William I the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, King of England

William, the son of Robert II, Duke of Normandy and Herleve, daughter of Fulbert of Falaise, was born at Farlaise in Normandy in about 1028.
He married Matilda, daughter of Baudouin V, Count of Flanders at Eu in Normandy in about 1051

William the Conqueror from the statue at Falaise

In 1034, at the age of eight, William succeeded to the Duchy when his father, 'The Devil Duke of Normandy', died.

Following the death of the English King, Edward the Confessor, his successor Harold II was crowned at Westminster. But William believed he had been promised the crown and decided to invade England and take the throne by force. This led to the Battle of Hastings and the defeat of the Anglo-Saxons.

The south of England quickly submitted to Norman rule; but the people in the north resisted. This led to the 'harrowing of the North' when thousands were driven from their homes and slaughtered. Much of the countryside between York and Durham was turned into a wasteland.

When the Domesday Survey of England was made in 1086, it demonstrated just how thorough the Norman conquest had been.  Virtually all Saxon landholders had been expelled to make way for Norman Barons who controlled the country from powerful fortresses. The manor at Whistley was assessed in the Domesday Survey and belonging to the Abbey of Abingdon.

William I died September 9 1087 at the Priory of St Gervais near Rouen and was buried in the Abbey of St Stephen, Caen. He was succeeded by his son, William Rufus.

Abbaye-aux-Hommes (St Stephen's), Caen, Normandy.