|Also Known As:||"Matilda", "Mathilda", "Mathilde", "Maud", "Adelheid", "Adelaide", "Alice", "Beauclerc", "Plantagenet", "Anjou", "Matilda of England", "Maude", "HR Empress Matilda of England and Queen of Germany", "Holy Roman Empress", "Queen of Germany", "Empress Matilda", "Lady of the English (disp..."|
|Birthplace:||Sutton Courtnay, Nr Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England|
|Death:||Died in Rouen, France|
|Place of Burial:||Le Bec-Helouin, Eure, France|
Daughter of Henry I "Beauclerc", King of England and Matilda of Scotland
|Occupation:||Holy Roman Empress; Queen of England, April 7 to Nov. 1, 1141 (uncrowned), Princess, Empress Consort of the Holy Roman Empire, Princess of England, Empress of Germany, The Empress of Normandy, Procl. Queen of England 1141~1154, Queen of England, Empress|
|Managed by:||James Fred Patin, Jr.|
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About Empress Matilda
Empress MATILDA born Adelaide
2. MATILDA (Winchester or London 1102-Abbaye de Notre-Dame des Près, near Rouen 10 Sep 1167, bur Abbaye du Bec, Normandy, later moved to Rouen Cathedral). Her parentage is stated by Orderic Vitalis. The Chronicle of Gervase records the birth "secundo anno regni" of "filiam…Matildis". According to Weir, she was christened Adelaide but adopted the name Matilda on her first marriage. The primary source on which this is based has not yet been identified. The chronology of Matilda´s first marriage is complicated. Negotiations for the marriage started in 1109: Henry of Huntingdon records that ambassadors were sent by “Henrico imperatore Romano” to request “filiam regis” in marriage for “domini sui”, that they were received in the English court “ad Pentecosten”, and that “filia regis” was given (“data”) to “imperatori” in the following year, dated to [1109/10] from the context. The English king's presence in London at that time is confirmed by the Regesta Regum Anglorum which lists three charters dated 13 June 1109 “Pentecost” issued at Westminster in King Henry's name. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records in 1109 that “before Whitsuntide” King Henry I returned to England from Normandy and “held his court at Westminster” where “the contracts were completed and the oaths sworn for the marriage of his daughter to the emperor” and in 1110 that “before Lent, the king sent his daughter oversea with innumerable treasures and gave her in marriage to the emperor”. Florence of Worcester records that "rex Anglorum Henricus” granted “filiam suam...in conjugem" to "Heinrico regi Teutonicorum", dated to 1110 from the context. In a later passage, the same source records that "Matildis filia regis Anglorum” who was “Heinrico, Romanorum imperatori...desponsata" was consecrated empress "VIII Id Jan" (6 January) at Mainz, dated to 1114 from the context. The Continuatio of the Gesta Ducum Normannorum records that “Henricus quintus rex et quartus imperator Romanorum et Alemannorum” requested in marriage the daughter of the king of England who was brought to his kingdom, that the couple were betrothed (“desponsavit”) in Utrecht at Easter, and that Matilda was consecrated queen in Mainz “in festivitate sancti Iacobi” (25 July) by the archbishop of Köln. Matilda was then carefully brought up (“studiose nutriri precepit”) by Bruno archbishop of Trier, including learning the German language and customs, until the time for her marriage (“tempus nuptiarum”). Orderic Vitalis records that "Henricus rex Anglorum" gave “Mathildem filiam suam...in uxorem” to “Imperatori”, that “Rogerius filius Ricardi [identified as Roger FitzRichard de Clare] cognatus regis, cum nobili comitatu in Anglia” escorted her to Germany, and that her dowry was 10,000 marks, undated but dated to  from the context. The dating is confirmed approximately by a later passage in the same source, recording the death of Emperor Heinrich, which states that he married Matilda three years after succeeding his father (who died in August 1106). Another passage records that “Henricus rex” gave “Mathildem filiam suam...in conjugium” to “Karolo [error for Henrico] Henrici filio Imperatori Alemannorum”, that she was led to her husband by “Burchardus præsul Cameracensium”, in the presence of “Rogerius...filius Ricardi, aliique plures ex Normannis comitati”. This last passage is dated to  from the context. However, Burchard was not appointed bishop of Cambrai until 1114: the Annales Cameracensis record that “domnus Burgardus” was elected [as bishop] in 1114. The Annals of Winchester record that “rex” sent “filiam suam Matildem” for betrothal (“desponsandam”) to “imperatori Henrico” with 5,000 marks of silver in 1110, adding that she was only 8 years and 15 days old. The Annals of Winchelcombe, Gloucestershire record in 1114 that “Matildis filia regis Anglorum Henrici” married (“desponsatur...sponsam suscepit”) “Anglici regis filiam” and that the dowry was agreed (“more dotavit”) in Utrecht at Easter. Simeon of Durham records in 1110 that "rex Anglorum Henricus" gave “filiam suam” in marriage (“in conjugem dedit”) to “Henrico imperatori”, adding that he sent her from Dover “usque ad Witsand” at the start of “Quadragesimæ...IV Id Apr”. The same source records in 1114 that "Mathildis filia regis Anglorum Henrici" was married (“desponsata”) to “Henrico Romanorum imperatori” and was consecrated empress at Mainz “VIII Id Jan”. The Annales Hildesheimensis record a synod held “Non Mar” in 1110 by Pope Paschal who sent legates to Liège (“Leodium ad regem”) and that there (“ibi”) “rex” received as wife (“sponsam suscepit”) “Anglici regis filiam” and that he granted her dower in accordance with the customs of the kingdom (“regio more dotavit”) in Utrecht at Easter. The same source records in 1114 that Matilda married (“desponsatur”) “Henrico Romanorum imperatori”. The Annales Sancti Disibodi record in 1109 that “Rex” was betrothed (“desponsata”) to “filia regis Anglorum” and in 1114 that “Imperator” passed Christmas at “Babinberg” and married (“nuptias fecit”) at Mainz “post epiphaniam”. Matilda was crowned empress again in 1117 with her husband at St Peter’s Basilica, Rome.
Her second marriage is recorded by Orderic Vitalis. The Chronicle of Gervase records the second marriage of "filiam suam…viduam" to "Gaufrido comiti Andegaviæ". Matilda asserted the right to succeed after the death of her father and fought King Stephen in a civil war in which she was finally defeated 1 Nov 1141. Robert of Torigny records the death "1167…IV Id Sep Rothomagi" of "matris suæ [Henrici regis] Mathildis imperatricis" and her burial "Becci". The necrology of Angers Cathedral records the death "II Id Sep" of "Mathildis imperatrix filia Henrici regis uxor Goffredi comitis".
m firstly (betrothed Utrecht Easter 1110, Mainz 6 Jan 1114) Emperor HEINRICH V, son of Emperor HEINRICH IV & his first wife Berthe de Savoie (1081-Utrecht 23 May 1125, bur Speyer Cathedral).
m secondly (Le Mans Cathedral, Anjou 17 Jun 1128) GEOFFROY d’Anjou, son of FOULQUES V Comte d’Anjou & his first wife Aremburge de Maine (24 Aug 1113-Château du Loire 7 Sep 1151, bur Le Mans Cathedral, Anjou). He succeeded on the abdication of his father in 1129 as GEOFFROI V “le Bel/Plantagenet” Comte d’Anjou. He was proclaimed Duke of Normandy 19 Jan 1144.
Matilda & her second husband had three children:
1. HENRI d’Anjou (Le Mans, Anjou 5 Mar 1133-Château de Chinon 6 Jul 1189, bur Abbaye de Fontevrault). William of Tyre names him and records his parentage. The Chronicæ Sancti Albini records the birth "1133 III Non Mar" of "Henricus". Comte de Touraine et du Maine 1151. He succeeded his father in 1151 as HENRI Comte d’Anjou, Duke of Normandy. He became Duke of Aquitaine by right of his wife 18 May 1152. He succeeded King Stephen 19 Dec 1154 as HENRY II King of England, crowned in Westminster Abbey the same day. m (Bordeaux Cathedral 18 May 1152) as her second husband, ELEONORE Dss of Aquitaine, divorced wife of LOUIS VII King of France, daughter of GUILLAUME X Duke of Aquitaine, GUILLAUME VIII Comte de Poitou & his first wife Eléonore de Châtellerault (Nieul-sur-Autize, Vendée or Château de Belin, Guyenne or Palais d’Ombrière, Bordeaux 1122-Abbaye de Fontevrault 1 Apr 1204, bur Abbaye de Fontevrault). The Chronicle of Alberic de Trois-Fontaines names "Alienor Guilielmi filia comits Pictavorum et Aquitanie ducis" as wife of "regi Francie Ludovico". She was crowned Queen Consort of England with her husband 19 Dec 1154 at Westminster Abbey. She supported the revolt of her sons against their father in 1173, was captured and imprisoned in the château de Chinon, later at Salisbury until 1179. The Chronicle of Alberic de Trois-Fontaines records the burial of "uxor [regis Henrici] regina Alienordis" in the same abbey as her husband.
- KINGS of ENGLAND.
2. GEOFFROY d’Anjou (Rouen, Normandy 1 Jun 1134-Nantes 26 Jul 1158, bur Nantes). Robert of Torigny records the birth "1134 mense Maio in Pentecoste Rothomagi" of "Gaufridus secundus filius Gaufridi comitis Andegavensis", specifying that his mother "Matildis imperatrix" was "infirmata…propter difficultatem partus usque ad desperationem". The Chronicæ Sancti Albini records the birth "1134 Kal Jun" of "Gaufridus". William of Tyre names him as his parents' second son. "Goffridus comes filius Fulconis regis Jerusalem" renounced rights to Angers with the consent of "filiis meis Henrico et Goffrido" by charter dated [1136/1140] which also names "uxori meæ Mathildi". His father intended him to succeed as Comte d'Anjou, but his brother Henri did not permit this. Geoffroy revolted against his brother in 1152 and 1156, after which his castles of Chinon, Loudun and Mirebeau were confiscated. He was appointed Comte de Nantes by his brother in 1157 after the expulsion of Comte Hoël. Matthew of Paris specifies that Geoffroy was the brother of King Henry II when he records his death in 1158, after which Nantes was transferred to his brother. Robert of Torigny records the death "1158 mense Julio" of "Gaufrido comite Nannetensi fratre Henrici regis Julio".
3. GUILLAUME d’Anjou (Argentan 22 Jul 1136-Rouen 30 Jan 1164, bur Rouen Cathedral). Robert of Torigny records the birth "1136 mense Augusto apud Argentomagum" of "Guillermus tercius filius comitis Gaufridi". The Chronicæ Sancti Albini records the birth "1136 XI Kal Aug" of "Guillelmus". William of Tyre names him as his parents' third son "cognomento Longaspata". Comte de Poitou. His brother granted him extensive lordships in fifteen English counties and the vicomté of Dieppe. Robert of Torigny records the death "apud Rothomagum III Kal Feb…1164" of "Willermus frater Henrici regis" and his burial "in ecclesia Sanctæ Mariæ".
Matilda 'the Empress' of England
From the Peerage
F, #102037, b. circa August 1102, d. 10 September 1167
Matilda 'the Empress' of England|b. c Aug 1102\nd. 10 Sep 1167|p10204.htm#i102037|Henry I 'Beauclerc', King of England|b. Sep 1068\nd. 1 Dec 1135|p10204.htm#i102033|Editha of Scotland|b. c 1079\nd. 1 May 1118|p10204.htm#i102034|William I 'the Conqueror', King of England|b. bt 1027 - 1028\nd. 9 Sep 1087|p10203.htm#i102022|Matilda de Flandre|b. c 1031\nd. 2 Nov 1083|p10203.htm#i102023|Malcolm III 'Caennmor', King of Scotland|b. 26 Mar 1031\nd. 13 Nov 1093|p10216.htm#i102153|Saint Margaret 'the Exile' (?)|b. 1045\nd. 16 Nov 1093|p10216.htm#i102154|
Matilda 'the Empress' of England was born circa August 1102 at Winchester, Hampshire, England.2 She was also reported to have been born on 7 February 1102 at England. She was the daughter of Henry I 'Beauclerc', King of England and Editha of Scotland. She married, firstly, Heinrich V, Holy Roman Emperor, son of Heinrich IV, Holy Roman Emperor, on 7 January 1114 at Mainz, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany.2 She married, secondly, Geoffrey V Plantagenet, Comte d'Anjou et Maine, son of Fulk V d'Anjou, 9th Comte d'Anjou and Aremburga de la Fleche, Comtesse de Maine, on 22 May 1128 at Le Mans Cathedral, Le Mans, France.3 She was also reported to have been married on 20 May 1127. She died on 10 September 1167 at Abbey of the Notre Dame des Prés, Rouen, Caux, France.2 She was buried at Rouen Cathedral, Rouen, Caux, France.2 She was given the name of Adelaide at birth.2 As a result of her marriage, Matilda 'the Empress' of England was styled as Empress Matilda of Germany on 7 January 1114.2 She gained the title of Lady of the English on 7 April 1141.2 She was deposed as Lady of the English on 1 November 1141.2 Daughter of Henry I and Editha of Scotland, she was nominated by her father as his successor. However, on the death of Henry I, the council considering a woman unfit to rule offered the throne to Stephen. Matilda invaded England and fought (1139 - 1148) to wrest rule from the usurping Stephen. She won much of the west, and after Stephen's capture in April 1141 a clerical council proclaimed Matilda 'Lady of the English'. She entered London but made cash demands that provoked Londoners to expel her before a coronation. On Stephen's release, she suffered defeats (fled from Oxford Castle Dec 1142), and eventually left England for Normandy, now controlled by her husband. The cause of her death is obscure. Although Matilda failed to secure the English throne, she laid a basis for successful claims by descendants of her husband Geoffrey of Anjou.
Children of Matilda 'the Empress' of England and Geoffrey V Plantagenet, Comte d'Anjou et Maine
1.Emma Plantagenet d. b 1214
2.Henry II 'Curtmantle' d'Anjou, King of England+ b. 5 Mar 1133, d. 6 Jul 1189
3.Geoffrey VI d'Anjou, Comte d'Anjou et Nantes b. 1 Jun 1134, d. 26 Jul 1158
4.William de Poitou, Comte de Poitou b. c Jul 1136, d. 30 Jan 1164
1.[S106] Royal Genealogies Website (ROYAL92.GED), online ftp://ftp.cac.psu.edu/genealogy/public_html/royal/index.html. Hereinafter cited as Royal Genealogies Website.
2.[S11] Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999), page 57. Hereinafter cited as Britain's Royal Family.
3.[S11] Alison Weir, Britain's Royal Family, page 54.
- Lady of the English (disputed)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Matilda of England
Holy Roman Empress, Queen of Germany
Tenure 7 January 1114 – 23 May 1125
Lady of the English (disputed)
Reign 7 April 1141 – 1 November 1141
Predecessor Stephen (as King of England)
Successor Stephen (as King of England)
Spouse Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor
m. 1114; dec. 1125
Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou
m. 1128; dec. 1151
- Henry II of England
- Geoffrey, Count of Nantes
- William X, Count of Poitou
House Norman dynasty
Father Henry I of England
Mother Matilda of Scotland
Born c. 7 February 1102
Died 10 September 1167 (age 65)
Empress Matilda (c. 7 February 1102 – 10 September 1167), also known as Matilda of England or Maude, was the daughter and heir of King Henry I of England. Matilda and her younger brother, William Adelin, were the only legitimate children of King Henry to survive to adulthood. However, her brother's death in the White Ship disaster in 1120 resulted in Matilda being her father's sole heir.
As a child, Matilda was betrothed to and later married Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, acquiring the title Empress. The couple had no known children and after eleven years of marriage Henry died, leaving Matilda widowed. However, she was then married to Geoffrey, Count of Anjou in a union which her father hoped would produce a male heir and continue the dynasty. She had three sons by Geoffrey of Anjou, the eldest of whom eventually became King Henry II of England. Upon the death of her father in 1135, Matilda was usurped to the throne by her rival and cousin Stephen of Blois, who moved quickly and became crowned King of England whilst Matilda was in Normandy, pregnant with her third child.
Their rivalry for the throne led to years of unrest and civil war in England that have been called The Anarchy. Matilda was the first female ruler of the Kingdom of England, though the length of her effective rule was brief - a few months in 1141. She was never crowned and failed to consolidate her rule (legally and politically). For this reason, she is normally excluded from lists of English monarchs, and her rival (and cousin) Stephen of Blois is listed as monarch for the period 1135–1154. She campaigned unstintingly for her oldest son's inheritance, living to see him ascend the throne of England in 1154.
Early life and marriage to Henry V
Matilda was the elder of the two children born to Henry I of England, son of William the Conqueror, and his wife Matilda of Scotland (also known as Edith) who survived infancy; her younger brother and heir to the throne was William Adelin.[nb 1] Her father sired at least twenty illegitimate children, half-siblings to Matilda. Her maternal grandparents were Malcolm III of Scotland and Saint Margaret of Scotland. Margaret was daughter of Edward the Exile and granddaughter of Edmund II of England. Most historians believe Matilda was born in Winchester, but one, John M. Fletcher, argues for the possibility of the royal palace at Sutton (now Sutton Courtenay) in Oxfordshire. Her paternal grandparents were William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders. As a child her relationship with her father was probably not close, considering Henry I ventured to Normandy whilst Matilda was two years old, and the King stayed there for three years. It is likely she saw little of him upon his return either, as Matilda then commenced her education at the Abbey of Wilton, where she was educated by the nuns.
Emperor Henry V and MatildaWhen Matilda was still in early childhood, envoys from Henry V, King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor, travelled to England and asked for her hand in marriage. In spring of 1110 she was sent to Germany, taking with her a large dowry, estimated at 10,000 marks in silver, to become the bride of Henry V. She met her husband-to-be at Liège before travelling to Utrecht where, on 10 April, Matilda became officially betrothed to Henry. On 25 July of the same year she was crowned Queen in a ceremony at Mainz. As well as being a young stranger in a foreign court, she also saw most of her English retinue dismissed by the Emperor; Henry V also wished that Matilda learn to speak German. She found herself continuing her education in Germany, being taught by Archbishop Bruno of Trier. Matilda and the Emperor married in June 1114. Her official title as Holy Roman Empress is somewhat dubious; she was never crowned by the Pope, though she was crowned in Rome by the archbishop of Braga, Maurice Bourdin, at Pentecost (13 May, 1117). As Matilda later claimed to have been crowned twice, a ceremony may have take place earlier in the year at Easter. To add further ambiguity to the title, Archbishop Bourdin was declared excommunicate by the Pope in April of 1117, before Pentecost but after Easter. However, as she was the betrothed wife and anointed queen at the time of her husband's coronation by Pope Paschal in 1111, her title held some legitimacy and official records addressed her as regina Romanorum. Bourdin, following the death of Paschal in January 1118, became Antipope Gregory VIII, in opposition to Pope Gelasius II. Later, she led Norman chroniclers to believe that she had been crowned by the Pope himself.
A 14th century depiction of the White Ship sinking of 1120Matilda acted as Henry's regent in Italy, gaining valuable political experience. Her tenure as regent of the Italian lands of the Holy Roman Empire probably lasted from 1117 to 1119, whereupon she rejoined her husband in Lotharingia. However, in 1120, England's heir and Matilda's brother William Adelin drowned in the White Ship sinking. Being the only legitimate male heir, his death cast uncertainty over the succession of the throne. Matilda was Henry I's only legitimate child, but as a female, she was at a substantial political disadvantage. The closest male blood heir at the time was William Clito, but instead of naming a successor, Henry turned his attention to fathering another child. Widowed from Matilda of Scotland in 1118, Henry commenced negotiations for a remarriage following Adelin's death. In 1121 he married Adeliza of Louvain, though the union failed to produce any children.
Meanwhile, the marriage between Henry and Matilda remained childless, and Matilda's father was at the time unwilling to rest his hopes on his daughter providing an heir, assuming that she may be barren. Henry V had already produced an illegitimate daughter, so it was presumed that he was not infertile. Nonetheless, though she had failed to produce an heir for Henry V, she was not blamed; instead, the couple's childlessness was regarded as God's punishment to Henry V for his mistreatment of his father. Henry V died on 23 May 1125, leaving Matilda a widow, aged 22. The imperial couple had no surviving offspring, but Hermann of Tournai stated that Matilda bore a child who lived only a short while.[nb 2] On his deathbed, Henry V entrusted Matilda with the imperial insignia. Having not produced a legitimate child, the Salian dynasty ended. Though the position of Holy Roman Emperor was an elected one, the title often passed from father to son. Matilda handed over the insignia, which were at Trifels Castle, to Adalbert, archbishop of Mainz, and he began proceedings towards the election. The procedure was that the Bavarians, Swabians, Franconians (home of the Salians) and the Saxons elected a successor. Lothair, Duke of Saxony, and rival to the Salians, was elected.
Widowhood, heiress and second marriage
Henry I summoned Matilda to Normandy following the Holy Roman Emperor's death. Matilda was displeased, considering Germany had been her home since a young age, German was now her first language and she was a respected figure in Germany. Nonetheless, she had ceased to be involved in German political affairs and with an opponent on the throne, her future there did not promise anything significantly worthwhile. Accepting that likeliness of his marriage providing him a boy was slim, Henry I decided that Matilda would be his heiress. After residing in Normandy for nearly a year with her father and step-mother, they set sail for England in 1126. In January 1127, Henry made his court swear an oath of allegiance to Matilda and that if no male heir was provided, they must accept her as their ruler. Stephen of Blois was present, and swore the oath of allegiance to Matilda. John of Worcester described a second oath, that was taken one year after the first, at Henry's Easter court (29 April, 1128).
Geoffrey of Anjou, Matilda's second husbandThe question of marriage was entirely down to Matilda's father. Louis VI, King of France, was discontented about Normandy and England united and as such, promoted the claim of William Clito as heir, in order to attempt to cause a rift in the court. Furthermore, Fulk, Count of Anjou, was likely to support Clito's claim due to the longstanding hostility between Normandy and Anjou. The animosity between Normandy and Anjou had temporarily been repaired with the marriage of Henry I's son William Adelin to Fulk's daughter Matilda. However, Adelin's death meant the match was brief. Fulk then married his younger daughter Sibyl to William Clito, though Henry managed to sever the union by having Pope Calixtus II annul the marriage on the grounds of consanguinity. However, Louis VI then offered his wife's half-sister Jeanne to Clito for marriage. Her dowry was the Vexin, an area of land bordering Normandy. Furthermore, the murder of Charles I, Count of Flanders in 1127 gave Louis the opportunity to install William as the new Count of Flanders, thus setting him up to be a strong rival of Matilda.
Henry was faced with a predicament of Clito's rising power and he recognised that his daughter must marry in a union of diplomacy to counter this. He arranged for her to marry Geoffrey of Anjou, Fulk's son. Matilda was outraged, and viewed Geoffrey as entirely beneath her, though she could not do anything to prevent the marriage. Matilda was sent to Normandy early in 1127, under the care of Robert of Gloucester, her half-brother. The wedding could not take place straight away, as Geoffrey was considered too young, having not yet turned 14. Nonetheless, he was considered handsome and intelligent, though neither of these traits served to console Matilda. The marriage took place in June 1128 at Le Mans. A month after the marriage, her rival William Clito died suddenly from a battle wound, thus strengthening Matilda's position further.
The marriage, however, was a tempestuous relationship, and after little over a year since their wedding, Matilda left Geoffrey, travelling to Normandy, residing at Rouen. The cause behind the soured relations is not fully known, though historian Marjorie Chibnall stated that, "historians have tended to put the blame on Matilda [...] This is a hasty judgement based on two or three hostile English chroniclers; such evidence as there is suggests Geoffrey was at least as much to blame". Henry eventually summoned her from Normandy, whereupon Matilda returned to England in August 1131. At a great council meeting on 8 September, it was decided that Matilda would return to her husband. Here she received another oath of allegiance, where Stephen once more made his vow to Matilda. The marriage proved a success when, in March 1133, Matilda gave birth to their first child, a son, named Henry in Le Mans. In 1134 the couple's second son, Geoffrey, was born in Rouen. Matilda nearly died in childbirth, and as she lay critically ill, her burial arrangements were planned. However, she recovered from her illness.
Struggle for the throne of England
William the Conqueror invades England William I Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy Richard, Duke of Bernay William II Adela, Countess of Blois Henry I
William II Henry I Empress Matilda William Adelin Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester
StephenEustace IV, Count of Boulogne William I, Count of Boulogne Marie I, Countess of Boulogne
Monarchy of the United Kingdom v · t · e In 1120, her brother William Adelin drowned in the disastrous wreck of the White Ship, making Matilda the only surviving legitimate child of her father King Henry. Her cousin Stephen of Blois was, like her, a grandchild of William (the Conqueror) of Normandy; but her paternal line meant she was senior to Stephen in the line of succession.
After Matilda returned to England, Henry named her as his heir to the English throne and Duchy of Normandy. Henry saw to it that the Anglo-Norman barons, including Stephen, twice swore to accept Matilda as ruler if Henry died without a male heir of his body.
When her father died in Normandy, on 1 December 1135, Matilda was with Geoffrey in Anjou, and, crucially, too far away from events rapidly unfolding in England and Normandy. She and Geoffrey were also at odds with her father over border castles. Stephen of Blois rushed to England upon learning of Henry's death and moved quickly to seize the crown from the appointed heir. He was supported by most of the barons and his brother, Henry, Bishop of Winchester, breaking his oath to defend her rights. Matilda, however, contested Stephen in both realms. She and her husband Geoffrey entered Normandy and began military campaigns to claim her inheritance there. Progress was uneven at first, but she persevered. In Normandy, Geoffrey secured all fiefdoms west and south of the Seine by 1143; in January 1144, he crossed the Seine and took Rouen without resistance. He assumed the title Duke of Normandy, and Matilda became Duchess of Normandy. Geoffrey and Matilda held the duchy conjointly until 1149, then ceded it to their son, Henry, which event was soon ratified by King Louis VII of France. It was not until 1139, however, that Matilda commanded the military strength necessary to challenge Stephen within England.
During the war, Matilda's most loyal and capable supporter was her illegitimate half-brother, Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester.
Matilda's greatest triumph came in February 1141, when her forces defeated and captured King Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln. He was made a prisoner and effectively deposed. Her advantage lasted only a few months. When she arrived in London, the city was ready to welcome her and support her coronation. She used the title of Lady of the English and planned to assume the title of queen upon coronation (the custom which was followed by her grandsons, Richard and John). However, she refused the citizens' request to halve their taxes and, because of her own arrogance, they closed the city gates to her and reignited the civil war on 24 June 1141.
By November, Stephen was free (exchanged for the captured Robert of Gloucester) and a year later, the tables were turned when Matilda was besieged at Oxford but escaped to Wallingford, supposedly by fleeing across snow-covered land in a white cape. In 1141, she escaped Devizes in a similar manner, by disguising herself as a corpse and being carried out for burial.
In 1148, Matilda and Henry returned to Normandy, following the death of Robert of Gloucester, and the reconquest of Normandy by Geoffrey. Upon their arrival, Geoffrey turned Normandy over to Henry and retired to Anjou.
Matilda's first son, Henry, was showing signs of becoming a successful leader. It was 1147 when Henry, aged 14, had accompanied Matilda on an invasion of England. It soon failed due to lack of preparation but it made him determined that England was his mother's right, and so his own. He returned to England again between 1149 and 1150. On 22 May 1149 he was knighted by King David I of Scotland, his great uncle, at Carlisle. Although the civil war had been decided in Stephen's favour, his reign was troubled. In 1153, the death of Stephen's son Eustace, combined with the arrival of a military expedition led by Henry, led him to acknowledge the latter as his heir by the Treaty of Wallingford.
Matilda retired to Rouen in Normandy during her last years, where she maintained her own court and presided over the government of the duchy in the absence of Henry. She intervened in the quarrels between her eldest son Henry and her second son Geoffrey, Count of Nantes, but peace between the brothers was brief. Geoffrey rebelled against Henry twice before his sudden death in 1158. Relations between Henry and his youngest brother, William X, Count of Poitou, were more cordial, and William was given vast estates in England. Archbishop Thomas Becket refused to allow William to marry the Countess of Surrey and the young man fled to Matilda's court at Rouen. William died there in January 1164, reportedly of disappointment and sorrow. She attempted to mediate in the quarrel between her son Henry and Becket, but was unsuccessful.
Although she gave up hope of being crowned in 1141, her name always preceded that of her son Henry, even after he became king. Matilda died at Notre Dame du Pré near Rouen in 1167 and was buried in the Abbey of Bec-Hellouin, Normandy. Her body was transferred to Rouen Cathedral in 1847; her epitaph reads: "Great by Birth, Greater by Marriage, Greatest in her Offspring: Here lies Matilda, the daughter, wife, and mother of Henry."
The civil war between supporters of Stephen and the supporters of Matilda has proven popular as a subject in historical fiction. Novels dealing with it include:
Graham Shelby, The Villains of the Piece (1972) (published in the US as The Oath and the Sword) The Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters, and the TV series made from them starring Sir Derek Jacobi Jean Plaidy, The Passionate Enemies, the third book of her Norman Trilogy Sharon Penman, When Christ and His Saints Slept tells the story of the events before, during and after the civil war Haley Elizabeth Garwood, The Forgotten Queen (1997) Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth E. L. Konigsburg, A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver Cecelia Holland, The Earl Joan Wolf, No Dark Place and The Poisoned Serpent are medieval romantic mysteries about supporters of both Stephen and Matilda Ellen Jones, The Fatal Crown (highly inaccurate) Juliet Dymoke, The Lion's Legacy (Being part of a trilogy, the first being, Of The Ring Of Earls, the second, Henry Of The High Rock) Elizabeth Chadwick, "Lady of the English" (2011) Indeed, some novels go so far as to posit a love-affair between Matilda and Stephen, e.g. the Janna Mysteries by Felicity Pulman, set during the civil war between Stephen and Matilda.
Matilda is a character in Jean Anouilh's play Becket. In the 1964 film adaptation she was portrayed by Martita Hunt. She was also portrayed by Brenda Bruce in the 1978 BBC TV series The Devil's Crown, which dramatised the reigns of her son and grandsons.
Finally, Alison Pill portrayed her in the 2010 TV miniseries The Pillars of the Earth, an adaptation of Follett's novel, although she is initially known in this as Princess Maud not Empress Matilda.
Notes ^ Historical debate exists as to whether William Adelin was Matilda's younger brother or her twin. Marjorie Chibnall has said that "the evidence is against" the theory of the siblings being twins, citing various reasons, such as William of Malmesbury stating they were born on different dates. ^ It is argued that Hermann of Tournai was using the story of a child who died as a guise to prove his point that because Matilda's mother had once worn the veil of a nun, her marriage was cursed. Chibnall described it as an "uncorroborated" story and Hermann as an "unreliable" source.
References ^ Chibnall 1991, p. 9 ^ Pain 1978, p. 5 ^ Pain 1978, p. 7 ^ Chibnall 1991, p. 16 ^ Pain 1978, p. 8 ^ Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney, eds. (1894). Dictionary of national biography. 37. Smith, Elder, & co. http://books.google.com/books?id=Ga_QAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA54#v=onepage&q&f=false. ^ Chibnall (1991), p. 24 ^ Pain 1978, p. 12 ^ Pain 1978, p. 14 ^ a b c d Chibnall 1991, p. 32 ^ a b Chibnall 1991, p. 33 ^ Chibnall 1991, p. 34 ^ a b Chibnall 1991, p. 38 ^ a b c Chibnall 1991, p. 40 ^ a b Pain 1978, p. 16 ^ Chibnall 1991, p. 41 ^ Chibnall 1991, p. 42 ^ a b Chibnall 1991, p. 43 ^ Pain 1978, p. 17 ^ Pain 1978, p. 18 ^ a b Chibnall 1991, p. 51 ^ Chibnall 1991, p. 52 ^ a b c d e Pain 1978, p. 25 ^ Chibnall 1991, p. 54 ^ Pain 1978, p. 26 ^ a b c Pain 1978, p. 27 ^ Chibnall 1991, p. 55 ^ Chibnall 1991, p. 57 ^ a b Chibnall 1991, p. 59 ^ Chibnall 1991, p. 60 ^ a b Chibnall 1991, p. 61 ^ a b Lyon, Ann (2003). Constitutional history of the UK. Routledge Cavendish. ISBN 1-85941-746-9. http://books.google.com/books?id=yiqrD_b_EGkC&pg=PA30&dq=%22lady+of+the+English%22+uncrowned&lr=#v=onepage&q=%22lady%20of%20the%20English%22%20uncrowned&f=false. ^ Harvey, John. The Plantagenets. p. 50.
Pain, Nesta (1978), Empress Matilda: Uncrowned Queen of England, Butler & Tanner Chibnall, Marjorie (1991), The Empress Matilda: Queen Consort, Queen Mother and Lady of the English, Basil Blackwell, ISBN 0-631-15737-9
Bradbury, J. (1996) Stephen and Matilda: the Civil War of 1139–1153, Sutton Publishing, ISBN 0-7509-0612-X Fletcher, John (1990) Sutton Courtenay: The History of a Thameside Village Gardener, J and Wenborn, W the History Today Companion to British History Parsons, John Carmi. Medieval Mothering (New Middle Ages), sub. Marjorie Chibnall, "Empress Matilda and Her Sons"
From Find a grave
Birth: Feb. 7, 1102 Death: Sep. 10, 1167
German Queen, Holy Roman Empress, Queen of England, Countess of Anjou and Maine. Only daughter of Henry I. and Matilda Dunkeld, daughter of Malcolm III. (Ceann-Mor). Matilda and her brother William were possibly twins. She was betrothed to Heinrich V. in April 1110. On January 7, 1114 she married the Emperor. She was 12 and her husband was 32 years old. She was crowned Queen of the Germans on July 25, 1110. The pair visited Rome in 1117 where they were crowned in a ceremony led only by an Archbishop (Heinrich was already crowned in 1111 by the pope) but she used the title of an Empress her whole life. The Emperor died in 1125 and she had to return to England because her brother had died and she was now her father's only hope for the continuation of his dynasty. Henry I. named Matilda his heir in January 1127. The baron of England had to swear that they would make her queen after her father's death. On August 26, 1127 she married the eleven years younger Geoffrey V. Plantagenet (qv), Count of Anjou in Le Mans. They soon started to fight with each other and Geoffrey sent her to Rouen. They reconciled in 1131 and on 5 March 1133 she gave birth to their first son Henry, who later became Henry II. of England. When Henry I. died in 1135 she was supposed to succeed him but her cousin Stephen of Blois was crowned instead. That was the begin of a civil war that lasted 18 years. In 1138 first her half-brother Robert of Gloucester and later her uncle David I. of Scotland invaded England to unseat Stephen from the throne and install Matilda. Stephen defeated David at the Battle of the Standard. Matilda herself landed in England in the following year. She was able to take Stephen prisoner in 1141 but had to release him in exchange for Robert of Gloucester. In March 1141 she it went to London, because of her arrogant behavior she was thrown out of the city some days later before her formal coronation could happen. The war luck was now more on Stephens side and she had to retire to the Normandy. On August 10, 1153 Stephens son Eustache died. Stephen became depressed and signed the Treaty of Winchester in December 1153. In this treaty Henry was named heir to Stephen bypassing Stephens son William and agreeing that Stephen should remain king for the rest of his life. He wasn't able to enjoy the following peace for a long time he died in October 1154. Maud spend the rest of her life in the Normandy where she administered the her sons possessions. She died in Notre Dame de Prés near Rouen and was buried in the Abbey church of Bec-Hellouin. Her body was transferred to the Cathedral of Rouen in 1847. (bio by: Lutetia)
- The Peerage
- Find a grave
- Lady of the English (disputed) Reign 7 April 1141 – 1 November 1141
Daughter of King Henry I of England. From "Henry II of England" at http://sbaldw.home.mindspring.com/hproject/prov/henry002.htm.
from Plantagenet Ancestry, Douglas Richardson, et al, p1, via Google Books
Before Aug 12 1102 - of, London, Middlesex, England Death: Sep 17 1169 - Notre Dame, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France Parents: Henry I "Beauclerc" England, Matilda "Atheling" Princess England (born Scotland) Siblings: Robert "The King's Caen, Maud, Princess of England, [Duchess of Bret, Elizabeth Princess of Galloway, Princess (born England), Son Prince of England, William "Atheling" Prince England, William Prince of England, Richard Prince of England, Gundred Princess of England, Rohese Princess of England, Isabel Hedwig Of England, Sibyl Elizabeth Queen Scotland, Rainald de Dunstanville Husband: Geoffrey V The Plantagenet Husband: Heinrich V Emperor Germany Children: Adewis Plantagenet, Henry II "Plantagenet" England, Marie Shaftesbury, Abbess of, Geoffrey VI "Mantell" Plantagenet, Guillaume Plantagenet, William Plantagenet, Emma Owen, [Princess of Wal (born Plantagenet), Geoffrey Nantes Plantagenet
Before Aug 12 1102 - of, London, Middlesex, England Death: Sep 17 1169 - Notre Dame, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France Parents: Henry I "Beauclerc" England, Matilda "Atheling" Princess England (born Scotland) Siblings: Robert "The King's Caen, Maud, Princess of England, [Duchess of Bret, Elizabeth Princess of Galloway, Princess (born England), Son Prince of England, William "Atheling" Prince England, William Prince of England, Richard Prince of England, Gundred Princess of England, Rohese Princess of England, Isabel Hedwig Of England, Sibyl Elizabeth Queen Scotland, Rainald de Dunstanville Husband: Geoffrey V The Plantagenet Husband: Heinrich V Emperor Germany Children: Adewis Plantagenet, Henry II "Plantagenet" England, Marie Shaftesbury, Abbess of, Geoffrey VI "Mantell" Plantagenet, Guillaume Plantagenet, William Plantagenet, Emma Owen, [Princess of Wal (born Plantagenet), Geoffrey Nantes Plantagenet
Matilda From the British Monarchy's web page
The Normans came to govern England following one of the most famous battles in English history: the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Four Norman kings presided over a period of great change and development for the country.
The Domesday Book, a great record of English land-holding, was published; the forests were extended; the Exchequer was founded; and a start was made on the Tower of London.
In religious affairs, the Gregorian reform movement gathered pace and forced concessions, while the machinery of government developed to support the country while Henry was fighting abroad.
Meanwhile, the social landscape altered dramatically, as the Norman aristocracy came to prominence. Many of the nobles struggled to keep a hold on their interests in both Normandy and England, as divided rule meant the threat of conflict. This was the case when William the Conqueror died. His eldest son, Robert, became Duke of Normandy, while the next youngest, William, became king of England. Their younger brother Henry would become king on William II's death. The uneasy divide continued until Henry captured and imprisoned his elder brother. The question of the succession continued to weigh heavily over the remainder of the period. Henry's son died, and his nominated heir Matilda was denied the throne by her cousin, Henry's nephew, Stephen.
There then followed a period of civil war. Matilda married Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou, who took control of Normandy. The duchy was therefore separated from England once again.
A compromise was eventually reached whereby the son of Matilda and Geoffrey would be heir to the English crown, while Stephen's son would inherit his baronial lands.
It meant that in 1154 Henry II would ascend to the throne as the first undisputed king in over 100 years - evidence of the dynastic uncertainty of the Norman period.
reedness reedness originally shared this to Glauber Family Tree
Empress Matilda (c. 7 February 1102 – 10 September 1167), also known as the Empress Maude, was the claimant to the English throne during the civil war known as the Anarchy.[nb 1] The daughter of King Henry I of England, she moved to Germany as a child when she married the future Holy Roman Emperor Henry V. She travelled with her husband into Italy in 1116, was controversially crowned in St. Peter's Basilica, and acted as the imperial regent in Italy. Matilda and Henry had no children, and when he died in 1125, the crown was claimed by Lothair II, one of his political enemies.
Meanwhile, Matilda's younger brother, William Adelin, died in the White Ship disaster of 1120, leaving England facing a potential succession crisis. On Henry V's death, Matilda was recalled to Normandy by her father, who arranged for her to marry Geoffrey of Anjou to form an alliance to protect his southern borders. Henry I had no further children and nominated Matilda as his heir, making his court swear an oath of loyalty to her and her successors, but the decision was not popular in the Anglo-Norman court. Henry died in 1135 but Matilda and Geoffrey faced opposition from the Norman barons and were unable to pursue their claims. The throne was instead taken by Matilda's cousin Stephen of Blois, who enjoyed the backing of the English Church. Stephen took steps to solidify his new regime, but faced threats both from neighbouring powers and from opponents within his kingdom.
In 1139 Matilda crossed to England to take the kingdom by force, supported by her half-brother, Robert of Gloucester, and her uncle, King David I of Scotland, while Geoffrey focused on conquering Normandy. Matilda's forces captured Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141, but the Empress's attempt to be crowned at Westminster collapsed in the face of bitter opposition from the London crowds. As a result of this retreat, Matilda was never formally declared Queen of England, and was instead titled the Lady of the English. Robert was captured following the Rout of Winchester in 1141, and Matilda agreed to exchange him for Stephen. Matilda became trapped in Oxford Castle by Stephen's forces that winter, and was forced to escape across the River Isis at night to avoid capture. The war degenerated into a stalemate, with Matilda controlling much of the south-west of England, and Stephen the south-east and the Midlands. Large parts of the rest of the country were in the hands of local barons.
Matilda returned to Normandy, now in the hands of her husband, in 1148, leaving her eldest son to continue the campaign in England; he eventually succeeded to the throne as Henry II in 1154. She settled her court near Rouen and for the rest of her life concerned herself with the administration of Normandy, acting on Henry's behalf when necessary. Particularly in the early years of her son's reign, she provided political advice and attempted to mediate during the Becket controversy. She worked extensively with the Church, founding Cistercian monasteries, and was known for her piety. She was buried under the high altar at Bec Abbey after her death in 1167.
Childhood Matilda was born to Henry I, King of England and Duke of Normandy, and his first wife, Matilda of Scotland, possibly around 7 February 1102 at Sutton Courtenay in Oxfordshire.[nb 2] Henry was the youngest son of William the Conqueror, who had invaded England in 1066, creating an empire stretching into Wales. The invasion had created an Anglo-Norman elite, many with estates spread across both sides of the English Channel. These barons typically had close links to the kingdom of France, which was then a loose collection of counties and smaller polities, under only the minimal control of the king. Her mother Matilda was the daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland, a member of the West Saxon royal family, and a descendant of Alfred the Great. For Henry, marrying Matilda of Scotland had given his reign increased legitimacy, and for her it had been an opportunity for high status and power in England.
Matilda had a younger, legitimate brother, William Adelin, and her father's relationships with numerous mistresses resulted in around 22 illegitimate siblings.[nb 3] Little is known about Matilda's earliest life, but she probably stayed with her mother, was taught to read, and was educated in religious morals.[nb 4] Among the nobles at her mother's court were her uncle David, later the King of Scotland, and aspiring nobles such as her half-brother Robert of Gloucester, her cousin Stephen of Blois and Brian Fitz Count. In 1108 Henry left Matilda and her brother in the care of Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury, while he travelled to Normandy; Anselm was a favoured cleric of Matilda's mother. There is no detailed description of Matilda's appearance; contemporaries described Matilda as being very beautiful, but this may have simply reflected the conventional practice among the chroniclers.
In late 1108 or early 1109, Henry V, then the King of the Romans, sent envoys to Normandy proposing that Matilda marry him, and wrote separately to her royal mother on the same matter. The match was attractive to the English King: his daughter would be marrying into one of the most prestigious dynasties in Europe, reaffirming his own, slightly questionable, status as the youngest son of a new royal house, and gaining him an ally in dealing with France. In return, Henry V would receive a dowry of 10,000 marks, which he needed to fund an expedition to Rome for his coronation as the Holy Roman Emperor. The final details of the deal were negotiated at Westminster in June 1109 and, as a result of her changing status, Matilda attended a royal council for the first time that October. She left England in February 1110 to make her way to Germany.
The couple met at Liège before travelling to Utrecht where, on 10 April, they became officially betrothed. On 25 July Matilda was crowned Queen of the Romans in a ceremony at Mainz. There was a considerable age gap between the couple, as Matilda was only eight years old while Henry was 24. After the betrothal she was placed into the custody of Bruno, the Archbishop of Trier, who was tasked with educating her in German culture, manners and government.[nb 5] In January 1114 Matilda was ready to be married to Henry, and their wedding was held at the city of Worms amid extravagant celebrations. Matilda now entered public life in Germany, complete with her own household.
Political conflict broke out across the Empire shortly after the marriage, triggered when Henry arrested his Chancellor Adalbert and various other German princes. Rebellions followed, accompanied by opposition from within the Church, which played an important part in administering the Empire, and this led to the formal excommunication of the Emperor by Pope Paschal II. Henry and Matilda marched over the Alps into Italy in early 1116, intent on settling matters permanently with the Pope. Matilda was now playing a full part in the imperial government, sponsoring royal grants, dealing with petitioners and taking part in ceremonial occasions. The rest of the year was spent establishing control of northern Italy, and in early 1117 the pair advanced on Rome itself.
Paschal fled when Henry and Matilda arrived, and in his absence the papal envoy Maurice Bourdin, later the Antipope Gregory VIII, crowned the pair at St. Peter's Basilica, probably that Easter and certainly by Pentecost. Matilda used these ceremonies to claim the title of the Empress of the Holy Roman Empire. The Empire was governed by elected monarchs who, like Henry V, had been selected by the major nobles to become the King of the Romans. These kings typically hoped to be subsequently crowned by the Pope as the Holy Roman Emperor, but this could not be guaranteed. Henry V had coerced the Pope into crowning him in 1111, but Matilda's own status was less clear. As a result of her marriage she was clearly the legitimate Queen of the Romans, a title that she used on her seal and charters, but it was uncertain if she had a legitimate claim to the title of empress.
Both Bourdin's status and the ceremonies themselves were deeply ambiguous. Strictly speaking, the ceremonies were not imperial coronations but instead were formal "crown-wearing" occasions, among the few times in the year when the rulers would wear their crowns in court. Bourdin had also been excommunicated by the time he conducted the second ceremony, and he was later to be deposed and imprisoned for life by the Pope. Nonetheless, Matilda maintained that she had been officially crowned as the empress in Rome. The titles of emperor and empress were not always consistently used in this period, and in any case her use of the title became widely accepted. Matilda chose not to dispute Anglo-Norman chroniclers who later incorrectly recorded that the Pope himself had crowned her in Rome.
Death of Henry In 1118, Henry returned north back over the Alps into Germany to suppress fresh rebellions, leaving Matilda as his regent to govern Italy.[nb 6] There are few records of her rule over the next two years, but she probably gained considerable practical experience of government. In 1119 she returned north to meet Henry in Lotharingia. Her husband was occupied in finding a compromise with the Pope, who had excommunicated him. In 1122, Henry and probably Matilda were at the Council of Worms. The council settled the long-running dispute with the Church when Henry gave up his rights to invest bishops with their episcopal regalia. Matilda attempted to visit her father in England that year, but the journey was blocked by Charles I, Count of Flanders, whose territory she would have needed to pass through. Historian Marjorie Chibnall argues Matilda had intended to discuss the inheritance of the English crown on this journey.
Matilda and Henry remained childless, but neither party was considered to be infertile and contemporary chroniclers blamed their situation on the Emperor and his sins against the Church.[nb 7] In early 1122, the couple travelled down the Rhine together as Henry continued to suppress the ongoing political unrest, but by now he was suffering from cancer. His condition worsened and he died on 23 May 1125 in Utrecht, leaving Matilda in the protection of their nephew Frederick, the heir to his estates. Before his death he left the imperial insignia in the control of Matilda, but it is unclear what instructions he gave her about the future of the Empire, which faced another leadership election. Archbishop Adalbert subsequently convinced Matilda that she should give him the insignia, and the Archbishop led the electorial process, which appointed Lothair of Supplinburg, a former enemy of Henry, as the new King of the Romans.
Now aged 23, Matilda had only limited options as to how she might spend the rest of her life. Being childless, she could not exercise a role as an imperial regent, which left her with the choice of either becoming a nun or remarrying. Some offers of marriage from German princes started to arrive, but she chose to return to Normandy. She does not appear to have expected to return to Germany, as she gave up her estates within the Empire, and departed with her personal collection of jewels, her own imperial regalia, two of Henry's crowns and the valuable relic of the Hand of St James the Apostle.
Succession crisis Picture of the White Ship sinking
A 14th-century depiction of the White Ship sinking of 1120 In 1120, the English political landscape changed dramatically after the White Ship disaster. Around three hundred passengers – including Matilda's brother, William Adelin, and many other senior nobles – embarked one night on the White Ship to travel from Barfleur in Normandy across to England. Possibly as a result of overcrowding, or excessive drinking by the ship's master and crew, the vessel foundered just outside the harbour and all but two of the passengers died. William Adelin was among the casualties.
With William dead, the succession to the English throne was thrown into doubt. Rules of succession in western Europe at the time were uncertain; in some parts of France, male primogeniture, in which the eldest son would inherit a title, was becoming more popular. It was also traditional for the King of France to crown his successor whilst he himself was still alive, making the intended line of succession relatively clear. This was not the case in England, where the best a noble could do was to identify what Professor Eleanor Searle has termed a pool of legitimate heirs, leaving them to challenge and dispute the inheritance after his death. The problem was further complicated by the sequence of unstable Anglo-Norman successions over the previous sixty years. William the Conqueror had invaded England, his sons William Rufus and Robert Curthose had fought a war between them to establish their inheritance, and Henry had only acquired control of Normandy by force. There had been no peaceful, uncontested successions.
Initially Henry put his hopes in fathering another son. William and Matilda's mother - Matilda of Scotland - had died in 1118 and so Henry took a new wife, Adeliza of Louvain. Henry and Adeliza did not conceive any children, and the future of the dynasty appeared at risk. Henry may have begun to look among his nephews for a possible heir. He may have considered his sister Adela's son, Stephen of Blois, as a possible option and, perhaps in preparation for this, he arranged a beneficial marriage for Stephen to Matilda's wealthy maternal cousin and namesake, the Countess of Boulogne. Theobald of Blois, his close ally, possibly also felt that he was in favour with Henry. William Clito, the only son of Robert Curthose, was King Louis VI of France's preferred choice, but William was in open rebellion against Henry and was therefore unsuitable. Henry might have also considered his own illegitimate son, Robert of Gloucester, as a possible candidate, but English tradition and custom would have looked unfavourably on this. Henry's plans shifted when the Empress Matilda's husband, the Emperor Henry, died in 1125. Matilda returned to Normandy in 1125 and spent about a year at the royal court, where her father Henry was still hoping that his second marriage would generate a male heir. In the event that this might fail to happen, Matilda was now Henry's preferred choice and he declared that, should he die without a male heir, she was to be his rightful successor. The Anglo-Norman barons were gathered together at Westminster on Christmas 1126, where in January they swore to recognise Matilda and any future legitimate heir she might have.[nb 8]
Henry began to formally look for a new husband for Matilda in early 1127 and received various offers from princes within the Empire. His preference was to use Matilda's marriage to secure the southern borders of Normandy, by marrying her to Geoffrey of Anjou, the eldest son of Fulk, the Count of Anjou. Henry's control of Normandy had faced numerous challenges since he had conquered it in 1106 and the latest threat came from his nephew William Clito, the new Count of Flanders, who enjoyed the support of the French King. It was essential to Henry that he did not also face a threat from the south as well as the east of Normandy. William Adelin had married Fulk's daughter Matilda, which would have cemented an alliance between Henry and Anjou, but the White Ship disaster put an end to this. Henry and Fulk argued over the fate of the marriage dowry and this had encouraged Fulk to turn to support William Clito instead. Henry's solution was now to negotiate the marriage of Matilda to Geoffrey, recreating the former alliance.
Matilda appears to have been unimpressed by this plan. She felt that marrying the son of a count diminished her own status and was probably also unhappy about marrying someone so much younger than she was – Matilda was 25, and Geoffrey was only 13. Hildebert, the Archbishop of Tours, eventually intervened to persuade her to go along with the engagement. Matilda finally agreed, and in May 1127 she travelled to Rouen with Robert of Gloucester and Brian Fitz Count where she was formally betrothed to Geoffrey. Over the course of the next year, Fulk decided to depart for Jerusalem, where he hoped to become king, leaving his possessions to Geoffrey. Henry knighted his future son-in-law and a week later, on 17 June 1128, Matilda and Geoffrey were married in Le Mans by the bishops of Le Mans and Séez. Fulk finally left Anjou for Jerusalem in 1129, declaring Geoffrey the Count of Anjou and Maine.
Disputes The marriage proved difficult, as the couple did not particularly like each other. There was a further dispute over Matilda's dowry; she was granted various castles in Normandy by Henry, but it was not specified when the couple would actually take possession of them. It is also unknown whether Henry intended Geoffrey to have any future claim on England or Normandy, and he was probably keeping Geoffrey's status deliberately uncertain. Soon after the marriage, Matilda left Geoffrey and returned to Normandy. Henry appears to have blamed Geoffrey for the separation, but in 1131 the couple were finally reconciled. Henry summoned Matilda from Normandy, and she arrived in England that August. At a meeting of the King's great council in September, it was decided that Matilda would return to Geoffrey. The council also gave another collective oath of allegiance to recognise her as Henry's heir.[nb 9]
Matilda gave birth to her first son, the future Henry II, in March 1133 at Le Mans. Henry was delighted by the news and came to see her at Rouen. At Pentecost 1134, a second son, Geoffrey, was born in Rouen, but the childbirth was extremely difficult and Matilda appeared close to death. She made arrangements for her will, and argued with her father about where she should be buried: Matilda preferred Bec Abbey, but Henry wanted her to be interred at Rouen Cathedral. Matilda recovered, and Henry was overjoyed by the birth of his second grandson, possibly insisting on another round of oaths from his nobility.[nb 10]
From then on, relations between Matilda and Henry became increasingly strained. Matilda and Geoffrey suspected that they lacked genuine support in England for their claim to the throne, and proposed in 1135 that the King should hand over the royal castles in Normandy to Matilda and should insist that the Norman nobility immediately swear allegiance to her. This would have given the couple a much more powerful position after Henry's death, but the King angrily refused, probably out of a concern that Geoffrey would try to seize power in Normandy while he was still alive. A fresh rebellion broke out in southern Normandy, and Geoffrey and Matilda intervened militarily on behalf of the rebels.
In the middle of this confrontation, Henry unexpectedly fell ill and died near Lyons-la-Forêt. It is uncertain what, if anything, Henry said about the succession before his death. Contemporary chronicler accounts were each coloured by subsequent events, and while sources favourable to Matilda suggested that Henry had reaffirmed his intent to grant all his lands to his daughter, hostile chroniclers argued that Henry had renounced his former plans and had apologised for having forced the barons to swear an oath of allegiance to her.
Road to war Colour map of Northern France at time of Henry I's death
Northern France around the time of Henry's death; red circles mark major urban centres When news began to spread of Henry I's death, Matilda and Geoffrey were in Anjou, supporting the rebels in their campaign against the royal army, which included a number of Matilda's supporters such as Robert of Gloucester. Many of these barons had taken an oath to stay in Normandy until the late king was properly buried, which prevented them from returning to England. Nonetheless, Geoffrey and Matilda took the opportunity to march into southern Normandy and seize a number of key castles around Argentan that had formed Matilda's disputed dowry. They then stopped, unable to advance further, pillaging the countryside and facing increased resistance from the Norman nobility and a rebellion in Anjou itself. Matilda was by now also pregnant with her third son, William; opinions vary among historians as to what extent this affected her military plans.[nb 11]
Meanwhile, news of Henry's death had reached Stephen of Blois, conveniently placed in Boulogne, and he left for England, accompanied by his military household. Robert of Gloucester had garrisoned the ports of Dover and Canterbury and some accounts suggest that they refused Stephen access when he first arrived. Nonetheless Stephen reached the edge of London by 8 December and over the next week he began to seize power in England. The crowds in London proclaimed Stephen the new monarch, believing that he would grant the city new rights and privileges in return, and his brother, Henry of Blois, the Bishop of Winchester, delivered the support of the Church to Stephen. Stephen had sworn to support Matilda in 1127, but Henry convincingly argued that the late King had been wrong to insist that his court take the oath, and suggested that the King had changed his mind on his deathbed.[nb 12] Stephen's coronation was held a week later at Westminster Abbey on 26 December.
Following the news that Stephen was gathering support in England, the Norman nobility had gathered at Le Neubourg to discuss declaring his elder brother Theobald king. The Normans argued that the count, as the eldest grandson of William the Conqueror, had the most valid claim over the kingdom and the Duchy, and was certainly preferable to Matilda. Their discussions were interrupted by the sudden news from England that Stephen's coronation was to occur the next day. Theobald's support immediately ebbed away, as the barons were not prepared to support the division of England and Normandy by opposing Stephen.[nb 13]
Matilda gave birth to her third son William on 22 July 1136 at Argentan, and she then operated out of the border region for the next three years, establishing her household knights on estates around the area. Matilda may have asked Ulger, the Bishop of Angers, to garner support for her claim with the Pope in Rome, but if she did, Ulger was unsuccessful. Geoffrey invaded Normandy in early 1136 and, after a temporary truce, invaded again later the same year, raiding and burning estates rather than trying to hold the territory. Stephen returned to the Duchy in 1137, where he met with Louis VI and Theobald to agree to an informal alliance against Geoffrey and Matilda, to counter the growing Angevin power in the region. Stephen formed an army to retake Matilda's Argentan castles, but frictions between his Flemish mercenary forces and the local Norman barons resulted in a battle between the two halves of his army. The Norman forces then deserted the King, forcing Stephen to give up his campaign. Stephen agreed to another truce with Geoffrey, promising to pay him 2,000 marks a year in exchange for peace along the Norman borders.
In England, Stephen's reign started off well, with lavish gatherings of the royal court that saw the King give out grants of land and favours to his supporters. Stephen received the support of Pope Innocent II, thanks in part to the testimony of Louis VI and Theobald. Troubles rapidly began to emerge. Matilda's uncle, David I of Scotland, invaded the north of England on the news of Henry's death, taking Carlisle, Newcastle and other key strongholds. Stephen rapidly marched north with an army and met David at Durham, where a temporary compromise was agreed. South Wales rose in rebellion, and by 1137 Stephen was forced to abandon attempts to suppress the revolt. Stephen put down two revolts in the south-west led by Baldwin de Redvers and Robert of Bampton; Baldwin was released after his capture and travelled to Normandy, where he became a vocal critic of the King.
Revolt Picture of a silver penny coin
A Matilda silver penny, minted in Oxford Matilda's half-brother, Robert of Gloucester, was one of the most powerful Anglo-Norman barons, controlling estates in Normandy as well as the Earldom of Gloucester. In 1138, he rebelled against Stephen, starting the descent into civil war in England. Robert renounced his fealty to the King and declared his support for Matilda, which triggered a major regional rebellion in Kent and across the south-west of England, although he himself remained in Normandy. Matilda had not been particularly active in asserting her claims to the throne since 1135 and in many ways it was Robert who took the initiative in declaring war in 1138. In France, Geoffrey took advantage of the situation by re-invading Normandy. David of Scotland also invaded the north of England once again, announcing that he was supporting the claim of Matilda to the throne, pushing south into Yorkshire.[nb 14]
Stephen responded quickly to the revolts and invasions, paying most attention to England rather than Normandy. His wife Matilda was sent to Kent with ships and resources from Boulogne, with the task of retaking the key port of Dover, under Robert's control. A small number of Stephen's household knights were sent north to help the fight against the Scots, where David's forces were defeated later that year at the Battle of the Standard. Despite this victory, however, David still occupied most of the north. Stephen himself went west in an attempt to regain control of Gloucestershire, first striking north into the Welsh Marches, taking Hereford and Shrewsbury, before heading south to Bath. The town of Bristol itself proved too strong for him, and Stephen contented himself with raiding and pillaging the surrounding area. The rebels appear to have expected Robert to intervene with support, but he remained in Normandy throughout the year, trying to persuade the Empress Matilda to invade England herself. Dover finally surrendered to the Queen's forces later in the year.
By 1139, an invasion of England by Robert and Matilda appeared imminent. Geoffrey and Matilda had secured much of Normandy and, together with Robert, spent the beginning of the year mobilising forces for a cross-Channel expedition. Matilda also appealed to the papacy at the start of the year; her representative, Bishop Ulger, put forward her legal claim to the English throne on the grounds of her hereditary right and the oaths sworn by the barons. Arnulf of Lisieux led Stephen's case, arguing that because Matilda's mother had really been a nun, her claim to the throne was illegitimate. The Pope declined to reverse his earlier support for Stephen, but from Matilda's perspective the case usefully established that Stephen's claim was disputed.
Civil War Main article: The Anarchy Initial moves A colour coded map of England showing the political factions in 1140
Political map of Wales and southern England in 1140; areas under Matilda's control (blue); Stephen's (red); Welsh (grey) Empress Matilda's invasion finally began at the end of the summer. Baldwin de Redvers crossed over from Normandy to Wareham in August in an initial attempt to capture a port to receive Matilda's invading army, but Stephen's forces forced him to retreat into the south-west. The following month, the Empress was invited by her stepmother, Queen Adeliza, to land at Arundel instead, and on 30 September Robert of Gloucester and Matilda arrived in England with a force of 140 knights.[nb 15] Matilda stayed at Arundel Castle, while Robert marched north-west to Wallingford and Bristol, hoping to raise support for the rebellion and to link up with Miles of Gloucester, who took the opportunity to renounce his fealty to the King and declare for Matilda.
Stephen responded by promptly moving south, besieging Arundel and trapping Matilda inside the castle. Stephen then agreed to a truce proposed by his brother, Henry of Blois; the full details of the agreement are not known, but the results were that Matilda and her household of knights were released from the siege and escorted to the south-west of England, where they were reunited with Robert of Gloucester. The reasons for Matilda's release remain unclear. Stephen may have thought it was in his own best interests to release the Empress and concentrate instead on attacking Robert, seeing Robert, rather than Matilda, as his main opponent at this point in the conflict. Arundel Castle was also considered almost impregnable, and Stephen may have been worried that he risked tying down his army in the south whilst Robert roamed freely in the west. Another theory is that Stephen released Matilda out of a sense of chivalry; Stephen had a generous, courteous personality and women were not normally expected to be targeted in Anglo-Norman warfare.[nb 16]
After staying for a period in Robert's stronghold of Bristol, Matilda established her court in nearby Gloucester, still safely in the south-west but far enough away for her to remain independent of her half-brother. Although there had been only a few new defections to her cause, Matilda still controlled a compact block of territory stretching out from Gloucester and Bristol south into Wiltshire, west into the Welsh Marches and east through the Thames Valley as far as Oxford and Wallingford, threatening London. Her influence extended down into Devon and Cornwall, and north through Herefordshire, but her authority in these areas remained limited.
She faced a counterattack from Stephen, who started by attacking Wallingford Castle which controlled the Thames corridor; it was held by Brian Fitz Count and Stephen found it too well defended. Stephen continued into Wiltshire to attack Trowbridge, taking the castles of South Cerney and Malmesbury en route. In response, Miles marched east, attacking Stephen's rearguard forces at Wallingford and threatening an advance on London. Stephen was forced to give up his western campaign, returning east to stabilise the situation and protect his capital.
At the start of 1140, Nigel, the Bishop of Ely, joined Matilda's faction. Hoping to seize East Anglia, he established his base of operations in the Isle of Ely, then surrounded by protective fenland. Nigel faced a rapid response from Stephen, who made a surprise attack on the isle, forcing the Bishop to flee to Gloucester. Robert of Gloucester's men retook some of the territory that Stephen had taken in his 1139 campaign. In an effort to negotiate a truce, Henry of Blois held a peace conference at Bath, at which Matilda was represented by Robert. The conference collapsed after Henry and the clergy insisted that they should set the terms of any peace deal, which Stephen's representatives found unacceptable.
Battle of Lincoln Diagram of the Battle of Lincoln
The Battle of Lincoln, 1141; A – Welsh forces; B – Robert of Gloucester; C – Alan; D – Stephen; E – William; F – Fosse Dyke; G – Lincoln Castle; H – Lincoln Cathedral; I – City of Lincoln; J – River Witham Matilda's fortunes changed dramatically for the better at the start of 1141. Ranulf of Chester, a powerful northern magnate, had fallen out with the King over the winter and Stephen had placed his castle in Lincoln under siege. In response, Robert of Gloucester and Ranulf advanced on Stephen's position with a larger force, resulting in the Battle of Lincoln on 2 February 1141. The King commanded the centre of his army, with Alan of Brittany on his right and William of Aumale on his left. Robert and Ranulf's forces had a superiority in cavalry and Stephen dismounted many of his own knights to form a solid infantry block.[nb 17] After an initial success in which William's forces destroyed the Angevins' Welsh infantry, the battle went well for Matilda's forces. Robert and Ranulf's cavalry encircled Stephen's centre, and the King found himself surrounded by the Angevin army. After much fighting, Robert's soldiers finally overwhelmed Stephen and he was taken away from the field in custody.
Matilda received Stephen in person at her court in Gloucester, before having him moved to Bristol Castle, traditionally used for holding high-status prisoners. Matilda now began to take the necessary steps to have herself crowned queen in his place, which would require the agreement of the Church and her coronation at Westminster. Stephen's brother Henry summoned a council at Winchester before Easter in his capacity as papal legate to consider the clergy's view. Matilda had made a private deal with Henry that he would deliver the support of the Church in exchange for being granted control over Church affairs. Henry handed over the royal treasury to her, which proved to be rather depleted except for Stephen's crown, and he excommunicated many of her enemies who refused to switch sides. Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury was unwilling to declare Matilda queen so rapidly, however, and a delegation of clergy and nobles, headed by Theobald, travelled to Bristol to see Stephen, who agreed that, given the situation, he was prepared to release his subjects from their oath of fealty to him.
The clergy gathered again in Winchester after Easter and declared Matilda the "Lady of England and Normandy" as a precursor to her coronation. Although Matilda's own followers attended the event, few other major nobles seem to have attended and the delegation from London procrastinated. Stephen's wife, Queen Matilda, wrote to complain and demand her husband's release. Nonetheless, Matilda then advanced to London to arrange her coronation in June, where her position became precarious. Despite securing the support of Geoffrey de Mandeville, who controlled the Tower of London, forces loyal to Stephen and Queen Matilda remained close to the city and the citizens were fearful about welcoming the Empress. On 24 June, shortly before the planned coronation, the city rose up against the Empress and Geoffrey de Mandeville; Matilda and her followers fled just in time, making a chaotic retreat back to Oxford.
Meanwhile, Geoffrey of Anjou invaded Normandy again and, in the absence of Waleran of Beaumont, who was still fighting in England, Geoffrey took all the Duchy south of the River Seine and east of the Risle. No help was forthcoming from Stephen's brother Theobald this time either, who appears to have been preoccupied with his own problems with France—the new French king, Louis VII, had rejected his father's regional alliance, improving relations with Anjou and taking a more bellicose line with Theobald, which would result in war the following year. Geoffrey's success in Normandy and Stephen's weakness in England began to influence the loyalty of many Anglo-Norman barons, who feared losing their lands in England to Robert and the Empress, and their possessions in Normandy to Geoffrey. Many started to leave Stephen's faction. His friend and advisor Waleran was one of those who decided to defect in mid-1141, crossing into Normandy to secure his ancestral possessions by allying himself with the Angevins, and bringing Worcestershire into the Empress's camp. Waleran's twin brother, Robert of Leicester, effectively withdrew from fighting in the conflict at the same time. Other supporters of the Empress were restored in their former strongholds, such as Bishop Nigel of Ely, and still others received new earldoms in the west of England. The royal control over the minting of coins broke down, leading to coins being struck by local barons and bishops across the country.
Rout of Winchester and the Siege of Oxford A photograph of Oxford Castle in the 21st century
St George's Tower at Oxford Castle Matilda's position was transformed by her defeat at the Rout of Winchester. Her alliance with Henry of Blois proved short-lived and they soon fell out over political patronage and ecclesiastical policy; the Bishop transferred his support back to Stephen's cause. In response, in July Matilda and Robert of Gloucester besieged Henry of Blois in his episcopal castle at Winchester, using the royal castle in the city as the base for their operations. Stephen's wife, Queen Matilda, had kept his cause alive in the south-east of England, and the Queen, backed by her lieutenant William of Ypres and reinforced with fresh troops from London, took the opportunity to advance on Winchester. Their forces encircled Matilda's army. Matilda decided to escape from the city with Fitz Count and Reginald of Cornwall, while the rest of her army delayed the royal forces. In the subsequent battle the Empress's forces were defeated and Robert of Gloucester himself was taken prisoner during the retreat, although Matilda herself escaped, exhausted, to her fortress at Devizes.
With both Stephen and Robert held prisoner, negotiations were held to try to come to agreement on a long-term peace settlement, but Queen Matilda was unwilling to offer any compromise to the Empress, and Robert refused to accept any offer to encourage him to change sides to Stephen. Instead, in November the two sides simply exchanged the two leaders, Stephen returning to his queen, and Robert to the Empress in Oxford. Henry held another church council, which reversed its previous decision and reaffirmed Stephen's legitimacy to rule, and a fresh coronation of Stephen and Matilda occurred at Christmas 1141. Stephen travelled north to raise new forces and to successfully persuade Ranulf of Chester to change sides once again. Stephen then spent the summer attacking some of the new Angevin castles built the previous year, including Cirencester, Bampton and Wareham.
During the summer of 1142 Robert returned to Normandy to assist Geoffrey with operations against some of Stephen's remaining followers there, before returning in the autumn. Matilda came under increased pressure from Stephen's forces and was surrounded at Oxford. Oxford was a secure town, protected by walls and the River Isis, but Stephen led a sudden attack across the river, leading the charge and swimming part of the way. Once on the other side, the King and his men stormed into the town, trapping Matilda in the castle. Oxford Castle was a powerful fortress and, rather than storming it, Stephen decided to settle down for a long siege. Just before Christmas, Matilda sneaked out of the castle with a handful of knights (probably via a postern gate), crossed the icy river on foot and made her escape past the royal army to safety at Wallingford, leaving the castle garrison free to surrender the next day.[nb 18]
Stalemate A map of Normandy in 1142
Geoffrey of Anjou's invasion of Normandy, 1142–43 In the aftermath of the retreat from Winchester, Matilda rebuilt her court at Devizes Castle, a former property of the Bishop of Salisbury that had been confiscated by Stephen. She established her household knights on the surrounding estates, supported by Flemish mercenaries, ruling through the network of local sheriffs and other officials. Many of those that had lost lands in the regions held by the King travelled west to take up patronage from Matilda. Backed by the pragmatic Robert of Gloucester, Matilda was content to engage in a drawn-out struggle, and the war soon entered a stalemate.
At first, the balance of power appeared to move slightly in Matilda's favour. Robert of Gloucester besieged Stephen in 1143 at Wilton Castle, an assembly point for royal forces in Herefordshire. Stephen attempted to break out and escape, resulting in the Battle of Wilton. Once again, the Angevin cavalry proved too strong, and for a moment it appeared that Stephen might be captured for a second time, before finally managing to escape. Later in the year Geoffrey de Mandeville, the Earl of Essex, rose up in rebellion against Stephen in East Anglia. Geoffrey based himself from the Isle of Ely and began a military campaign against Cambridge, with the intention of progressing south towards London. Ranulf of Chester revolted once again in the summer of 1144. Meanwhile, Geoffrey of Anjou finished securing his hold on southern Normandy, and in January 1144 he advanced into Rouen, the capital of the Duchy, concluding his campaign. Louis VII recognised him as Duke of Normandy shortly after.
Despite these successes, Matilda was unable to consolidate her position. Miles of Gloucester, one of the most talented of her military commanders, had died while hunting over the previous Christmas. Geoffrey de Mandeville's rebellion against Stephen in the east ended with his death in September 1144 during an attack on Burwell Castle. As a result, Stephen made progress against Matilda's forces in the west in 1145, recapturing Faringdon Castle in Oxfordshire. Matilda authorised Reginald, the Earl of Cornwall, to attempt fresh peace negotiations, but neither side was prepared to compromise.
Conclusion of the war Picture of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitain
12th-century depiction of Matilda's eldest son Henry II and his wife Eleanor holding court The character of the conflict in England gradually began to shift; by the late 1140s, the major fighting in the war was over, giving way to an intractable stalemate, with only the occasional outbreak of fresh fighting. Several of Matilda's key supporters died: in 1147 Robert of Gloucester died peacefully, and Brian Fitz Count gradually withdrew from public life, probably eventually joining a monastery; by 1151 he was dead. Many of Matilda's other followers joined the Second Crusade when it was announced in 1145, leaving the region for several years. Some of the Anglo-Norman barons made individual peace agreements with each other to secure their lands and war gains, and many were not keen to pursue any further conflict.
Matilda's eldest son Henry slowly began to assume a leading role in the conflict. He had remained in France when the Empress first left for England. He crossed over to England in 1142, before returning to Anjou in 1144. Geoffrey of Anjou expected Henry to become the King of England and began to involve him in the government of the family lands. In 1147, Henry intervened in England with a small mercenary army but the expedition failed, not least because Henry lacked the funds to pay his men. Henry asked his mother for money, but she refused, stating that she had none available. In the end Stephen himself ended up paying off Henry's mercenaries, allowing him to return home safely; his reasons for doing so remain unclear.[nb 19]
Matilda decided to return to Normandy in 1148, partially due to her difficulties with the Church. The Empress had occupied the strategically essential Devizes Castle in 1142, maintaining her court there, but legally it still belonged to Josceline de Bohon, the Bishop of Salisbury, and in late 1146 Pope Eugene III intervened to support his claims, threatening Matilda with excommunication if she did not return it. Matilda first played for time, then left for Normandy in early 1148, leaving the castle to Henry, who then procrastinated over its return for many years. Matilda re-established her court in Rouen, where she met with her sons and husband and probably made arrangements for her future life in Normandy, and for Henry's next expedition to England. Matilda chose to live in the priory of Notre Dame du Pré, situated just south of Rouen, where she lived in personal quarters attached to the priory and in a nearby palace built by Henry.
Matilda increasingly devoted her efforts to the administration of Normandy, rather than the war in England. Geoffrey sent the Bishop of Thérouanne to Rome in 1148 to campaign for Henry's right to the English throne, and opinion within the English Church gradually shifted in Henry's favour. Matilda and Geoffrey made peace with Louis VII, who in return supported Henry's rights to Normandy. Geoffrey died unexpectedly in 1151, and Henry claimed the family lands. Henry returned to England once again at the start of 1153 with a small army, winning the support of some of the major regional barons. Neither side's army was keen to fight, however, and the Church brokered a truce; a permanent peace followed, under which Henry recognised Stephen as king, but became Stephen's adopted son and successor. Meanwhile, Normandy faced considerable disorder and the threat of baronial revolt, which Matilda was unable to totally suppress. Stephen died the next year, and Henry assumed the throne; his coronation used the grander of the two imperial crowns that Matilda had brought back from Germany in 1125. Once Henry had been crowned, the troubles facing Matilda in Normandy died away.
Later life Picture of Henry II and Thomas Becket
Early 14th-century representation of Henry II and Thomas Becket, arguing Matilda spent the rest of her life in Normandy, often acting as Henry's representative and presiding over the government of the Duchy. Early on, Matilda and her son issued charters in England and Normandy in their joint names, dealing with the various land claims that had arisen during the wars. Particularly in the initial years of his reign, the King drew on her for advice on policy matters. Matilda was involved in attempts to mediate between Henry and his Chancellor Thomas Becket when the two men fell out in the 1160s. Matilda had originally cautioned against the appointment, but when the Prior of Mont St Jacques asked her for a private interview on Becket's behalf to seek her views, she provided a moderate perspective on the problem. Matilda explained that she disagreed with Henry's attempts to codify English customs, which Becket was opposed to, but also condemned poor administration in the English Church and Becket's own headstrong behaviour.
Matilda helped to deal with several diplomatic crises. The first of these involved the Hand of St James, the relic which Matilda had brought back with her from Germany many years before. Frederick I, the Holy Roman Emperor, considered the hand to be part of the imperial regalia and requested that Henry return it to Germany. Matilda and Henry were equally insistent that it should remain at Reading Abbey, where it had become a popular attraction for visiting pilgrims. Frederick was bought off with an alternative set of expensive gifts from England, including a huge, luxurious tent, probably chosen by Matilda, which Frederick used for court events in Italy. She was also approached by Louis VII of France, in 1164, and helped to defuse a growing diplomatic row over the handling of Crusading funds.
In her old age Matilda paid increasing attention to Church affairs and her personal faith, although she remained involved in governing Normandy throughout her life. Matilda appears to have had particular fondness for her youngest son William. She opposed Henry's proposal in 1155 to invade Ireland and give the lands to William, however, possibly on the grounds that the project was impractical, and instead William received large grants of land in England. Matilda was more easy-going in her later life than in her youth, but the chronicler of Mont St Jacques, who met her during this period, still felt that she appeared to be "of the stock of tyrants".
Death Matilda died on 10 September 1167, and her remaining wealth was given to the Church.[nb 20] She was buried under the high altar at the abbey of Bec-Hellouin in a service led by Rotrou, the Archbishop of Rouen. Her tomb's epitaph included the lines "Great by birth, greater by marriage, greatest in her offspring: here lies Matilda, the daughter, wife, and mother of Henry", which became a famous phrase among her contemporaries.[nb 21] This tomb was damaged in a fire in 1263 and later restored in 1282, before finally being destroyed by an English army in 1421. In 1684 the Congregation of St. Maur identified some of her remaining bones and reburied them at Bec-Hellouin in a new coffin. Her remains were lost again after the destruction of Bec-Hellouin's church by Napoleon, but were found once more in 1846 and this time reburied at Rouen Cathedral, where they remain.
Matilda as ruler Government, law and court Picture of the Empress Matilda's Great Seal
Matilda's great seal, the image possibly an accurate likeness of Matilda herself In the Holy Roman Empire, the young Matilda's court included knights, chaplains and ladies-in-waiting, although, unlike some queens of the period, she did not have her own personal chancellor to run her household, instead using the imperial chancellor. When acting as regent in Italy, she found the local rulers were prepared to accept a female ruler. Her Italian administration included the Italian chancellor, backed by experienced administrators. She was not called upon to make any major decisions, instead dealing with smaller matters and acting as the symbolic representative of her absent husband, meeting with and helping to negotiate with magnates and clergy.
On her return from Germany to Normandy and Anjou, she styled herself as empress and the daughter of King Henry. During the civil war for England, her status was uncertain. The Anglo-Saxon queens of England had exercised considerable formal power, but this tradition had diminished under the Normans: at most their queens ruled temporarily as regents on their husbands' behalf when they were away travelling, rather than in their own right. Initially between 1139 and 1141 Matilda referred to herself as acting as a feme sole, "a woman acting alone", highlighting her autonomy and independence from her husband Geoffrey. She had an imperial great seal created, which was round like the seal of a king – queens used an oval seal – but which showed Matilda enthroned as an empress and titled as the Queen of the Romans. The seal did not show her on horseback, however, as a male ruler would have been depicted. Since she was never crowned at Westminster, during the rest of the war she appears to have used her title of Lady of the English, rather than that of the Queen of England, although some contemporaries referred to her by the royal title.
Matilda presented herself as continuing the English tradition of centralised royal government, and attempted to maintain a government in England parallel to Stephen's, including a royal household and a chancellor. Matilda gathered revenues from the royal estates in the counties under her control, particularly in her core territories where the sheriffs were loyal to her cause. She appointed earls to rival those created by Stephen. She was unable to operate a system of royal law courts, however, and her administrative resources were extremely limited, although some of her clerks went on to become bishops in Normandy. Matilda issued two types of coins in her name during her time in England, which were used in the west of England and Wales. The first were initially minted in Oxford during her stay there, and the design was then adopted by her mints at Bristol, Cardiff and Wareham after her victory at the Battle of Lincoln. A second design was minted at Bristol and Cardiff during the 1140s.
On returning to Normandy for the last time in 1148, Matilda ceased to use the title Lady of the English, simply styling herself as empress again; she never adopted the title of Countess of Anjou. Matilda's household became smaller, and often merged with Henry's own court when the two were co-located in Rouen. She continued to play a special role in the government of the area around Argentan, where she held feudal rights from the grants made at the time of her second marriage.
Relations with the Church Photograph of Mortemer Abbey
Mortemer Abbey in Normandy, which received financial support from Matilda It is unclear how strong Matilda's personal piety was, although contemporaries praised her lifelong preference to be buried at the monastic site of Bec rather than the grander but more worldly Rouen, and believed her to have substantial, underlying religious beliefs. Like other members of the Anglo-Norman nobility, she bestowed considerable patronage on the Church. Early on in her life, she preferred the well-established Benedictine monastery of Cluny alongside some of the newer Augustinian orders, such as the Victorines and Premonstratensians. As part of this patronage, she re-founded the abbey of Notre-Dame-du-Vœu near Cherbourg.
As time went by, Matilda directed more of her attention to the Cistercian order, This order was very fashionable in England and Normandy during the period, and was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, a figure of particular importance to Matilda. She had close links to the Cistercian Mortemer Abbey in Normandy, and drew on the house for a supply of monks when she supported the foundation of nearby La Valasse. She encouraged the Cistercians to build at Mortemer on a grand scale, with guest houses to accommodate a range of visitors of all ranks, and may have played a part in selecting the paintings for the monastic chapels.
Legacy Historiography A photograph of the first page of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
The first page of the Peterborough element of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, written around 1150, one of the chronicler accounts that describe Matilda's role during the Anarchy Contemporary chroniclers in England, France, Germany and Italy documented many aspects of Matilda's life, although the only biography of her, apparently written by Arnulf of Lisieux, has been lost. The chroniclers took a range of perspectives on her. In Germany, the chroniclers praised Matilda extensively and her reputation as the "good Matilda" remained positive. During the years of the Anarchy, works such as the Gesta Stephani took a much more negative tone, praising Stephen and condemning Matilda. Once Henry II assumed the throne, the tone of the chroniclers towards Matilda became more positive. Legends spread in the years after Matilda's death, including the suggestion that her first husband, Henry, had not died but had in fact secretly become a hermit – making Matilda's second marriage illegitimate – and a tale that Matilda had an affair with Stephen, resulting in the conception of Henry II.
Tudor scholars were interested in Matilda's right of succession. According to 16th century standards, Matilda had a clear right to the English throne, and academics therefore struggled to explain why Matilda had acquiesced to her son Henry's kingship at the end of the war, rather than ruling directly herself. By the 18th century, historians such as David Hume had a much better understanding of the irregular nature of 12th century law and custom and this question became less relevant. By the 19th century, the archival sources on Matilda's life, including charters, foundation histories, and letters, were being uncovered and analysed. Historians Kate Norgate, Sir James Ramsay and J. H. Round used these to produce new, richer accounts of Matilda and the civil war; Ramsay's account, using the Gesta Stephani, was not complimentary, while Norgate, drawing on French sources, was more neutral in tone. The German academic Oskar Rössler's 1897 biography drew heavily on German charters, not extensively used by Anglophone historians.
Matilda has attracted relatively little attention from modern English academics, being treated as a marginal figure in comparison to other contemporaries, particularly her rival Stephen, in contrast to the work carried out by German scholars on her time in the Empire. Popular, but not always accurate, biographies were written by the Earl of Onslow in 1939 and Nesta Pain in 1978, but the only major academic biography in English remains Majorie Chibnall's 1991 work. Interpretations of Matilda's character have shifted over time, but there is, as Chibnall describes, a "general agreement that she was either proud or at least keenly conscious of the high status of an empress". Like both Henry I and Henry II, Matilda had a certain autocratic grandeur, which was combined with a firm moral belief in her cause; ultimately however she was limited by the political conventions of the 12th century. The treatment of Matilda by modern historians has been challenged by feminist scholars, including Fiona Tolhurst, who believe some traditional assumptions about her role and personality show gender bias. In this interpretation, Matilda has been unfairly criticised for showing qualities that have been considered praiseworthy when seen in her male contemporaries
Matilda was heir to the English king, Henry I, but was usurped by Stephen resulting in civil war.
Matilda was born in 1102, the daughter of Henry I, King of England. In 1114, she married the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V. The death of Matilda's brother in 1120 made her Henry I's sole legitimate heir. When her husband died in 1125, Henry recalled her to England and, in 1127, he insisted that the nobles accept her as his successor. In 1128, she married Geoffrey of Anjou with whom she had three sons. A woman ruler was unprecedented and her marriage to Geoffrey was unpopular. When Henry I died in 1135 Matilda's cousin Stephen of Blois immediately had himself crowned king.
Though the church and most nobles supported Stephen, Matilda's claims were
Empress Matilda's Timeline
February 7, 1102
Nr Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England
March 5, 1133
Le Mans, Sarthe, Pays de la Loire, France
b. 5 Mar 1133
June 1, 1134
Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France
July 22, 1136
Argentan, Orne, France