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William Rufus

by Marriott Edgar
Illustrations by John Hassall

Will gets his army together
Will gets his army together

William Rufus was the son of William the Conqueror (see The Battle of Hastings), and includes the term: 'cocked snooks'.

To 'cock a snook' is to touch the tip of your nose with your thumb whilst wiggling the extended fingers of the same hand, in the direction of the person you wish to insult.

The words presumably derive from:

  • 'cock' - the extended fingers resemble the crest on the head of a cock
  • 'snook' - snout (nose)

In the same way that sticking out the tongue and uttering a "muuurrr!" of derision and contempt, 'cocking a snook' is considered a childish gesture; unless you've just parked your car in the last available parking space and noticed the fella you were competing with is your ex-boss who made you redundant last month. In this case, cocking a snook makes the job loss well worthwhile.


The reign of King William the Second
Were an uninteresting affair
There's only two things that's remembered of him
That's his sudden death and his red hair.

He got his red hair from his Mother,
The crown that he wore were his Dad's,
And the arrow that came at the end of his reign
Were a well-deserved gift from the lads.

Getting his red hair
Getting his red hair
Hunt pack

For William were cunning and cruel,
Addicted to every vice
He'd bluster and perjure and ravage and murder,
Apart from all that... he weren t nice.

He'd two brothers called Robert and Henry,
One older, one younger than he,
And by terms of the Will of old Conqueror Bill
The estate had been split into three.

Thus William became King of England;
And Normandy... that went to Bob;
Young Hal got no throne, but received a cash bonus
Instead of a regular job.

But Bob weren't content with his Dukedom,
And Will weren't content with his throne
Both wanted the lot and each started to plot
How to add t'other share to his own.

Young Hal went from one to the other,
Telling each as be thought he were right,
And mixing the pudding he roused the bad blood in
Them both till they reckoned they'd fight.

Starting to plot
Starting to plot
Found out what Will had in mind
Found out what Will had in mind

So Will got his army together
And planned an invasion of France,
But HaI chanced to find out what Will had in mind
And sent Robert a line in advance.

The result were when Bill crossed the Channel,
Instead of t'surprise that were meant,
He was met on the shore by Duke Bob and his Normans.
And came back as fast as he went.

And later when Bob crossed to England,
Intending to ravage and sack,
It were Henry again who upset the campaign
And t'were Robert this time that went back

After one or two sim'lar debacles
They tumbled to Henry's tricks,
And joined with each other to find their young brother
And take him and knock him for six.

But Henry got wind of their coming,
And made off without more ado
To his fortified pitch on the Isle of St. Michel,
From which he cocked snooks at the two.

A good reception from the shore
A good reception from the shore
His fortified pitch
His fortified pitch

When they found things had come to a deadlock
They shook hands and called it a day,
But though Henry pretended that quarrels was ended
He still had a card he could play.

He came back to England with William
And started a whispering campaign
To spoil his prestige with his vassals and lieges
Which whispering wasn't in vain.

For one day when William were hunting
An arrow from somewhere took wing,
And William were shot, falling dead on the spot,
And Henry proclaimed himself King.

So young Henry, who started with nothing,
At the finish held England in thrall,
And as Bob were away with a party Crusading,
He pinched his possessions and all.

A whispering campaign
A whispering campaign

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