Matilda of Flanders, was born in 1031 to parents Baldwin V the Count of Flanders and Adele of France, daughter of Robert II of France and Constance of Arles. Matilda’s mother Adele was a religious woman, later known as “Adele the Holy,” who oversaw her daughter’s education.
Matilda’s early years were spent in Lille, Northern France. She fell in love with Brihtric an English Ambassador to Flanders, but he rebuffed her advances. Some years later she acted as Regent for William I of England. She confiscated Brihtric’s lands, and had him thrown in prison, where he died. (A scorned woman got her revenge).
Duke William of Normandy sent his representatives to the Court of the Count of Flanders, asking for the hand of Matilda in marriage. His request was denied by Matilda, she would not marry the illegitimate son of “Robert the Devil.”
A furious William, rode to Bruges, pulled her from her horse as she was on her way to church and threw her to the ground. Another account states he entered her room at her father’s court, threw her to the floor and hit her. Where after Matilda is reported as saying: “No other man will marry me, but William.”
In 1049 Pope Leo IX condemned their proposed marriage as incestuous and the couple were excommunicated. Duke William of Normandy and Matilda of Flanders were married at Notre Dame in 1051/52. In 1059 William was reconciled with the papacy, and so it was William and Matilda founded two churches as penance for defiance of a papal ban.
The union of marriage between William and Matilda was successful, for they had ten children: Robert – Richard – Cecilia Adeliza – William II – Matilda – Constance – Adela – Adele and Henry I.
Of those who survived into adulthood:
Adele would become the mother of King Stephen of England, who reigned from 1135-1154.
Constance would marry Alan IV the Duke of Brittany.
William II would become King William II of England and reigned from 1087-1100.
Henry I would become King of England and reigned from 1100-1135.
Richard died in a hunting accident in the New Forest, where he was gored to death by a stag.
Agatha married Alfonso VI, King of Galicia – y – Leon, Spain.
Cecilia entered the church, and became Abbess of Holy Trinity.
In 1066, William launched an invasion on England, and Matilda commissioned “The Mora” a flagship for her husband’s crossing of the English Channel. Matilda remained in Normandy as Regent and William presented her with crown jewels upon his return. On the 11th May, Matilda was crowned Queen of England in 1068 at Westminster Abbey.
When illness struck down his beloved wife; Matilda, William rushed to Normandy to be at her side. In November 1083, Matilda died at Caen, and William her husband heard her final confession. She was buried in the Choir of the Holy Trinity “I’Abbaye aux Dames” in Caen, Normandy.
Her final bequests: She left money to the poor, and her royal Sceptre and Crown to Holy Trinity Abbey.