Matilda of Boulogne was born around 1105 to Eustace III, Count of Boulogne, and his wife, Mary of Scotland. Her maternal grandparents were King Malcolm III of Scotland and Saint Margaret of Scotland, from whom she was a descendant of the old English royal family - - the house of Wessex.
Matilda's childhood was spent in her father's court at Boulogne. When she was roughly twenty years old, in 1125, she married Stephen of Blois. Around this time, Eustace abdicated in favor of monastic life and Matilda and Stephen ruled Boulogne jointly.
The early years of their marriage were marred by sadness: their two eldest children, Baldwin and Matilda, died young. However, they went on to have three more children; Eustace, the eldest of the surviving three, would go on to succeed his mother as Count of Boulogne.
Stephen's uncle, King Henry I of England, died on December 1, 1135, prompting Stephen to head to England in haste and place himself on the throne as king. This was, generally speaking, a poor move on his part. He was not the heir to the throne: that right belonged to his cousin, Empress Matilda of the Holy Roman Empire (commonly known as Maud). Maud was Henry's daughter and the granddaughter of William, the Conqueror. Because England's royal succession laws were only semi-Salic, Matilda legally had the stronger claim and Stephen was a mere usurper. Stephen's succession faux pas was seen as anarchy and ignited a civil war. Matilda, who was then pregnant, followed her husband to England and was his greatest supporter and advisor.
Maud's forces captured Stephen after his loss at the Battle of Lincoln; however, she was entirely unpopular with the people of London and they drove her out, a detrimental act to her cause. Stephen's brother, Henry of Blois, was a very influential bishop in England at the time and was a supporter of Maud; however, he supported his brother after noticing Maud's unpopularity, and also at his sister-in-law, Matilda's, request.
Matilda's forces soon captured Maud's half-brother and greatest supporter, Robert, Earl of Gloucester. Robert's wife was Stephen's jailer and Matilda was able to arrange a swapping of prisoners and regain her husband.
The war continued until the Earl of Gloucester died and Maud, having no other rallying point, returned to the continent. In celebration of the war's end, Stephen and Matilda founded the abbey at Faversham. The rest of their reign was marked by a peace treaty with Scotland and a notable marriage for their son, Eustace.
Matilda died May of 1152, possibly due to a fever, and was buried at Faversham Abbey. Stephen would prove an ineffectual ruler without his loving wife's guidance and entailed his kingdom to his nephew instead of his sons.
Stephen and Matilda had three sons:
* Eustace IV, Count of Boulogne * Baldwin of Boulogne (d. before 1135) * William of Blois, Count of Mortain and Boulogne and Earl of Surrey
They also had two daughters: * Matilda of Boulogne * Marie of Boulogne
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