Chapter 3: At Last an Heir (1072-1076)
In the matter of only six years as King, William of Normandy had to bring down four of his nobles who believed that he should not be their King. Though he had put down all four of these men it was all thanks to the efforts of Count William de Warenne of Surrey. This man had done more for his throne then any other but he could not reward the man any further then he already had without losing power. Though William was happy where he was, the only thing he really wished was for a son to take up his position when it was his time to go.
Along with those problems he still had to deal with the people in Derby who wished to revolt, as well as the smallpox which was plaguing the people of Lancaster. As he was trying to come up with a solution for this he received a petition from one of his priests. It appears that they believe that his Spy Master, Aethelric Barton, was using black magic.
Aethelric Barton, Spy Master of Surrey
Worried about what this could mean for the people of Surrey, William sent people to investigate to see what they could learn about these accusations. For close to three days his people went through Aethelric's things and observed him from afar and they found nothing to make them believe that he was truly a man who followed black magic. It appeared the priests disliked him for no other reason then the fact that he was a Saxon and not a Norman, which was understandable but no reason to waste talent. And so he was permitted to live and return to his duties.
Aethelic permitted to live.
As the new year came to an end and still the Lady Alberanda still had not had a child. This was beginning to greatly bother the aging William. They had tried everything they could think of to have a child and still not was born. What was he to do? To his great luck Aethelric came to him on the first of the new year with a suggestion. To have his wife killed. Though it was sad thing, but it was for the good of the county. He needed an heir or else the lands would go to the King who would then give them to his son Richard.
Even though he still loved his wife greatly he had no other real choice and told Aethelric to go through with the plan. For two days nothing happened but then when he returned home after a long ride out in the countryside, William found Alberanda in his room dead. She was hanging from one of the pillars with a note on the table apologizing for not producing him and heir.
Aethelic has Alberanda killed with nobody suspecting a thing.
Alberanda de Leyburne is dead after six years of marriage to Count William.
Cutting his wife down William had her buried and then mourned her loss for days. Though he knew it was for the best it still hurt him greatly that his wife was dead. He still loved her and would miss her for years to come.
During this time of mourning some men in Surrey took this opportunity to begin a guild of thieves. The Count was distracted by the loss of his wife and they knew they could probably get far in the short time it took for the Count to recover from his wife's death.
Some people take advantage of the Count's weakness.
As time passed and Count William still had not returned to his duties, Aethelric paid another visit to his Lord. This time they spent a few hours together doing nothing but talking. Nothing of any great importance, just talking. Finally, Aethelric convinced his Lord that he should leave the room and spend time with other people. Agreeing to what his Spy Master said, William started going hunting with Lanfranc of Pavia, Archbishop of Gloucester. Every third day these two would ride out and hunt and talk. This turned out to be exactly what the Count needed and started to return to his duties. The Count and Archbishop even became very close friends during their hunts to the point where they agreed to go on at least one hunt a year together.
Archbishop Lanfranc of Gloucester, highest ranking church official in all of England.
Feeling alive again William went about looking for a new bride for himself. At first he considered looking for a local bride but that had proved useless last time and so this time he searched abroad. There were many eligible women across the nations but he needed a bride who was young, of a good family and of talent. In the end he chose Anna Dukas the eldest daughter of Michael Dukas, Emperor of the Byzantine Empire.
Her father though many considered a useless Lord was considered the most well known man in all of Europe second only to the Pope himself. Though he was marrying into the Byzantine royal line, he was not putting himself or any future heirs in line for the throne. The next heir to the Byzantine throne would be a man who served as a Prince within their lands and may not even be another Dukas.
William marries Anna Dukas.
Anna Dukas, Daughter of Emperor Michael, William's second wife
Michael Dukas, Emperor of Byzantium
Greatly pleased with his new wife it was going to take her some time to travel from Constantinople to his lands in Surrey. During this time he spent it with either Archbishop Lanfranc or with his King William. As the King and William spent more time with one another they quickly grew closer. Some of the nobles believed that William was looking to become the Duke of Lancaster which is why he was always in London with the King.
Finally, in May the new Countess of Surrey arrived. With her arrival on the docks of London she was greeted by not only William de Warenne but the King, Archbishop Lanfranc, and Count Ralph who all came to greet the Count's new wife. For three days the King held a banquet to honor the lady in hopes of building relations with the Emperor Michael. It was not until the beginning of June that the Count was finally able to escort his bride to his lands in Surrey. He wished to show her the rest of his lands, but until the smallpox was no longer in Lancaster she would be kept in Surrey.
As winter began to set in the Lady Anna began to grow in size. At first the Count only thought she was putting on weight. It was then apparent that she was in fact pregnant. After less then a year of marriage Anna Dukas was already pregnant with the Count's first child.
As winter was coming to an end and the Lady Anna continued to grow in size more good news arrived in Surrey. After five years the lands of Lancaster no longer had anybody plagued by smallpox. Though he still decided it wouldn't be for a short while before returning to those lands, just in case the disease resurfaced.
Though the northern lands were now safe to travel to again William would not allow the Lady Anna to accompany him on his trip. He worried for her in her condition and instead had her stay in Surrey while he was away. He promised he would only be gone for a two months and would be back for the birth of their child.
With her husband away Anna grew bored just waiting for his return and so she instead decided to spend her time in Gloucester with the Count's friend Lanfranc. During her time here she returned to her studies of theology just as she had done in Constantinople. During these studies she grew to respect the Archbishop and decided that she should change her beliefs from that of Greek Orthodox to Roman Catholic.
Her time was coming near and so at the beginning of May Anna returned to Surrey. She arrived the day before William who was greatly pleased to talk of the improvements that have been going on in Lancaster. He had brought the shortbow that was being crafted in Surrey north to be used by the army there. Overall the city was greatly prospering and he was considering moving them there to make that their permanent home. The only thing that really stopped him was the King. He needed to be near his King to advise him should he need him. This decision would be put aside though as on the 26th the Lady Anna gave birth to his eldest child. A daughter. They decided to name her Marie.
Marie de Warenne, eldest of William de Warenne's children
With his first child William could not believe that he was a father. This was something he had always wanted. Though he had a newborn he needed to spend time in Lancaster and so he along with his wife and child took the trip north to Lancaster where they would spend quite some time.
Most of his days in Lancaster William spent them working with the army. Should the Scots or the Welsh try anything it was these men who would be one of the first lines of defense. During their time here Anna who had slimed down again following giving birth to Marie was now growing plump again. In the matter of two years since her marriage to William she had given birth to a daughter and was pregnant again. As bad as it sounded one of the best things that William had ever done was having his late wife Alberanda killed.
With Lancaster in order William wished to return to Surrey for the birth of his child. It was his home and that is where he believed his children should be born. However, Marie he thought should stay in Lancaster and be raised by Thoric Butler a nobleman of Lancaster and his Marshal.
Thoric Butler, Marshal of Surrey, Guardian of Marie de Warenne
The man may have been a Saxon but he was a good man and would keep Marie safe and teach her well. Anna and William would miss their daughter who was just beginning to walk but they needed to be in Surrey.
With the new year over Anna gave birth to her second child on the 7th of January. This child was named Sigeric and was now heir to the Counts of Surrey, Lancaster and Derby. Though he was newly born he was now in a position to be one of the most influential people in all of England should his father pass away.
Sigeric de Warenne, heir to the House of Warenne