William I

Famous for being conquering England and becoming King

Born - c 1027 exact date unknown, Normandy

Parents - Robert of Normandy, Herlette of Falaise

Siblings - Half brothers - Odo of Bayeux, Robert

Married - Matilda of Flanders

Children - Robert Curthose, Richard, William II, Adela, Henry I

Died - 9th September 1087 Rouen, France

William, the illegitimate son of Robert, Duke of Normandy, was born at Falaise Castle, Normandy, in 1027 or 1028. He was known as William the Bastard.

When his father died in 1035, William was named as his successor.

By the time that he was twenty-seven, he had earned himself a good reputation as a strong leader. He defended Normandy well from repeated attacks by the French and was feared as a military leader.

William was a distant cousin of the English King Edward the Confessor and claimed that Edward, who had no children, had promised him the throne of England. He also claimed that when Harold Godwineson had been shipwrecked off Normandy, he had sworn to support his claim.

When Harold Godwineson was crowned King of England, William, with the approval of the Pope, began planning an invasion to take what was rightfully his.

When William learned that Harold had been forced to march north to fight of the invasion by Harald Hardrada he seized his chance. William's forces landed at Pevensey in the South of England and marched towards Hastings. Harold's forces marched south and fought William at Senlac Hill. The battle lasted all day but the Normans were victorious. The site of the battle was commemorated with the founding of an abbey and the town was called Battle.

William was crowned King of England on 25th December 1066. He then proceeded to give English land to trusted Norman barons and introduced the feudal system. William spent much of his reign in Normandy overseeing his lands there. In 1086 he ordered a survey of England in order to assess the value of his lands. The resultant survey was known as the Domesday Book.

William died in France after being wounded in the siege of Mantes.