Thursday, November 18, 2010

Stephen and Matilda

Gareth Russell discusses a forgotten Queen of England.
In every way apart from their rather unsavoury seizure of the throne, Stephen and Matilda were the ideal medieval royal couple. Stephen was a brave warrior, handsome, physically fit and devoted to the rules of chivalry; Matilda, whilst not beautiful, was dignified, tactful, gracious and intelligent. Both of them were also faithful to their marriage vows – expected in a queen, but truly remarkable in a king. Prior to his marriage, Stephen had enjoyed a long-term relationship with an unmarried commoner in Normandy, which had resulted in the birth of an illegitimate son called Gervaise. After marrying Matilda, Stephen had immediately broken-off this affair, but he had honourably continued to maintain his former lover, meet her bills and help their son where and when appropriate. After marriage, there were no more mistresses. Stephen took the fidelity clause in his marriage vows very seriously, in stark contrast to his late uncle, who had fathered over two dozen illegitimate children with a string of mistresses during the course of his two marriages. 

Aside from being devoted to each other, Stephen and Matilda were also devoted to God. Both were the products of deeply pious upbringings – Stephen’s father had died on Crusade, his mother was active in founding religious houses and preparing reliquaries to house the relics of the saints; Matilda’s father had spent the last years of his life as a Cluniac monk and her mother had insisted that Matilda receive a convent education in England. A loving veneration for Christianity was thus something which Stephen and Matilda wove very much into their lives as a couple and as parents.


Theresa Bruno said...

I feel like I write this a lot, but I enjoy reading about happy marriages. I hope the impending royal marriage is this happy and full of fidelity and loyalty.

Goodness, I'm being all girlie this early in the morning. Here's to happy marriages, Stephen and Matilda and William and Kate.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, happy marriages are so often overlooked!

Leah Marie Brown said...

Bonjour Elena,

I have been on hiatus from my blog but I have tried to keep up with others, especially yours. I do so enjoy your posts.

I have started posting again - and I think you will love my most recent. Lots of great Marie Antoinette ideas for your Christmas Wish List. :)