Matilda of Flanders

Last updated

Matilda of Flanders
Luxembourg - La Reine Mathilde.jpg
Statue of Matilda of Flanders, one of the twenty Reines de France et Femmes illustres in the Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, by Carle Elshoecht (1850)
Queen consort of England
Tenure25 December 1066 – 2 November 1083
Coronation 11 May 1068
Bornc.1031
Died2 November 1083 (aged c. 52)
Burial
Spouse William I of England (m. 1051/2)
Issue
Detail
House Flanders
Father Baldwin V, Count of Flanders
Mother Adela of France

Matilda of Flanders (French: Mathilde; Dutch : Machteld) (c. 1031 – 2 November 1083) was Queen of England and Duchess of Normandy by marriage to William the Conqueror, and regent of Normandy during his absences from the duchy. [1] She was the mother of ten children who survived to adulthood, including two kings, William II and Henry I.

Contents

In 1031, Matilda was born into the House of Flanders, the second daughter of Count Baldwin V of Flanders and Adela of France. Flanders was of strategic importance to England and most of Europe as a "stepping stone between England and the Continent" necessary for strategic trade and for keeping the Scandinavian Intruders from England. [2] In addition, her mother was the daughter of Robert II of France. For these reasons Matilda was of grander birth than William, who was illegitimate, and, according to some more romantic tellings of the story, she initially refused his proposal on this account. Her descent from the Anglo-Saxon royal House of Wessex was also to become a useful card. Like many royal marriages of the period, it breached the rules of consanguinity, then at their most restrictive (to seven generations or degrees of relatedness); Matilda and William were third-cousins once removed. She was about 20 when they married in 1051/2; William was some four years older, and had been Duke of Normandy since he was about eight (in 1035).

The marriage appears to have been successful, and William is not recorded to have had any bastards. Matilda was about 35, and had already borne most of her children, when William embarked on the Norman conquest of England, sailing in his flagship Mora , which Matilda had given him. She governed the Duchy of Normandy in his absence, joining him in England only after more than a year, and subsequently returning to Normandy, where she spent most of the remainder of her life, while William was mostly in his new kingdom. Matilda served as regent in Normandy during the absence of William six times: in 1066-1067, in 1067-1068, in 1069, in 1069-1072, in 1074 and, finally, in 1075-1076. [3] She was about 52 when she died in Normandy in 1083.

Apart from governing Normandy and supporting her brother's interests in Flanders, Matilda took a close interest in the education of her children, who were unusually well educated for contemporary royalty. The boys were tutored by the Italian Lanfranc, who was made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1070, while the girls learned Latin in Sainte-Trinité Abbey in Caen, founded by William and Matilda as part of the papal dispensation allowing their marriage.

Rumours of romances

There were rumours that Matilda had been in love with the English ambassador to Flanders and with the great Anglo-Saxon thegn Brictric, son of Algar, who (according to the account by the Continuator of Wace and others [4] ) in his youth declined her advances. Whatever the truth of the matter, years later she is said to have used her authority to confiscate Brictric's lands and throw him into prison, where he died. [5]

Marriage

Matilda, or Maud, was the daughter of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders, and Adela, herself daughter of King Robert II of France. [6]

According to legend, when the Norman duke William the Bastard (later called the Conqueror) sent his representative to ask for Matilda's hand in marriage, she told the representative that she was far too high-born to consider marrying a bastard. [lower-alpha 1] After hearing this response, William rode from Normandy to Bruges, found Matilda on her way to church, dragged her off her horse by her long braids, threw her down in the street in front of her flabbergasted attendants and rode off. [7] Some narrations of this event also state that William rolled Matilda in the mud and badly beat her before galloping away. [8] [9]

Another version of the story states that William rode to Matilda's father's house in Lille, threw her to the ground in her room (again, by her braids) and hit her (or violently battered her) before leaving. Naturally, Baldwin took offence at this; but, before they could draw swords, Matilda settled the matter [10] by refusing to marry anyone but William; [11] even a papal ban by Pope Leo IX at the Council of Reims on the grounds of consanguinity [12] did not dissuade her. William and Matilda were married after a delay in c.1051–2. [13] A papal dispensation was finally awarded in 1059 by Pope Nicholas II. [14] Lanfranc, at the time prior of Bec Abbey, negotiated the arrangement in Rome and it came only after William and Matilda agreed to found two churches as penance. [15]

Duchess of Normandy

When William was preparing to invade England, Matilda outfitted a ship, the Mora , out of her own funds and gave it to him. [16] Additionally, William gave Normandy to his wife during his absence. Matilda successfully guided the duchy through this period in the name of her fourteen-year-old son; no major uprisings or unrest occurred. [17]

Even after William conquered England and became its king, it took her more than a year to visit the kingdom. [18] Despite William's conquest, she spent most of her time in Normandy, governing the duchy, supporting her brother's interests in Flanders, and sponsoring ecclesiastic houses there. Only one of her children was born in England; Henry was born in Yorkshire when Matilda accompanied her husband in the Harrying of the North. [19] She arrived in England in April 1068 and was crowned alongside William, who was re-crowned at the same time in order to demand the court's respect. [8]

Queen of England

Matilda was crowned queen on 11 May 1068 in Westminster during the feast of Pentecost, in a ceremony presided over by the archbishop of York. Three new phrases were incorporated to cement the importance of queens, stating that they were divinely placed by God, shared in royal power, and blessed her people by her power and virtue. [20] [21]

For many years it was thought that she had some involvement in the creation of the Bayeux Tapestry (commonly called La Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde in French), but historians no longer believe that; it seems to have been commissioned by William's half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, and made by English artists in Kent. [22]

Matilda and William had nine or ten children together. He was believed to have been faithful to her and never produced a child outside their marriage. There is no evidence of any illegitimate children born to William. [23] Despite her royal duties, Matilda was deeply invested in her children's well-being. All were known for being remarkably educated. Her daughters were educated and taught to read Latin at Sainte-Trinité in Caen founded by Matilda and William in response to the recognition of their marriage. [24] For her sons, she secured Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury of whom she was an ardent supporter. Both she and William approved of the Archbishop's desire to revitalise the Church. [25]

William was furious when he discovered she sent large sums of money to their exiled son Robert. [26] She effected a truce between them at Easter 1080.[ citation needed ] [9]

She stood as godmother for Matilda of Scotland, who would become Queen of England after marrying Matilda's son Henry I. During the christening, the baby pulled Queen Matilda's headdress down on top of herself, which was seen as an omen that the younger Matilda would be queen some day as well. [27]

Death and burial

Tomb of Matilda of Flanders at Abbaye aux Dames, Caen Queen Matilda's grave in the Women's Abbey at Caen.jpg
Tomb of Matilda of Flanders at Abbaye aux Dames, Caen

Matilda fell ill during the summer of 1083 and died on 2 November 1083. [1] Her husband was present for her final confession. [28] William swore to give up hunting, his favorite sport, to express his grief after the death of his wife. [29] [30] [31] He himself died four years later in 1087. [32]

Contrary to the common belief that she was buried at St. Stephen's, also called l'Abbaye-aux-Hommes in Caen, Normandy, where William was eventually buried, she is entombed in Caen at l'Abbaye aux Dames, which is the community of Sainte-Trinité. Of particular interest is the 11th-century slab, a sleek black ledger stone decorated with her epitaph, marking her grave at the rear of the church. In contrast, the grave marker for William's tomb was replaced as recently as the beginning of the 19th century.[ citation needed ]

Over time Matilda's tomb was desecrated and her original coffin destroyed. Her remains were placed in a sealed box and reburied under the original black slab. [33] In 1959 Matilda's incomplete skeleton was examined and her femur and tibia were measured to determine her height. Her height was 5 feet (152 cm), a normal female height for the time. [33] However, as a result of this examination she was misreported as being 4 feet 2 inches (127 cm) [34] leading to the myth that she was extremely small.

Children

Matilda and William had four sons and at least five daughters. [35] The birth order of the boys is clear, but no source gives the relative order of birth of the daughters. [35]

  1. Robert (c.1053 – 10 February 1134), [36] [37] Duke of Normandy, married Sybil of Conversano, daughter of Geoffrey of Conversano. [38]
  2. Richard, (c.1055 – c.1069-74) [36]
  3. Adeliza (or Adelida, [39] Adelaide [40] ), (c.1057, – c.1073), [36] reportedly betrothed to Harold II of England, probably a nun of St Léger at Préaux. [39]
  4. Cecilia (or Cecily), (c.1058 – 1127). [36] Abbess of Holy Trinity, Caen. [41]
  5. William Rufus, (c.1060 – 2 August 1100), [36] [37] King of England, killed in the New Forest.
  6. Matilda (c.1061 – c.1086) [36] [40] possibly died much later (according to Trevor Foulds's suggestion that she was identical to Matilda d'Aincourt [42] [43] ).
  7. Constance (c.1062 – 1090), [36] married Alan IV Fergent, Duke of Brittany. [41]
  8. Adela, (c.1067 – 1137), [36] married Stephen, Count of Blois. [41] Mother of King Stephen of England.
  9. Henry (late 1068 – 1 December 1135) [36] [37] King of England, married Edith of Scotland, daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland. His second wife was Adeliza of Louvain. [40]
  10. Agatha, betrothed to Harold II of England, Alfonso VI of Castile, and possibly Herbert I, Count of Maine, but died unmarried. [lower-alpha 2] [41]

Related Research Articles

William I, usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman monarch of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. A descendant of Rollo, he was Duke of Normandy from 1035 onward. By 1060, following a long struggle to establish his throne, his hold on Normandy was secure. In 1066, following the death of Edward the Confessor, William invaded England, leading an army of Normans to victory over the Anglo-Saxon forces of Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings, and suppressed subsequent English revolts in what has become known as the Norman Conquest. The rest of his life was marked by struggles to consolidate his hold over England and his continental lands, and by difficulties with his eldest son, Robert Curthose.

Emma of Normandy Queen consort of the English

Emma of Normandy was a Norman-born noblewoman who became the English, Danish, and Norse queen through her marriages to the Anglo-Saxon king Æthelred the Unready and the Danish prince Cnut the Great. The daughter of the Norman ruler Richard the Fearless and Gunnor, she was Queen of the English during her marriage to King Æthelred from 1002 to 1016, except during a brief interruption in 1013–14 when the Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard occupied the English throne. Æthelred died in 1016, and Emma remarried to Sweyn's son Cnut. As Cnut's wife, she was Queen of the English from their marriage in 1017, Queen of Denmark from 1018, and Queen of Norway from 1028 until Cnut died in 1035.

Robert Curthose 11th and 12th-century Duke of Normandy, crusader, and claimant to the English throne

Robert Curthose or Robert II of Normandy was the eldest son of William the Conqueror and succeeded his father as Duke of Normandy in 1087, reigning until 1106. Robert was also an unsuccessful claimant to the throne of the Kingdom of England. The epithet "Curthose" had its origins in the Norman French word courtheuse 'short stockings' and was apparently derived from a nickname given to Robert by his father; the chroniclers William of Malmesbury and Orderic Vitalis reported that William the Conqueror had derisively called Robert brevis-ocrea.

Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester 12th-century illegitimate son of King Henry I of England

Robert FitzRoy, 1st Earl of Gloucester was an illegitimate son of King Henry I of England. He was the half-brother of the Empress Matilda, and her chief military supporter during the civil war known as The Anarchy, in which she vied with Stephen of Blois for the throne of England.

Adeliza of Louvain 12th-century queen and wife of King Henry I of England

Adeliza of Louvain, sometimes known in England as Adelicia of Louvain, also called Adela and Aleidis; was Queen of England from 1121 to 1135, as the second wife of King Henry I. She was the daughter of Godfrey I, Count of Louvain.

Herleva 11th-century Norman mother of William the Conqueror

Herleva was an 11th-century Norman woman known for having been mother of William the Conqueror, born to an extramarital relationship with Robert I, Duke of Normandy, and also of William's prominent half-brothers Odo of Bayeux and Robert, Count of Mortain, born to Herleva's marriage to Herluin de Conteville.

Robert I, Duke of Normandy 11th-century Duke of Normandy

Robert the Magnificent was the duke of Normandy from 1027 until his death in 1035.

Baldwin V, Count of Flanders Count of Flanders

Baldwin V was count of Flanders from 1035 until his death. He secured the personal union between the counties of Flanders and Hainaut and maintained close links to the Anglo-Saxon monarchy, which was overthrown by his son-in-law, William the Conqueror, near the end of his life.

Robert I, Count of Flanders Count of Flanders

Robert I, known as Robert the Frisian, was count of Flanders from 1071 to his death in 1093. He was the son of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders and the younger brother of Baldwin VI, Count of Flanders. He usurped the countship after defeating his nephew Arnulf III and his allies, which included King Philip I of France, count Eustace of Boulogne and the counts of Saint-Pol and Ardres at the Battle of Cassel. He subsequently made peace with Philip, who became his stepson-in-law, but remained hostile to his sister Matilda and brother-in-law, King William I of England.

William FitzOsbern, Lord of Breteuil, in Normandy, was a relative and close counsellor of William the Conqueror and one of the great magnates of early Norman England. FitzOsbern was created Earl of Hereford in 1067, one of the first peerage titles in the English peerage. He is one of the very few proven companions of William the Conqueror known to have fought at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. His chief residence was Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight, one of many castles he built in England.

Richard II, called the Good, was the duke of Normandy from 996 until 1026.

Adeliza or Adelida was a daughter of William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders. There is considerable uncertainty about her life, including her dates of birth and death. In a mortuary roll prepared at her sister's religious house, she was listed first among the daughters of William the Conqueror. She was usually the first daughter in lists of William's children, and thus probably the eldest. Her inclusion in the mortuary roll indicates that her death preceded the date of its 1113 compilation.

Matilda of Scotland 11th and 12th-century queen and wife of King Henry I of England

Matilda of Scotland, also known as Good Queen Maud or Matilda of Blessed Memory, was Queen of England and Duchess of Normandy as the first wife of King Henry I. She acted as regent of England on several occasions during Henry's absences: in 1104, 1107, 1108, and 1111.

Adelaide of Normandy was the sister of William the Conqueror and was Countess of Aumale in her own right.

The Carmen de Hastingae Proelio is a 20th century name for the Carmen Widonis, the earliest history of the Norman invasion of England from September to December 1066, in Latin. It is attributed to Bishop Guy of Amiens, a noble of Ponthieu and monastically-trained bishop and administrator close to the French court, who eventually served as a chaplain for Matilda of Flanders, William the Conqueror's queen. Guy was an uncle to Count Guy of Ponthieu, who figures rather prominently in the Bayeux Tapestry as the vassal of Duke William of Normandy who captured Harold Godwinson in 1064.

Enguerrand II was the son of Hugh II count of Ponthieu. He assumed the county upon the death of his father on November 20, 1052.

Herluin de Conteville Stepfather of William the Conqueror

Herluin de Conteville (1001–1066), also sometimes listed as Herlwin of Conteville, was the stepfather of William the Conqueror, and the father of Odo of Bayeux and Robert, Count of Mortain, both of whom became prominent during William's reign. He died in 1066, the year his stepson conquered England.

Gunnor Duchess consort of Normandy

Gunnor or Gunnora was the duchess of Normandy by marriage to Richard I of Normandy, having previously been his long-time mistress. She functioned as regent of Normandy during the absence of her spouse, as well as the adviser to him and later to his successor, their son Richard II.

Cecilia of Normandy 11th and 12th-century daughter of William the Conqueror and abbess

Cecilia of Normandy was a French abbess, thought to be the eldest daughter of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders.

Mora was the name of William the Conqueror's flagship, the largest and fastest ship in his invasion fleet of 700 or more ships used during the Norman conquest of England in 1066.

References

Notes

  1. Matilda's principal attribute was her descent from Charlemagne and her many royal ancestors, her closest being her grandfather Robert II of France. She was the niece of King Henry I of France, William's suzerain, and at his death in 1060, first cousin to his successor King Philip I of France. A member of the aristocracy she was closely related to most of the royal families of Europe. A marriage to a member of the (Carolingian) royal family was a means of upward mobility for a soldier or nobleman like William. Her descent from Alfred the Great (whose daughter Ælfthryth was the mother of Arnulf I, Count of Flanders, and great-great-great-great-grandmother of Matilda) also proved a legitimizing factor as queen of England. See Hilton 2010 , p. 17, Le Jan 2000 , p. 56, Notes 14, 57, Wareham 2005 , p. 3
  2. It is not certain Adeliza and Agatha were not the same daughter, but if they were different daughters William of Jumièges seems to bear the responsibility for confusing the two. None of the daughters' ages is known according to Orderic Vitalis. See Douglas 1964 , p. 395; Ordericus Vitalis 1854 , pp. 181–182, n. 1

Citations

  1. 1 2 van Houts 2004b.
  2. Oksanen 2012, p. 6.
  3. Borman 2011.
  4. Thorn, Thorn & Morris 1985, Part 2 (notes), 24,21, quoting Freeman 1871, Appendix, note 0.
  5. Freeman 1871, pp. 761–764.
  6. Schwennicke 1984, Tafeln 5, 11, 81.
  7. "In Bayeux, France, the story of the last conquest of England comes alive". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  8. 1 2 Strickland, Agnes (1840). Lives of the Queens of England. Boston: Aldine Book Publishing Company. p. 13.
  9. 1 2 Lancelott, Francis (1890). The Queens of England and Their Times. New York: D. Appleton and Company. pp. 15–18.
  10. Hilliam 2004, p. 20.
  11. Hilton 2010, p. 17.
  12. Morris 2012, p. 67.
  13. Keats-Rohan 1999, p. 495.
  14. Hilton 2010, p. 18.
  15. Bates 1982, p. 199.
  16. van Houts 1988, p. 166.
  17. Hilton 2010, pp. 31–32.
  18. Huneycutt 2003, p. 50.
  19. Hilton 2010, p. 35.
  20. Hilton 2010, p. 33.
  21. Huneycutt 2003, p. 51.
  22. Norton 2001, p. 3.
  23. Given-Wilson & Curteis 1984, p. 59.
  24. Hilton 2010, p. 29.
  25. Hilton 2010, p. 37.
  26. "Matilda of Flanders, duchess of Normandy, queen of England". Epistolae: Medieval Women's Latin Letters. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  27. Huneycutt 2003, p. 10.
  28. Hilton 2010, p. 39.
  29. B. A., Mundelein College; M. Div., Meadville/Lombard Theological School. "Matilda of Flanders: William the Conqueror's Queen". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  30. Hilliam 2004, p. 91.
  31. Hilliam 2011, p. 172.
  32. Douglas 1964, p. 362.
  33. 1 2 Dewhurst 1981, pp. 271–272.
  34. Douglas 1964, p. 370.
  35. 1 2 Douglas 1964, p. 393.
  36. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Turner, Ralph V. (1990). "The Children of Anglo-Norman Royalty and Their Upbringing". Medieval Prosopography. 11 (2): 45. ISSN   0198-9405. JSTOR   45048108.
  37. 1 2 3 Douglas 1964, p. 394.
  38. Thompson 2004.
  39. 1 2 van Houts 2004a.
  40. 1 2 3 Fryde et al. 1996, p. 35.
  41. 1 2 3 4 Douglas 1964, p. 395.
  42. Sharpe 2007, pp. 1–27.
  43. Nottingham Medieval Studies 36: 42–78.

Sources

  • Bates, David (1982). Normandy before 1066. London; New York: Longman.
  • Freeman, Edward Augustus (1871). The History of the Norman Conquest of England. Vol. IV. Oxford: Clarendon Press.|volume= has extra text (help)
  • Fryde, E. F.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (3rd ed.). Cambridge: University Press. ISBN   0-521-56350-X.
  • Schwennicke, Detlev (1984). Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten[European Family Tables: Pedigrees on the history of the European States] (in German). Band II (Neue Folge ed.). Marburg, Germany: J. A. Stargardt.
  • Sharpe, Richard (2007). "King Harold's Daughter". Haskins Society Journal: Studies in Medieval History. 19: 1–27.
  • Thorn, Caroline; Thorn, Frank; Morris, John, eds. (1985). Domesday Book. Vol. 9, Devon, Parts 1 & 2. Chichester: Phillimore Press.|volume= has extra text (help)
  • van Houts, Elisabeth (1988), "The Ship List of William the Conqueror", Anglo-Norman Studies X; Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1987, Woodbridge: Boydell Press
  • Ordericus Vitalis (1854). The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy. Vol. II. Translated by Thomas Forester. London: Henry G. Bohn.|volume= has extra text (help)
Preceded by Duchess consort of Normandy
1053 – 2 November 1083
Vacant
Title next held by
Sybilla of Conversano
Vacant
Title last held by
Edith of Mercia
Queen consort of England
25 December 1066 – 2 November 1083
Vacant
Title next held by
Matilda of Scotland