Well, that’s what they called him, William of Normandy aka William the Conqueror aka William the Bastard!
And he was.
William was the only son of Robert I of Normandy, he was illegitimate, but The Duke acknowledged him as his son, and left him the castle, the Dukedom, and the cash.
His Aunt Emma was the Queen of England, twice. And Will was sure he had a claim to the English Throne.
She married Ethelred the Unready and UPon his death, hooked UP with Canute the Great. With a name like Canute, he’d better be good at something. I mean, really, can you imagine all those Junior High nicknames?
“Why do I care about William the Bastard?”, you querry. Well, today is the anniversary of the Norman Conquest. The one when William and his army landed in Merrie Olde England, and started kicking butt and taking names. The Norman Conquest of Germantown is another post, and I’m sure you can all guess which Norman I’m talking about!
After he conquered England, he became William II, the British were just way to stuffy for all that Bastard stuff!
The leading historian of the day, William of Malmesbury, said “”He was of just stature, extraordinary corpulence, fierce countenance; his forehead bare of hair; of such strength of arm that it was often a matter of surprise that no one was able to draw his bow, which he himself could bend when his horse was on full gallop; he was majestic whether sitting or standing, although the protuberance of his belly deformed his royal person: of excellent health so that he was never confined with any dangerous disorder except at the last.”
Translation: Average height, a total lard ass, mean looking, partially bald, and so strong he could bend his bow in half at a full gallop. Yet, he was regal looking, in spite of the beer gut, and very healthy!
You may wonder why it is important at all. Well, I’ll tell ya. He brought order to an unruly land that was filled with fighting factions and fractions. He took a census. He gave people last names. He civilized England. We eat pork instead of swine, beef instead of cow, mutton instead of sheep, and venison instead of deer. William introduced over 10,000 French words to the English language and, quite frankly, prettied it UP.
He also changed the sound of English letters, mys became mice. Ally, admiral, gallant, enemy, peace and war entered into the English thanks to the old Bastard from Normandy.
We wouldn’t say boil, fry, roast, and toast, and we wouldn’t eat fillets, soups and pastries without him either!
John, Mary, Charles and Richard weren’t English names before the invasion! Ethelred and Canute went by the wayside along with Harold, whom William defeated in the Battle of Hastings in 1066!
He also gave us V and Z to round out the alphabet.
Really, think about it, doesn’t Victoria sound much better the Ictoria?
The conquest’s biggest gift was the Subject-Verb-Object way of speaking.
He was a builder too, castles, keeps, and the Central White Tower in the Tower of London are all gifts from William.
So, if you’re looking for a reason to party this dull Wednesday, thank William. William the Bastard changed history, architecture, language, laws, customs, culture, economics, and politics. He made the West, the West!