He is Duke of Normandy and father of William the Conqueror. Of a fiery disposition and at 17 he takes over the succession of his brother Richard III of Normandy at the head of the Duchy. Shortly after a conflict arises, which sees them face to face at Falaise for the control of the Château. His beginning was difficult, but once his authority was established peace prevailed within the Duchy. His foreign policy actions were marked notably by the arrival at his court of the refugee sons of the Saxon king Ethelred. He then leads an expedition against King Cnut’s England to organise their return. This expedition is a failure as the ships are scattered by a storm.
It is during the year 1027 that he conceives William with Herlève de Falaise. Later, doubtless to expiate his actions with regard to the appropriation of Church assets dating from his youth he decides to undertake a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Prior to his departure he makes sure to present his possible successor, the young William, his son aged 7 years, to the barons of Normandy assembled at Fécamp. He then embarks on this pilgrimage, never to return. Falling ill on the way back he dies at Nicaea (Turkey) in 1035.