Matilda was born around 1031 to her father Count Baldwin V and Adela, daughter of King Robert II of France.
She was to become the first woman to be named Queen of England, following the Norman Conquests.
Matilda was raised in Lille, France and received an excellent education, befitting her status.
William, Duke of Normandy having seen Matilda at the French court, requested her hand in marriage. She at first refused him, stating that she was too high-born to marry the illegitimate son of an English king.
She did finally accept William, and even though Pope Leo IX banned the marriage on the grounds that Matilda and William were too closely related, the marriage did take place around 1051 in Normandy.
The papal ban on the marriage was lifted some years later in 1062, by Pope Nicholas II. Matilda and William funded the building of two abbeys in gratitude of this.
The marriage of Matilda and William was a successful and happy one and Matilda gave birth to at least nine children.
Edward the Confessor, King of England died in 1066, leaving no heir, but Harold Godwinson was crowned Harold II as his successor.
The English crown however was to be contested by William.
William set out from France to press his claim for the throne. He travelled to England in his flagship ‘The Mora’, a present he had received from his wife, accompanied by his army.
Matilda was to remain in France as Regent of Normandy, ruling in her fourteen-year old son, Robert of Curthose’s name.
William successfully conquered England and was crowned King of England on Christmas Day, 25 December 1066.
More that a year went by before Matilda was to visit England. She was finally crowned Queen of England on 11 May 1068 in Westminster, although she was to spend little time there, preferring to oversee her interests in Normandy.
In 1077 William’s oldest son and Matilda’s favourite, Robert rebelled against his father. It is not known why, but Matilda was secretly funding this rebellion. Robert however was no match for William.
William forgave Matilda for her involvement and yet he never fully reconciled with his son.
In 1083 with Matilda now in her fifties, her health began to deteriorate. She died after a long illness in Normandy on 3 November 1083.
She is buried at l’Abbaye aux Dames in Caen, Normandy, France.