William II (or "William Rufus" from his ruddy complexion) was the son of William the Conqueror, king of England. William's older brother Robert had been given their father's lands in Normandy, so William Rufus was named as the heir to the other portion of William the Conqueror's lands, and came to the throne in 1087.

William was not all that popular a ruler; the Church hated him, both because he was probably homosexual (never married, never known to have a mistress, and William of Malmesbury reports that at his court young men were seen to "mince their gait, to walk with loose gestures and half naked"), and because he delayed appointing abbots and bishops to be able to receive money from Church lands while they had no one in charge of them. Also, since Robert and William weren't always on good terms, nobles who had lands on both sides of the English Channel had a difficult time keeping on both their good sides.

William Rufus died on 2 August 1100, accidentally shot by one of his knights (Sir Walter Tyrell) while stag-hunting. (The place in the New Forest in Hampshire where it happened is marked with a stone called the Rufus Stone. -- thanks, Gritchka!) He was so disliked that only a group of peasants would load his body onto a cart for burial, and the clergy refused to perform religious rites over the corpse. He was succeeded on the throne by his younger brother Henry I.