The tract derives its name from the extensive afforestation carried through in this region by William the Conqueror in 1079; and the deaths of two of his sons within its confines - Richard killed by a stag, and William Rufus by an arrow - were regarded in their generation as a judgment of Heaven for the cruelty and injustice perpetrated by their father when appropriating the forest.
The chief events connected with the county under the Norman kings were the capture of Rochester by William Rufus during the rebellion of Odo of Bayeux; the capture of Dover and Leeds castles by Stephen; the murder of Thomas a Becket at Canterbury in 1170; the submission of John to the pope's legate at Dover in 21 3, and the capture of Rochester Castle by the king in the same year.
The quantity of work which he turned out is enormous, for the fifteen large volumes which contain 'his ' Norman Conquest, his unfinished History of Sicily, his William Rufus (1882), and his Essays (1872-1879), and the crowd of his smaller books, are matched in amount by his uncollected contributions to periodicals.
Freeman in his William Rufus (Oxford, 1882) gives the fullest account.
At the accession of William Rufus the domain of Gwynedd had been reduced to Anglesea and the Snowdonian district, and that of South Wales, or Deheubarth, to the lands contained in the basins of the rivers Towy and Teifi, known as Ystrad Tywi and Ceredigion.