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William Rufus

Middle Ages - Lords and Ladies

Short Biography profile and facts about the life of William Rufus of England
The following biography information provides basic facts and information about the life of William Rufus King of England:

  • Nationality: Norman
  • King William II was also known by the Nickname: The Red King - Rufus - derived from the Latin word, meaning "reddish". This referred to William's ruddy complexion and red cheeks - his hair was not red it was long & blond

  • Lifespan: 1056 1100
  • Reigned as King of England: 1087-1100
  • Date of Birth: Exact date of birth unknown
  • Family connections / Genealogy: He was the second son of William the Conqueror. His mother was Queen Matilda of Flanders. William Rufus had three brothers: Robert, who was called Court-hose or Short-legs; Henry, called Beau-clerc or the fine scholar; and Richard who died young
  • Date succeeded to the throne of England: 1087
  • Date when William Rufus died: 2 August 1100 aged 40
  • Cause of the Death of William Rufus: Shot by an arrow on a hunting trip in mysterious circumstances
  • Character of William Rufus: Cruel, selfish, self-indulgent and unjust
  • Accomplishments or why William Rufus was famous: Remembered for his mysterious death
  • Famous events / people during the reign: Peter the Hermit and the First Crusade

King William Rufus
The story and biography of William Rufus which contains interesting information, facts & the history about the life of William Rufus. William of Malmesbury (1095 1143) was an English historian during the 12th century who described the court of the Red King as being filled by "effeminate" young men in extravagant clothes mincing about in "shoes with curved points".

Timeline of William Rufus

The story of King William II ( William Rufus - The Red King )
William the Conqueror was obliged to let Normandy pass to Robert, his eldest son; but he thought he could do as he pleased about England, which he had won for himself. He had sent off his second son, William, to England, with his ring to Westminster, giving him a message that he hoped the English people would have him for their king. He is sometimes called the Red King, but more commonly William Rufus. William Rufus let his cruel soldiers do just as they pleased in England, and spoil what they did not want. He cared only for being powerful, for feasting, and for hunting.

The atrocities in Jerusalem started the preaching of Peter the Hermit and led to the First Crusade.  Many thousands promised to go on this crusade and among them was Robert, Duke of Normandy. But he had wasted his money, so that he could not fit out an army to take with him. So he offered to give up Normandy to his brother William while he was gone, if William would let him have the money he wanted. The Red King was very ready to make such a bargain, and he laughed at the Crusaders, and thought that they were wasting their time and trouble.

In England Rufus removed the Archbishop of Canterbury, St. Anselm, and everyone else who tried to object to his behaviour. He was hated by the people who dislike the court and the favor that King William II showed to Ranulf Flambard, whom he appointed Bishop of Durham in 1099. Rufus had never showed any interest in women. He did not marry, nor produce any heirs to the English throne.

In the year 1100, Rufus went out to hunt deer in the New Forest. He was later found dead under an oak tree, with an arrow through his heart by peasants. A wood-cutter called Purkis took his body in his cart to Winchester Cathedral, where he was buried. Who shot the arrow nobody knew, and nobody ever will know. Some thought it must be a knight, named Walter Tyrrell, to whom the king had given three long good arrows that morning. Walter Tyrrell rode straight away to Southampton, and went off to the Holy Land; so it is likely that he knew something about the king's death. The Norman friends of Rufus fled the English court and returned to Normandy.

The Death of King William Rufus - The Rufus Stone
The death of the Red King remains a mystery. A stone, known as the Rufus Stone, marks the place where he was found. The inscription on the Rufus Stone is as follows:

"Here stood the oak tree, on which an arrow shot by Sir Walter Tyrell at a stag, glanced and struck King William the Second, surnamed Rufus, on the breast, of which he instantly died, on the second day of August, anno 1100. King William the Second, surnamed Rufus, being slain, as before related, was laid in a cart, belonging to one Purkis, and drawn from hence, to Winchester, and buried in the Cathedral Church, of that city."

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