Thursday, August 2, 2012

William Rufus


‘While the princes and barons of the first Crusade were establishing in Palestine the little Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, various alterations took place in Europe, by which the rights of the absentees were materially affected. No one suffered more by these than Robert Duke of Normandy. To furnish himself forth for the Crusade, this eldest son of William the Conqueror had imprudently pledged the Duchy of Normandy, being the only part of his father's dominions which had descended to him, to his brother William, called Rufus, or the Red, King of England, for a large sum of money. But while Robert was employed in cleaving Mahometan champions asunder, and exhibiting feats of the most romantic valour, William was privately engaged in securing and rendering permanent the temporary interest which the mortgage gave him in the fief of the duchy, and it soon became evident, that even if Robert should be able and desirous to redeem the territory, it was not likely that his more powerful brother would renounce the right he had acquired over it. But the death of William Rufus brought into play a third son of the Conqueror. This was Henry, the youngest, whom his brothers, both Robert and William, had treated with considerable severity after their father's death, and refused to grant any appanage becoming his rank. Civil war ensued among the brothers, and on one memorable occasion, Henry was besieged by his two brethren, in the fortress of Mount Saint Michael, and reduced to the greatest extremity for want of water. His distress being communicated to Robert, who was always generous, he instantly sent him a supply. William, who was of a harder and more inflexible disposition, upbraided Robert with his imprudent generosity. "What else could I do?" answered the generous Norman. "He is our brother. Had he died for lack of water, how were we to supply his loss?"

Upon the surrender of the fortress, however, Henry was reduced to the condition of a private individual, although his bravery was equal to that of either of his brothers; his sagacity was also much superior, and his learning, which was uncommon in those days, so considerable, that he obtained the name of Beauclerc, or Fine Scholar.

William Rufus was killed accidentally with an arrow, while hunting in the New Forest, 'which had been so unscrupulously formed or enlarged, by his father the Conqueror. Henry was engaged in the same sport in a different part of the forest, and learning this accident as soon as it happened, rode post-haste to London, and availed himself of Robert's absence to procure his own election to the crown of England, which was confirmed by Parliament…’

The fateful arrow that slew William II of England was fired by Walter Tirel, on August 2nd, 1100.  Sir Walter Scott’s history is found in “Tales of a Grandfather”.

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