Matilda (1101-69), Queen of England 1141 (Page 9)

Matilda born 1101, was her father Henry I's heiress as his sole surviving legitimate issue. The barons of England and Normandy, at Henry's insistence, swore to uphold her right to the throne, but when her father died and her cousin Stephen landed in England, most of them backed him instead. The civil war which ensued, lasted for many years before Stephen finally agreed to make Matilda's son Henry, his own heir.


Written 2010 by Will Johnson
Email me at
or post your comments for public view far below.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
Follow Will Johnson on Twitter!
or subscribe using my Knol Public activity feed
or see Wjhonson's Fifty Most Recent Knols

Matilda (1101-69), Queen of England 1141
 Page 1  Page 2  Page 3  Page 4  Page 5  Page 6  Page 7  Page 8  Page 9

Later Life

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, 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, Count of Poitou, were more cordial, William was given vast estates in England. William wished to marry the newly widowed Countess of Surrey, but because she was his cousin a dispensation was required.  Archbishop Thomas Becket refused to grant one, causing William to return to Matilda's court at Rouen. William, who was his mother's favorite child, died there in January 1164, reportedly of disappointment and sorrow. This may have been the start of the great quarrel because Henry and Becket in which she attempted to mediate, but was unsuccessful.  Becket was eventually assassinated in 1170, one of his slayers had been in William's employ.  However, in addition, her DNB entry states that Matilda tried in 1162 to persuade Henry not to name Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Although she gave up hope of being crowned Queen of England, her name always preceded that of her son Henry on official documents, even after he became King. Matilda died "after much suffering from fever and decay of strength" at Notre Dame du Pre near Rouen on 10 Sep 1169.  On her deathbed she took the veil as a nun of Fontevrault.  She was buried in the Abbey church of Bec-Hellouin, Normandy (or Fontevrault Abbey), though some of her entrails may possibly have been later interred in her father's foundation at Reading Abbey.  In 1263, the church and her tomb were destroyed by fire.  In 1282 when the church had been restored, a search was made for her remains and they were found wrapped in an ox-hide. (DNB citing Chronicle of Bec).  Once again the church was destroyed by fire, but her leaden coffin was discovered in 1846. Her remains were then transferred to the Rouen Cathedral in 1847. Her original epitaph as reported by Matthew of Paris read: "Here lies Henry's daughter, wife and mother; great by birth — greater by marriage — but greatest by motherhood."  She left two wills, written in 1134 and in 1160.

"Arnulf of Lisieux called her 'a woman who had nothing of the woman in her', but the words were evidently meant as praise, not blame." (DNB)


Matilda's Ahenentafel (Ancestor Table)
  1. Matilda, Empress, Queen of England 1141, Countess of Anjou and Normandy
  2. Henry I "Beauclerc", King of England 1100-35
  3. Maud (Matilda) of Scotland, Queen of England
  4. William I, King of England 1066-87
  5. Matilda of Flanders, Queen of England
  6. Malcolm III "Caen Mor" King of Scotland 1057-93
  7. Margaret, Queen of Scotland
  8. Robert 'the Devil', Duke of Normandy
  9. Herleve (Harlette) de Falaise, Officer of the Palace
  10. Baldwin (E) V 'The Pious', Count of Flanders
  11. Adele (Alix), Princess of France, Countess of Corbie
  12. Duncan I, King of Scotland 1034-40
  13. Sibyl, Queen of Scotland
  14. Edward "the exile", Atheling of England
  15. Agatha, her parentage is unknown, three different sets of parents have been suggested

See Also

Matilda (1101-69), Queen of England 1141
 Page 1  Page 2  Page 3  Page 4  Page 5  Page 6  Page 7  Page 8  Page 9