Today in the Middle Ages: September 26, 1087

On September 26, 1087, William II of England, known as William Rufus, was crowned king. He succeeded his father, William the Conqueror.

William was notorious for his bad relations with the Church. He feuded with them throughout his reign. The clergy for their part regarded him as a sodomite and a wrathful man. There are many anecdotes in support of both claims.

The king was shot by a friend during a hunt in the New Forest and died of his wound. Almost at once, competing theories arose to explain the death. Some believed it was an accident; others saw a conspiracy by a rival family or by the Church. In the 20th century, anthropologist Margaret Murray advanced the idea that Rufus was a sacrificial pagan king who went knowingly to his fate.