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Killing of William Rufus: An Investigation…

Killing of William Rufus: An Investigation in the New Forest

by Duncan Grinnell-Milne

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A short and well-written book by an amateur historian (and First World War flying ace, according to Wikipedia) looking at the famous historical mystery of the killing of King William II Rufus by an arrow while hunting in the New Forest one summer's evening in 1100. Grinnell-Milne decided in the summer of 1963 to research the issue by visiting the New Forest, standing in the spot marked by the Rufus Stone at the same time of day on the equivalent date (allowing for calendar change) and exploring the lie of the land in an area (then, at least, I don't know about now) largely unchanged over the centuries, and comparing this with the descriptions in the chroniclers' accounts (none of whom were contemporary, writing decades after the events they described). His conclusion is that the usual suspect, Walter Tirel, was not guilty of killing the King either by design or by accident, but that the probable killer was a suborned chief huntsman, the tool of a plot probably masterminded by the King's younger brother and successor Henry I. Henry certainly seized the Treasury in Winchester, went to London and was crowned within three days of the killing, which certainly seems to point to a premeditated plan, though arguably he could have been merely taking advantage of a genuine accident and activating a plan he might have formulated for use after a rebellion against William's rule. On balance, though, I find the author's conclusions pretty persuasive and argued with a very close logic. An excellent and satisfying read. ( )
  john257hopper | Apr 10, 2014 |
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