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William the Conqueror biography
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Six years of often brutal campaining, which included the notorious harrying of the North in the winter of 1069-1070, were needed to coplete the subjugation of the Wiliamm’s new kingdom.The whole country from York to Durham was laid waste, and we learn, for example, from the Domesday Book, that in the district of Amunderness, where there had been sixty-two villages in the Confessor's time, there were in 1087 but sixteen, and these with a vastly reduced population. After 1072 he visited England only infrequently, usually to deal with crises such as the revolt of the earls in 1075 or the threatened invasion from Denmark in 1085.
The last decade of his life was troubled by the revival of enemies in northern France, dissensions within the rulling group of Normans fomented by his eldest son Robetr Curthose, and threats of invasion of England from Scandinavia. On his death-bed, he divided his lands between Robert Curthose, who received Normandy, and his second surviving son Wiliam Rufus, who was given England. The reasons for this divisions are not definitely known and have been much discussed. It is probable that years of conflict had made him distrust Robert, whose claims to Normandy were none the less undeniable, and that he was influenced by a long-standing custom whereby territorial provision was often made for the younger sons of the Norman ducal kindred.He died as he had lived: an inveterate warrior. He died September 9, 1087 from complications of a wound he received in a siege on the town of Mantes. He was buried in St.Stephen’s church at Caen.
William’s achievement was based on a powerful personality, which appears to have overawed almost all who came into contact with him, and a strong physique which made him one of the most formidable warriors of his days. Like many other Normans, William was a talented ruler.
Having at last reduced the country to submission, William set to work with statesmanlike deliberation to establish his government on a firm and lasting basis. He rewarded his followers with large grants of land, but he was careful to distribute these grants in such a way that the concentration of great territorial power in the same hands was avoided. The new fiefs recorded in Domesday are vast, but scattered. Saxon institutions were as far as possible retained, especially when they might serve as a check upon the power of the great feudatories.In spite of heavy taxation, the new government was not altogether unpopular, for the Conqueror had confirmed "the laws of Edward", and the people looked to him as their natural protector against feudal oppression. As for William's ecclesiastical policy, he seems conscientiously to have carried out a programme of wise reform. His appointments of bishops mere on the whole excellent. To the pope, William was ever careful to show himself a considerate and respectful son, even on such occasions as when he firmly resisted the claim made by Gregory VII.
Zdroje: John Cannon: The Oxford Companion to British History, J. P. Kennyon: Dictionary of British History