Matilda of Boulogne

Drawing of Matilda of Boulogne from Agnes Strickland’s Queens of England (nineteenth century). Image Credit: WikiCommons.

By Catherine Capel

Matilda of Boulogne was the only child of Eustace III, Count of Boulogne, and Mary of Scotland and could trace her lineage through her mother back to Alfred the Great, her seven-time great-grandfather. She was countess in her own right after her father abdicated and retired to a monastery in 1125, the same year that she married Stephen of Blois, Count of Mortain.

Together they governed the county of Boulogne and had five children: Eustace IV, Count of Boulogne, Baldwin of Boulogne, William of Blois, Matilda of Boulogne and Marie, Countess of Boulogne. In 1135, Stephen usurped the throne of England from his cousin the Empress Matilda and in 1136 Matilda of Boulogne travelled to England to be crowned.

Her time as a queen consort was dominated by the Anglo-Angevin civil war, which raged from 1139 until 1154. During this conflict, Matilda acted as a governor, administrator and military leader to help Stephen maintain his position on the throne. She also built and served as a patron of Faverhsam Abbey in Kent, where she was buried after her death in 1152. Her eldest son Eustace would be buried alongside her in 1153 and her husband in 1154.       

Recommended Reading

Patricia A. Dark, “”A Woman of Subtlety and A Man’s Resolution”: Matilda of Boulogne in the Power Struggles of the Anarchy,” in Aspects of Power and Authority in the Middle Ages, eds., Brenda Bolton and Christine Meek, 147-164 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), 147-164.

Lisa Hilton, Queens Consort, England’s Medieval Queens (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2009).

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