Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 51

William Rufus (1087—1100.)

William Rufus (1087—1100.)

William the Conqueror was succeeded by his son, William Rufus—a greater villain even than his father, if his more limited opportunities are taken into account. His profligacy page 23 was scandalous in an age by no means squeamish. He broke into convents, regardless of the vows of the fair recluses, and men talked privately of even worse enormities. He was a meaner robber than his father. On one occasion he took money from a Jew whose son had turned Christian, undertaking to bring the young man back to Judaism. He did not succeed, but he kept half the fee for his royal advocacy. Fifty Saxons accused of poaching had successfully passed the ordeal of fire. Rufus punished them, nevertheless, declaring that God was an unjust judge.

His courtiers were a band of thieves and robbers. In the houses where they were quartered during royal progresses they insulted the ladies, and frequently burned before the owner's door such articles as they could neither conveniently carry off nor sell. "Never day dawned," says the Chronicle, "but he (Rufus) rose a worse man than he had lain down; never sun set but he lay down a worse man than he had risen."

One morning, fresh from a heavy debauch, he went out to hunt in the New Forest, and was some time afterwards found by certain poor charcoal-burners with the arrow of a hunter or an assassin (most probably the latter) in his breast. His younger brother Henry was in the Forest at the time, and may have known something about the transaction. At all events, he showed much alacrity in laying claim to the Crown. It was noted as a judgment of Heaven that Richard, William the Conqueror's second son, as well as a nephew of William Rufus, likewise came to violent ends in the New Forest.