution and the two men were reconciled.
Robert Curthose decided to join the first Crusade and in order to raise money for the venture he leased Normandy to William for 10,000 marks.
1097 (8th November)
William and Anselem of Bec had another disagreement and Anselem left England for Rome. William confiscated the Archbishop’s lands.
William appointed his favourite, Ranulf Flambard as Bishop of Durham.
1100 (2nd August)
William II was killed by an arrow while hunting in the New Forest. The arrow was fired by Walter Tirel, one of the party that had accompanied the King. Historians are divided as to whether William’s death was an accident or an assassination.
1100 (2nd August)
William’s younger brother, Henry
knew that his elder brother Robert was away on crusade and seized the throne as King Henry I of England.
First published 2015; updated and republished Sept 11 2020 @ 1.44 p.m. – Updated –