Not long after, William went to war with the King of France. He had caused a city to be burnt down, and was riding through the ruins, when his horse trod on some hot ashes, and began to plunge. The king was thrown forward on the saddle, and, being a very heavy, stout man, was so much hurt, that, after a few weeks, in the year 1087, he died at a little monastery, a short way from Rouen, the chief city of his dukedom of Normandy.
He was the greatest man of his time, and he had much good in him; and when he lay on his death-bed he grieved much for all the evil he had brought upon the English; but that could not undo it. He had been a great church-builder, and so were his Norman bishops and barons. You always know their work, because it has round pillars, and round arches, with broad borders of zig-zags, and all manner of patterns round them.
In the end, the coming of the Normans did the English much good, by brightening them up and making them less dull and heavy; but they did not like having a king and court who talked French, and cared more for Normandy than for England.
William II., Rufus. A.D. 1087-1100.
William the Conqueror was obliged to let Normandy fall to Robert, his eldest son; but he thought he could do as he pleased about England, which he had won for himself. He had sent off his second son, William, to England, with his ring to Westminster, giving him a message that he hoped the English people would have him for their king. And they did take him, though they would hardly have done do if they had known what he would be like when he was left to himself. But while he was kept under by his father, they only knew that he had red hair and a ruddy face, and had more sense than his brother Robert. He is sometimes called the Red King, but more commonly William Rufus. Things went worse than ever with the poor English in his time; for at lest William the Conqueror had made everybody mind the law, but now William Rufus let his cruel soldiers do just as they pleased, and spoil what they did not want. It was of no use to complain, for the king would only laugh and make jokes. He did not care for God or man; only for being powerful, for feasting, and for hunting.