Empress Matilda was born Adelaide, the daughter of King Henry I
and Matilda of Scotland (Edith, daughter of King Malcolm Canmore
of Scotland) at Berkshire, England.
1103 (5th August)
Adelaide’s brother William
was born. He was styled Adelin being son of the King and heir to the throne.
Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, suggested that Adelaide would be a suitable bride for himself. Despite Henry V being 16 years older than Adelaide, Henry I agreed and negotiations for the terms of the marriage began.
1110 (10th April)
Adelaide was formally betrothed to Henry V at Utrecht (Belgium). She was placed into the care of her betrothed and her name was changed to Matilda.
1110 (late Spring)
Matilda was educated by the Archbishop of Trier. She was taught to speak German as well as learning about German culture.
1110 (25th July)
Matilda was crowned Holy Roman Empress at Mainz (Germany).
1114 (7th January)
Matilda married Henry V Emperor of Germany at Worms. After her marriage she was given her own household.
There were a number of rebellions in Germany against the rule of Henry V. He also faced opposition from the church and was excommunicated by the Pope.
Matilda and her husband went to Rome in order to make peace with the Papacy. The Pope was persuaded to re-crown Henry V as Holy Roman Emperor and to crown Matilda as Holy Roman Empress.
Henry V returned to Germany and left Matilda as regent of Italy.
1118 (1st May)
Edith of Scotland, Matilda’s mother, died in England
Henry V was facing more unrest in Germany.
1120 (25th November)
White Ship Disaster
The heir to the English throne, Matilda’s brother, William Adelin, died when the ship he was in sank off the coast of France.
1121 (29th January)
Matilda’s father, Henry I, married Adeliza of Louvain. He hoped to father more sons.
Empress Matilda made an attempt to visit her father in England, but the Count of Flanders, Charles I, refused to allow her passage through his land. It is likely that she had wanted to discuss the English succession with her father.
1122 (23rd September)
Concordat of Worms
This agreement was signed. It settled the unrest in Germany and made peace with the Pope.
1125 (23rd May)
Matilda’s husband Henry V died. The couple were childless and Matilda now had no official place in Germany. Although she received a number of marriage offers from German Princes, Matilda returned to her father’s court at Normandy. She was referred to as Empress Matilda for the rest of her life.
King Henry I’s second wife, Adeliza, had still not become pregnant and he was concerned for the succession. Henry gathered together the nobility of England and Normandy at Westminster where they swore an oath to recognise Matilda as heir to the throne, support her as Queen and recognise any children she may have as successors.
On the orders of her father, Matilda was betrothed to Geoffrey,
Count of Anjou. He was fourteen years old. Matilda felt that the marriage was beneath her and had to be persuaded to go through with the ceremony.
1128 (17th June)
Matilda married Geoffrey,
Count of Anjou in Le Mans, France.
Geoffrey became Count of Anjou and Maine after his father embarked on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Matilda disliked her husband intensely and left him. She returned to her father’s court.
King Henry I persuaded Matilda to return to her husband.
1133 (5th March)
A son, Henry
was born to Matilda and Geoffrey at Le Mans, Anjou.
1134 (1st June)
A son Geoffrey was born to Matilda and Geoffrey at Rouen, Normandy. The birth was very difficult and Matilda was sick for sometime afterwards.
Matilda became increasingly irritated with her father. Although the English nobility had sworn to uphold her claim to the English throne, the nobility of Normandy had not been asked to do the same. Matilda knew this weakened her position as successor to her father but he refused to relent, possibly because he feared that Geoffrey would attempt to take control of Normandy.
1135 (1st December)
Matilda’s father, King Henry I of England and Normandy died near Rouen, Normandy. Matilda was technically now Queen of England and Normandy but despite having sworn to support her many nobles were against a woman becoming Queen.
Following the death of Henry I, Matilda and her husband Geoffrey began taking control of key castles in Normandy. However, they soon faced resistance from the Norman nobility. They did not try to go to England to take the throne. This may have been due to a lack of support or because Matilda was in the early stages of pregnancy.
1135 (22nd December)
Stephen of Blois
, Count of Mortain, grandson of William I of England seized the English throne with the support of his brother, Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester.
1135 (26th December)
Stephen of Blois was crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey.
David I of Scotland supported Matilda’s claim to the English throne and invaded the north of England. Stephen marched north to intercept the Scottish king. The two met at Durham and agreed a truce.
1136 (21st July)
A son, William, was born to Matilda and Geoffrey at Argentan, Normandy.
Geoffrey of Anjou had attempted to gain more control in Normandy. He managed to force Stephen to agree a truce and a yearly payment to maintain peace.
Matilda’s half-brother, Robert of Gloucester, rebelled against Stephen on Matilda’s behalf and declared war on Stephen beginning a period of civil war known as The Anarchy.
Geoffrey of Anjou invaded Normandy.
1138 (22nd August)
Battle of the Standard
King David I of Scotland had invaded England again but was defeated by King Stephen of England at this battle.
1139 (9th April)
King David I of Scotland and King Stephen reached an agreement and hostilities were ended between the two.
Having secured much of Normandy, Matilda and Geoffrey landed at Arundel in Sussex to press Matilda’s claim to the throne.
1139 (after September)
Matilda remained at Arundel while her half brother, Robert of Gloucester, marched west and gained control of the south-west of England.
King Stephen lay siege to Arundel Castle. However, the castle was well known for its strength and Stephen agreed a truce which allowed Matilda to leave the castle. Matilda went straight to her half-brother, Robert of Gloucester.
1141 (2nd February)
Battle of Lincoln
Matilda and Stephen fought a decisive battle at Lincoln. Stephen was captured and held prisoner at Bristol Castle. Matilda declared herself rightful Queen of England.
1141 (2nd March)
Matilda met with the Bishop of Winchester, Stephen’s brother, Henry of Blois. The Bishop had disagreed with his brother over the rule of England and gave his support to Matilda.
1141 (3rd March)
Matilda was given a formal welcome at Winchester and handed the keys to the treasury.
Matilda went to Oxford before going on to London.
1141 (24th June)
Matilda had set 24th June as the date for her coronation, however a group of pro-Stephen supporters encouraged the city to rise against her and she was forced to flee to Oxford.
Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester, was concerned that Matilda did not have the support of London. He decided to change sides and directed Stephen’s forces to besiege Matilda’s forces in Winchester.
1141 (31st July)
As soon as she learned of Henry of Blois’ actions, Matilda set out for Winchester with her own army and lay siege to Stephen’s forces that were besieging her own forces.
1141 (early August)
Winchester was set on fire (probably by Stephen’s forces). This made it more difficult for Matilda’s forces to withstand the siege.
1141 (14th September)
The Rout of Winchester
Matilda’s forces were no longer able to withstand the siege by Stephen’s forces and tried to break out and flee north. Matilda was able to get away but her half-brother, Robert of Gloucester, was captured.
Matilda was unable to continue the war without Robert of Gloucester. She refused to make peace with Stephen’s wife so it was agreed that Robert of Gloucester would be swapped for Stephen and both were released.
Matilda’s eldest son, Henry, arrived in England to help his mother’s cause.
Robert of Gloucester put Wilton Castle, where Stephen was staying, under siege. However, Stephen was able to break free.
Geoffrey, Earl of East Anglia rose up against Stephen and planned a march south to London.
Ranulf of Chester rebelled against Stephen but Matilda was unable to use this to further her claim to the throne.
Geoffrey, Earl of East Anglia died.
Matilda’s eldest son, Henry, who Matilda and her supporters expected to be king after Stephen, returned to Anjou to begin learning how to administer the family’s lands there.
Matilda’s half-brother and chief supporter, Robert of Gloucester died.
Matilda’s son, Henry, returned to England with a mercenary force to try to take the throne from Stephen. The mission failed because Henry did not have sufficient funds to pay his men and his mother refused to pay the men for him.
Matilda returned to Normandy.
1151 (7th September)
Matilda’s husband Geoffrey died. His lands were inherited by their son, Henry.
Matilda’s son, Henry, returned to England to try to win support for his claim to the throne. He had limited success because the barons did not want to return to a state of civil war. The church acted as a mediator and it was agreed that Henry would be named Stephen’s successor and would inherit the throne when Stephen died.
1154 (25th October)
Stephen died and Matilda’s son Henry, became King Henry II of England. He was crowned on the same day.
1154 (after 25th October)
After her son had been crowned King of England, Matilda remained in Normandy handling the family estates there.
1167 (10th September)
Matilda died in Normandy.
First published 2015; Updated and re-published May 10 @ 11:35 – Updated – [last-modified]