Key Stage 3 History: 7: Queen Matilda?

In Blog 7 in the Key Stage 3 History series we look at the struggle for the throne after the death of Henry I in 1135.

Queen Matilda?

It’s been a long time since the Domesday Book and I’m very old now. But not so old that I can’t get the gossip. My poor old bones might not let me go out far, but I still hear about the goings on in this country. And yet again, we have a crisis. What is it with these nobles? Can’t they sort anything out without dragging everyone else into their silly disagreements?

This time the King that died and left this mess was Henry I. His only son, William, was drowned when his ship sank in the Channel. The uproar that caused! There’s even talk that it wasn’t an accident…
Anyway, Henry I also had a daughter, Matilda. He named her as his heir to the throne and when he went and died in 1135, she said she was Queen. Problem was, she was still in France where she was living. She headed straight back, but in the meantime, her cousin, Stephen, crowned himself King!
So once again, we get dragged into it. Matilda fought Stephen for the throne. He was captured and it looked like she’d won for a while, but then he escaped and the fighting started again. Eventually, Matilda couldn’t afford to fight any more, but she only gave in after she’d made Stephen promise to make her son King after he died. So when Stephen eventually dies, we will have another Henry as King, Henry II.

So Stephen won. But as far as I can tell, it was a hollow victory. I don’t get out much, my poor old bones can’t get me that far. (Have I told you that already? Honestly, I can barely remember my own name these days, I’m so old!) But I still hear things. Stephen is a brute. He is so violent. If anyone stands in his way, they ‘disappear’. And he doesn’t seem to have any control over anything.

So there you go. Another battle for the throne, more bloodshed and still they argue. If we commoners started fighting like the nobles, we’d be chucked off our land. Double standards, that’s what it is. I feel sorry for my sons and their children. Who knows what the future holds for them?

Penny Brooks


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