Matilda of Flanders was Queen of England and Duchess of Normandy by marriage to William the Conqueror. She was the mother of ten children who survived to adulthood, including two kings, William II and Henry I, 11th in the Plowden-Wardlaw timeline from Charlemagne.
In 1031, Matilda was born into the House of Flanders. the second daughter of Count Baldwin V of Flanders and Adela of France, daughter of Robert II of France.
Her descent from the Anglo-Saxon royal House of Wessex was also to become a useful card. Like many royal marriages of the period, it breached the rules of consanguinity, then at their most restrictive (to seven generations or degrees of relatedness); Matilda and William were third-cousins, once removed. She was about 20 when they married in 1053; William was some four years older, and had been Duke of Normandy since he was about eight (in 1035).
Matilda governed the Duchy of Normandy in William´s absence during his conquest of England, joining him in England only after more than a year, and subsequently returning to Normandy, where she spent most of the remainder of her life, while William was mostly in his new kingdom. She was about 52 when she died in Normandy in 1083.
Apart from governing Normandy and supporting her brother's interests in Flanders, Matilda took a close interest in the education of her children, who were unusually well educated for contemporary royalty. The boys were tutored by the Italian Lanfranc, who was made Archbishop of Canterbury in 1070, while the girls learned Latin in Sainte-Trinité Abbey in Caen, founded by William and Matilda as part of the papal dispensation allowing their marriage.
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Matilda was crowned queen on 11 May 1068 in Westminster during the feast of Pentecost, in a ceremony presided over by the archbishop of York.
Matilda and William had nine or ten children together. He was believed to have been faithful to her and never produced a child outside their marriage.
She stood as godmother for Matilda of Scotland, who would become Queen of England after marrying Matilda's son Henry I.
Matilda fell ill during the summer of 1083 and died on 2 November 1083. Her husband was present for her final confession. William swore to give up hunting, his favorite sport, to express his grief after the death of his wife. He himself died four years later in 1087.
Contrary to the common belief that she was buried at St. Stephen's, also called l'Abbaye-aux-Hommes in Caen, Normandy, where William was eventually buried, she is entombed in Caen at l'Abbaye aux Dames, which is the community of Sainte-Trinité. Of particular interest is the 11th-century slab, a sleek black ledger stone decorated with her epitaph, marking her grave at the rear of the church.
Matilda and William had four sons and at least five daughters. The birth order of the boys is clear, but no source gives the relative order of birth of the daughters.
1. Robert (c.1053 – 10 February 1134), Duke of Normandy, married Sybil of Conversano, daughter of Geoffrey of Conversano.
2. Richard, (c.1055 – c.1069-74)
3. Adeliza (or Adelida, Adelaide), (c.1057, – c.1073), reportedly betrothed to Harold II of England, probably a nun of St Léger at Préaux.
4. Cecilia (or Cecily), (c.1058 – 1127). Abbess of Holy Trinity, Caen.
5. William Rufus, (c.1060 – 2 August 1100), King of England, killed in the New Forest.
6. Matilda (c.1061 – c.1086) possibly died much later (according to Trevor Foulds's suggestion that she was identical to Matilda d'Aincourt).
7. Constance (c.1062 – 1090), married Alan IV Fergent, Duke of Brittany.
8. Adela, (c.1067 – 1137), married Stephen, Count of Blois. Mother of King Stephen of England.
9. Henry (late 1068 – 1 December 1135) King of England, married Edith of Scotland, daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland. His second wife was Adeliza of Louvain. Through Henry are the Plowden-Wardlaw family decendants of Charlemagne.
10. Agatha, betrothed to Harold II of England, Alfonso VI of Castile, and possibly Herbert I, Count of Maine, but died unmarried.
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