Synopses & Reviews
First published in 1983, this is a new edition of a highly detailed but very readable biography of William II. Rufus was part of an extremely colourful family and, although he was often an underdog in childhood, his strength of personality ensured that he and not his elder brothers succeeded his father. Beginning with William's relatively humble origins in Normandy, the book charts his rise to power, his peacekeeping and administrative abilities, his relationships with his family and his mysterious death and legacy. Rufus' court with its bright new fashions, long hair and revelries, which was disliked by contemporary moralists and clerics, is very effectively portrayed as a contrast to the more sober and military world of the Bayeaux Tapestry.
William II, better known as William Rufus, was the third son of William the Conqueror and England's king for only 13 years (1087-1100) before he was mysteriously assassinated. In this vivid biography, here updated and reissued with a new preface, Frank Barlow reveals an unconventional, flamboyant William Rufus--a far more attractive and interesting monarch than previously believed. Weaving an intimate account of the life of the king into the wider history of Anglo-Norman government, Barlow shows how William confirmed royal power in England, restored the ducal rights in France, and consolidated the Norman conquest.
A boisterous man, William had many friends and none of the cold cruelty of most medieval monarchs. He was famous for his generosity and courage and generally known to be homosexual. Licentious, eccentric, and outrageous, his court was attacked at the time by Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury, and later by censorious historians. This highly readable account of William Rufus and his brief but important reign is an essential volume for readers with an interest in Anglo-Saxon and medieval history or in the lives of extraordinary monarchs.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -467) and index.