|King of Anglia|
|Reign||7th January, 1451 - 14th March, 1486|
|Successor||William II of Anglia|
|Born|| 1406 |
Zoutleeuw, Brabant, Anglia
|Died|| 14th March, 1486 |
|Spouse|| Matilda of Saxony|
|Issue|| William II of Anglia|
|Mother||Matilda of Sint-Maarten|
The first son from Charles IV's second marriage to Matilda of Sint-Maarten, William was given the Imperial county of Hainault to govern and he settled into the role of Imperial knight with aplomb. Anglian lords found him distant and his love of continental practices would provide friction in the future. Even so it was expected that his life would be that of a provincial lord; holding the frontier but otherwise largely inconsequential. After all, he had several elder brothers and even though Henry III had no children, Richard I did.
As it was, William outlived all of his own siblings and their children too. In 1449 he would be suddenly thrust into the limelight as Richard's reign collapsed thanks to revolt and a civil war with the nobles and, promising to uphold various charters, William formed a regency over Anglia alongside Richard's wife Elizabeth Betun. When Richard died in 1451 William was at hand to seize the throne, with what many thought was undue haste, however he received the support of most nobles and an election in 1452 confirmed what many knew to be a fait a complit.
The wars of the previous decade had decimated Anglia's nobility in its close quarter fighting and William took advantage of the shrunken Witenage to hammer through reforms to Anglia's taxes. Largely these did not expressly benefit the crown they were meant to put the entire treasury on to a sure footing. However they stirred up anger that the king was overstepping his mark. When in 1458 he attempted to strip the lords of their right to raise private armies, or rather ensure that they pledged their allegiance to the crown in the first instance, several lords rebelled and war restarted.
This renewed civil war, sometimes referred to as the 'War of the Lions' after the symbols of the opposing sides (William's supporters carried the Black Lion of Hainault, his enemies a red lion) initially took the same form as the previous revolt against Richard I's rule. Several lords, principally in Jorvikshire, but also in the East Midlands and Flanders, ejected William's officials from their lands and raised their armies. While the Archbishop of Jorvik called for calm William felt he had no choice but to meet them with force. Raising an army out of Flanders and Brabant, taxing Flanders heavily to pay for it, he moved firstly against dissention on the continent to secure his power base. While this may have been financially prudent it left a power vacuum in Anglia which dissenting lords were quick to fill. With a dearth of other potential legitimate and pliable heirs they called in John of Sabhrann. John was the great-grandson of Henry I, via Isabel Henrysdotter (who had been disowned following Henry I's opportunistic marriage to Joanna of Brabant) and had had a short but distinguished career as one of Wessex's mercenary marcher lords on the Munster coast.
Raising a formidable war-chest from Italian loans and clutching a letter of support from John II of Luxembourg, John would invade Anglia with a large mercenary army of Welsh and Irish, joining forces with the rebellious lords. Anglia was not overrun however. Large parts of Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Suffolk remained loyal to the crown and several castles in the centre refused to fall easily to the rebels. Having secured Flanders William looked to make a crossing and crush the revolt in the north. However it soon spiralled out of control and stopped being a purely civil war as Wessex and Scotland intervened in an attempt to support John's move for the crown. Meanwhile Denmark and Hordaland were called upon to help William, the first instance of the Kalmar Union (William having signed the Treaty of Kalmar during the regency) working as a defensive alliance.
Scotland's reinforcement of the north was nullified by Hordaland, landing a considerable army on its east coast and then sending its navy into the Manx Sea. This was politically expedient for Eric VI; he had a claim to Man which he needed to back up by force. Danish troops under Eric VIII meanwhile struck at Flanders, which Wessex had invaded from Normandy. By 1465 fighting was once more confined to Anglia and Wessex (Scotland having suffered the loss of several major fortresses had sued for peace in 1463). Ignoring pleas from Lincoln to relieve the long siege William marched his Anglo-Danish army toward Winchester and inflicted three successive defeats on the Wessex forces.
Thereafter John and the remaining rebels were isolated and the lands they controlled restless thanks to so many foreign mercenaries. Betrayed, John was handed to William in October 1465, before the Battle of Buxton which destroyed the rebellion, and he was executed after a brief trial.
Again, the war and its close-quartered battles took a toll on the Anglian nobility, especially the more troublesome and ambitious ones, allowing a strengthening in the crown's power. The lords would no longer be allowed to raise their own armies. However having witnessed a serious rebellion against his half-brother, and now one against his own rule, William took no chances. Anglia's law codes were reinstated or reformed handing the crown unprecedented abilities. William increasingly ruled personally, pouring over legislation and law whilst making all offices and titles directly beholden to the crown, to such a degree that the latter years have been labelled 'paranoid'. However the merchant classes were to see much of the benefit from the nobles' diminishing influence and better state finances. Antwerp, and other merchant towns on both sides of the Channel, boomed as the wool and cloth trade settled down alongside more exotic goods more filtering in from Leifia, Tawantinland and elsewhere.
William died in 1486 and was succeeded by his shrewd and dour son William, though both of William's surviving children would rule Anglia in succession. After William II died in 1493 without an heir it left his sister Anna to inherit. Despite the fact several European countries had had queen regnants for Anglia it was completely unknown and, in the continental territories, controversial, thanks to Salian Law. Lingering resentment from the continental lords over their treatment in the War of the Lions also fed into the crisis. With Anna plainly not having the support to reign in her own right the throne was soon to be contested between her distant cousins Sigismund II of Luxembourg and Eric IX of Denmark.
William married Matilda of Saxony in 1422. They had three children:
- William II (1427-1493)
- Katherine (1430-1440)
- Charles (1432)
In 1450 William married Katherine Ericsdotter, daughter of Eric VI of Hordaland. They had one child:
- Anna of Norfolk (1453-1517)