William I “The Conqueror,” Duke of Normandy, King of England b 1027 MATILDA of FLANDERS b 1031


William I of Normandy was born 9 September 1027 in Falaise, Normandy (France) to Robert II, Duke of Normandy (1000-1035) and Herleva of Falaise in  (1003-1050). He married Matilda of Flanders (c1031-1083) 1050  and died 1086 in Rouen of unspecified causes.

William was a descendant of the Viking chieftain Rollo ((860-930), who is his 3rd great-great grandfather. Rollo became the founder and first ruler of the region of Normandy. He converted to Christianity as part of a deal with the Frankish king Charles the Simple (893-923). In 911 he changed his name to Robert and his story was then embellished upon by later Christian writers who held him up as a role model:
He was a savage Viking chief who became a paragon of Christian virtue and established law in the land.

The name “William the Bastard,” a name used by his enemies arose from the fact that his mother was a Tanner’s daughter who agreed to be Robert II’s mistress. She demanded that their relationship not be secret, and that she have a position in court. After the affair was over, she married a Viscount.

William retained the favour of his father and when his father, Robert II, left for the Holy Land he forced his lords to pledge fealty to William. Robert II never returned from the Holy land, the oath was quickly forgotten, and intrigue surrounded the boy Duke. William’s guardian Gilbert of Brionne was murdered, as was his tutor, and also his uncle Osbern- killed while protecting William from kidnappers found in his bedroom. William was sent away from home for his protection, and it was common practice for William’s uncle Walter to awaken him in the night to move him to a new location.

By age fifteen, William was knighted, and by twenty he went to war against his cousin Guy of Burgundy to defend his title of Duke of Normandy. With the help of King Henri I of France, he subdued his enemies who were forced to swear allegiance to him.

William asked for the hand of Matilda of Flanders, daughter of Count Baldwin V of Flanders, but Matilda would have none of it. Purportedly, she was in love with the English ambassador to Flanders, a Saxon named Brihtric, who declined her advances. As for William, she told his emissary that she was far too high-born, being descended from King Alfred the Great of England, to consider marrying a bastard. When that was repeated to him, William, all of 5’10”, rode from Normandy to Bruges, found Matilda on her way to church, dragged her off her horse, some said by her long braids, threw her down in the street in front of her flabbergasted attendants, and then rode off. William finally convinced Matilda to relent, but the pope opposed the marriage because they were distant cousins. For a period of time all of Normandy was excommunicated along with their duke because William disregarded the pope’s advice and married Matilda. In return for the construction of two abbeys, the excommunication of Normandy was lifted.

While Normandy was never fully secure, and William would fight rebellions and territory infringements for the rest of his life, after 1047 William was secure enough in Normandy that he could assist his king with battles in other areas, such as the king’s attempts to strengthen the France’s southern frontier and campaigns in the west against Geoffrey Martel, the Count of Anjou.

In a turn of fate, in 1054 King Henry I of France and Geoffrey Martel formed an alliance against William, who was also dealing with a new rebellion at home. William defeated the alliance at the Battle of Mortimer in 1054, effectively ending the issue, which finally terminated in 1060 when both Henry and Geoffrey died and were replaced by weak rulers. This allowed William to focus on further conquest, and by 1063 he was the most powerful ruler in northern France.

Conquest of England

During these years, William’s cousin Edward the Confessor was the king of England. Childless, apparently following a series of negotiations between 1052 and 1054, Edward promised to name William as his successor.

This was further confirmed in 1064 when Edward sent his brother-in-law Harold to Normandy. He was taken prisoner in route, and was ransomed by William. He apparently confirmed Edward’s promise and pledged his own support for William.

But when Edward the Confessor died in 1066, it was Harold himself that succeeded to the English crown. It also seems that William was not the only person who Edward had made false promises to, Harald Sigurdsson Hardrada King of Norway also claimed that Edward promised to name him his successor. So, in 1066, both William and Harald Hardrada set sail for England to claim what they thought was rightfully theirs.

Edward’s double-dealing with the Norwegian Viking proved helpful to William. The Norman Duke had initially intended to attack the southern coast of England in August 1066, but bad weather delayed him. In the meantime, Harold of England was not only forced to disband a peasant army that he had gathered, but he also needed to march north to deal with Harald Hardrada. He eventually defeated the Norwegian invader on 25 September near York, but suffered significant losses himself.

William landed in the south of England on September 27 and took the towns of Pevensey and Hastings, disembarking with 4-7,000 cavalry and infantry. They awaited Harold’s weakened army, which emerged from the forest on October 13, but it was too late to continue on to Hastings, so they made a defensive camp.

At daybreak the following day, William attacked before Harold was prepared. While the English were initially able to repel the Normans, their infantry began to chase down the apparently fleeing cavalry, at which point they turned on the English and cut them down. They managed to perform the same maneuver two more times before the end of the battle. Harold died at nightfall, apparently taking an arrow to the eye, and the English surrendered.

William then quickly cut his way through England, dealing with centers of resistance. On Christmas day in 1066 he was crowned king of England at Westminster Abbey

William, King of England

His reign brought Norman culture to England, which had an enormous impact on the subsequent course of England in the Middle Ages. In addition to political changes, his reign also saw changes to English law, a program of building and fortification, changes in the English language and the introduction of continental European feudalism into England.

The Death of William

William died in 1087 while invading the city of Mantes. While the town was burning, he either suffered from an injury from which he never recovered, or fell ill. He was taken to the priority of St Gervais outside Posen, where it took him five weeks to die. He eventually died on the 9th of September.

Children by William and Matilda

William is known to have had nine children, though Matilda, a tenth daughter who died a virgin, appears in some sources. Several other unnamed daughters are also mentioned as being betrothed to notable figures of that time. 

  1. Robert Curthose (1054-1134), Duke of Normandy, married Sybil of Conversano, daughter of Geoffrey of Conversano.
  2. Richard (c. 1055- 1081), Duke of Bernay, killed by a stag in New Forest.
  3. Adeliza (or Alice) ( 1055 – 1065), reportedly betrothed to Harold II of England.
  4. Cecilia (or Cecily) ( 1056 – 1126), Abbess of Holy Trinity, Caen.
  5. William “Rufus” (1056 – 1100), King of England, killed by an arrow in New Forest.
  6. Agatha (1064 – 1079), betrothed to Alfonso VI of Castile.
  7. Constance (1066 – 1090), married Alan IV Fergent, Duke of Brittany; poisoned, possibly by her own servants.
  8. Adela ( 1067 – 1137), married Stephen, Count of Blois.
  9. Henry “Beauclerc” (1068 – 1135), King of England, married Edith of Scotland, daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland. His second wife was Adeliza of Leuven.






Relationship Report


John Black b 1931


William “The Conqueror,” King Of England b.1028


 William “The Conqueror,” King Of England is the 30th great-grandfather of John BLACK.

Lines of Descent from

William “The Conqueror,” King Of England

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 William “The Conqueror,” KIng Of England b.1028

Henry I “Beaucleric” PLANTAGENET King of England b.1068

Robert DE CAEN 1st Earl of Gloucester0 b.110

William FITZROBERT 2nd Earl of Gloucester b.1110

Amice FITZWILLIAM 4th Countess of Gloucester b.1160

Countess Mathilde DE CLARE b.1175

Lord Richard John “Tadody” DE BRAOSE b.1197

Wiliam DE BRAOSE b.1222

Sir Giles BRAOSE BREWES b.1268

Lucy DE BRAOSE b.1289

Sir John MALTRAVERS b.1290

Sir John Gifford de MALTRAVERS VII b.1314

Eleanor MALTRAVERS b.1345

John FITZALAN 2nd Baron Arundel b.1364

Thomas FITZALAN b.1400

Eleanor FITZALAN b.1414

Sir George BROWNE b.1439

Sir Matthew BROWNE b.1469

Sir Henry BROWNE of Beechworth Castle Surrey b.1502

Sir Thomas BROWNE b.1536

William BROWNE b.1559

Peter BROWN b.1594

Mary BROWNE b.1627

Ephraim TINKHAM b.1649

Martha TINKHAM b.1678

Sarah SOULE b.1703

Samuel SNOW b.1729

Samuel SNOW Jr b.1752

Ebenezer SNOW b.1784

Bernard SNOW b.1822

Minnie SNOW b.1869

Mary Beatrice DASTRUP b.1902

John Black