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Matilda, Both A Queen And A Duchess

1703 words - 7 pages

Matilda of Flanders, the wife of William the Conqueror, was not only one of the most influential medieval Queens of England but the first woman to be crowned and titled Queen of England after the Norman Conquest. Matilda was of illustrious descent: her father, Baldwin V, was the Count of Flanders, and her mother Adela, was a daughter of the King of France. On one side or the other, Matilda was related to most of the royal families of Europe. She found the Abbaye-aux-Dames, paid to have the ship, the Mora, built, and most importantly, helped rule a powerful kingdom. She bore William eleven children including two kings, William II and Henry I. Any woman given the task to be a Queen knows they ...view middle of the document...

Supposedly, Matilda said, "His request pleases me well." When her father asked her how she consented to the marriage after her contemptuous refusal, she was said to reply with, "Because I did not know the Duke then so well as I do now; for he must be a man of great courage and high daring who could venture to come and beat me in my father's place." Matilda and William were married in 1053 at the Angi Castle in Normandy despite a papal ban on their marriage due to consanguinity, being closely related. Matilda was around the age of twenty-one and William approximately twenty-five. Soon after their marriage, the Pope showed his displeasure at this marriage and excommunicated them. William and Matilda fought the papal ban on their marriage for almost a decade. William indignantly appealed to the Pope, and finally relented but with conditions; they had to build two abbeys. William founded St. Stephen's Abbey for monks and Matilda founded the Abbaye-aux-Dames for nuns. Despite the rather violent nature of their meeting, William and Matilda went on to have a joyous marriage. William was very proud of his wife and made sure to take her with him on royal tours of his dominions, wanting to show her off to his subjects. Together they settled in Rouen, the capital city of Normandy. Matilda became quite popular with the people. She was admired for her ability to plan events like Easter and Christmas celebrations. The couple was devoted to each other and were known to have tempers. Matilda supported and sympathized with all his projects, whether those projects were social or political.
Meanwhile, Edward the Confessor, King of England, died without issue, and the throne was fiercely disputed by three claimants. William pressed his claim through descent to Emma, the mother of Edward. He also contended that Edward, when in exile in Normandy, had promised William the throne. But it was Harold who was crowned King of England, in accordance to Edward's last will. So William set out on the conquest of England. Matilda helped him in his preparations; convincing the barons to overcome the reluctance and follow William "beyond the sea". King Philip I of France saw William's idea of annexing England foolish and asked him who would be in charge of Normandy while he was running a kingdom. William confidently replied that he had Matilda and his subjects who were able to secure the duchy while he was away. Matilda returned this gesture of confidence by building and fitting out a ship, the Mora, to be added to William's navy. She did this with her own money. The Mora's gold figure-head was an effigy of their youngest son holding a trumpet with one hand and with the other a bow, with its arrow pointed towards England. William took this as his main vessel.
Before William left Normandy, he appointed Matilda as the regent of his dominions. Matilda proved to be a capable and wise regent while William was gone in the name of her thirteen year old son. No major uprisings or...

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