Matilda of Boulogne: Norman England’s warrior queen

The achievements of Matilda of Boulogne, wife of King Stephen, are often overlooked in favour of her enemy, Empress Maud. Alison Weir examines the woman who raised an army in the 1140s to defend the English throne...

Illustration of Queen Matilda of Boulogne, by Eleanor Shakespeare

In the spring of 1141, as England suffered in the midst of a bitter civil war, Queen Matilda of Boulogne was in Kent, busily raising an army. Galvanised by the news that her husband, King Stephen, had been imprisoned by his vengeful rival and cousin, the Empress Maud (also known as Empress Matilda), the queen was utterly determined to march on London and ensure that the empress would never wear the crown she so fiercely coveted.

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