Matilda: Empress. Queen. Warrior. By Catherine Hanley
This was an ignominious biography of Matilda, who should have been the first Queen Of England. This is a dull tale of grasping wholly unpleasant people. The pointlessness of it all: this book and the war Matilda fought for the crown she'd never wear but her son Henry II would. This book is an irrelevance.
Years of grevious disorder were caused when Henry I left his crown to his daughter and her cousin Stephen stole it for himself in an ill thought out exploit which led to more ill thought out exploits. Matilda was the only surviving child of Henry I and was the heir to the English crown. Which meant nothing when Stephen stole it. This kicked off years of war and strife.
This was dull. John Marshal and his more famous young son William Marshal feature. People openly objected to Matilda claiming the crown and she was despised and vilified. Eventually she had to relinquish her claim in favour of her son Henry II. People who robustly opposed Matilda welcomed Henry II with deference and lavished praise on him.
Matilda who was so vehemently objected to, had patiently ruthless will, absolute confidence and icy watchfulness. This led to a grim reckoning with Stephen. This is a boring tale of a ruinously dysfuncitonal country made worse by a chaotic argument and a festering swamp of hatred. This was not solidly effective, it was mundanity, written in gratingly obnoxious fashion.
“His abscence would be permanent,”
“The highest honour that could possibly be bestowed upon a western European Christian-”
“Long grieved at my success.”
“Born to misfortune.”
“The consequent loss of any remaining hope.”
“The crown of England had been for the taking each time the incumbent died.”
“Her husband, whom she probably did not miss much.”
“Earned endless glory.”
“Trusted treacherous advice.”
“Fortune's wheel had turned.”
“The man who had publicly sworn allegiance to her and then reneged on his word to have himself crowned.”
“Did not care about the child, since he had the anvil and hammers to produce even finer ones.”
“Something to which she could never aspire.”
“Sumit to the exigency of the time.”
“Gained for it nothing but odium.”
“Gloried in being so called.”
“To no purpose.”
“The offspring of hell and root of all evil.”
“Supreme in savagery.”
“Every kind of wickedness.”
“Rivals of the same crown.”
“The oaths sworn in front of a king in favour of his designated heir could later be disavowed.”
“Would serve not only Henry II but also three of his sons and eventually even his grandson, the future Henry III.”
“Brought up in expectation of the crown,”
“The church had refused to crown him.”
“Little he could do in practice other than to express his frustration by violence – and this he did.”
“Something of a nonentity.”