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The Empress Matilda
and her Civil War bid for the Throne

Empress Matilda -  Nash Ford Publishing


  • King Henry I often lived at Windsor Castle. It was here that he made the Barons of England swear that they would make his daughter, Matilda, Queen after he died. The country had never had a queen before. They were thought to be too weak.

  • Matilda had been born at Sutton Courtenay, near Abingdon. She was called the Empress because her dead husband had been the German Emperor. She had a very bad temper and wasn't very popular.

  • She pinched St. James' Hand from his shrine in Spain and gave it to Reading Abbey.

  • King Henry died in France in 1135. All the local churches wanted his body and there was a big argument. He was mummified and his brains, heart, eyes & tongue were pulled out and given to Rouen Cathedral!

  • However, as he had always wanted, King Henry was taken back to England and buried in Reading Abbey in a silver coffin.

  • The Barons went back on their promise. They made Henry's nephew, Stephen, the new King. Matilda started a civil war to try and take the throne by force.

  • She was helped by her half-brother, the Earl of Gloucester. All the Barons in the country chose sides.

  • Most of North Berkshire supported Matilda, especially her friends at Wallingford Castle. People quickly built other castles to try and protect themselves. Most of East Berkshire supported Stephen.

  • Matilda failed to become Queen, but her son signed a peace treaty with Stephen at Wallingford. He then inherited the throne when Stephen died.

Click to find out What happened Before


    Nash Ford Publishing 2004. All Rights Reserved.