Taking Care of Business

Although William had made every effort to convince his magnates, his people and the wider world of Christendom of the justice of his case, yet the duke was old and wise enough to know that war was war, and even a war fought under God’s banner might turn against him. So, as part of his preparations, William nominated his eldest son, Robert Curthose, to succeed him as Duke of Normandy in the event of his death, and saw that Robert also signed William’s gifts to his new abbey. Curthose – a nickname – means short pants and suggests the difficult relationship between William and his elder son. Amid their other preparations, the Norman magnates spent much time setting their affairs in order. Everyone involved knew they were embarking on a do-or-die enterprise, and most of them sought to ensure they had settled outstanding disputes and matters of inheritance before they left.


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