FEMALE Matilda of England (The Empress Matilda)

Holy Roman Empress (as wife of Henry V), 1114-1125.
Claimant to the throne of England, 1135-53.

Matilda was married at a young age to the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V. Plummer states that "her name Adelaide was changed to Matilda" but does not give a source for this [Plummer's notes in ASC 2: 292]. When Matilda's brother William perished in the disaster of the White Ship in 1120, Henry I was left without a male heir, and his plans turned to his daughter Matilda. After the death of her first husband, her father named her as his heir, and married her (against her desire) to count Geoffroy of Anjou. When Henry I died in 1135, Matilda's cousin Stephen was named as king, starting a civil war in which Matilda was ultimately unsuccessful in pressing her claim to the throne of England, but her husband had taken Normandy by 1144. An agreement made in 1153 set the stage for her son Henry's accession as king when Stephen died in 1154.
[See DNB 13, 54-58.]

Date of Birth: ca. 8 February 1102.
Gervase of Canterbury, a late source, places her birth in the second year of the reign of Henry I (1101-2) ["Secundo anno regni concepit regina et peperit filiam, quę de nomine matris Matildis appellata est." Gerv. Cant. i, 91-2]. The approximate date of 8 February 1102 is based on calculation back from the time of her trip to Germany to marry the emperor Heinrich V [Rössler (1897), 417-420]. Simeon of Durham tells us that Henry I sent Matilda from Dover to Whitsand at the beginning of Lent in 1110 ["Anno MCX. Rex Anglorum Henricus filiam suam Henrico imperatori in conjugem dedit; et misit eam a Dovere usque ad Witsand in initio Quadragesimę, quod fuit iiii. idus Aprilis." Sim. Durh., Hist. Regum, c. 189 (2: 241)]. Now, 10 April (iv. id. Apr.) was Easter in that year, and not the beginning of Lent (Ash Wednesday), so there is an error here. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that Henry I sent his daughter across the sea to the emperor before spring or Lent ["Šises geares sende se cyng toforan lęngtene his dohter mid męnig fealdan madman ofer sę. & hi žam Casere forgeaf." ASC(E) s.a. 1110 ("This year, before spring, the king sent his daughter across the sea with manifold treasures, and gave her to the emperor." ASC(Eng) p. 242); the Anglo-Saxon word "lencten" or "lengten" means Lent or spring, ASC 1: 368]. The Annales Cameracenses state that she was eight years old in 1110 ["Henricus filius Henrici imperatoris filiam Henrici regis Anglorum duxit uxorem nomine Mahtildam, puellulam circiter octo annorum." Annales Cameracenses, s.a. 1110, MGH SS 16: 512]. More precisely, the Annales of Winchester state that Matilda was eight years and fifteen days old at the time her father sent her to Germany ["MCX. Hoc anno misit rex filiam suam Matildem imperatori Henrico desponsandam, cum quindecim milibus marcis argenti, et aliis multis donariis, cum esset puella octo annorum et quindecim dierum; ..." Ann. Winton., s.a. 1110, Ann. Monast., 2: 43]. Ash Wednesday was 23 February in 1110 (not 22 February as miscalculated by Rössler), and calculating 8 years and fifteen days back from that date gives 8 February 1102 (or 7 February 1102 as calculated by Rössler and followed by others). There is no reason to believe that this date would be exact. Robert de Torigny states that Matilda was scarcely five years old when emperor Heinrich V requested her in marriage ["Hanc autem uirginem uix quinquennem Henricus quintus rex et quartus imperator Romanorum et Alemannorum augustus in coniugem requisiuit, ..." GND (Rob. Tor.) viii, 11 (2: 218-9)]. As a result, her birth has sometimes been dated 1105 (counting back from 1110, when she went to Germany). However, Robert also states that she was born before her brother William, who was definitely born before November 1103 ["Predictus autem Willelmus, filius Henrici regis, qui post sororem Matildem imperatricem natus est, ..." ibid.; see also under William on the page of her father Henry I]. Robert was perhaps counting back from the time when negotiations for the marriage first began.
Place of Birth: London.
[William Fitz Stephen's Vita Sancti Thomę, in Mater. Hist. Becket iii, 13]

Date of Death: 10 September 1167.
Place of Death: Rouen.
Place of Burial: Bec.
Robert de Torigny gives 10 September 1167 ["Cum adhuc moraretur rex in Britannia, audivit nuntium de morte matris sue Mathildis imperatricis. Decessit enim 4. Idus Septembris Rothomagi, et sepulta est Becci." Rob. Torigny, Chronica, s.a. 1167, MGH SS 6: 516]. His testimony is to be preferred over the Chronicle of St. Serge of Anjou, which gives a date two days later ["Apud Rothomagum Mathildis, mater Henrici regis, obiit IIŗ idus septembris." Chron. S. Sergii Andegav., s.a. 1167, Marchegay & Mabille (1869), 150]. Numerous sources give the year only.

Father: Henry I "Beauclerc", d. 2 December 1135, king of England.
[GND (Rob. Tor.) viii, 11 (2: 216-9)]

Mother: Matilda of Scotland, d. 1 May 1118.
[GND (Rob. Tor.) viii, 11 (2: 216-9)]


(1) m. Mainz, 6 or 7 January 1114, Heinrich (Henry) V, d. 22 May 1125, Holy Roman Emperor.
[John of Worcester gives 6 January as the date of the marriage ["Heinrico, Romanorum imperatori, Matildis, filia regis Anglorum Heinrici, VIII. idus Januarii, Mogontię desponsata, et in imperatricem est consecrata." John Worc., s.a. 1114 (2: 67); similarly Sim. Durh., Historia Regum, c. 193, s.a. 1114 (2: 248)]. The Annals of Hildesheim give the day after Epiphany (i.e., 7 January) ["Altera die post epiphaniam collectis totius regni principibus, nuptias filiae regis Anglici cum ingenti gloria consummat, ..." Ann. Hildesheim., s.a. 1114, MGH SS 3: 113].

(2) m. Winchester, about Pentecost, 1127, Geoffroy V, d. 7 September 1151, count of Anjou, duke of Normandy.
["Cum autem ad Pentecosten fuisset apud Wincestre, misit filiam suam in Normanniam desponsatam filio consulis Andegavensis, ..." Hen. Hunt., vii, 37, s.a. 1127 (p. 247); similarly in Robert de Torigny, Chron., s.a. 1127, MGH SS 6: 488; Rog. Hoveden, s.a. 1128(=1127) (1: 219); "Gaufridus Plantegenest comes Andegavorum duxit imperatricem." R. Dic., Abbrev. Chron., s.a. 1127 (1: 245)]

Children (by Geoffroy):
See the page of Geoffrey V for details.

MALE Henry II, b. Le Mans, 5 March 1133, d. 11 June 1183, king of England, 1154-1183;
m. 1152, Eleanor of Aquitaine, d. 1 April 1204,
daughter of Guillaume X, count of Poitou and duke of Aquitaine.

MALE Geoffroy, b. Rouen, 1 June 1134, d. July 1158, count of Nantes.

MALE Guillaume (William), b. Argentan, 22 July 1136, d. Rouen, 30 January 1164.

A few secondary sources erroneously make Geoffrey's illegitimate daughter Emma a daughter of Matilda.


Ann. Monast. = Henry Richards Luard, ed., Annales Monastici, 5 vols. (Rolls Series 86, 1864-9).

ASC = Charles Plummer, Two of the Saxon Chronicles parallel, based on the earlier edition by John Earle, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1892-9). ASC(A) indicates the "A" manuscript of the chronicle, and similarly for the other manuscripts.

ASC(Eng) = Michael Swanton, ed. & trans., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles (London, 2000).

DNB = Dictionary of National Biography.

Gerv. Cant. = William Stubbs, ed., The Historical Works of Gervase of Canterbury, 2 vols. (Rolls Series 73, 1879).

GND = Guillaume de Jumičges, Gesta Normannorum Ducum, as edited in Elisabeth van Houts, ed. & trans., The Gesta Normannorum Ducum of William of Jumičges, Orderic Vitalis and Robert of Torigni, 2 vols., (Oxford, 1992). Citation is by book and chapter of Guillaume's work, with the volume and page number of the edition by van Houts in parentheses.

GND (Rob. Tor.) = Additions to GND by Robert de Torigny.

Hen. Hunt. = Thomas Arnold, ed., Henrici Archidiaconi Huntendunensis Historia Anglorum. The History of the English, by Henry, Archdeacon of Huntingdon (Rolls Series 74, London, 1879).

John Worc. = Benjamin Thorpe, ed., Florentii Wigorniensis monachi chronicon ex chronicis, 2 vols., (London, 1848-9). (The work formerly attributed to Florence of Worcester is now generally attributed to John of Worcester.)

Marchegay & Mabille (1869) = Paul Marchegay & Émile Mabille, eds., Chroniques des églises d'Anjou (Société de l'Histoire de France, Paris, 1869).

Mater. Hist. Becket = James Craigie Robertson (vols. 1-7) and J. Brigstocke Sheppard (vol. 7), eds., Materials for the History of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, 7 vols. (London, 1875-85).

MGH SS = Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores series.

Rad. Diceto = William Stubbs, ed., Radulfi de Diceto Decani Lundonensis Opera Historica - The Historical Works of Master Ralph de Diceto Dean of London, 2 vols. (Rolls Series 68, London 1876).

Rog. Hoveden = William Stubbs, ed., Chronica Magistri Rogeri de Houedene, 4 vols. (Rolls Series 51, 1868-71). For an English translation, see Henry T. Riley, trans., The Annals of Roger de Hoveden, 2 vols. (London, 1853). Citations are from the edition of Stubbs.

Rössler (1897) = Oskar Rössler, Kaiserin Mathilde, Mutter Heinrichs von Anjou, und das Zeitalter der Anarchie in England (Historische Studien 7, Berlin, 1897).

Sim. Durh. = Thomas Arnold, ed., Symeonis Monachi Opera Omnia, 2 vols. (Rolls Series 75, 1882-5).

Compiled by Stewart Baldwin

First uploaded 27 June 2004.

Revision uploaded 20 June 2010 (added details about birthdate).

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