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William II

He was called William Rufus from his red hair and was a son of William I (the Conqueror) and his wife Matilda. He was born in Normandy between 1056 and 1060 and succeeded his father in 1087. His building of Westminster Hall is the best thing that came from his rather uninspiring reign.


William never married or had children.


Following the custom set by his father William was crowned in Westminster Abbey on Sunday 26th September 1087. But there is no record of who attended although the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that Archbishop Lanfranc performed the ceremony. It was according to the Anglo-Saxon liturgy.


On 2nd August 1100 while on a hunting expedition in the New Forest he was accidentally killed by an arrow and was buried in nearby Winchester cathedral.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004


2nd August 1100


26th September 1087

Illuminated manuscript depicting the crowning of William II
William II coronation

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

It’s a privilege to live and work here – the Abbey really is the heart of the country and its history.

Martin - The Dean’s Verger

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