Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Empress Matilda and the Time of Anarchy

Now, if there ever was a name for a kid that would result in multiple "KICK ME" signs in one day, this is it.
7 February 1102 – 10 September 1167
Matilda was Henry I's daughter, married to Geoffrey of Anjou, and Henry's choice as successor.  I guess that the idea of a woman on the throne was not to the liking of the testosterone saturated Barons, and Stephen was regarded as a better choice.   Matilda was also known as the Empress Maud, especially in Normandy. 
It may seem strange that we are talking about Anjou and Blois...or are some of you saying: " that somewhere near Bolton?"
Connections with France were still, at this time, pretty strong.  As you can see, Matilda died only 101 years after the conquest.  I suspect that the Anglo Saxon population did not favor French as a first language(though many French words are still in the language from this time)  and no Norman was going to associate himself in any way with those Saxon louts that were really only good for paying taxes.
It is rather funny that the Vikings....Normans.. assimilated almost completely into French culture when they were given Normandy and took more of northern France, but did not assimilate into English language and customs for centuries...Some might say that the aristocracy never did assimilate.
No, we were living in a French dominated...or rather a Norman French society, and the entire ruling class was intricately knit into family and real estate connections in France. 
The White Ship accident was a case of the king and retinue progressing to England from Normandy.  Richard the first...spending much time in the middle east, spent almost no time at all in England, and despite being a pretty poor ruler, is a real hero figure to many moderns who like to wax poetic about the English Royals.
Anyway...Who knew at this time that one of the greatest rulers the country would ever know, would be a woman.
The Angevin(Anjou's, Geoffrey and Henry) forces that would war against Stephen for much of his reign, held( more or less) a third of the country, mostly in the west, based in Bristol.
When the compromise was settled..Stephen's younger children being passed over after the death of his first son, and Matilda's son Henry taking the throne on his death; her presence in the country was very great for years.  She had plenty of time to mint coins.
Her coins are rare..exceedingly rare, but there are some out there.  Since she was never crowned, I think that you would be entirely justified in not including her in your collection if you are doing crowned kings and queens...This also knocks out King Louis I,(Yes, there was one.) Henry V, despite his actually being king for a time, Lady Jane Grey, and Edward, the idiot, VIII.  "What a Maroon" as Buggs Bunny would say.
This coin was not available at this post date.  I do not own one. 

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