William II (called "Rufus" because of his reddish appearance) (c. 1056-August 2, 1100) was the third son of William the Conqueror and was King of England from 1087 until 1100, with powers also over Scotland, Wales and Normandy.
William's exact date of birth is unknown, but it was some time between the years 1056 and 1060. He was born in his father's dukedom of Normandy, which would be inherited in due course by his elder brother, Robert Curthose. His father's favourite son, William succeeded to the throne of England on his father's death, but there was always hostility between him and his eldest brother, though they became reconciled after an attempted coup in 1091 by their youngest brother, Henry. Of the three, William appears to have been the peacemaker.
His reign was short and not particularly noteworthy. Much of it was spent in arguing with the church; after the death of Archbishop Lanfranc in 1089, he appropriated ecclesiastical revenues to which he was not entitled, and for this he was much criticised. He also quarrelled with the Scottish king, Malcolm III, but maintained a peace with Malcolm's successor, King Edgar.
William himself is known to have been a flamboyant character. He never married or had illegitimate children and is now generally accepted to have been homosexual.
Perhaps the memorable thing about William Rufus was the manner of his death, which occurred while hunting in the New Forest. He died when an arrow pierced his chest, but the circumstances of this remain unrecorded. It is simply not known whether it was an accident or not. Some historians have speculated that it was murder, and that this was done on the orders of his brother, who succeeded him as King Henry I. This has never been confirmed.
King William II is buried in Winchester Cathedral.
William II is indirectly the subject of two historical novels by George Shipway, called The Paladin and The Wolf Time. The main character of the novels is Walter Tirel (or Tyrell) the supposed assassin of King William, and the main thrust of the plot of the novels is that the assassination was engineered by Henry.
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