William, the illegitimate son of Robert,
Duke of Normandy and Herleva of Falaise, was born in 1027.
of marrying Herleva, Robert persuaded her to marry his friend,
Herluin of Conteville. After marriage, Herleva had two more sons,
Odo of Bayeux and Robert of Mortain.
In 1035, Robert of Normandy went on a pilgrimage. Before setting out
on his trip Robert he forced his lords to swear fealty to William.
Although William was illegitimate, he was Robert's only living son.
When Robert of Normandy died in 1035 William inherited his father's
title. Several leading Normans, including Gilbert of Brionne, Osbern
the Seneschal and Alan of Brittany, became William's guardians.
A number of Norman barons would not accept an illegitimate son as
their leader and in 1040 an attempt was made to kill William.
plot failed but they did manage to kill Gilbert of Brionne, Alan of
Brittany and Osbern the Seneschal. William survived but he was
forced to accept Ralph of Wacy as his guardian and leader of his
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