Murray concluded that William I and William II (aka William Rufus) were not Christians. Indeed, she maintained that William Rufus died on the 2nd of August because it was a major pagan festival. This king's death was the sacrifice of the Divine King by her reckoning.
I have relied on Frank Barlow's book "William Rufus" to dispute Murray's theory. Professor Barlow was an esteemed historian. His thorough research will upset many pagans, Wiccans and other contemporary witches.
The prime time for hunting red stags commenced at the beginning of August and ended the 14th September. Nobody should be surprised that William Rufus and his nobles were hunting stags on the 2nd of August. (p.420).
It now appears that William Rufus was killed by an arrow accidentally fired by Walter Tiril, the Count of Poix. Tiril immediately fled for his life to France. (He is considered by historians as the most likely suspect.)
Modern historians now hint at a baronial conspiracy orchestrated by the Clare family to place Henry on his elder brother's throne. (Walter Tiril was the son-in-law of Richard FitzGilbert of Clare.)
Henry I richly rewarded the Clare family the minute he ascended the throne. Robert of Mowbray, the Earl of Northumberland, knew of an earlier regicide attempt which involved the Clare family. "Gilbert of Tonbridge threw himself on the king's mercy and confessed that he was privy to a plot to ambush him in the wood they were approaching." (p352).
It is certainly true that Henry became king and marshalled his cohorts to defend his claim before his elder brother, the Duke of Normandy, could bestir himself to come to England as the rightful king.
Barlow points out there is no tangible evidence for such a conspiracy, and reminds us that hunting accidents were not uncommon. He provides a few instances.
Duke Richard, the elder brother of William Rufus, was accidentally killed in the New Forest. -"possibly through collision with the lower branches of a tree." (p123)
Richard, the bastard son of Robert, Duke of Normandy, was accidentally killed by an arrow when hunting with a band of royal knights in the New Forest. The culprit fled to a Cluniac Priory and became a monk. There is no suggestion of anything sinister about Richard's death. (p419).
In 1143, Miles of Gloucester was accidentally killed by the arrow of a hunting companion. (p425)
This brings us to Murray's claim that neither William the Conqueror nor William Rufus were Christians.
William I granted Treven in Hertfordshire to a thegn and his wife to pray for the soul of his son Duke Richard. William's queen paid one Eddreda to pray for the soul of Duke Richard. (p13)
Cecily, the eldest daughter of William I was Abbess of Holy Trinity at Cain. (p8)
William the Conqueror endorsed Church reform and adopted the Truce of God to pacify his duchy. (p20)
The chronicler Orderic Vitalis records that William I "ordered his treasures to be distributed between the Church and the poor" (p47).
William the Conqueror always had mass celebrated when he was on campaign. (p63)
Barlow is adamant that William Rufus was a Christian. "Any suggestion that he was a pagan, a rationalist, or even a sceptic, is clearly absurd." (p112)
William Rufus clearly envisaged a conventional Christian end in 1093 when he thought he was dying. Upon his complete recovery he gave a generous grant to a former enemy, the traitorous bishop of Durham "for the sake of his father's soul and his own." He was a benefactor at Battle, Rochester, Bermondsey, Westminster and Gloucester (p112).
William Rufus made benefactions for the souls of himself and his parents. Henry I arranged for prayers for the souls of himself, his wife, his legitimate children, his parents and William Rufus. (p10)
Failure to appoint a new Archbishop of Canterbury was the one real abuse of which William Rufus was guilty. He refused to fill the office because he was pocketing all the proceeds. (p181)
William I set his son a bad example. He imprisoned a recalcitrant Archbishop of Canterbury in a deep pit! No doubt Henry II regretted not following this splendid precedent when dealing with Thomas Becket.
Barlow stresses that William Rufus "was on excellent terms with the bishops of the highest reputation and was shunned by no one but Anselm." (p113)
Eadmer of Canterbury was chaplain to Archbishop Anselm, and was the earliest of the three chroniclers who accused William Rufus of irreligion and immorality. The others were William of Malmesbury and Orderic Vitalis. They suspected William Rufus of practising homosexuality. (p102). Barlow believes it likely that William was bisexual. (p109)
Eadmer was biased against William Rufus and this could be explained by the king's treatment of Archbishop Anselm.
Eadmer made much of William's profanity. The king's favourite oath was "By the holy face of Lucca." Marvellous stories circulated about the wooden image of Christ at Lucca. The face of this image was reputedly carved by an angel.
William Rufus swore by a Christian icon and was probably bi-sexual. However, Professor Barlow found nothing to suggest the early Norman kings were followers of the "Old Religion". Indeed, his evidence suggests that William I and William II were Christian rulers albeit high-handed where the Archdiocese of Canterbury was concerned.
Barlow's splendid book refutes Murray's opinions.
Edited by anjeaunot, 01 June 2013 - 11:26 AM.