Birth: c. 1003, Falaise, Normandy, France;
Death: c. 1050; ;
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Herleva (c. 1003 - 1050) also known as Arlette, Arletta, and Herlève, was the mother of William I of England.
The background of Herleva and the circumstances of William's birth are shrouded in mystery. The written evidence dates from a generation or two later, and is not entirely consistent. The most commonly accepted version says that she was the teenage daughter of a tanner named Fulbert from the small Norman town of Falaise, where they lived. Translation being somewhat uncertain, Fulbert may instead have been a furrier, embalmer, or a person who laid out corpses for burial.
It is argued that Herleva's father was not a tanner but rather a member of burgher class. The idea is supported by the fact that her brothers appear in a later document as attestors for an under-age William. Also, the Count of Flanders later accepted Herleva as a proper guardian for his own daughter. Both facts would be nearly impossible if the father (and therefore her brothers) of Herleva was a tanner, little more than a peasant.
Legend has is that it all started when Robert, the young Duke of Normandy saw Herleva washing in the river near his castle. He was unable to resist her and took her for his mistress.
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