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Matilda "The Empress" Princess Of England
Name Suffix: Empress
Ancestral File Number: 9FM0-NL
Seal to Parents: 19 MAY 1954 SLAKE - Salt Lake City, UT
MATILDA (1102-1167), empress, wasthe daughter of Henry I of England by his first marriage. She was betrothed in1109 and married in 1114 to the German emperor Henry V. When her husband died (1125) leaving her childless, her father, whose only surviving legitimate childshe then was, persuaded his reluctant barons to accept her, on oath, as his successor (Jan. 1, 1127). The novel prospect of a female ruler was itself unwelcome; Matilda's 17-year absence in Germany (where she was not unpopular) and her apparent arrogrance estranged her from her father's subjects. Difficulties alsomight result from her remarriage to provide for the succession. Her marriage in 1128 to Geoffrey Plantagenet, heir to Anjou and Maine (designed by Henry I, like her first marriage, for political ends), whose father, CountFulk, departed immediately after the ceremony to become the consort of Melisende of Jerusalem,flouted the barons' stipulation that she should not marry outside England without their consent, and was unpopular in Normandy and England. On Henry I's death, his nephew Stephen by prompt action secured England and was recognized by Pope Innocent II. Matilda and Geoffrey, however, made some headway in Normandy. Matilda's subsequent challenge to Stephen's position in England mainly depended on the support of her half-brother Earl Robert of Gloucester. After the defeat and capture of Stephen at Lincoln (Feb. 1141), Matilda was elected "lady of theEnglish" and would have been queen could she have proceeded to coronation, butactive support for her cause still came mainly from the western counties. Her chance of consolidating her precarious victory was swiftly destroyed by a reaction initated by her tactless handling of London. After her defeat at Winchesterin Sept. 1141, her supporters, slowly reduced by death and defection, maintained a stubborn defense until Earl Robert died (1147) and Matilda retired (1148) to Normandy, of which her husband had gained possession. She continued to interest herself in the government of the territories of her eldest son, the future Henry II of England. Her career was not entirely unsuccessful: all the subsequent monarchs of England have been her descendants, not Stephen's. She died in Normandy on Sept. 10, 1167.
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