Empress Matilda (Born 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 at age 17 in the White Ship disaster on 25 November 1120 resulted in Matilda becoming her father’s sole heir.
As a child, Matilda was betrothed to and later married Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, thus becoming Holy Roman 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 V, 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, the throne was usurped by her cousin, Stephen of Blois, who moved quickly and successfully to claim the throne 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 or politically). For this reason, she is normally excluded from lists of English monarchs, and her rival Stephen is usually 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.
Empress Matilda is also:
(27th Great Grandmother of Carolyn Booth – (on Plantagenet line)
Recommended Reading is a fabulous tribute to this great lady below, an excellent read.
- Great by birth: Empress Matilda (saskiaregina.wordpress.com)