22nd December 1135. Sexism 12th Century Style.

Before the 16th century, at the time of  Queen Elizabeth, England had not faced the possibility of a female monarch since 1135, when Henry I died without legitimate male issue. His daughter Matilda was named as heir, only to be usurped by Henry’s nephew who became King Stephen.

Today in 1135 King Stephen (1097-1154), styled King of the English and Duke of the Normans, began his first reign after the death of Henry I who had seized the throne after the death of William II, known as Rufus.

Stephen took the throne even though he and the nobles had pledged to support Henry’s daughter Matilda. However there was widespread antagonism against a woman taking the throne.

Stephen was firstly crowned in December 1135 when the Archbishop of Canterbury was persuaded to crown him, saying that the oath of allegiance to Matilda was invalid as being made under force.(1)

King Stephen, Coronation. 13thc. Matthew Paris.

King Stephen, Coronation. 13thc. Matthew Paris.

So nobles and bishops had supported Stephen as the new king, but in his appointment of new earls, he managed to alienate the other nobles.

Then in 1138 the usurped Matilda’s half-brother Robert Earl of Gloucester, took up arms on her behalf and Stephen’s early victories faded when he lost the support of the church.

Stephen was captured at the Battle of Lincoln on 2nd February 1141. However Matilda was never crowned owing to opposition from the London crowds, but became known as the Lady of the English.

On Stephen’s return to power he was crowned a second time at Canterbury Cathedral, Kent on 25th December 1141: England had to await 1558 for a queen in her own right.

(1) Stephen’s wife, another Matilda, was crowned as consort on 22.3.1136. She died on 3.5.1152 at Hedingham Castle to be buried along with Stephen at Faversham Abbey, which both had founded.

Ref: wikipedia.org/empress_matilda.

Ref: historyonthenet.com/timelinestephen.

Ref: Historia Anglorum.

Ref: wikipedia.org/stephen_king_of_england/Pic Image.

Ref: Matthew Paris. Rep of Coronation.Ms 6712 (A.6.89).


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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