In late 1028, or possibly in 1029, she gave birth to their illegitimate son, William. Although the duke would not marry Herleva, she acquired power through her relationship with him. Little is known about William’s childhood, although it is assumed that many of his early years were spent in Falaise with his mother.
At the end of 1034, the repentant Duke Robert decided to head out on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and designated his young bastard son William as his rightful heir. The Bastard William succeeded on his father’s death in 1035 and would become one of the most successful leaders of his time, the conqueror of England and England’s first Norman king.
The castle lording it above Falaise today was developed in large part for William’s successors. It may be the highlight of a visit to town, but down below, there are also a couple of grand historic churches to see (even if so much of historic Falaise was devastated by World War II bombings) and a couple of interesting museums.