Born 1101 Died 1128
William the Clito was the son of Robert, duke of Normandy, by his marriage with Sibylla of Conversano. After his father's defeat and capture by Henry of England at the battle of Tinchebrai (1106) the young William fell into the hands of the conqueror. Henry magnanimously placed his nephew in the custody of Helias of Saint Saens, who had married a natural daughter of Duke Robert. Fearing for the safety of the boy, Helias carried him, in 1111, to the court of Louis VI of France. That sovereign joined with the discontented Norman barons and others of Henry's enemies in recognizing William as the rightful claimant to the duchy; Robert, a prisoner whom there was no hope of releasing, they appear to have regarded as dead in the eye of the law. William's claims furnished the pretext for two Norman rebellions. The first which lasted from 1112 to 1120 was abetted by Louis, by Fulk V of Anjou and by Baldwin VII of Flanders. In the second, which broke out during 1123, Henry I had merely to encounter the forces of his own Norman subjects; his diplomatic skill had been successfully employed to paralyse the ill-will of other enemies.
In 1122 or 1123 William married Sibylle, daughter of Fulk of Anjou, and with her received the county of Maine; but Henry I prevailed upon the Curia to annul this union, as being within the forbidden degrees. In 1127, however, the pretender obtained from Louis the hand of Johanna of Montferrat, half-sister of the French queen, and the vacant fief of Flanders. His own rigorous government or the intrigues of Henry I raised up against William a host of rebels; a rival claimant to Flanders appeared in the person of Thierry or Dirk of Alsace. In besieging Alost, one of the strongholds of the rival party, William received a wound which mortified and proved fatal (July 28, 1128). He left no issue; although Duke Robert survived him and only died in 1134, the power of Henry I was thenceforth undisputed by the Normans.
See Ordericus Vitalis, Historia ecclesiastica
, and Sir James Ramsay's Foundations of England
, vol. ii. (1898).
Being the entry for WILLIAM THE CLITO in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.