On this day in 1087 William II became King of England, taking the title King William II.
William II the third son of William I of England was King of England from 1087 until 1100, with powers over Normandy, and influence in Scotland.
He was a figure of complex temperament: capable of both bellicosity and flamboyance. He did not marry, nor did he produce any offspring, legitimate or otherwise.
He died after being struck by an arrow while hunting, under circumstances that remain murky. Circumstantial evidence in the behaviour of those around him raises strong but unproven suspicions of murder. His younger brother Henry hurriedly succeeded him as king.
Barlow says he was “A rumbustious, devil-may-care soldier, without natural dignity or social graces, with no cultivated tastes and little show of conventional religious piety or morality—indeed, according to his critics, addicted to every kind of vice, particularly lust and especially sodomy.”
On the other hand he was a wise ruler and victorious general. Barlow finds that, “His chivalrous virtues and achievements were all too obvious. He had maintained good order and satisfactory justice in England and restored good peace to Normandy. He had extended Anglo-Norman rule in Wales, brought Scotland firmly under his lordship, recovered Maine, and kept up the pressure on the Vexin.”