The Heirs to the Conquest

The Mysterious Death of William Rufus

Westminster at the time of William Rufus [Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey]The Whitsuntide ceremonial at the inauguration of the new Westminster Hall in 1099 would have seen William Rufus at the height of his powers. The only cloud on the kingís horizon was the imminent return of his brother Robert from the Crusade. This was expected in September 1100 and William would then have to decide whether to restore Normandy to him if he paid off the loan for which the duchy was a pledge. In the event the problem never arose.

A view of the New Forest in Hampshire which was created by the Normans to provide a hunting ground for the kingOn 2nd August 1100 William Rufus was killed while hunting in the New Forest. Since then his death has been surrounded by mystery - was it an accident or something more sinister ? Two near contemporary sources suggest that, in his eagerness to shoot at a stag, Williamís companion, Walter Tirel, Count of Poix, hit the king in error. Williamís death was widely seen as the judgement of God on an evil man. There remains the suspicion, however, that the kingís death was contrived by his younger brother Henry, himself part of the hunting party.

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