Matilda of Boulogne

Matilda of Boulogne
Queen consort of England
Tenure 22 December 1135 – 7 April 1141
1 November 1141 – 3 May 1152
Coronation 22 March 1136
Countess of Boulogne
Tenure 1125 – 3 May 1152
Predecessor Eustace III
Successor Eustace IV
Born c. 1105
Boulogne, France
Died (1152-05-03)3 May 1152 (aged c. 46–47)
Hedingham Castle, Essex
Burial Faversham Abbey
Spouse Stephen, King of England
House Flanders
Father Eustace III, Count of Boulogne
Mother Mary of Scotland

Matilda I of Boulogne (c.1105 – 3 May 1152) was Queen of England as the wife of King Stephen, whom she supported in his struggle for the English throne against their cousin Empress Matilda. During this period, Matilda played an unusually active role for a woman of the period when her husband was captured, and proved herself an effective general who managed to force their cousin to release him. Under the agreement that settled the civil war, her children did not inherit the throne. She was also Countess of Boulogne in her own right from 1125 until her death, when she was succeeded by her son, Eustace IV.


She was born in Boulogne, France, the daughter of Eustace III, Count of Boulogne, and his wife Mary, daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland and Saint Margaret of Scotland. Through her maternal grandmother, Matilda was descended from the pre-Conquest English kings.

Countess of Boulogne

In 1125, Matilda married Stephen of Blois, Count of Mortain, who possessed a large honour in England. When Matilda's father abdicated and retired to a monastery the same year, this was joined with Boulogne and the similarly large English honour Matilda inherited.

On Eustace III's death, Matilda and her husband became joint rulers of Boulogne. Two children, a son and a daughter, were born to the countess and count of Boulogne during the reign of King Henry I, who had granted them a residence in London.[1] The son was named Baldwin, after Matilda's uncle, King Baldwin I of Jerusalem.[1] The daughter was named Matilda. Baldwin died in early childhood and the young Matilda is thought to have died during childhood too, although she lived long enough to be espoused to Waleran de Meulan, Earl of Worcester.[1]


On the death of Henry I of England in 1135, Stephen rushed to England, taking advantage of Boulogne's control of the closest seaports, and was crowned king, beating his rival, the Empress Matilda. Matilda of Boulogne was heavily pregnant at that time and crossed the Channel after giving birth to a son, Eustace, who would one day succeed her as count of Boulogne. Matilda was crowned queen at Easter, on 22 March 1136.[1]

Matilda was a supporter of the Knights Templar. She founded Cressing Temple in Essex in 1137 and Temple Cowley in Oxford in 1139.[2] Like her predecessor, Matilda of Scotland, she had a close relationship with the Holy Trinity Priory at Aldgate. She took the prior as her confessor and two of her children were buried there.[3]

In the civil war that followed, known as the Anarchy, Matilda proved to be her husband's strongest supporter. When England was invaded in 1138, she called troops from Boulogne and its ally Flanders, and besieged Dover Castle with success and then went north to Durham, where she made a treaty with David I of Scotland in 1139.[4]

After Stephen was captured at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141, she rallied the king's partisans, and raised an army with the help of William of Ypres. While the Empress Matilda waited in London to prepare her coronation, Matilda and Stephen's brother Henry of Blois had her chased out of the city. The Empress Matilda went on to besiege Henry of Blois at Winchester. Matilda of Boulogne then commanded her army to attack the besiegers. There was a rout in which the Empress's half-brother, Robert of Gloucester, was captured. The two Matildas then agreed to exchange prisoners and Stephen ruled as king again.[5]

Matilda died of a fever at Hedingham Castle, Essex, England, and is buried at Faversham Abbey, which she and her husband founded.[1]


Stephen and Matilda had three sons:

They also had two daughters:



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Agnes Strickland, Elisabeth Strickland: Lives of the Queens of England
  2. Hilton (2008). Queens Consort, England's Medieval Queens. p. 86.
  3. Duggan. p. 330. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. Hilton (2008). Queens Consort, England's Medieval Queens. pp. 89–90.
  5. Duggan. p. 3. Missing or empty |title= (help)


  • Norgate, Kate (1894). "Matilda of Boulogne". Dictionary of National Biography. 38. pp. 53–53. 
  • Marjorie Chibnall, ‘Matilda (c.1103–1152)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 .
  • Duggan, Anne (1997). Queens and Queenship in Medieval Europe: Proceedings of a Conference Held at King's College London, April 1995. The Boydell Press. 
  • Hilton, Lisa (2008). Queens Consort, England's Medieval Queens. Great Britain: Weidenfeld & Nichelson. ISBN 978-0-7538-2611-9. 
  • Matthew, Donald (2002). King Stephen. Carnegie Publishing. 
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Eustace III
Countess of Boulogne
1125 1151
with Stephen
Succeeded by
Eustace IV
English royalty
Preceded by
Adeliza of Louvain
Queen consort of the English
22 December 1135 3 May 1152
Title next held by
Eleanor of Aquitaine
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