Facts about King William
King William I Biography
William I, known as William the Conqueror, was the first Norman king of England, having wrested the throne away from Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
William was the illegitimate son of the Duke of Normandy and became his heir, assuming his title at the age of seven. He was sometimes called William the Bastard. William’s teen years were spent successfully fighting off would-be usurpers.
William ruled Normandy as a military commander and expanded his interests beyond its borders, including support for his distant cousin Edward the Confessor of England. Through diplomacy or perhaps force of will, William obtained recognition as Edward’s heir in the 1060s.
Harold, Edward’s brother-in-law, had other ideas and crowned himself after Edward’s death in 1066. William invaded and at the Battle of Hastings in October of that year defeated Harold, who was killed in battle.
William I was crowned King of England in 1066, while retaining his position as Duke of Normandy (including fealty to the French king). He spoke French and visited England only to put down the rebellions that characterized his reign.
Known as a forceful leader and adept military commander, he ruled England with fear and violent reprisals. He reorganized the church and replaced the English aristocracy with Normans. William invaded Scotland and Wales and built castles as strongholds (including the Tower of London).
William I died after being injured on his horse while in the town of Mantes in 1087. He had two surviving sons, Robert and William (also known as William Rufus). Robert inherited William’s land and title in Normandy and William inherited England and became King William II.