Matilda was the daughter of Henry I of England, the granddaughter of William the Conqueror and the mother of Henry Plantagenet, founder of the Plantagenet dynasty. She was also, briefly the first Queen of England.
In 1120 Matilda's brother, the only legitimate heir to the Norman throne was killed in a boating accident. Her father remarried, and tried to produce another male heir, but failed, and before his death, he named Matilda and her sons as his heirs to the throne of England. Immediately upon the death of Henry I, however, Matilda's cousin, Stephen of Blois claimed the throne and was supported by many Barons because he was a weak and dissolute king, and they desired no strong overlord. Matilda tried to assert her claim, first by appealing to her uncle David in Scotland, and later with the help of her half-brother, Robert of Gloucester.
After several years of atrocious civil war, during a period in history known as the "Anarchy", Matilda briefly imprisoned Stephen and reclaimed the throne. Many townspeople had supported Matilda, and turned against Stephen but instead of relieving their taxes, and reconciling with them, she taxed them even more heavily than Stephen and so very quickly lost their goodwill. Due to this and otherwise very poor administrative decisions, Matilda's rule was very brief. Within a year she was driven out of her strongholds, and when Stephen regained the throne it was with the support of many towns and barons who had previously supported Matilda. Her cause was utterly lost in 1148 after the death of Gloucester.
Just as her son Henry Plantagenet came of age, the son of Stephen died, and it was agreed that Henry should reign after the death of Stephen. Although he claimed the throne without contest on Stephen's death, he spent the first several years of his reign fighting against Barons who failed to acknowledge the headship of the King during the twenty years of anarchy.
|Birth of Matilda, only legitimate daughter of Henry I.|
|Marriage to Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor|
|Death of Matilda's brother William, last of the Norman princes.|
|Death of Henry V, Matilda returns to England|
|Marriage to Geoffrey of Anjou|
|Birth of Henry Plantagenet|
|Death of Henry I, father of Matilda;|
|Matilda's cousin, Stephen of Blois, usurps the throne.|
|David I of Scotland invades England on behalf of Matilda, but is beaten|
|Matilda raises and army to defend her claim to the throne.|
|Stephen is captured at the Battle of Lincoln; Matilda claims the throne.|
|Matilda is besieged in Olxford and forced to flee.|
|Matilda returns to France after death of her general, Robert of Gloucester.|
|Marriage of Henry Plantagenet to Eleanor of Aquitaine.|
|Death of Stephen's only son leaves Matilda's son as the presumptive heir.|
|Death of Stephen—Henry Plantagenet claims the throne of England.|
|Death of Matilda.|
|Contest for the Crown in||Historical Tales: English by Charles Morris|
|Son of William the conqueror. Competent king who reigned for 35 years. Left throne to Matilda.|
|Reclaimed kingdoms in England and Normandy after chaotic reign of Stephen. Founded Plantagenet dynasty.|
|St. Stephen||Christian King of Hungary who defeated pagans and united Magyar clans.|
|Scottish wife of Henry I. Grandmother of Henry II. Patron and benefactor to poor of England.|
|Robert of Gloucester||Half-brother of Matilda who was her military|
|David I of Scotland||Son of Malcolm Canmore. Sought to help restore his niece Matilda to the throne.|