Empress Matilda (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 Aetheling, 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 Heinrich V, Holy Roman Emperor, acquiring the title Empress. It is this move to Germany that forms the basis of the plot of my latest release, Carried Away. She was twelve when she married the Holy Roman Emperor, so in my book we only see her as a (somewhat spoiled) little girl.
However, Matilda would later play a significant role in the history of England.
She and Henry V 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.
Matilda’s grandfather, William the Conqueror was probably turning in his tomb at the idea of his granddaughter marrying an Angevin! Normans and Angevins were traditional enemies, neighbours who fought bitterly over control of land.
|Stephen of Blois|
Upon the death of her father, Henry I, 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. Interestingly enough, Stephen was supposed to sail aboard the doomed White Ship, but left the vessel at the last moment.
|Henry II, first Plantagenet King of England|
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.
Readers of the Montbryce Legacy books will recall Blythe Lacey FitzRam as a newborn in A Man of Value. Carried Away is her story, and is the first book in a new series, the FitzRam Family. Incidentally, the White Ship disaster features prominently in my soon to be released novel, Sweet Taste of Love, the second book in the series.