|House||House of Plantagenet|
|Father||Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou|
22 July 1136|
|Died||30 January 1164
|Burial||Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Rouen|
William FitzEmpress (22 July 1136 at Argentan, Normandy,12 – 30 January 1163/64 at Rouen, Normandy12) was the youngest of the three sons of Geoffrey, Count of Anjou and Empress Matilda, daughter of King Henry I of England.
His eldest brother was King Henry II of England, and his second brother was Geoffrey, Count of Nantes. William was Viscount of Dieppe.1 He was also known as William FitzEmpress and as William of Anjou.
In 1156, aged 20, he was with his brother Henry at the siege of Chinon.1 This siege was occasioned by the rebellion of their brother Geoffrey.3 He also conducted the siege at the castle of Mountreuil-Bellay. While doing so he had the writings of the Roman military theorist Vegetius read to him; he then did what Vegetius had done, and the siege ended the next day.4
In September 1155, King Henry held a council at Winchester where he enthusiastically considered invading Ireland and giving it to William, making him king. The plans were abandoned when their mother, Empress Matilda, objected: she did not consider Ireland worth conquering.56 Henry did, however, make William one of the richest men in England, granting him seven manors (Maldon in Essex; Dartford, Hoo, and Shorne in Kent; Aylsham and Cawston in Norfolk; and Hintlesham in Suffolk).1 He also had land surrounding Dieppe, Normandy, of which he was made vicomte (viscount).
In 1162 his marriage to Isabel de Warenne, Countess of Surrey, was arranged. She was one of the great heiresses in England, being the widow of William of Blois, count of Boulogne and Mortain, the son of King Stephen of England, and a cousin of William. Because of this relationship a dispensation from affinity was required for the marriage to take place; such dispensations were usually granted without difficulty. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, refused to support the request for a dispensation and it was not granted because of that.7
William died suddenly shortly after that, it was said of a broken heart. He was buried in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Rouen.8 Henry blamed Thomas Becket for his brother's death, and this might well be the beginning of the great conflict between them. When Becket was murdered on 29 December 1170, one of the knights who killed him was Richard le Breton who had been in William's employ. When he delivered his fatal blow he shouted "take that, for the love of my lord William, the king's brother!"1
|Ancestors of William FitzEmpress|
- Amt, Emile, ‘William FitzEmpress (1136–1164)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 
- Henry Project, Geoffrey V "le Bel" or "Plantagenet"
- Warren, W L, Henry II, p. 65, Univ. of California Press, 1973
- Duby, Georges, France in the Middle Ages, 987–1460: From Hugh Capet to Joan of Arc, transl. by Juliet Vale, p. 178, Blackwell Publishing, 1993
- Warren, W L, Henry II, p. 195, Univ. of California Press, 1973
- Weir, Alison, Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life, p. 145, Ballantine Books, 1999
- Warren, W L, Henry II, p. 449, Univ. of California Press, 1973
- Chronique de Robert de Torigny I, 1164, p. 350