My search for the truth of what happened to King William II has turned up the most extraordinary of finds.
William II, son of William the Conqueror and also known as William Rufus, was shot dead in the New Forest, England, on 2nd August 1100. The official story is that one of his hunting party, Sir Walter Tyrrell, went to shoot a deer and missed. His arrow ricocheted off a tree and struck the unwitting king in the chest. Now, that story has never really made sense to me or indeed many historians. How can an arrow still have enough force to puncture someone’s chest after it’s glanced off a tree?
Even chroniclers at the time were suspicious that the fatal shot was no accident, pointing out that Walter Tyrrell was a keen bowman and would not have fired so recklessly as to hit his king. He didn’t stick around to be questioned, fleeing back to France immediately after the incident.
In addition, there were many people with a motive for killing William. He was not a popular king. His people hated him for his steep taxes and he had frequent quarrels with the Church. But it was William’s brother, Henry, who had the most to gain from his death. The kingdom itself. He certainly wasted no time in taking it, riding straight to Winchester to seize the treasury, which is always the first act of a king usurping another. The next day the throne was his. A prominent theory is that Henry conspired with Tyrrell, the king of France and several other men to assassinate William so he could seize power.
So, I have been looking for evidence that William II was murdered as part of a conspiracy. I can now reveal that I have found that evidence. Only it is not the conspiracy I imagined it to be. Far from it.
I had been reaching out to libraries, churches and monasteries for information about William II’s death when Reverend Thomas, who preaches at St. Margaret’s Church in Highcliffe, got in touch. He invited me to his church, said he had something to show me. Some new evidence he’d been planning to hand over to the British Library.
I went to his church and he showed me the chronicles of a Benedictine choir monk who had been writing during the reign of Henry I, William’s brother. They had been buried in the walls of the crypt and detailed a deathbed confession from the man who had conveyed William’s body to Winchester after finding him in the forest. The charcoal burner, Purkis.
Purkis revealed that he had not just found the king, he had witnessed his death. He had watched the king sparring with Walter Tyrrell, except that ‘Walter Tyrrell’ was not his real name. Tyrrell was pointing an arrow at the king and interrogating him about a ‘book’. The king said he had hidden the ‘book’ and refused to tell ‘Tyrrell’ where it was, at which point Tyrrell shot the king dead.
All of this was utterly fascinating and enlightening to read, but it did not compare to what came next. Purkis said he saw Tyrrell hold a “flat, black, rectangular object” to his ear and talk to it about killing the king. After this, he took a tiny red stone from a pot, swallowed it, and disappeared into thin air.
I have had these chronicles carbon-dated and they are indeed as old as Reverend Thomas believes them to be. Here are some photos of them.
[Edit: the British Library, which now has possession of the manuscript, has asked me to remove the photos I originally posted here, which is unfortunate as I’m keen for people to know that I’m not making any of this up. My hope is that the British Library will eventually put the manuscript in their public collection. In the meantime, speak to Reverend Thomas yourself if you have doubts.]
I am in no doubt that ‘Tyrrell’, or whoever he was, was a time traveller. This device he spoke to was clearly a mobile phone! And I’ve no idea what this ‘red stone’ was but it would appear to be some kind of time travel device.
My next question is, what on earth was this ‘book’ he was seeking?
I am no longer searching for evidence of a conspiracy involving Henry I and the French king. Rather, I am looking for a conspiracy of time travellers, who are chasing down a mysterious book that William II had possession of.
I now intend to bury myself in books about William II and his death to see if I can find any corroborating evidence for Purkis’s confession.