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William II of Anglia (The Kalmar Union)

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William II
William II Anglia (The Kalmar Union).png
William II
King of Anglia
Reign 14th March, 1486 - 17th April, 1493
Predecessor William I
Successor Anna I (Regency)
Spouse Margarethe of Tecklenburg
Issue Isabel of Ghent
House Estridsson
Father William I
Mother Matilda of Saxony
Born 3rd December, 1427
Lincoln, Anglia
Died 17th April, 1493
Antwerp, Flanders, Anglia

William II was the last of the main branch of the Anglian Estridssons to reign without qualification. His career and reign would bring to a close a long-period of civil strife, and strengthen the country's government.

His actual reign came at the end of a long career as a prince. His father lived to the grand age of 80 and William was almost sixty by the time he was crowned. He had distinguished himself during the War of the Lions, fighting in the battles of Hexham and Wallsend, and walked with a limp after being thrown from his horse in the latter. Frequently seen as his father's right-hand man he sought to distance himself slightly as William I's rule moved into more paranoid territory. His championing of the rights of the trading towns would give him a certain cache with the merchant classes, as well as small personal fortune.

His rule saw the cementing of royal power over the reigns of government. His biographers frequently refer to him as a shrewd and savvy operator and this seems to have been generally born out in action. Whereas his successors tended to lean on their Lord Chancellors to manipulate the levers of government William appears not to have needed his advisors to suggest solutions as he generally had already thought of them. That said he eased up on the spy network which his father had fostered, an onerous (and expensive) which was outliving its usefulness.

Keen to make Anglia's growing bureaucracy more efficient, he developed and maintained several important offices of state, separating them from church or Witenage control. His most lasting was the so-called 'Estridsson Fork'. It generally held that if a lord spent wildly, then he must have enough money to pay considerable taxes. Equally if a lord appeared frugal and miserly then he must also have the funds saved away to pay the same considerable taxes. Thanks to this the tax yield improved and stabilised though made sure this did not tip over into outright greed.

Ultimately his legacy would not hold, thanks to his childless but loving marriage to Margarethe of Tecklenburg. Their only child, Isabel of Ghent, had died at the age of thirteen. He clearly understood the need for a designated heir and the Witenage agreed to uphold his only remaining sibling, his much younger half-sister, Anna of Norfolk's, right to rule Anglia. To allay their fears he designated a council of regency to govern Anglia until she had a male child (and arranged two successive marriages to try and ensure an heir). This included three lords from Flanders-Hainault. In the end however this council fell into immediate disagreement. Flanders still held grudges against Anglia for perceived injustices during the War of the Lions and argued Salian Law barred Anna from inheriting, or passing on the inheritance of, the electorate. As a result the Witenage offered the crown to Anna's cousin Eric IX of Denmark. For another cousin, Sigismund II of Luxembourg, the prize of the Anglian crown and the rich lands of Flanders was too much to be simply allowed to pass into Danish hands and thus the War of Anglian Succession broke out in September 1493.

Family

William married Margarethe of Tecklenburg in 1448. They had one child:

  • Isabel of Ghent (1455-1468)

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