Norman Queens…

Matilda of Flanders, was born in 1031 to parents Baldwin V the Count of Flanders and Adele of France, daughter of Robert II of France and Constance of Arles.  Matilda’s mother Adele was a religious woman, later known as “Adele the Holy,”  who oversaw her  daughter’s education.

Matilda’s early years were spent in Lille, Northern France.  She fell in love with Brihtric an English Ambassador to Flanders, but he rebuffed her advances.  Some years later she acted as Regent for William I of England.  She confiscated Brihtric’s lands, and had him thrown in prison, where he died.  (A scorned woman got her revenge).

Duke William of Normandy sent his representatives to the Court of the Count of Flanders, asking for the hand of Matilda in marriage.  His request was denied by Matilda, she would not marry the illegitimate son of “Robert the Devil.”

A furious William, rode to Bruges, pulled her from her horse as she was on her way to church and threw her to the ground.  Another account states he entered her room at her father’s court, threw her to the floor and hit her.  Where after Matilda is reported as saying: “No other man will marry me, but William.”

In 1049 Pope Leo IX condemned their proposed marriage as incestuous and the couple were excommunicated.  Duke William of Normandy and Matilda of Flanders were married at Notre Dame in 1051/52.  In 1059 William was reconciled with the papacy, and so it was William and Matilda founded two churches as penance for defiance of a papal ban.

The union of marriage between William and Matilda was successful, for they had ten children: Robert – Richard – Cecilia    Adeliza – William II – Matilda – Constance – Adela – Adele and   Henry I.

Of those who survived into adulthood:

Adele would become the mother of King Stephen of England, who reigned from 1135-1154.

Constance would marry Alan IV the Duke of Brittany. 

William II would become King William II of England and reigned from 1087-1100. 

Henry I would become King of England and reigned from 1100-1135. 

Richard died in a hunting accident in the New Forest, where he was gored to death by a stag. 

Agatha married Alfonso VI, King of Galicia – y – Leon, Spain. 

Cecilia entered the church, and became Abbess of Holy Trinity.

In 1066, William launched an invasion on England, and Matilda commissioned “The Mora” a flagship for her husband’s crossing of the English Channel.  Matilda remained in Normandy as Regent and William presented her with crown jewels upon his return.  On the 11th May, Matilda was crowned Queen of England in 1068 at Westminster Abbey.

When illness struck down his beloved wife; Matilda, William rushed to Normandy to be at her side.  In November 1083, Matilda died at Caen, and William her husband heard her final confession.  She was buried in the Choir of the Holy Trinity “I’Abbaye aux Dames” in Caen, Normandy.

Her final bequests: She left money to the poor, and her royal Sceptre and Crown to Holy Trinity Abbey.

Edith of Scotland was born at Dumferline in 1080.  Her father was Malcolm III King of the Scots, her mother Margaret Atheling, daughter of Edward Atheling of the ancient Saxon House of Wessex.  At the christening of Edith, Robert Curthose, son of William the Conqueror was her godfather, and Queen Matilda of Flanders, William’s wife, her godmother.

Edith was educated at Romsey and Wilton Abbey, where she was trained in English, French and Latin, languages to help her in later life.

In 1068, Edgar Atheling joined forces with Earls Edwin and Morcat against William’s rule… This proved a bad move in the long term, as they were forced to flee their lands, for fear of their lives.

Storms drove their ships towards the Scottish coast, and they were welcomed by the court of King Malcolm of Canmore.  This Saxon princess, that graced his court, and the prospect of an alliance with an Ancient Anglo-Saxon royal house was a tempting thought.  By the end of 1070, they were married.

Edith had been betrothed to Alan Rufus, Lord of Richmond in 1093.  A row erupted between her father and William Rufus, and the then King of England on Cumbria and Lothian boundaries.

William Rufus, drove the Scots to the north of Solway, then invited the Scottish King for talks at Gloucester.

Malcolm III King of the Scots was insulted by the English King who refused to receive him.  This insult led to Malcolm III riding with his Scottish Army on the lands of Northumbria.

On the 13th November 1093, Malcolm III was struck in the eye by a lance, while accepting the keys in surrender of Castle Alnwick.  He died as did his son Edward.

Donald Base Malcolm’s brother seized the throne of Scotland.

Within three day’s Queen Margaret had died and Edith was now an orphan.

In August of 1100, William Rufus died, and the English throne was seized by brother Henry: King Henry I.

Henry made no secret of it, he wished to marry Edith, for he had been attracted to her from a distance.  Henry needed a bride with an ancient Saxon blood line, which would increase his popularity.

This Scottish princess had grown up in a convent, and questions were asked whether she had taken her vows as a Nun.  Edith testified she had been at the Abbey for educational purposes, and the Archbishop of Anselm confirmed she was not a Nun and approved the marriage of Edith and Henry.

On the 11th November 1100 Edith and Henry were married at Westminster Abbey by Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury Cathedral.  She was given a Norman name; Queen Matilda of England.

Their marriage proved a success, as relations with Scotland improved, and she became his Regent during his periods of absence.

Was it what she learnt at the Abbey or the saintly attitude she gleamed from her mother, she devoted herself to doing good causes, even washing the feet of the poor … as Jesus did.

Her husband Henry I was an active adulterer and believed to have fathered twenty children from a string of mistresses.

Queen Matilda died on the 1st May 1118 at Westminster Palace and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Adeliza of Louvain also known as Adelicia was born around 1103, she being the daughter of Godfrey. Count of Louvain and his wife Ida of Namur.

King Henry I of England’s only legitimate son and heir; William of Atheling drowned in the sinking of the White Ship on the 25th November 1120.  Henry, a devastated Henry, sought a male heir, and as such took a new wife.

On the 24th January 1121 Henry I married Adeliza at Windsor and she was crowned Queen of England on the 25th January.

Adeliza played a minor political role as Queen of England.  It is said she was present when Henry announced that his legitimate daughter; Matilda would be his heir.

On the 1st December 1135, Adeliza was widowed when King Henry I died.  His throne was usurped by his nephew Stephen of Bios, even though Henry’s choice of heir was his daughter; Matilda.

Adeliza retired to the Benedictine convent of Wilton Abbey near Salisbury, and attended the dedication of Henry’s tomb at Reading Abbey.  She then retired from court, taking up residence at Arundel Castle in Sussex.  She founded a leper hospital dedicated to Saint Giles at Fugglestone, St.Peter in Wiltshire.  On Henry’s 1st anniversary of his death, Adeliza gave the manor of Aston to the Abbey of Reading, and endowed them with land, to provide for the convent.  A few years later gifted them a church.

In 1138, Adeliza married William d’Aubigny, 1st Earl of Arundel, son of William d’Aubigny and Maud le Bigod.  The D’Aubigny’s were royal stewards.  Adeliza and William resided at Adeliza’s castle of Arundel and had seven children: Alice – William – Olivia – Reynor – Geoffrey – Henry – and Agatha d’Aubigny.  Descendants of Adeliza and William include Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, Queen’s of Henry VIII.

England was plunged into Civil War when Matilda was appointed heir of King Henry I, challenged her cousin Stephen for the English throne, which by right was hers.

Adeliza supported Matilda and William her husband supported Stephen.

In 1150 Adeliza retired to the monastery of Affligem in Flanders, and she died there on the 24th March 1151.  Her burial site is unknown but it is believed she was buried at the monastery of Affligem in Flanders or Reading Abbey with her first husband; King Henry I of England.

Matilda of Boulogne was born in 1105, to parents Eustace III, Count of Boulogne and Mary of Scotland, the daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland and Saint Margaret, and a descendant of the Saxon House of Wessex.  Matilda followed in her mother’s footsteps and was educated at the convents of Romsey and Wilton in England.

King Henry I of England negotiated the marriage of Matilda of Boulogne with his nephew Stephen of Blois, Count of Mortain in 1125.

In 1125, Matilda’s father Eustace III, the Count of Boulogne retired to the monastery at Cluny and Matilda became the Countess of Boulogne.

King Henry I of England gifted Stephen and Matilda a London residence.  Matilda gave birth to five children:

  • Eustace IV the Count of Boulogne, who married Constance of France.
  • Baldwin of Boulogne, who died during infancy.
  • William of Blois, Count of Mortain and Boulogne and Earl of Surrey who married Isabel de Warenne.
  • Matilda of Boulogne who married Waleran de Beaumont 1st Earl of Worcester.
  • Mary I, Countess of Boulogne who married Mathew of Alsace.

On the 1st December 1135, King Henry I of England died.  Stephen had taken an oath previously, that Henry’s daughter the Empress Matilda would be Henry’s heir to the English throne… Stephen broke his oath…

Stephen crossed the English Channel upon hearing of Henry’s death and seized the English throne without spilling blood.  He was crowned King Stephen of England on the 22nd December 1135 at Westminster Abbey.  Matilda, Stephens wife was crowned Queen of England on the 22nd March 1136 at Westminster Abbey.

Queen Matilda was a keen supporter of the Knights Templar, and founded Cressing Temple in 1137 and Temple Cowley in 1139, and had close ties with the Holy Trinity Priory at Aldgate.

Civil War broke out between Stephen and Empress Matilda, for the English throne.  Matilda supported her husband Stephen in so many, to retain his position as King of England.  When Empress Matilda’s forces invaded England in 1138, Queen Matilda called upon troops from Boulogne and Flanders, and attacked and captured Dover Castle.  From there she headed north at her husband’s request, securing a treaty with her uncle King David I of Scotland, which was signed on the 9th April 1139… She had achieved Scottish support.

Family issues saw Queen Matilda leave England and Stephen and attend the French Court.  It is here she negotiated a marriage between her son Eustace IV, the Count of Boulogne and Constance of France, the sister of King Louis VI of France.  The young couple were married in 1140.

Matilda was in the south of England when news reached her, that Stephen had been captured by Empress Matilda at the Battle of Lincoln in the February of 1141.

Queen Matilda was forced to take refuge in the Tower of London.  Her pleas to Empress Matilda for the release of her husband were rejected time and time again.

Empress Matilda, had reached London, and was preparing to be crowned Queen of England, as her father had so willed.  She alienated her new subjects, that she was driven out of the capital, and would never wear the crown upon her head.

Empress Matilda had much support in the country… Queen Matilda had to resort to political tactics to persuade supporters of Empress Matilda to change sides, and follow her.

The Earl of Warrene captured the Earl of Gloucester, and so it was each side held an important person, and an exchange was on the cards.  Stephen was released in exchange for the Earl of Gloucester.

Prison had affected Stephen, and Queen Matilda had to take the lead role in the Civil War.  When Robert of Gloucester, Empress Matilda’s chief supporter died in 1147, the war ended and peace prevailed, and the Empress Matilda returned to Anjou.

Stephen and Matilda founded a monastery at Faversham, it was their way of giving thanks that the war was over and peace prevailed.

In the May of 1152, Queen Matilda died of fever at Hedingham Castle in Essex, and was buried at Feversham Abbey.  Her son Eustace died in the August of 1153 and was also buried at Faversham Abbey alongside his mother.  On the 25th October 1154, Stephen King of England died, and was buried alongside his wife Matilda and son Eustace at Faversham Abbey.

The English throne passed to Henry Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou, Duke of Normandy and son of Empress Matilda according to the treaty of Wallingford.

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