William Clito was born the son of Robert Curthose
, Duke of Normandy and Sibylla of Conversano in Rouen, Normandy.
1106 (28th September)
Battle of Tinchebrai / Tinchebray
King Henry I
fought this decisive battle against the combined forces of Robert Curthose and Edgar Aetheling
in Normandy. Curthose and Edgar Aetheling were taken prisoner by Henry who declared himself Duke of Normandy
King Henry I placed young William Clito in the care of Helias of Saint Saens.
Many Norman nobles backed William Clito as rightful Duke of Normandy. They were backed by Louis VI of France and Count Fulk V of Anjou. King Henry I of England, arrived in Normandy where he successfully defended his claim to be Duke of Normandy.
King Henry I attempted to capture William but the young Duke’s protectors learned of the scheme and sought refuge with Robert de Belleme a powerful landowner and enemy of King Henry I.
Robert de Belleme went to the English court in Normandy to plead for Robert Curthose to be released. Henry had Belleme arrested and imprisoned.
On hearing of Robert de Belleme’s imprisonment, Helias of Saint Saens took William to the court of Count Baldwin VII of Flanders.
Henry was in Normandy trying to persuade the nobles to accept his son, William Adelin
as Duke of Normandy. He had little success since most saw William Clito, Robert Curthose’s son as the natural heir.
Count Baldwin led a rebellion against King Henry I in favour of William Clito.
Siege of Arques
Count Baldwin was seriously injured after being struck on the head with a lance.
Without the leadership of Count Baldwin, the rebellion against Henry I fell apart.
William Clito gained the backing of King Louis VI of France who led a new rebellion against King Henry I.
King Henry I made an alliance with Count Fulk of Anjou. The alliance was to be sealed with the marriage of William Adelin to Fulk’s daughter.
1119 (20th August)
Battle of Bremule
William fought with Louis VI of France against King Henry I and his son William Adelin. They were defeated but William and the French King managed to escape capture.
Although beaten in battle, King Louis was not prepared to accept defeat over Normandy and appealed to Pope Callixtus to intervene in support of William Clito.
Pope Callixtus II who refused to take sides in the dispute insisting that Henry and Louis make peace.
William married Alice of Anjou. Her name was changed to Matilda on her marriage.
As directed by the Pope, Louis VI agreed peace terms with King Henry. He was unable to secure the Duchy of Normandy for Clito but rather had to accept Henry’s son William Adelin as rightful heir. William Adelin gave homage to the French King.
1120 (25th November)
White Ship Disaster
The White Ship was carrying a drunken party of around 300 nobles including Henry I’s son, William Adelin, when it sank off the coast of Barfleur. There was just one survivor, a butcher from Rouen.
The death of King Henry’s only legitimate son caused a succession problem as there was no remaining male heir to succeed him. It also meant that William Clito was now heir to both Normandy and England.
The death of William Adelin led to the disintegration of the peace treaty made with Fulk of Anjou in May 1119.
King Henry married Adeliza, daughter of Geoffrey, Count of Louvain, Duke of Lower Brabant and Lower Lorraine, in Windsor, hoping for a male heir but they had no children.
William Clito gained the support of Fulk of Anjou and married Fulk’s daughter, Sibylla. Clito was given Maine as Sibylla’s dowry.
King Henry I contested the marriage of William and Sibylla on the grounds that they were related.
Pope Honorious upheld King Henry I’s claim and insisted that the marriage of William Clito and Sibylla of Anjou be annulled.
1124 (26th March)
Battle of Bourgthéroulde
This was a battle between supporters of William Clito and the forces of Henry I. The English won the battle by using the unusual combination of archers and foot soldiers. Many of Clito’s supporters were captured.
King Louis VI granted William land in the Vexin and William married the Queen of France’s half-sister, Joanna of Montferrat.
1127 (2nd March)
Charles of Flanders was assassinated.
1127 (30 March)
King Louis of France marched into Flanders and persuaded the nobles to accept William as Count of Flanders. This opened up the possibility of a threat to Normandy from Flanders.
1127 (late May)
William managed to secure Flanders against attack.
The nobles of Saint Omer and Ghent in Flanders rebelled against William Clito in favour of Thierry of Alsace.
Bruges declared support for Thierry of Alsace.
Lille declared support for Thierry of Alsace.
1128 (21st June)
Battle of Axspoele
William succeeded in defeating Thierry of Alsace.
1128 (12th July)
Siege of Aalst
William, supported by Godfrey of Louvain, lay siege to Aalst. During the siege William was wounded in the arm.
1128 (25th July)
The wound sustained by William at the Siege of Aalst had festered and become gangrenous. William knew he was dying and wrote letters to King Henry I asking for his followers to be pardoned.
1128 (28th July)
William Clito died. He was buried in the Abbey of St Bertin, St Omer.