17th June 1128. Empress but not Queen.

Today in 1128 Matilda, an Empress (by virtue of her first marriage), married Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou.

As a daughter of Henry I she was recognised by her father as heir being the King’s only legitimate surviving child, (1)

Henry’s first son had died early and his next son William had died in a shipwreck, so when the King died in 1135, Matilda set sail to inherit.

Map showing Anjou.

Map showing Anjou.

However on leaving Normandy in 1139 to claim her rights she failed, in those times of hazy succession, as there was little appetite among the barons for a woman queen in her own right.

This despite receiving fealty from the barons, the first when she gave birth to a son, in 1131, the future Henry II.

The vacuum was to be filled by her cousin Stephen of Blois who took up arms against Matilda, resulting in the ‘Anarchy’ -15 years civil-war-with both sides looking to establish a right to the English throne and Duchy of Anjou.

The outcome was that Matilda was never crowned as Queen, but Stephen despite being deposed in 1141, when Matilda became Lady of the English, Stephen, already crowned, after his release from custody, had himself re-crowned.

Matilda in 1147,  no doubt suffering from battle-fatigue went to Normandy to act as Regent to her son, never to return. She died in 1167.

The Treaty of Wallingford 1153 ended the war but forced Stephen, when he died, to recognise Matilda’s son Henry of Anjou, later Henry II, as king in 1154.(2)

So began the Angevin and Plantagenet era after only four Norman kings, but not before Stephen’s son Eustace, who conveniently died in August 1153, opposing the settlement.

The dynastic marriages could have gone some way to assuaging the defeated Anglo-Saxons as Matilda was the daughter of Norman, Henry I, but her mother Edith (Matilda) of Scotland was descended on her mother’s side, from Saxon kings including Edmund Ironside.(3)

The legacy of the Geoffrey of Anjou marriage with Matilda was the holding of large French territories, north of the Loire until the mid-15thc.

(1) Henry I (c 1068-1.12.1135) aka as Beauclerc or Longshanks. The fourth son of William the Conqueror he wrested the succession from his elder brother Robert after William Rufus had died.

Matilda (c7.2.1102-10.9.1167) married Geoffrey after the death of her first husband Henry V Holy Roman Emperor.

(2) Known as FitzEmpress or Curtmantle.

(3) Henry I married 11.11.1100 Edith (Matilda) daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland.

Ref: wikipedia.org/counts_and_dukes_of_anjou.

Ref: encyclopedia.com.matilda-empress.

Ref: faculty.history.wisc.edu/Pic Image.

Ref: bbc.co.uk/history.

Ref: womeninhistory.about.com.


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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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