King William II

Facts about William

Born: c. 1056
Died: August 2, 1100


King William II Biography

England’s King William II, also known as William Rufus, was the third son of William the Conqueror and  his successor to the throne. His reign lasted from 1087 until he died from an arrow injury in 1100.

As a Norman heir, he also held sway over lands in Normandy, and spent most of his reign trying to control Scotland and his property in France.

William was also rival to his elder brother Robert, who had inherited the duchy of Normandy. 

William Rufus is said to have dressed and talked flamboyantly, and his name “Rufus” was a reference to his long, red hair. He earned a reputation as a fierce military leader and an efficient administrator. 

It was said he was also a cruel and lascivious ruler, but much that was written about him was by religious historians, and William II was no friend to the ecclesiastical leadership of the time.

The circumstances of his death remain a mystery. He was shot “through the heart” by an arrow during a hunt, and his fellow huntsmen — including his brother and presumptive heir, Henry — quickly abandoned William’s corpse and left it for a peasant to find days later.

Henry quickly seized the treasury and had himself crowned King of England as Henry I, the only son of William the Conqueror born on English soil.