Legitimate Heir… Robbed of Throne.

Matilda was born in 1102, to parents King Henry I and Matilda Queen Consort, daughter of Malcolm Canmore, the King of Scotland.

Matilda, married the Emperor Henry V of Germany on the 7th January 1114, and was recalled back to England in 1125, when her husband died… for she was Henry’s only remaining legitimate child.

Henry forced his barons to swear an allegiance to his daughter Matilda, as the rightful Queen of England upon his death.

In the June of 1128, Matilda, a somewhat reluctant Matilda marries the fourteen-year-old Geoffrey Plantagenet.

On the 5th March 1133 a son was born to Matilda and Geoffrey Plantagenet at Le Mans, Anjou.

On the 1st December 1135, King Henry I died, aged 67 in Rouen, France and was buried at Reading Abbey.  It had been his choice that Matilda his daughter and husband Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou would rule.

English barons did not want to be ruled by a woman and an Angevin, which led to Civil War and strife over succession.  Stephen the nephew of Henry I, seized the English throne on the 22nd December, and was crowned on the 26th December at Westminster Abbey.

In the January of 1136, King David I of Scotland invaded English lands in support of Matilda believing she be the rightful heir to the English throne, not Stephen.  He went on to capture Carlisle and Newcastle.

Robert, the Earl of Gloucester, rebels against King Stephen in 1138, a supporter of Matilda’s right to the English throne.

In the February of 1141, Stephen laid siege to Lincoln Castle, during which he was captured and held prisoner at Bristol.

In the April, Matilda was elected Queen, and headed to London for her coronation, but was driven out by the citizens of London, prior to her coronation.

Robert, the Earl of Gloucester, was captured under order of Stephen’s wife.  The captives were then mutually exchanged, and Stephen resumed his position as England’s King.

By 1142 Matilda’s constant battle with Stephen, had split the country in two.

Robert the Earl of Gloucester died in 1147, Matilda’s most powerful ally in her fight for the English throne … the fight had been taken out of her, and in 1148 she returned to Normandy … never to step foot on English soil again.

Geoffrey of Anjou, husband to Matilda died in 1151, and their son Henry Plantagenet becomes Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy; with it came huge power and resources.

In 1153, Henry Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou, landed his forces on English soil for war against Stephen, to put a wrong…right.

The Civil War between Stephen and Matilda is resolved by an agreement between Stephen and Henry under the “Treaty of Westminster.”  Stephen would remain King of England, until his death, and then Henry Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou would become King Henry II of England.

In 1154 King Stephen of England died, and was buried at Faversham in Kent.

In 1167 the rightful heir to the English throne according to the wishes of her father; King Henry I, was that his daughter Matilda should have reigned … sadly that never happened.

On the 10th September 1167, Matilda died at Rouen, and was buried in Rouen Cathedral, France.

Norman Conquest of England

The Battle of Hastings, took place on the 14th October 1066; The Saxons led by King Harold against the Norman army led by Duke William of Normandy.

In little over two months, Harold the last Saxon King of England, lost his life on the battlefield.  William, saw the English throne in his grasp, and went on to capture Dover, Canterbury and London.  He was crowned King of England on the 25th December 1066 and the Saxon era was over, and the Norman Conquest was beginning.

Resistance by Saxon’s to these Norman’s was mostly limited to the outer reaches of the kingdom.  With the Church and Government in his grip, it wouldn’t be long before these remaining Saxon’s accepted the rule of the Norman’s.

William had taken this land with only a small invasion force… he had to control some two million Saxon’s until more Norman troops arrived.  Nobles, Lords and Landowners, who might have stood up against the Norman’s, were lying with their armies on the battleground at Hastings.

Some Nobles opened their arms, and welcomed these Norman’s onto English soil, like the Saxon Lord of Wallingford; Wigod, who went on to assist William’s entrance into London.

England has seen invaders of the past, come and go, like Cnut and the Danes.  It is this, that made some believe, William and the Norman’s would be short lived, like Stigand, the then Archbishop of Canterbury.

William’s new Kingdom of Britain was not as free of rebellion as he had hoped; resistance continued for many years.  In January 1069, the Yorkshire inhabitants made up of Scandinavian descendants, rebelled against these Norman’s, and William and his army quelled the flames of rebellion.

In the autumn of 1069, King Swein of Denmark landed in Yorkshire, firing the rebellion against the Norman’s once again… The Danes were forced to withdraw.

William was determined to put an end to rebellions from the north of his kingdom.  He ordered his men to burn houses, crops and slaughter all livestock between the River Humber and Durham.  There followed many years of famine in the north; thousand’s starved to death, and it took years for the land to recover from this horrific event.

Meanwhile, Danish forces sailed south, plundering Peterborough and made the Isle of Ely their base.  Some rebels led by Hereward the Wake joined the Danes.  In June 1070, the Danes left, having made a treaty with William and by 1071 the Saxon rebels in the Fens had surrendered, and Hereward had escaped capture.

King Malcolm III of Scotland (1058-1093) offered exile to Anglo-Saxon Nobles, and assisted their attempts in re-claiming northern parts of England in 1069… There was a price to pay!

Malcolm was looking to the future, by marrying Margaret; daughter of Edward the Aetheling and sister of Edgar Aetheling as his Queen.  She bore him four sons; Edward, Edgar, Edmund and Ethelred.  These four sons with English names, could be used in claiming a seat on the English throne… one would say he was very devious in his outlook.

William marched north with his army in 1072, and confronted Malcolm at Abernethy… would they battle, a question both men more than likely asked themselves.  Yet it was Malcolm who made the first step towards peace; one a King of Scotland, and the other King of England.  Malcolm accepted that William was Lord over his Lothian province; these lands which were once part of England in Northumbria.

A battle had been averted, but William was wary of this Scottish foe, leading him to order the strengthening of the border between their two countries with castles.

Once William had been crowned King of England in 1066, he granted English Landowners and Lords, who had been loyal to his cause, that they could keep their lands.

After 1070, many Saxon landowners, had lost faith in their new King, which led William to instigate a police of Normanization; Norman’s took over their lands.

William needed land to compensate his loyal Norman followers.  What better way, confiscate these Saxon lands… was it a wise move? For it led to numerous revolts up and down the country.

William and his Barons forced marriages to Norman’s by Saxon widows and daughters inheriting estates.

He didn’t stop there with his reforms, replacing Stigand the Archbishop of Canterbury with his own man; Lanfranc, formerly Abbot of Caen.  Then Latin and Norman French became the accepted languages used by the Church and Government.

These Norman’s who had invaded England weren’t farmers, they were warriors at heart, and their origin was Viking.  The King gave them land; they returned the service with highly trained and armed knights, to do battle for their King.

These Norman Lords built castles to emphasise their presence and authority in these former Saxon lands.  Early defences were built from earthen mounds and stockades, later stone versions were the norm, like Windsor Castle.

In 1085 William started a survey of these lands, which led to “The Domesday Book” of 1086, which informed the Crown, the wealth of his lands.

Norman Tax Collector: Ranulf Flambard

Ranulf Flambard, England’s head tax-collector during the reign of King William II, was responsible for the taxes, and became very rich in the process.

In 1099, he succeeded William de St.Calais as the second Norman Bishop of Durham.

In 1100, King Henry I, accused Flambard of extortion, and sent him to the White Tower in chains.

Under the cover of Candlemas, he made his escape.  He invited his guards to join him in a drink of wine, and when they were drunk and sleeping, used the rope smuggled in the wine, climbing down to waiting friends with horses.

Flambard escaped to Normandy, and within six months, Robert Cuthose, Henry’s rival and elder brother, made him chief of staff, and he led Robert’s army in an incursion across the channel to England.

Ranulf Flambard was reinstated to the Bishopric of Durham, and reinstated as Bishop of Durham with Henry I, as his ally.

Ranulf Flambard died in 1128.

Norman Struggle for throne: King Stephen

1135 Stephen the grandson of William the Conqueror claimed the English throne on the death of Henry and was crowned King of England on the 26th December.  However, Henry’s choice of successor had been his daughter; Matilda.

1136 The Earl of Norfolk, a keen supporter of Matilda led a rebellion against Stephen.

1138 Robert the Earl of Gloucester, an illegitimate son by birth of Henry I, once a supporter of Stephen, switched his allegiance to Matilda.

David I of Scotland, invades the English lands, showing support for Matilda, and her right to the English throne, but is defeated in battle at Northallerton.

1139 Matilda and her forces land in England.

1141 Matilda captures Stephen at the “Battle of Lincoln” and she proclaims herself Queen of England.”

Robert the Earl of Gloucester is captured by Stephen’s forces, and Matilda is forced to exchange Stephen for his freedom.

1145 Stephen defeats Matilda at the “Battle of Farringdon.”

1147 Matilda’s son Henry Plantagenet is called to England, that his presence would put an end to his mother’s right to the English throne.

1148 Matilda is forced to abandon her cause to become Queen of England, and leaves English soil.

1151 Geoffrey of Anjou, husband of Matilda dies, and so their son Henry Plantagenet, becomes the Count of Anjou.

1153 Henry the Count of Anjou, lands his forces in England and gathers support, for war against Stephen.

This Civil War between Stephen and Matilda is resolved under the “Treaty of Westminster.”  Stephen remains King for life, and upon his death, Henry Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou would become King Henry II of England.

1154 King Stephen of England dies, and was buried at Faversham in Kent.

1167 The rightful heir to the English throne according to the wishes of King Henry I, was that his daughter Matilda should have reigned… sadly that never happened, and after years of war between each other Matilda died on the 10th September at Rouen, and buried in the Rouen Cathedral in France.

Norman King: Henry I

1068 Henry, son of William the Conqueror and Matilda was born at Selby in Yorkshire.

1087 William the Conqueror died, at the Siege of Montes in France, and was buried in St.Stephens Abbey in Caen, Normandy.  He left Normandy to son; Robert Curthose, his sword and the English crown to William and Henry received nothing.

1092 Sybilla Corbet, mistress of Henry gave him an illegitimate daughter, named after her mother; Sybilla.

1100 William was killed in a hunting accident on the 2nd August by a mysterious arrow, whilst out hunting in the New Forest, and buried in Winchester Cathedral. 

Henry moved swiftly, and was crowned King of England in a few days.  On the 11th November Henry married Edith, daughter of Malcolm Canmore, the King of Scotland at Westminster Abbey, and on the 14th November she was crowned Matilda Queen Consort.

1101 Robert Curthose landed on English shores to claim the English throne.  Conflict was averted – Henry kept England and in return promised to pay Robert 2,000 marks per year and pass over his territories in Normandy.

1102 Henry expelled Robert de Belleme, a loyal supporter of Robert Curthose with strongholds in the Welsh Marshes.

1106 Henry invaded Normandy, and overthrew Robert at the Battle of Tinchebrai, capturing Robert and imprisoning him for life.  Robert’s son, one William Cito claimed he should be the new Duke of Normandy, and carried the backing of Louis VI of France and Count Fulk V of Anjou.

1107 Henry successfully defended his claim to be the Duke of Normandy.  To protect his lands, Henry married off eight of his illegitimate daughters to neighbouring princes.  King Alexander of Scotland married Sybilla another of Henry’s illegitimate daughters.

1110 Henry created a financial counting system which involved the use of a chequered cloth, by which the Royal Treasury Officials met around it to discuss financial matters.  Henry appointed Roger Bishop of Salisbury as the “Justicar.”

1114 Henry’s daughter Adelaide married Henry V, the Emperor of Germany at Mainz in Germany.  She was crowned Matilda Empress of Germany.

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

1120 On the 25th November William Aetheling Henry’s heir to the English throne along with 300 noblemen, Richard his illegitimate brother lost their lives that day, when the White Ship sunk with no survivors.

1121 For Henry, the death of his son William, was a personal blow, he had no male heir to succeed him.

1125 With the death of Emperor Henry V of Germany, husband to his only legitimate daughter Matilda, she was recalled by her father back to England.  The barons who respected Henry, swore an allegiance to Matilda as the rightful Queen of England in the event of his death, as no male heir existed at this time.

1127 Henry put forward a marriage proposal and alliance between Matilda and Geoffrey Plantagenet to Count Fulk of Anjou.

1128 In the June, Matilda, a somewhat reluctant Matilda married the fourteen year old Geoffrey Plantagenet.

1133 On the 5th March a son was born to Matilda and Geoffrey Plantagenet at Le Mans, Anjou.

1134 Henry had planned that his daughter and son-in-law (Matilda and Geoffrey Plantagenet) would succeed him to the English throne.

1135 Henry died, aged 67 in Rouen, France and was buried at Reading Abbey.

English barons did not want to be ruled by a woman and an Angevin, which led to conflict over succession.  Stephen, nephew of Henry, seized the English throne.

Norman King: William II

1087 Upon the death of William the Conqueror, his son William Rufus inherited the English throne; King William II – William Rufus.

William faced a rebellion, which had been partly inspired by his own uncle; Odo of Bayeux, who favoured Robert for the English throne… the revolt soon collapsed.

Lanfranc Archbishop of Canterbury since 1070, advised the new King, which saw the distribution from the royal treasure, to the monasteries, churches and poor to gain favour with the people, and benefit his father’s soul.

1089 William waged war against his brother Robert, and laid claim to the lands of Normandy; defeating him in battle.

Lanfranc, head of the Abbey of Caen in France and later Archbishop of Canterbury died.  His post remained unfilled, and Rufus pocketed Canterbury’s income.

1091 William faced hostile opposition from Scotland, and he forced Malcolm III, King of Scotland to acknowledge him as King of England, and its lands of Scotland.

1093 Malcolm III and his Scots, revolted against William in November; Malcolm died in battle near Alnwick.  From that day forth, Scotland’s King’s had to provide military troops in return for protection of their lands.

William’s relations with the church were difficult… he was more interested in the revenue they raised.

Anselm started out as a novice at the Benedictine Abbey of Bec in 1063, rising to Prior, then Abbot by 1078.  In 1093 he was appointed as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, a post he would hold till 1109, and so the battle over finance and faith began.

The King ridiculed the church, and created a council of barons to decide whether the King or Pope should rule… of course they favoured their King.

1095 Rebellion broke out against William and his rule, led by Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland, which was put down, by William and his chief of justice; Ranulf Flambard and his armies.

William II was not a devout son of the church and held the church in no reverence.  He drew strong disapproval through his flaunting of homo-sexuality, within the English court, and the plundering of vacant bishoprics.

1096 Robert mortgaged Normandy to William for 10,000 francs to finance his crusade.  The money came from taxes imposed on his English subjects.

1097 When Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury went to Rome to seek guidance from the Pope; William stepped in and seized his estates.

1099 Ranulf Flambard became the Bishop of Durham.

On the 15th July, the walls of Jerusalem were scaled, and the Holy City is seized in the First Crusade.

1100 On the 2nd August, William was killed in a hunting accident when an arrow penetrated his lung.  Walter Tirel one of his own nobleman was said to have fired the arrow, which took William’s life.

Tirel fired upon a stag, missing it and hitting the King instead.  Whether the shot was accidental or not, Tirel fled to France in fear of his life.

It is possible, Tirel was acting under orders of William’s younger brother Henry, who seized the throne and was crowned within a day.

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.

Norman King: William I

1066 William the illegitimate son of Duke Robert the Devil of Normandy invades England and defeats King Harold II, the last Saxon King at the “Battle of Hastings” claiming the English throne which had been bequeathed to him by Edward the Confessor.

On the 25th December William the Conqueror, King William I was crowned King of England.

1067 William suppresses a Saxon revolt in the south.  He drives out Anglo-Saxon lords, and gives their lands to his Norman Earls.  It was the beginning of a systematic transfer of lands, from Saxon to Norman.

1068 William faced with a revolt in the north of the country, led by Edwin and Morcar, creates an area of mass starvation.  Norman soldiers burn every house, barn, crops and kills all livestock.

1069 Swen Estrithson and his armies land in the Humber and joins up with Northern English Earls, taking the Norman Garrison at York.  William replies by taking York back.

1070 Howard the Wake leads a Saxon revolt against Norman invaders. 

William plundered monasteries, which held Saxon’s wealth.  To him England was no more than a resource to be exploited.

1071 William put an end to Saxon England in the East, by defeating Hereward the Wake.

1072 William’s Norman army heads North crossing the border into Scotland and insists Malcolm III should pay homage to him.

1073 William puts down a rebellion in Maine, France.

1078 The Tower of London construction begins, and the building has many stories to tell in its lifetime.

1079 William’s eldest son, Robert heads a rebellion in Normandy against his father, but is defeated at the “Battle of Gerbero.”  William spares his life … for Robert would inherit Normandy in 1087.

Winchester Cathedral is built.

1086 The Domesday Book, listing England’s manors or shires and the value of the country.

William informs the Pope, that England owes no allegiance to the Church of Rome.

1087 William dies in battle at the French city of Mantes; his horse stumbles amongst the ruins, and he is unhorsed.  He was buried at the Abbey Church of St.Etienne, Caen.

William leaves Normandy to his son Robert, and England to William II – Rufus.

English and Norman Differences

How different were the English and Norman societies on the eve of the conquest?  Having the same ancestral heritage, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the fundamental differences were small.

Immigration and Land

To speak of the differences between English and Norman society is to start from the wrong standpoint.  We should never forget that the Normans and the Anglo-Saxons came from the same basic stock.

At rock bottom, they were each Scandinavian immigrant’s who had settled in another land and taken over from its ruling aristocracy.  It should therefore not surprise us that on fundamental level, English and Norman social structures were very similar.  What is interesting is the way these similarities received different shadings because of the time and place in which each side had finally settled down.

For both societies, land was the defining currency.  The Lord owned the land, which he parcelled out amongst his followers in return for service.  They in turn settled the land as minor lords in their own right, surrounded by a retinue of warriors to whom they would grant gifts as rewards for good service and as tokens of their own lordship (of which the greatest gift was land).

Success in war generated more land and booty, which could be passed around.  If a lord wasn’t successful or generous enough, his followers would desert him for a better lord.  It was a self-perpetuating dynamic fuelled by expansion and warfare in which the value of man was determined by his war-like ability.  The lord led warriors; the warrior fought for his lord; they were both serviced by non-fighting tenant farmers who owed their livelihoods to the lord; and below them came the unfree slaves.

The Hearth

The basic building block of the system was the hearth.  On his land, the Lord owned a hearth-hall, within which he housed his retinue warriors.  His tenants brought their produce to this hall, feeding and maintaining the retinue.  In return, the lord provided all on his land with security.  It was when the lord was unable to provide security he got worried; lack of security was the defining trait of bad lordship.

This is best exemplified in the epic Saxon poem Beowulf, in ehich the adventurer Beowulf is drawn into the hearth of the Danish King Hrothgar by the King’s famed generosity.  There, he rids Hrothgar of the monsters which are threatening the security of his hearth and is generously rewarded.  Beowulf finally dies trying to win a treasure hoard from a dragon threatening his own land – a potent combination of security and gold, the two driving forces of lordship in his time.


In 10th century Anglo-Saxon England, this dynamic had been complicated by a highly chequered history.  In administrative terms, it meant that pre-Norman England had become the most organised state in Western Europe.  The king controlled a land divided into shires, on ewhich taxation was assessed and levied.  These taxes were collected in coin from the burhs and fresh coin was minted 3 times a year in 60 royal mints arranged throughout the country.  In respect, it was a very Roman system.

It is even likely that Edward the Cinfessor had a Chancery headed by the clerk Regenbald.  The whole system was run by a set of royal officers, with individual reeves looking after the system.

The Germanic System

Overlaid into this was the old Germanic system of lordship and the hearth, but it had been altered almost beyond recognition by the demands of the previous two centuries.

Military service was still technically based on land loaned from a lord in return for service.  Yet by the 10th Century, this land had often been granted away in the form of bookland, which was a royal gift in perpetuity to a loyal retainer.  Alfred and his successors had dealt with the problem by instituiting the fyrd and military obligation was measured in hides.

In essence, the Anglo-Saxon kings had bypassed the problem of lordship by imposing duties on the land itself.  Large landowners were now expected to bring a retinue of thegns with them, based on the hideage of their land, and the very definition of a thegn was someone who could afford to arm himself as a warrior with the proceeds from his land.  The more powerful thegns themselves had retinues of housecarls, old-style military retainers who served in the hope of being granted bookland and thegn status in return for their loyalty.

The Norman System

By contrast, the Norman system was much more basic.  In Saxon terms, the Normans were Second or third generation immigrants to Northern France.  According to their own foundation myth, the land of Normandy was granted to their founder, Rollo c911, and he and his successors ruled it as marcher lords, of the frontier on behalf of the Frankish king.  Therefore, the Norman system was coloured by Frankish practice and was still firmly entrenched in the lords hearth.

Whilst technically the Norman Duke had the power to call out a general levy, he usually relied on his military familia, which was the complex set of family ties and loyalties he had established with the great magnates who occupied his land.  By the time of William, this relationship had hardened from one of mutality in which the Norman nobles were fidelis (faithful men), to one of dominance, in which the duke was dominus (lord).  William himself has had a lot to do with that change.  It was this familia which helped govern the country and owed personal loyalty to the duke.

Though Norman dukes controlled the coinage in their domain, no new coins had been minted since the time of William’s grandfather.  The duke still called upon his nobles to provide an army when he wanted to go to war, and they obliged in the expectation of a share in the spoils of conquest.


In essence, both systems had a similar root, but the differences were crucial.  The Norman system had led to the development of a mounted military elite totally focussed on war, while the Anglo-Saxon system was manned by what was in essence a levy of farmers, who rode to the battlefield but fought on foot.  This is not to say that the English thegn was any less formidable than the Norma knight, as Hastings was to show.  In the crucial months leadings up to the Hastings campaign however, Harold was to be hamstrung by the limitations of the fyrd.  On the 14th October 1066, much of Harold’s tiny force was made up of housecarls of his most powerful magnates because the fyrd had been disbanded.


Yet the similarities remain more important than the differences.  On a macro level, they meant that William could come in and superimpose the Norman system onto the Saxon with virtuality no problem – thegns simply became Norman knights (or Norman knights became thegns).  The emphasis of obligation returned to the old familia structure, which we used to call feudalism.  The methods of Anglo-Saxon knigly control, the use of writs, courts and sheriffs became the instruments of dominance fotr the new Norman King, who also introduced the concept of justiciars and regents to represent the king when he was abroad in the rest of his land.

English Law

Finally, the Normans introduced one major change into English Law.  Prior to the Conquest, cases were tried in front of juries selected from the hudred on the basis of Trial by Ordeal or Trial by Oath Taking.

Oath Taking was a specifically Saxon process whereby a man would rely on the oaths of his lord and peers to vouch for his innocence and good name – the higher the status of your oath-helper, the better your chances of success.  It relied on good lordship and reciprocity to make it work.

These were complemented by the Norman practice of Trial by Battle, in which the judgement of God was determined not by the speed it took you to heal from the ordeal, but by the success of your champion in battle.  In this, it typified the military onus of Norman Society and provides a final telling example of the cruder nature of the Conquerors.

The Battle of Hastings is probably the most famous battle to have been fought on British soil.

Anglo-Saxons and Normans

Normans and Anglo-Saxons each were Scandinavian immigrant’s who had settled in another’s land, and taken over from its ruling aristocracy.  English and Norman basic social structures were similar.

Land was the defining currency, for both societies.  The Lord owned the land which was parcelled out amongst his followers in return for service.  They in turn would settle upon the land as minor lords, surrounded by a retinue of warriors, their reward for service would be parcels of land.

Success in battle generated more land and treasures, which was shared around.  If a lord wasn’t generous enough, his followers would desert him, seeking a better lord.  The lord led his warriors; and the warrior fought for his lord; both would be serviced by non-fighting tenant farmers.

Basic building block of the system is known as the hearth.  The lord owned a hearth-hall upon his land, where he would house his retinue warriors.  Tenant farmers brought produce to the hearth-hall, feeding and maintaining the retinue.  In return, the lord would provide security for all who resided on his land… lack of security defined a bad lordship.

Best described in the Saxon poem entitled; Beowulf.  Beowulf is drawn into the hearth of King Hrothgar by his generosity.  Beowulf rids Hrothgar of monsters threatening the hearth and receives a generous reward.  Beowulf dies trying to win a treasure from a dragon threatening his lands.

In 10th century Anglo-Saxon England, in pre-Norman England had become one of the most organised states in Western Europe.  The land was divided into shires, controlled by the King upon which taxation was levied, and collected in coinage from the burhs.  This appeared to be a Roman based system.

The Normans were immigrants from France.  The land of Normandy granted to their founder; Rollo in AD911.

Anglo-Saxon and Norman systems differed much.  The Norman system, had seen the creation of mounted warriors focussed on war, whilst Anglo-Saxons were managed by many a farmer.

Prior to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, Normans introduced cases to be tried in front of a Jury.  Saxon cases would rely on oaths of a lord and peer to vouch for one’s innocence.  Later this would be changed to “Trial by Battle” or “Trial by Combat.”