A Mysterious Tragedy in the New Forest
3 August 1100, William II died while hunting
William II (Rufus) died in 1100, when he was "accidentally" shot in the heart by Walter Tirel while hunting in the New Forest. William’s younger brother Henry, also present at the hunt and deeply moved by the tragedy, slipped off to Winchester to secure the royal mint and the crown for himself.
William II had been little loved in his time. His court had a reputation for cruelty and debauchery. He also had a fondness for church income. As king he was able to appoint bishops, but in the absence of a sitting bishop at an abbey or monastery, the king could keep the revenue. William frequently delayed appointing bishops so he could keep the monastery income, enriching himself and impoverishing the monasteries.
While Henry may be considered a political opportunist, he proved himself an able administrator and did much to restore justice to the English people. Henry also issued the Charter of Liberties to the barons. This formed the basis for the Magna Carta and the recognition that the King too, was subject to law. After the in 1106 Henry had successfully reunited England and Normandy. Henry ruled England for 35 years, the longest ruling Norman king of England.