The Heirs to the Conquest

The Reign of William Rufus

William Rufus coinWilliam Rufus was known as a brave knight, generous and loyal to his supporters. He never married and some historians believe he was a homosexual. In 1088 William defeated a rebellion by certain barons who preferred his brother Robert. Another revolt broke out in 1095 led by Robert Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland, who resented William forcing him to restore the property of four Norwegian ships he had robbed. Mowbray and his followers were mercilessly crushed.

DurhamWilliam’s urgent need for money, largely for his forces in Normandy, led to the imposition of new taxes. Their collection was enforced by the notorious Ranulph Flambard, William’s chief administrator. He was rewarded with bishopric of Durham and began the construction of a great new cathedral.

The keep at Colchester castle (Essex) probably completed during the reign of William RufusWilliam was hated by the church partly because he appeared to reject the Church’s teaching in his own life and partly because he often refused to replace bishops and abbots when they died which allowed him to take the income of the bishopric or monastery for himself. In view of his attitude, it is ironic that in Anselm William appointed one of the most distinguished and saintly men ever to be Archbishop of Canterbury. King and archbishop had, however, little in common and Anselm, feeling that he did not have royal backing for church reform went into voluntary exile in 1097.

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