William II of England

William II (Anglo-Norman: Williame; c.1056 – 2 August 1100) was King of England from 26 September 1087 until his death in 1100, with powers over Normandy and influence in Scotland. He was less successful in extending control into Wales. The third son of William the Conqueror, he is commonly referred to as William Rufus (Rufus being Latin for "the Red"), perhaps because of his ruddy appearance or, more likely, due to having red hair as a child that grew out in later life.[2][lower-alpha 1]

William II
Miniature from Matthew Paris's Historia Anglorum, c.1253
King of England
Reign26 September 1087 
2 August 1100
Coronation26 September 1087[1]
PredecessorWilliam I
SuccessorHenry I
Normandy, Kingdom of France
Died2 August 1100 (aged approximately 43–44)
New Forest, Hampshire, England
FatherWilliam the Conqueror
MotherMatilda of Flanders

William was a figure of complex temperament, capable of both bellicosity and flamboyance. He did not marry nor have children, which – along with contemporary accounts – has led some historians to speculate on homosexuality or bisexuality.[4] He died after being hit by an arrow while hunting, under circumstances that remain unclear. Circumstantial evidence in the behaviour of those around him raises strong, but unproven, suspicions of murder.[5] His younger brother Henry I hurriedly succeeded him as king.

Historian Frank Barlow observed William was "[a] rumbustious, devil-may-care soldier, without natural dignity or social graces, with no cultivated tastes and little show of conventional religious piety or morality – indeed, according to his critics, addicted to every kind of vice, particularly lust and especially sodomy." On the other hand, he was a wise ruler and victorious general. Barlow noted, "His chivalrous virtues and achievements were all too obvious. He had maintained good order and satisfactory justice in England and restored good peace to Normandy. He had extended Anglo-Norman rule in Wales, brought Scotland firmly under his lordship, recovered Maine, and kept up the pressure on the Vexin."[6]

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