Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Queen of the Conqueror: The Life of Matilda, Wife of William I-Tracy Joanne Norman

Queen of the Conqueror: The Life of Matilda, Wife of William I

Tracy Joanne Norman

Bantam, Apr 3 2012, $30.00

ISBN: 9780553808148

In 1049, William the Duke of Normandy rages when the oldest daughter of the Count of Flanders Matilda refused to marry a bastard. Not one to sit idly back and accept this affront, William rushes to Flanders’ castle where he viciously beats her. Irate with this affront to his family at his home, the Count raises an army to destroy William. Instead Matilda, still showing bruises all over her body, informs her dad she will wed no one but the audacious William. This begins the turbulent marriage between Matilda of Flanders and the future king of England. She proves his equal in ruling. While he was away at war, she ran Normandy. When he conquers England in 1066, she brought diplomacy to reduce the Anglo-Saxons' rebellions against the iron handed rule of her husband. They were a yin and yang team until they chose different children to become the heir to the throne.

Although William has been a zillion times in fiction and nonfiction (see David Bates’ William The Conqueror) , historian Tracy Borman provides a great autobiography of an intelligent and strong Middle Age’s woman who was educated like most of the high born females in the era. That insight into the eleventh century brings additional understanding to how the politically and socially astute Queen of the Conqueror behaved as her actions and reactions to her husband’s brutal retaliation to any opposition helped one of their sons to ascend to the throne.

Harriet Klausner

No comments: