On this day: the King is dead – Long live William Rufus


William Rufus

William the Bastard, later ‘the Conqueror’, died on September 9, 1087. He bequeathed the English throne to his son William Rufus, probably England’s first gay king.

A medieval chronicler scorned William II’s court as full of ‘filthy catamites’ who indulged in the ‘foulest practices of Sodom’.

(Catamite was a slur similar to ‘pillow-biter’ or ‘shirt-lifter’.)

William the Bastard descended from a Viking raider who settled in France. Rollo had mounted continual attacks on the French until a king gave him Normandy in return for pissing off and leaving them alone. His great, great, great grandson William became known as ‘the Bastard’ because of his illegitimate birth.

The use of Roman numerals to distinguish kings and queens was not yet popular. Nicknames were far more fun. Various French kings named Charles were known as the Bad, the Bald, the Simple, and the Fat.

Still, not as bad as Henry IV of Castile who became known as ‘the Impotent’ after the 15-year-old failed to impregnate his bride. (Henry wasn’t impotent. Girls just didn’t excite him.)

If we still named monarchs after a similar fashion, the new King Charles III might instead be the Polo Player or the Tampon. (Google it.)

In addition to his illegitimacy, William the Bastard was an utter utter utter bastard.

Even his kids hated him — and each other. As dysfunctional as the current mob but without Meghan Markle to blame.

The Bastard and eldest son Robert Curthose’s relationship never recovered after younger brothers William Rufus and Henry pissed on Robert from a balcony. When the Bastard failed to punish the boys, Robert left home and began an insurrection. Robert and William Sr fought each other for years with the son once wounding his father in battle.

Warfare was no big deal for the Bastard. He never met someone he wouldn’t fight, squabbling up to the year of his death with some Danish Cnut. To be precise, King Cnut IV, another foreigner with designs on the English throne.

The Bastard claimed that throne in 1066 following the death of Edward the Confessor. But the English crowned Harold Godwinson so William invaded, killed Harold, and anyone unlucky enough to encounter him on his march to London.

William Rufus

When he died, William the Bastard gifted Normandy to Robert, England to William Rufus, and loads of cash to young Henry.

Regarded as a pretty good king as kings went, William Rufus nevertheless attracted complaints of being ‘addicted to every kind of vice, particularly lust, and especially sodomy’.

Concerned about the kingdom’s reputation, the Archbishop of Canterbury asked the king to outlaw ‘the most wicked crime of sodomy’.  William Rufus told him to go to buggery — to forget about it.

Bigots criticised the Norman king’s young, good-looking, and long-haired male courtiers for their trend-setting clothing and shoes. Of course, the English never appreciated cutting-edge footwear, even to this day preferring a nice pair of sandals and long socks.

“The effeminate dominated everywhere,” whined a medieval chronicler, “and revelled without restraint.”

Worst of all, William Rufus failed the most basic responsibility of a dynastic monarch. He never fathered an heir — or even tried. The king showed not the slightest inclination to marry. He stands out in that regard from even other gay monarchs in history. Despite their sexual orientation, most gay kings (other than the aforementioned Henry IV of Castile) kept their end up. They girded their loins, gritted their teeth and somehow got their dick hard and their queen with child.

William II died at around age 44 when a supposedly stray arrow hurtled into his chest during a hunt.

Many believe younger brother Henry perhaps used some of his inheritance to influence the flight of that particular arrow. After checking his brother was dead, Henry abandoned the body and raced off and plonked his arse on the throne — quicker than Sarah, Duchess of York to a book deal.

William Rufus was quickly forgotten — consigned to history as one of the least memorable English royals.

England didn’t see another King William until the Third, also gay and followed sometime later by the Fourth who besides notorious exploits in foreign brothels during his naval career, also fathered ten children by a long-time mistress.

Coming in the not-so-distant future, the Fifth, allegedly a great fan of pegging, which I believe has naught to do with airing dirty laundry.

Also: All the gay royals at the funeral of homophobic George V.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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