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William the Bastard : period from 1048 – 1066

1049-  After the battle of  Val-ès-Dunes, William seeks a fortified strong town from which he can   affirm his authority over the western part of the Duchy. He chooses Caen, in the early stages of developing into an agglomeration.  The start of building the great castle signifies the real birth of the city.
In order to cement his authority and to assure his succession, he decides to marry Matilda, daughter of Baudoin, which will allow him to conclude an alliance with an old enemy, the count of Flanders. As far as the church is concerned, this is an incestuous marriage,  Matilda is a fifth generation descendant of Rollo. At the Council of Reims, pope Léon IX, the declared enemy of the Normans, opposes the marriage which nevertheless takes place  at Eu in 1050.
1050 - Marriage William and Matilda.
This political move worries the Richardides (Clan of the Richard descendants) some of whom demonstrate their dissidence openly.  William reacts firmly. He arrests and exiles Guillaume Werlanc, count of Mortain. Guillaume Busac,  count of  Evreux et Guillaume d’Arques are put under siege in their castles and suffer the same punishment (1050-1054). All the former were descendants, , légitimate ou illegitimate, of Richard I and of Richard II, and well placed to challenge William’s throne. Mauger, archbishop of Rouen, is deposed for acts of indignity and is replaced by the reformist prelate, Maurille.
1054 – in a struggle for the control of Maine, Normandy is under attack, one of the armies led by Eudes, brother of the King of France, is massacred at Mortemer.
1057 – As part of a new offensive an army from the King’s forces moves up the valley of the Orne and is intercepted at the ford of Varaville near to Caen.  The King has to retreat before the
Duke of Normandy leaving the latter free to conquer Maine which he inherits from count Herbert II,  who had taken refuge chez William.
1059 - Pope Nicolas II,  who succeeded  Léon IX, removes the ban on William’s marriage as part of a negotiation of an alliance with the Normans of Italy in Nicolas II’s  favour. In exchange William immediately starts building the Abbaye aux Dames, founded for Matilda.  The building of The Abbaye aux Hommes, founded for William, is started in 1065.
Projecting his power from Rouen and Caen, William consolidates his hold over the Duchy.
1063 – William takes over Le Mans and invests his young son Robert Courteheuse as count of Maine.
1064 – He joins the conflict in Brittany between Conan II and  Eudes de Penthièvre, he liberates Dol, grabs Dinan and re-establishes his authority over the Mont Saint Michel accompanied by an Anglo-Norman baron, Harold Godwinson.


William figures in the Bayeux tapestry