William was born in 1028 at Falaise Castle. He was the son of Robert the Duke of Normandy and Herleve, the daughter of a tanner in Falaise. Robert was said to have caught sight of Herleve while she was washing her linens in the castle moat.
William’s father went on a pilgrimage in 1034 to release his sins. While returning home from his journey, he died suddenly. Having no other heir, William took his place as Duke of Normandy.
William had a hard time taking control. People constantly rebelled during his rule, and he would have to learn quickly how to deal with them. William's guardians were murdered in succession. William became a ruthless and sometimes cruel ruler because of his constant struggles for power.
In 1047 William began to restore order and crush the rebels who stood in his way. Some rebels insulted his birth by hanging “hides for the tanner” over the walls. William took his revenge by having their feet and hands amputated.Slowly the rebels decreased and people started to realize that William was their ruler.
William was described as tall and heavy. William was a strong leader and very courageous. He was inspirational to his followers, but could also be strict and punishing. “He was of just stature, ordinary corpulence, fierce countenance; his forehead was bare of hair; of such great strength of arm that it was often a matter of surprise, that no one was able to draw his bow, which himself could bend when his horse was in full gallop; he was majestic whether sitting or standing, although the protuberance of his belly deformed his royal person; of excellent health so that he was never confined with any dangerous disorder, except at the last; so given to the pleasures of the chase, that as I have before said, ejecting the inhabitants, he let a space of many miles grow desolate that, when at liberty from other avocations, he might there pursue his pleasures. His anxiety for money is the only thing on which he can deservedly be blamed. This he sought all opportunities of scraping together, he cared not how; he would say and do some things and indeed almost anything, unbecoming to such great majesty, where the hope of money allured him. I have here no excuse whatever to offer, unless it be, as one has said, that of necessity he must fear many, whom many fear.”
William married Matilda in 1049, a descendant of the old Saxon House of Wessex. They were an odd site he being 5 foot 10 and she just over four feet tall. However they proved to be a good match.
In 1051 William visited his cousin Edward the Confessor. During his visit, Edward was said to have told William he would become the King of England if he would die without issue. The real heir to England was to young at the time and had spend much of his life in Hungary. William was in a tough spot, for other’s wanted the throne of England also. One person wanting the throne being Harold, the son of the Earl of Wessex.
Harold had been shipwrecked on the coast of Normandy, where he found himself the guest of Duke William. William required Harold to swear an oath to understand that he would become king after Edward’s death. Harold finally consented and swore the oath on holy relics, sealing Williams spot as King of England.
Edward the Confessor died in January, 1066. He was said to have nominated Harold as his successor. Harold was accepted as king by the council of elders, who normally elected the new kings.
After hearing this news William was outraged. He began to build an army to take by force what he considered to be his kingdom by right. Because of Harolds oath on holy relics the Pope even supported William in his invasion of England. After Harold was crowned, an ominous star was seen in the skies, this has now been identified as Halley's comet,...