Matilda Empress, Queen, Warrior Catherine Hanley

Publication date:
11 Feb 2020
Yale University Press
296 pages: 197 x 127mm
21 b-w illus.
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A life of Matilda—empress, skilled military leader, and one of the greatest figures of the English Middle Ages

“[Matilda] will attract a growing audience interested in stories of women challenging the male-dominated European past.”—Alexandra Locking, Medieval Review

“A lively and authoritative account.”—Katherine Harvey, Times Literary Supplement

Matilda was a daughter, wife, and mother. But she was also empress, heir to the English crown—the first woman ever to hold the position—and an able military general.

This new biography explores Matilda’s achievements as military and political leader, and sets her life and career in full context. Catherine Hanley provides fresh insight into Matilda's campaign to claim the title of queen, her approach to allied kingdoms and rival rulers, and her role in the succession crisis. Hanley highlights how Matilda fought for the throne, and argues that although she never sat on it herself her reward was to see her son become king. Extraordinarily, her line has continued through every single monarch of England or Britain from that time to the present day.

Catherine Hanley is a writer and researcher specializing in the Middle Ages. She is the author of Louis and War and Combat, 1150–1270 and a contributor to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Medieval Warfare and Military Technology.

“Impressive study”—Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian

“A lively and authoritative account”—Katherine Harvey, Times Literary Supplement

“A fine example of the genre”—Tony Barber, The Financial Times

“This volume is designed for a wide readership and deserves to find one”—Sean McGlynn, The Spectator

“A lively and illuminating biography”—Peter Marshall, Literary Review

“An accessible and engaging history”—Rod McLary, Queensland Reviewers Collective

“[A]n excellent and provocative study that straddles the line between the scholarly and the popular”—Lois Huneycutt, Royal Studies Journal

“The biography of Matilda I’ve been waiting for: as clear-sighted, forthright and formidable as the Empress herself. Catherine Hanley combines lucid scholarship with page-turning narrative; military expertise with a fine-grained understanding of the challenges facing a twelfth-century woman who sought to rule. The result - authoritative, human, and utterly compelling - is a triumph.”—Helen Castor, author of She-Wolves