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Matilda

Matilda or Maud, 1102–67, queen of England, daughter of Henry I of England. Henry arranged a marriage for her with Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, and she was sent to Germany, betrothed, and five years later (1114) married to him. Empress Matilda was popular in Germany and seemed more German than English, but after her husband's death (1125) she returned to England. Since her only legitimate brother had died (1120), her father devoted himself to securing for her the succession to the English throne, and the barons did in fact recognize her as Henry's heir in 1127. In 1128 she married Geoffrey IV of Anjou, to whom she bore three sons, the eldest being the future Henry II. Both she and her marriage were unpopular in England, however, and on Henry I's death in 1135 the barons gave their support to Matilda's cousin Stephen, who seized the throne. In 1139, Matilda, aided by her half-brother Robert, earl of Gloucester, undertook to recover the throne. After the defeat and capture of Stephen in 1141, she was elected "Lady of the English"; but her arrogance alienated supporters, and the captive Stephen had to be freed in a prisoner exchange for Gloucester. Before the end of the year her forces were routed at Winchester, and the same powerful clergy who had enthroned her then deposed her and declared for Stephen. The struggle continued, but never greatly in her favor. In 1148 she withdrew; her son Henry inherited her claim to the throne and was recognized as heir in 1153. Matilda spent her remaining years in Normandy and became noted for her charity.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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