William I of England

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William I of England
I have taken England with both my hands.

William I (c. 10289 September 1087), usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman monarch of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. He was a descendant of Rollo and was Duke of Normandy from 1035 onward. By 1060, following a long struggle to establish his throne, his hold on Normandy was secure. In 1066, following the death of Edward the Confessor, William invaded England, leading an army of Normans to victory over the Anglo-Saxon forces of Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings, and suppressed subsequent English revolts in what has become known as the Norman Conquest. The rest of his life was marked by struggles to consolidate his hold over England and his continental lands, and by difficulties with his eldest son, Robert Curthose.


  • See — I have taken England with both my hands.
    • Remark after he stepped off his ship on the coast of England and fell into the sand (28 September, 1066), as quoted in LIFE magazine, Vol. 40, No. 13 (26 March 1956), p. 85
  • I attacked the English of the Northern Shires like a lion. I ordered their houses and corn, with all their belongings, to be burnt without exception and large herds of cattle and beasts of burden to be destroyed wherever they were found. It was there I took revenge on masses of people by subjecting them to a cruel famine; and by doing so — alas!— I became the murderer of many thousands of that fine race.
    • Part of a speech on his deathbed in 1087, referring to the Harrying of the North, written down by a monk named Ordericus Vitalis in 1123; as quoted in Empires and Citizens : The Roman Empire, Medieval Britain, African Empires (2003) by Ben Walsh, p. 60

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