Feeling valued and respected is a natural desire of all human beings whether male or female. However history bears witness to the fact that achieving this goal is a larger obstacle for women. So the question is: when is a woman most valuable? Let’s examine a few highlights from the life of Empress Matilda to help answer that question.
When Matilda was born to Henry the 1st of England in 1102 she was at an immediate disadvantage. This was because she was born female in a land where only males were seriously considered in the line of succession. But she did prove valuable to her father when she moved to Germany as a child and married the future Holy Roman Emperor Henry the 5th. However her usefulness in Germany was cut short in 1125 when her husband died and the couple was childless.
Nevertheless, Matilda became a vital key to to securing the succession when her bother William Adelin died in 1120. As King Henry’s only living legitimate descendant Matilda was nominated as the king’s heir and also married to Geoffrey on Anjou to protect Normandy’s southern borders. At this point many would consider Matilda despite being a woman as a valuable individual. However, this was proved incorrect when King Henry died in 1135 and the throne was taken by her cousin Stephen of Blois, not Matilda herself.
Even though Matilda did achieve some military success in England, namely capturing King Stephen at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 she was never crowned Queen due to the bitter opposition from London’s crowds. Despite being a legitimate royal descendant, a former German Empress, and being nominated as her father’s heir Matilda was still just a woman in their eyes. The war with her cousin King Stephen degenerated into stalemate and Matilda never became Queen of England. In the end her most valuable contribution to the English throne was giving birth to her son Henry the 2nd who succeeded to the throne in 1154.
So when was Matilda the most valuable? As a child Queen of Germany? As the nominated heir to the throne of England? As the wife of the Count of Anjou? Or as the mother of Henry the 2nd? I would say she was valuable at every stage.
Her time in Germany gave her valuable administration skills that she later used to benefit her son Henry the 2nd. Her battles in England helped paved the way for her son to the throne. And her 2nd marriage resulted in the birth of 3 sons. And but for his mother’s royal blood Henry the 2nd would have no claim to the English throne. The fact is a woman or any individual can always be valuable. However, as in the case of Matilda’s life you might not always be the main recipient of your own skills and abilities!
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