King Stephen and Queen Matilda
– An Annotated Bibliography
by Teresa Eckford
Appleby, John T.. The Troubled Reign of King Stephen. London. G. Bell and Sons, Ltd.. 1969
Basic introduction to the reign of King Stephen. Talks about Matilda’s death and her effect on Stephen on page 191 and 199.
As above. Talks about Matilda’s death and its effects on Stephen on page 64, and assesses her more generally on page 205.
Cook, Petronelle. Queen Consorts of England: The Power Behind the Throne. New York. Facts on File, Inc.. 1993
Her assessment of Matilda is overly romanticized and not completely accurate (the date of her death is incorrect.) This book contains many inaccuracies and should not be used as an academic source.
Davis, R.H.C.. King Stephen: 1135-1154. New York. Longman Inc.. 1990 (Third Edition)
Authoritative biography of King Stephen. Davis deals more with the polics etc., but does mention Matilda’s role in peacemaking (pp. 45-46) and when referring to her death he does so in a manner indicating Stephen was deeply affected by it (p. 114)
Giles, J.A. (Ed. & Transl.). William of Malmsbury’s Chronicle of the Kings of England. London. Henry G. Bohn. 1847
Chroncile from the period in translation. Though Malmsbury’s Chronicles ends with his death in 1142, he is a good source for the White Ship disaster (pp. 454-57), assesses Stelphen’s character (p. 491) and is admiring of Matilda’s behaviour in 1141 (pp. 521, 523, 528)
Given-Wilson Chris and Curteis, Alice. The Royal Bastards of Medieval England. London. Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1984
This book is not annotated, which makes it not wholly reliable as an academic source. However, Matilda’s role in Stephen’s life is covered (p.94) along with her actions in 1141 (pp. 85-88)
Green, Judith A.. The Aristocracy of Norman England. New York. Cambridge University Press. 1997
Her book is useful more for the period leading up to the Anarchy, but she does mention Matilda’s background as daughter of the Count of Boulogne (pp. 285-286), some aspects of her political role both before (p. 308) and during the Anarchy (pp. 262-263) and the religious house Stephen and Matilda founded at Lillechurch (p.386) along with their patronage of the Templars (p. 411).
Fraser, Antonia. The Warrior Queens. Markham. Penguin Books. 1990
Discusses the comparisons drawn between Maud and Matilda (pp.158-163), mentions Stephen’s renowned good looks, though does not annotate it, so is not absolutely reliable (p. 158) and Matilda’s role as representative of the ancient Royal line (p. 156)
Potter, K.R..(Transl.). Gesta Stephani: The Deeds of Stephen. Toronto. Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.. 1955
Translation of another contemporary chronicle, covers the period of Stephen’s reign. He does not mention much about the relationship between Stephen and Matilda, though she is described in glowing terms when he writes about the events of 1141. (pp. 81, 83, 85)
Stubbs, William. The Early Plantagenets. New York. Longmans, Green and Co.. 1909
Though a much older work, he does mention Matilda’s role in the year 1141 (pp. 23-24) and the death of Stephen’s “noble-hearted wife in 1152” (p. 30)
Williamson, David. Debrett’s Kings and Queens of Britain. London, Webb & Bower Publishers Ltd. 1986
Williamson thinks much of Matilda and little of Stephen, noting that the latter was akin to a broken reed after her death (p. 51)
All of the above books deal quite well and fully with most aspects of Stephen’s life. Davis’s book, being the most recent, should be consulted in conjunction with the others, but it is highly readable and well annotated. The various authors seem to differ on whether or not Matilda’s death made Stephen more resigned to peace with Henry or spurred him into action. Either way, she obviously had an impact on his life.
Little has been written about Matilda herself. A brief bio appears in Green’s Lives of the Princesses of England, however it’s an old work (1830s) and very out of date. Next year John Carmi Parsons will publish a collection of essays entitled Eleanor of Aquitaine: Lord and Lady from St Martin’s Press, This collection will include an article by Heather Tanner of the University of Oregon about Matilda, so you might want to keep an eye out for it in 2001.
Those of you who read historical romance might find Roberta Gellis’s portrayal of her in Bond of Blood both interesting and revealing. Most historical fiction, however, seems to concentrate on the relationship between Stephen and Maud – Jean Plaidy (The Passionate Enemies), Ellen Jones (The Fatal Crown) and Haley Elizabeth Garwood (The Forgotten Queen). All three authors present Stephen and Maud as star-crossed lovers, though none of the contemporary evidence supports such a theory. Garwood apparently even goes as far as to make Matilda a villainess which is unusual as all evidence points to her being a devoted wife. Sharon Kay Penman’s novel, When Christ and His Saints Slept covers the entire period in a compelling manner and does not perpetuate the Stephen/Maud as lovers myth.
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