The Bastard King

William the Conqueror was born in 1027.His father, the previous Duke of
Normandy, was known as Robert the Devil, and William himself as William the Bastard.
Duke Robert had enamored himself of a girl named Herleve, who was the daughter of a
tanner in the town of Falaise.Not long after William was born, Robert decided to
make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and before he went on the dangerous journey it was
necessary to decide the succession to the Dukedom.He called a meeting of his feudal
vassals and presented William as his heir.It is said the assembly did not like the choice
but could not agree on any other; it reluctantly paid homage to the child.Robert set off
on his journey and died on the way.At the age of seven William became the Duke of
Few people have had such a dangerous childhood, lacking in the safety and
continuity that children need.Almost at once Normandy fell to pieces.Every minor
Baron set himself up as an independent sovereign and made war on his neighbors.For
his own safety, his mother's family moved William from place to place. He began to
grow up learning the politics of war and proved to be an apt student.By the age of
sixteen he was knighted, and by the time he was eighteen the barons sensed a danger that
he would soon be capable of pressing his claim to the Duchy.Many of them combined
William, as the Duke of Normandy, was a vassal of the King of France, and
during this crisis he asked for aid.The King came into Normandy with a French army,
and in 1047 he and William met the rebels near the city of Caen.The interesting thing
about this battle is that although infantry troops were present, it was fought entirely by
mounted knights.With the help of the King, William won and at the age of nineteen, all
the barons of Normandy swore allegiance to him.For the next decade, William would
fight to preserve the power h…

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