|When William was in his early twenties he asked Count Baldwin V of Flanders for his daughter Matilda's hand in marriage. But Matilda was already in love with an Englishman named Brihtric. She supposedly proclaimed that she would rather become a nun than the wife of a bastard, which made William so angry that he attacked her in the street as she left church one day. He slapped her, tore her clothes, threw her to the ground, and rode off.|
Not an auspicious start to a marriage, yet William and Matilda did eventually marry, and they seem to have been quite happy together. They must have been an odd couple to behold, since William was tall and reportedly grew very fat later in life, while Matilda was short -- almost a dwarf -- and slender. They had at least four sons and five daughters. The pope objected to William and Matilda's marriage because they were distant cousins. For a while they (and everyone else in Normandy) were excommunicated, but after several years they were admitted back into the Church in return for building two abbeys.