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The Empress Matilda: Queen Consort, Queen Mother and Lady of the English [Hardcover]

Marjorie Chibnall
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

26 Sep 1991
This is a biography of the Empress Matilda. Granddaughter of William the Conqueror and of King Malcolm of the Scots, and daughter of Henry I, Matilda fought for the throne of England, arguably hers by right, for nine years, and was denied it largely because she was a woman. Contemporary chroniclers said of her that she was "always superior to feminine softness and with a mind steeled and unbroken in adversity". In valour and determination Matilda may be compared with Boudicca, or with Elizabeth I, yet most of the serious work on her action-packed life and historical importance lies in untranslated German studies of the last century. In this book Marjorie Chibnall examines her career as a whole, as King Henry's daughter, as the wife and consort of Emperor Henry V, as Countess of Anjou after the Emperor's death, and as regent for her son, Henry II. In the final chapter the author examines the various ways in which Matilda has been judged by historians through the ages, and offers an assessment of the character and achievements of the woman who was described in her epitaph as "great by birth, greater by marriage and greatest in her offspring". This biography, pieced together from archival sources all over Europe, should be of value and interest both to scholars and the general reader.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (26 Sep 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631157379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631157373
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,225,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"The first serious study of the career of the Empress Matilda ... Dr Chibnall′s aim, ably achieved, has been to reconstruct the outline of Matilda′s life, place her in the society and politics of the age, and form an assessment of her character." Times Literary Supplement "A formidable book about a formidable woman ... based on an extremely thorough understanding of the sources and casts a broad beam of light on the twelfth century." Journal of Ecclesiastical History "Very satisfying ... written with lucidity and force ... a very valuable addition to the corpus of core texts for any student of Norman and Angevin England." History "The intention of this book, is to examine Matilda′s role in Anglo–Norman history and, as a female heir to the throne, in the history of feudal society. Marjorie Chibnall not only achieves this aim but surpasses it. This is a full biography of a twelfth–century woman who was in the center of power throughout her life and who served in both traditional and nontraditional female roles. It furthers our understanding of the person and of the political history of the Anglo–Norman kingdom. It also is a beautifully written book, one accessible to both scholar and student." Speculum "This is a biography that is both scholarly and readable." English Historical Review --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Granddaughter of William the Conqueror and of King Malcolm of the Scots, and daughter of Henry I, Matilda fought for the throne of England, arguably hers by right, for nine years, and was denied it largely because she was a woman. Contemporary chroniclers said of her that she was "always superior to feminine softness and with a mind steeled and unbroken in adversity". Most of the serious work on her extraordinary, action–packed life and historical importance lies in untranslated German studies of the last century. In this book Marjorie Chibnall examines her career as a whole, as King Henry′s daughter, as the wife and consort of Emperor Henry V, as Countess of Anjou after the emperor′s death, and as regent for her son, Henry II. An outstanding biography, pieced together from archival sources all over Europe, it is of value and interest both to scholars and the general reader. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By Amelrode TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Matilda was the daughter and heiress of King Henry I, wife of the Holy Roman Emperor and later of the Count of Anjou, mother of Henry II, the first Plantagenet King of England and she was Lady of the English and should have been Queen. She did not succeed herself but ultimately won as she put her son on the throne. She could have been a power behind her son's throne however she was outshone by the most brilliant and extraordinary woman of her time: Eleanor of Aquitaine, a most powerful duchess in her own rights, former Queen Consort of France and now Queen of England.

Yes, there was quite of injustice with regards to female rulers at the time and the prejudices against woman in power (not that our time this in an unknown phenomenon!) played against her. But one can not help it to feel that she may be had more pretensions than actual talent. There is something haughty and unlike able about her.

But judge for yourself. This book is an excellent and a great read. I enjoyed it very much
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is superb -- political history at its best 28 Sep 2001
By Lois Huneycutt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
You can't find a better study on the topic, and the author is mistress of the sources like few other living historians. The only thing left to do is to look more at the gender issues raised by the whole issue, but this book is so good and thorough there is absolutely no use criticizing it for what it is not intended to be!
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book 18 May 2000
By "kotinca" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a great book about a wonderful woman, who got lost in the shuffel. As there isn't very much written about Matilda, the first almost English Queen in her own right, the author deserves applause for their ability to put together such a checkered past. The thrown was stolen out from under her by her cousin Stephen, and they began the civil war that English people discribed as the time when "Christ and his saints slept." Speaking of which, if you like this book, you'll love "When Christ and His Saints Slept" by Penman.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Empress Matilda 29 April 2000
By Kathy Welder - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found this book fasinating. The beginning is a bit jumbled, hard to follow, but soon it launches the reader into the world of Empress Matilda. The author has done an excellent job of bringing the empress, her father and sons back to life for me espcially, she and son Henry are my ancestors. What better way to get to know them!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly and impressive 25 Mar 2013
By Paula Frosch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the sigle best book about the period that has been written to date. Historically accurate and the result of meticulous research, the book offers a look at many facets of this remarkable woman. Chibnall manages to give a wide view of the world in which Matilda lived and offers what appears to be an unbiased view of who this remarkable woman really was.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well rounded biography 17 July 2012
By Matthew Ries - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I had heard of The Anarchy before reading this book, and I knew the cliffnotes version of the battle between Stephen and Matilda for the English Crown. However it wasn't until I read The Empress Matilda that I got a fuller view of the conflict and the woman who was central to the conflict.

Marjorie Chibnall used impressive research to write an easy to read biography of the mother of the Plantagenet dynasty, who for a time was also the crowned Empress(-consort) of the Holy Roman Empire. Chibnall's attempted to give the reader a full view of Matilda and her actions, though soon speculation is offered due to the lack of sources surrounding a particular event Chibnall does does offer evidence based on previously presented sources.

Overall this is an good biography and I recommend it.
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