The Death of William Rufus

August 2nd, 1100

The fullest contemporary account of the death of William II of England, while hunting in the New Forest, comes from William of Malmesbury, a monk who was the leading chronicler of his day. He says that the King had an ominous dream the night before and felt uneasy, but in the afternoon he set out into the forest with a few companions. One of them was a Frenchman named Walter Tirel, Lord of Poix, a close friend of the King and the only one who stayed with him when the party scattered in the chase. The King shot an arrow at a stag, wounded it and shielded his eyes with his hand against the rays of the declining sun to watch where it went. At this point another stag burst on the scene and Tirel impetuously fired at it. He missed and, entirely unintentionally, his arrow pierced William’s chest. The King immediately broke off the shaft which was sticking out of his body, but then collapsed and fell on the rest of the arrow, driving it further in. Tirel rushed to him, but finding the King unconscious and beyond aid, leapt on his horse and fled for dear life.

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