Encyclopedias give his birth as "about" 1028, but is there any information extant about when and under what circumstances he was made a Christian? A quick search turns up a print in the New York Public Library collection entitled "The Baptism of William the Conqueror", but it dates from the begining of the 20th century.

Is it reasonable to expect that he was christened within the first year of his life, even though he was illegitimate?

Or must he have been baptized before being knighted, or crowned?

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    What was common practice in the Dutchy of Normandy at that time?
    – Mark Olson
    Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 21:14
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    Never heard about denying baptism for an illegitimate child, it does not make sense doctrinally. Besides, his father recognized him, at least as a 7y old. If no specific information is known, I would presume infant baptism or at least that they followed local customs.
    – Luiz
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 0:33
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    The Normans had been Christian for quite a few generations by then, and had been so thoroughly assimilated that they all spoke (Norman) French as their first language. So, one presumes, if nothing special was noted, that they did what was usually done by Catholics of that era. I'm not an expert on Medieval French culture, but I'd assume that would be infant baptism.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 13:29

1 Answer 1


I haven't been able to find precise information, but one source does seem to indicate that the baptism occurred in the Williams' first year, as per the norm to be expected.

The 1874 book, The Conqueror and His Companions, Volume 1 By James Robinson Planché, has a section going over some of the arguments concerning when William was actually born. This bit mentions a source (which I have not been able to locate) , a location and a year (emphasis mine):

3 The cartulary recently discovered at Falaise recording William's birth and baptism there in 1027

This indicates William was both born and baptized in the same year (1027), in the town of Falaise. (If anyone comes across a copy (or location) of this cartulary, please drop a link in a comment)

  • It might be this one which contains a charter William gave to an abbey in Falaise.
    – Spencer
    Commented Oct 21, 2022 at 12:01
  • Thanks for the link, some interesting info there, though I don't see a direct reference to Williams birth in the published text (or a passage which his birth and baptism date might be inferred from). Perhaps the repository mentioned in the Archives départementales de l’Orne as containing the original charter might be a place to look for further information.
    – justCal
    Commented Oct 21, 2022 at 14:51

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