Day in History 9 September – William the Conqueror – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

williamtheconguererBayeuxtapestryodowilliamrobertOn this day in 1087, the first Norman King of England, William the Conqueror, also known as William the Bastard, William I of England, William II of Normandy and Duke of Normandy, died at age 59 at the Convent of St. Gervais in Rouen, Normandy.  Born in 1027 or 1028 in Chateau de Falaise in Falaise, Normandy, France, the only son of Robert I, Duke of Normandy.  Crowned William I on Christmas Day 1066 in Westminster Abbey.  The descendant of Viking raiders, he had been Duke of Normandy since 1035 under the style William II.  After a long struggle to establish his hold on Normandy, he launched the Norman conquest of England in 1066.  The rest of his life was marked by struggles to consolidate his hold over England and his continental lands and by difficulties with his eldest son.  William and his wife Matilda of Flanders had at least nine children.  The Final Footprint – Disorder followed William’s death; everyone who had been at his deathbed left the body at Rouen and hurried off to attend to their own affairs.  Eventually, the clergy of Rouen arranged to have the body sent to Caen, where William had desired to be entombed in the foundation of the Abbaye-aux-Hommes.  William’s grave is currently marked by a marble slab with a Latin inscription dating from the early 19th century.  The tomb has been disturbed several times since 1087.  The first time in 1522 when the grave was opened on orders from the papacy.  The intact body was restored to the tomb at that time, but in 1562, during the French Wars of Religion, the grave was reopened and the bones scattered and lost, with the exception of one thigh bone.  This lone relic was reburied in 1642 with a new marker, which was replaced 100 years later with a more elaborate monument.  This tomb was again destroyed during the French Revolution, but was eventually replaced with the current marker.  The impact on England of William’s conquest was profound; changes in the Church, aristocracy, culture, and language of the country have persisted into modern times.  William is seen by some historians either as one of the creators of England’s greatness or as inflicting one of the greatest defeats in English history.  Others have viewed William as an enemy of the English constitution, or alternatively as its creator.

henridetoulouselautrecOn this day in 1901, painter, printmaker, draughtsman and illustrator Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec died, most likely, from complications of alcoholism and syphilis at his family’s estate, Chateau Malromé, in Saint-André-du-Bois, Gironde, France, at the age of 36.  Born Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa at the Hotel du Bosc in Albi, Tarn in the Midi-Pyrénées region of France, on 24 November 1864.  His immersion in the colourful life of Paris in the late 1800s inspired a collection of exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern and sometimes decadent life of those times.  In my opinion, Toulouse-Lautrec is among the most well-known painters of the Post-Impressionist period.  He never married. henritoulouselautrecVerdelais_HTL_Tombe02The Final Footprint – Toulouse-Lautrec’s last words reportedly were: “Le vieux con!” (perhaps translated as “The old fool!”).  Apparently, his goodbye to his father.  Another version has him saying; “I knew, papa, that you wouldn’t miss the death.” (“Je savais, papa, que vous ne manqueriez pas l’hallali”).  “Hallali” being a term used by huntsmen for the moment the hounds kill their prey.  Toulouse-Lautrec is entombed in  Verdelais, Gironde.

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