Where history happened: Stephen and Matilda

This little-known power struggle between competing claimants to the throne had consequences that reverberated through history. We visit eight places associated with the dispute...

Arundel castle at dawn

This article first appeared in the February 2010 issue of BBC History Magazine

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recalls the 19-year reign of King Stephen as an era “when Christ and his saints were asleep”. Later authors referred to it as “the anarchy”. Nowadays historians prefer to describe it as a civil war or a war of succession. Undoubtedly it was a time where the throne was hotly contested, with several different candidates asserting their claims to be the ruler of England.

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