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Matilda Countess of Flanders Queen of England
Female 1031 - 1083

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  • Birth  1031  Flandres Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender  Female 
    Died  02 Nov 1083  Caen, Normandie Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID  I18455  Ellis-Pagoria Family Tree
    Last Modified  23 Dec 2012 
    Father  Baudouin V Count of Flanders,   b. 1012, Flandres Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 01 Sep 1067, Lille, Duchy of Lower Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother  Adaele (Alix) Princess of France,   b. 1003, France Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 08 Jan 1079, Monastaere de L'ordre de St. Benoist, Messines, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  1028  Paris, Seine, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID  F7154  Group Sheet
    Family  Guillaume I "le Conquberant" de Normandie,   b. 14 Oct 1024,   d. 10 Sep 1087, Hermenbraville, Rouen, Normandie Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  1050  Castle of Angi, Normandy, France Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Henry I "Beauclerc" King of England,   b. 1068, Selby, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 01 Dec 1135, St. Denis, Seine-St. Denis, France Find all individuals with events at this location
     2. Gundred Princess of England,   b. 1063, Normandy, France Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 May 1085, Castle Acre, Acre, Norfolk, England Find all individuals with events at this location
     3. Adaele (Alice) Princess of England,   b. 1062, Normandie Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 08 Mar 1135, Marsilly, Aquitaine Find all individuals with events at this location
    Family ID  F7153  Group Sheet
  • Notes 
    • Audrey Maxine Ellis' 24th Great Grandmother

      Matilda of Flanders (French: Mathilde de Flandre; Dutch: Mathilda van Vlaanderen) (c. 1031 - 2 November 1083) was the wife of William the Conqueror and, as such, Queen consort of the Kingdom of England. She bore William nine children, including two kings, William II and Henry I.


      Matilda, or Maud, was the daughter of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders and Adèle of France, herself daughter of Robert II of France. According to legend, when Duke William II of Normandy (later known as William the Conqueror) sent his representative to ask for Matilda's hand in marriage, she told the representative that she was far too high-born to consider marrying a bastard. After hearing this response, William rode from Normandy to Bruges, found Matilda on her way to church, dragged her off her horse by her long braids, threw her down in the street in front of her flabbergasted attendants, and rode off. Another version of the story states that William rode to Matilda's father's house in Lille, threw her to the ground in her room (again, by the braids), and hit her (or violently battered her) before leaving. Naturally, Baldwin took offense at this but, before they could draw swords, Matilda settled the matter[1] by refusing to marry anyone but William[2]; even a papal ban by Pope Leo IX at the Council of Reims on the grounds of consanguinity did not dissuade her. William and Matilda were married after a two year delay in 1051. A papal sanction was finally awarded in 1059 by Pope Nicholas II. [3]

      There were rumors that Matilda had been in love with the English ambassador to Flanders, a Saxon named Brihtric, who declined her advances. Whatever the truth of the matter, years later when she was acting as Regent for William in England, she used her authority to confiscate Brihtric's lands and throw him into prison, where he died.

      Duchess of Normandy

      When William was preparing to invade England, Matilda outfitted a ship, the Mora, out of her own money and gave it to him. This indicated that she must have owned rich lands in Normandy to be able to do so. Additionally, William entrusted Normandy to his wife during his absence. Matilda successfully guided the duchy through this period in the name of her fourteen year old son; no major uprisings or unrest occurred.[4]

      Even after William conquered England and became its king, it took her more than a year to visit her new kingdom.[5] Even after she had been crowned queen, she would spend most of her time in Normandy, governing the duchy, supporting brother's interests in Flanders, and sponsoring ecclesiastic houses there. She only had one of her children in England; Henry was born in Yorkshire when Matilda accompanied her husband in the Harrying of the North.[6]


      Matilda was crowned queen on May 11, 1068 in Westminster during the feast of Pentecost, in a ceremony presided over by the archbishop of York. Three new phrases were incorporated to cement the importance of English consorts, stating that the Queen was divinely placed by God, shares in royal power, and blesses her people by her power and virtue.[7] [8]

      For many years it was thought that she had some involvement in the creation of the Bayeux Tapestry (commonly called La Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde in French), but historians no longer believe that; it seems to have been commissioned by William's half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, and made by English artists in Kent.[citation needed].

      Matilda bore William nine or ten children. William was believed to have been faithful to her and never produced a child outside of their marriage. Despite her royal duties, Matilda was deeply invested in her children's well-being. All were known for being remarkably educated. Her daughters were educated and taught to read Latin at Sainte-Trinité in Caen founded by Matilda and William in response to the recognition of their marriage. [9] For her sons, she secured Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury of whom she was an ardent supporter. Both she and William approved of the Archbishop's desire to revitalize the Church. [10]

      She stood as godmother for Matilda of Scotland, who would become Queen of England after marrying Matilda's son Henry I. During the christening, the baby pulled Queen Matilda's headdress down on top of herself, which was seen as an omen that the younger Matilda would be queen some day as well.[11]

      Matilda fell ill during the summer of 1083 and passed away in November 1083. Her husband was present for her final confession.[12] Without her presence, a distraught William became increasingly tyrannical until his death four years later in 1087.

      Contrary to the belief that she was buried at St. Stephen's, also called l'Abbaye-aux-Hommes in Caen, Normandy, where William was eventually buried, she is entombed at l'Abbaye aux Dames, which is the Sainte-Trinité church, also in Caen. Of particular interest is the 11th century slab, a sleek black stone decorated with her epitaph, marking her grave at the rear of the church. It is of special note since the grave marker for William was replaced as recently as the beginning of the 19th century.


      Reputed to be 4'2" (127 cm) tall, Matilda was England's smallest queen, according to the Guinness Book of Records. However, in 1819 and 1959 Matilda's incomplete skeleton was examined in France, and her bones were measured to determine her height. The 1819 estimate was under five feet, while the 1959 estimate was 5' (152 cm) tall. A reputed height of 4' 2" (127 cm) appeared at some point after 1959 in the non-scientific literature, misrepresenting the 1959 measurement.[13]

      Family and children

      Matilda and William had at least nine children.[14] The birth order of the boys is clear, but no source gives the relative order of birth of the daughters.[15]
      1.Robert Born between 1051-1054, died 10 February 1134.[14] Duke of Normandy, married Sybil of Conversano, daughter of Geoffrey of Conversano.[16]
      2.Richard Born c.1054, died around 1075.[14]
      3.William Born between 1056 and 1060, died 2 August 1100.[14] King of England, killed in the New Forest.
      4.Henry Born late 1068, died 1 December 1135.[14] King of England, married Edith of Scotland, daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland. His second wife was Adeliza of Louvain.[17]
      5.Adeliza (or Adelida,[18] Adelaide[17]) Died before 1113, reportedly betrothed to Harold II of England, probably a nun of St Léger at Préaux.[18]
      6.Cecilia (or Cecily) Born c.1056, died 1127. Abbess of Holy Trinity, Caen.[14]
      7.Matilda[18][15] Born around 1061, died perhaps about 1086.[17] Mentioned in Domesday Book as a daughter of William.[14]
      8.Constance died 1090, married Alan IV Fergent, Duke of Brittany.[14]
      9.Adela died 1137, married Stephen, Count of Blois.[14]

      Another daughter, Agatha, who was reportedly betrothed to Alfonso VI of Castile, is often ascribed to William and Matilda, but her existence is doubtful,[18] and may be a simple confusion with Adeliza.[14] There is no evidence of any illegitimate children born to William.[19]

      Matilda was a seventh generation direct descendent of Alfred the Great and was a descendant of Charlemagne through her maternal grandfather, Robert II of France.[20]


      1.^ Hilliam, Paul (2005). William the Conqueror: First Norman King of England. New York City, New York: Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 20. ISBN 1-4042-0166-1.
      2.^ Hilton, Lisa (2010). Queen Consort. New York City, New York: Pegasus Books LLC. pp. 17. ISBN 978-1-60598-105-5.
      3.^ Hilton, Lisa (2010). p. 18.
      4.^ Hilton, Lisa (2010). p. 31-32.
      5.^ Honeycutt, Lois (2003). Matilda of Scotland: a Study in Medieval Queenship. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press. p. 50.
      6.^ Hilton, Lisa (2010). p. 35.
      7.^ Hilton, Lisa (2010). p. 33.
      8.^ Honeycutt, Lois (2003). p. 51.
      9.^ Hilton, Lisa (2010). p. 29.
      10.^ Hilton, Lisa (2010). p. 37.
      11.^ Honeycutt, Lois (2003). p. 10.
      12.^ Hilton, Lisa (2010). p. 39.
      13.^ Dewhurst, John (1981). "A historical obstetric enigma: how tall was Matilda?". Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 1 (4): 271-272. doi:10.3109/01443618109067396.
      14.^ a b c d e f g h i j Douglas, David C. (1964). William the Conqueror: The Norman Impact Upon England. Berkeley: University of California Press.
      15.^ a b Bates "William I (known as William the Conqueror)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
      16.^ Thompson "Robert, duke of Normandy (b. in or after 1050, d. 1134)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
      17.^ a b c Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 35. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
      18.^ a b c d van Houts, Elisabeth, Adelida (Adeliza) (d. before 1113)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
      19.^ Given-Wilson, Chris; Curteis, Alice (1995). "Geoffrey 'Plantagenet'". The Royal Bastards of Medieval England. New York: Barnes & Noble. p. 59. ISBN 1-56619-962-X.
      20.^ Hilton, Lisa (2010). p. 17.

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