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In the last section of this series I wrote of the battle for the throne between the three surviving sons of William the Conqueror. While that royal melee between the brothers really cannot be called a sucession crisis, the battle for an hier to the throne after the death of Henry I can be considered a crisis. It was a crisis that lasted almost 20 years.

Henry I had three children by his first wife Matilda of Scotland, daughter of Malcolm III, King of Scots. The two eldest surviving children were William Adelin and Matilda. William was married Matilda of Anjou in 1119 when he was 16 and Matilda was only 8. Needless to say that when William drowned in the English channel the next year when his ship, The White Ship, sank, there were no children from the union. Henry I did remarry the next year. His new bride was Adeliza of Louvain, who was 18 while Henry was 53. No children were born of this union.

The other legitimate child of Henry to survive was Matilda who had married Holy Roman Emperor Hienrich V. That union gave Matilda the title of Empress and it is as Empress Matilda she is most known by. There were no children of this union and the Emperor died in 1125. Matilda remarried in 1128, Geoffery, Count of Anjou (who had the nickname Plantaganet) a prince which the powerful barons did not trust. This union provided Matilda with three healthy sons, Henry, Geoffery & William.  

Henry I desired that his daughter would succeed him and had the Barons of the relm swear and oath to that aim. When Henry died on December 1, 1135 Matilda was in Normandy pregnant with her third child and her cousin, Stephen of Blois usurped the throne from her. Stephen had support from the Barons and was swiftly crowned King of England. Although Stephen held the crown Matilda did not just sit quietly. For almost the entierty of the reign of king Stephen there was civil war, which some historians call “the Anarchy,” which was settled shortly before his death in 1154. The agreement between the two factions was that Matiilda’s eldest son, Henry Fitzempress, would succeed as King of England upon the death of King Stephen.

When Stephen died on October 25, 1154, Matilda’s son became King Henry II of England. Matilda retired to Normandy and held court when her son was abscent from Normandy. She died in 1167 and was clearly the legal successor to her father. Since she was the legal heir and given the fact the she briefly held London when Stephen was captured and imprisoned, many consider her the first true Queen Regnant of England.