This is the 44th article in the genealogy project “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.”
Matilda of Flanders is a paternal ancestor. She is a 28th great-grandmother through one paternal line, but there are numerous ways to connect to her. The connection to Matilda is through the marriages of Spanish and Portuguese royals to English royals.
One line to Matilda is through Antonia Flores, who married Jack Ross Everett. Antonia was a direct descendant of King Henry II of England, who was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Their daughter, Eleanor Plantagenet, married King Alfonso VIII of Castile and the Spanish connection comes forward in time to Mexico and then Texas. Going forward in time from Antonia takes the line to present-day Texas, while going backward in time goes to Henry II and then back to Matilda of Flanders.
Matilda was born around 1031 in Flanders, which is in present-day northern Belgium. She was the daughter of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders and Adele of France. Adele’s father was Robert II of France. There is no information about her early life and most references begin when she married William the Conqueror.
Matilda married William the Conqueror in 1053. Legend says he sent a representative to ask for Matilda’s hand in marriage. Matilda said she was from too high a standing to marry a bastard (William was also known as William the Bastard). Upon hearing the news, William rode from Normandy to Bruges (Belgium today) and found Matilda on her way to church. He grabbed her long braids, threw her off her horse and rode off. When Matilda’s father threatened to draw his sword in retaliation, Matilda changed her mind and agreed to marry William.
When William was Duke of Normandy and was preparing to invade England, Matilda ran his business affairs when he was away. William led the Norman conquest of England in 1066 and reigned as king until his death. Matilda was crowned Queen of England in 1068.
Matilda had at least nine children, including direct ancestor Henry I of England. She was very involved and hands-on in raising and educating all of her children and she was devoted to the Catholic Church.
Matilda and William were married 30 years, until her death in 1083 from an illness. William died four years later. Matilda is buried in Normandy at the Abbey of Sainte-Trinité. Her body was exhumed at least once to determine her height because she was reported to be only 4 feet 2 inches tall. Over the years her height has been published as 4 feet 2 inches, under 5 feet, and 5 feet tall, so no one appears to be certain. Her small stature did not stop her from being a wife, mother, business woman, and queen.
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