Herleva of Falaise, Mother of William the Conqueror

The Freelance History Writer

Legends states the young Duke Robert I of Normandy was on the walkway of his castle at Falaise looking down at the river and discovered a beautiful young girl washing clothes. He asked to see her and she became his mistress. She would become the mother of William the Conqueror.

Details of the life of Herleva are few and far between. The chroniclers are contradictory and leave out important information. Even her name could be spelled in many different ways. We have Arletta, Arlette, Arlotta, Arlotte, Erleve, Harlena, Harlette, Herlette, Herleva, Herleve, and Herlotte. To keep it simple she will be called Herleva.

The best guess is Herleva was born c. 1003-1010 in Falaise, Normandy in France. Later chroniclers have her father named as Fulbert and it’s been said he was a tanner. Falaise was well known at that time for its industry of tanning or converting animal skin or…

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