The career of Matilda of Boulogne as countess and queen in England, 1135-1152
This thesis attempts to produce a biographical study of King Stephen's wife, similar in scope and type to Marjorie Chibnall's 1991 work The Empress Matilda. The introduction will examine the primary sources for Matilda of Boulogne's career - chronicles written during and after her lifetime and charters she issued or attested - and point out their problems; examine her career as discussed in secondary sources; and examine her early life, including an attempt to put her children in birth order. A lack of primary source material prevents any longer examination of her career before Stephen's 1135 accession. The first chapter is a narrative of the queen's career, collating documentary and chronicle sources to provide the background for later, in-depth discussion. Where possible and appropriate, this chapter also attempts to date charters more precisely. The second chapter discusses Matilda's religious life, and has three parts. The first and longest is an in-depth analysis of her charters to religious houses, to determine her patterns of patronage and personal preferences. The second compares her religious charters to Stephen's and examines the connections between them using the queen's attestations; this determines whether the queen's grants were self-directed or motivated by her husband. The final section examines Matilda of Boulogne's relationships with various religious figures, and in particular tries to date her various interactions with Bernard of Clairvaux. The third chapter analyses the witness-lists of Matilda's charters in order to determine with whom she was in closest contact - the make-up of her curia, in other words - and provides some discussion of her most frequent attestors. There is also a comparison between Stephen and Matilda's most frequent attestors, which determines that Matilda, rather than being an alternative nexus of prestige or having a parallel curia, was a member of Stephen's inner circle who had a small personal household. The fourth chapter is an examination of Matilda of Boulogne's authority - its sources, types, and uses. In general, Matilda's authority was highly nuanced, came from multiple sources, including her roles as wife, mother, countess, and queen, and allowed her to take highly effective, flexible action whenever Stephen's interests or hers were threatened. The final chapter places the queen's career in context by examining the careers of four of her relatives, and comparing them to Matilda's; it becomes apparent from this analysis that Matilda actively modelled herself on her predecessors, particularly those who were queens.