15th-century depiction of the Empress Matilda
Matilda was the second daughter of King Henry I of England, was born in 1102 and died in 1167, better known as the "Empress Maude" and who led one of the factions of the English civil war known as "The Anarchy".
The Anarchy, political map of Wales and southern England in 1140; red = areas under Stephen's control; blue= Matilda blue, and gray = Indigenous Welsh
Between 1135 and 1153 there was a war in England and Normandy which was characterized by the breakdown of law and order by the end of the reign of Henry I. The cause was that the only legitimate son of the King died aboard the boat "White Ship" in 1120. King Henry tried to install his daughter Matilda as successor to the throne.
A 14th-century depiction of the White Ship sinking of 1120
With the death of King Henry in 1135, his nephew Stephen of Blois with the help of his brother Henry of Winchister took the English power. The English barons, the rebellious Welsh and Scottish invaders caused a war in the South of England.
Matilda fought to be supported by her half brother Robert of Gloucester, and her uncle David I of Scotland who joined her.
|Northern France around the time of Henry's death; red circles mark major urban centers.|
Matilda's forces captured Stephen in the Battle of Lincoln in 1141. The intentions of crowning as Empress Matilda in Westminster collapsed because of opposition from London town. So she never was crowned as such, but went down in history as “the Lady of the English”.