William Rufus

Who was William Rufus?
William II was known as William Rufus, possibly because of either his rosy cheeks or red hair. He faced serious challenges when he became king. William Rufus was the second of William the Conqueror's sons, and became King William II on his father's death.
What happened after William Rufus took power?
After his coronation, William Rufus faced uprisings by those who supported his brother, Robert Curthose. These included his uncle, Bishop Odo.
Why was William Rufus challenged as king?
There were a number of reasons William Rufus's reign was challenged:
  • William's decision before his death seemed unclear and was open to interpretation.
  • Robert Curthose was made Duke of Normandy. Lords with land in both England and Normandy didn't want to answer to two different rulers.
  • Robert Curthose believed he should rule England, as he was William's eldest son.
How did Robert react to William Rufus' coronation?
William Rufus' brother, Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, also wanted to rule England and supported those who rebelled against Rufus.
What other revolts did William Rufus face?
As well as those by Odo and Robert, William Rufus had to deal with smaller rebellions.
  • Raids in Somerset and Wiltshire by Robert de Mowbray.
  • A revolt led by Roger Bigod in Norwich and the sheriff of Leicester.
  • Raids in Gloucester by William of Eu.
  • Rebellions in the west led by the Marcher earls Robert de Montgomery and Roger de Lacy.
How did William Rufus win?
William Rufus used a number of effective tactics to overcome the rebellions.
  • He raised an army, but took the money their lords had given the knights to live on and sent the soldiers home.
  • He then used the money to bribe barons in eastern Normandy, forcing Robert to agree to rule it alongside him.
  • He promised to lower taxes, to end the forest laws, and to return to Edward the Confessor's laws. This removed the complaints behind the rebellions. However, Rufus did not deliver any of these promises.
Who succeeded William Rufus?
When William Rufus was killed in 1100 his youngest brother, Henry, became king.
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