Empress Matilda should have been England’s first Queen and female ruler.
Empress Matilda was a claimant to the English throne during the civil war known as The Anarchy.
After the death of her father King Henry I of England, the throne was seized by Matilda’s cousin, Stephen of Blois, who enjoyed the backing of the English Church because he was male. This led to bloody civil war and the besieging of Nottingham Castle by Matilda’s forces in 1140.
Undeterred, Matilda defeated Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141, taking Nottingham Castle from his supporters. Unfortunately, her victory slowly ebbed away and she was never crowned queen due to unrest in London and Stephen’s power growing again. She felt forced to negotiate and agreed that Stephen could remain king if her son Henry was made his heir. On Stephen’s death in 1154, he became King Henry II.
Connection: The first ruler to capture Nottingham Castle in 1141
Born: c. 7th February 1102
Died: 10th September 1167
Did you know? Matilda was a skilled diplomat and negotiated complex peace treaties with powerful people such as the Pope, years before her negotiations with Stephen. Matilda was the first English woman to be crowned Holy Roman Empress and ruled as regent of Italy, along with English provinces in modern France.