Legend recounts that Arlette (also known as Herleva) was born in Huy in Belgium in 1013 (although other sources say she was born in Falaise in Normandy). Her father was a humble tanner, but he mother was said to be Doda of Andenne, the estranged and abandoned grand-daughter of King Malcolm II of Scotland.
At 16, she became the mistress of Robert the Magnificent, Duke of Normandy, bearing him a son, William, in 1028, who, although illegitimate, was named by Robert as his heir and succeeded him as Duke of Normandy in 1035. Arlette subsequently married twice, and two of the sons of her later marriages, Odo, Bishop of Bayeux and Robert of Mortain, became the principal supporters of Duke William’s successful invasion of England in 1066, which led to William “the Conqueror” becoming King William I of England.
Meanwhile, Arlette had died around 1050.