Empress Matilda’s escape across the frozen Thames. [8] Another chronicler, Henry of Huntingdon, adds that she fled across the frozen Thames ‘wrapped in a white cloak’, which deceived the besiegers as it caused them to be ‘dazzled by the reflection of the snow’. Justice! Oxford Castle Marker Matilda, famously escaped by fleeing down the frozen Thames dressed in white. After the Battle of Lincoln, Empress Matilda established her base at Oxford Castle. Matilda's position was transformed by her defeat at the Rout of Winchester.Her alliance with Henry of Blois proved short-lived and they soon fell out over political patronage and ecclesiastical policy; the Bishop transferred his support back to Stephen's cause. [9] The author of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle claims that she was lowered ‘from the tower by night with ropes’ during her flight from the castle. I n 1142 Empress Matilda escaped from Oxford Castle where she was being held by her dynastic rival, Stephen of Blois. It was thick snow and bitterly cold, but she managed to reach the town of Wallingford during the night. 4 – From Wikipedia. The most vivid account of this event is provided by the Gesta Stephani, who describes her escape as having taken place in a ‘wonderous fashion’. This dispute contributed to the success of her cousin, Stephen of Blois, in rapidly seizing the throne after the death of Henry I in December 1135. ( Log Out /  The siege lasted 3 months. [nb 1] Henry was the King of England and the Duke of Normandy, the youngest son of William the Conqueror; William had invaded England in 1066, creating an empire stretching into Wales. [10] J. Robert D'Oyly the younger, Robert D'Oyly the elder's nephew, had inherited the castle by the time of the civil war of the Anarchy in the 1140s. The war degenerated into a stalemate, with Matilda controlling much of the south-west of England, and … Edmund King and K. R. Potter, eds., William of Malmesbury, Historia Novella: The Contemporary History (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998). Matilda was born to Henry I of England, and his first wife, Matilda of Scotland, possibly around 7 February 1102 at Sutton Courtenay in Oxfordshire. Matilda and Stephen’s war, known as The Anarchy, ended in 1153 when Matilda agreed that Stephen could be King by signing the Treaty of Wallingford, on one condition – when he died, Stephen was to leave the throne to Matilda’s son, Henry. 771-2. The Anarchy Empress Matilda Angevin kings of England Battle of Lincoln (1141) Rout of Winchester William of Malmesbury, a monastic chronicler, records that on 26 September, Stephen’s army stormed the town of Oxford. Conveniently, Stephen did not enjoy a long reign as King of England, dying just a short year after the treaty was signed and King Henry II was crowned in 1154. Matilda found herself besieged at Oxford Castle during the winter of 1142. [6] According to the anonymous author of the Gesta Stephani (Acts of Stephen), the castle was ‘impregnable’ and its tower was of a ‘great height’. Nevertheless, even after the death of her first husband she continued to use the title ‘empress’. She was left with no choice but to take flight in the dead of night. The castle was later allowed to decay but it was refortified during the Civil War in the 1640s before being destroyed as a stronghold in 1651. All around the world, International Women’s Day, on Wednesday 8 March 2017, represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. Matilda was said to have left the castle with three knights of ‘ripe judgement’, with whom she walked through six miles of heavy snow and ice. Yet he adds that he would describe the matter more thoroughly should he have ‘sure knowledge of it’, if he were to ever ‘learn the truth from those who were present’. Empress Matilda escaped from Oxford Castle in 1141 in the Anarchy. His plan was to besiege the castle, trapping his cousin inside and starving her into submission. All Rights Reserved. 38-40. The castle has played an important role in the history of Oxford and of England. The daughter of King Henry I of England, she moved to Germany as a child when she married the future Holy Roman Emperor Henry V. She travelled with her husband into Italy in 1116, was controversially crowned in St Peter'… When her father died she was ousted from her rightful inheritance by her rivalrous … During the retreat from the city, she was dealt a further blow when Robert of Gloucester was taken prisoner. Change ), The Rebuilding of Edinburgh Castle in the Reign of Edward III, The Castle at War in Medieval England and Wales, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-18338?rskey=wfo1zJ&result=1. Key: A: The keep and motte; B: St George’s Tower and chapel; C: Round Tower; D: River Isis; E: Moat; F: Town wall; G: West Gate; H: Barbican), Oxford Castle had been built by Robert d’Oilly in c. 1071, who had been granted substantial estates in England by William the Conqueror after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Photograph of St George’s Tower. H. M. Colvin, ed., The History of the King’s Works, volume 2 (London: H. M. S. O, 1963). Registered in England No: 5763243 The Chronicle of Gervase records the second marriage of \"filiam suamviduam\" to \"Gaufrido comiti Andegaviæ\"[165]. Matilda was left in Oxford Castle, presumably believing herself to be safe. However, the new ruler soon faced numerous threats and challenges, which he struggled to overcome. Then, in December, one of the most dramatic incidents in this civil war occurred. From the Roman Invasion to the Wars of the Roses, volume 1 (London: Cassell and Company, Limited, 1909), p. 176. Empress Matilda, as daughter of Henry I, was the rightful heir to the throne but as a woman and as the potential first Queen of England (ever), she was overlooked by many of the aristocracy to be unable to take on the responsibility the title would have given her. The royalists soon overran the town and laid siege to the castle, where the Empress Matilda was residing. This provided a golden opportunity for Matilda to win the conflict, with many of the king’s supporters deserting his cause. He approached Oxford rapidly from the south-west; although the size of his army is unknown, he had already won a series of small but significant victories, punching a gap into the Angevin-controlled south-west. Following Stephen's recovery, says the author of the anti-Angevin Gesta, the King acted like a man "awakened as out of sleep". 3 – From Wikipedia. Also, the Acts of Stephen, King of England and Duke of Normandy (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853), p. 281. Comprising the History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Accession of Henry II. Tweet us @oxfordcastle and let us know: Who is the strongest woman you know? He attributes her success as being due to the negligence of the king’s soldiers who, due to fear of the arrival of Robert of Gloucester who was preparing to break the siege of the castle, had deserted the royalist army in large numbers. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. In December 1141, Stephen unexpectedly marched upon Oxford. Download this stock image: Flight of Matilda from Oxford Castle, December 1142, siege of Oxford, escaping across the ice, on way to safety at Wallingford, during the civil war known as the anarchy - MJ97DK from Alamy's library of millions of high resolution stock photos, illustrations and vectors. Oxford Castle, in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England more. Her second marriage is recorded by Orderic Vitalis[164]. The tower, together with the other structures in the fortress, was later rebuilt in stone. Thomas Forester, ed., The Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon. Castle Mound Of all the many wonderful (and often true) stories about Oxford none is more magical or dramatic than the tale of Lady Matilda and her escape from the Tower. We may guess, too, that the burghers of Oxford, and the rustics of the neighbourhood, had no easy life in those days, when, as we have … It saw action during the Anarchy where it was the scene of Matilda’s dramatic escape from King Stephen in the midst of a snow storm. Enamel effigy of Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou on his tomb, formerly at Le Mans Cathedral, now in the Museum of Archeology and History in Le Mans. Matilda responded by escaping from the castle. The visitor attraction, Oxford Castle and Prison, brings the site’s history to life, opening a whole new perspective on Oxford. In 1142 Matilda was again besieged, in Oxford, but managed to escape, crossing the frozen Thames in white camouflage and reaching Wallingford. So, for International Women’s Day, we are honouring the strongest woman in Oxford Castle’s history: Empress Matilda. [10] William of Malmesbury describes her escape as being ‘a manifest miracle of God’. The war was only finally ended by negotiations between her son, Henry Plantagenet (the future Henry II) and Stephen, in the summer of 1153. Oxford Castle & Prison: Matilda - See 2,673 traveler reviews, 1,022 candid photos, and great deals for Oxford, UK, at Tripadvisor. Marjorie Chibnall, ‘Matilda [Matilda of England]’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-18338?rskey=wfo1zJ&result=1]. This won him the port town of Wareham—cutting the Angevins' line of commu… The siege lasted 3 months. [3], (Possible depiction of Matilda or of a relative), Early in 1141, her supporters won a major victory against the royalists at the Battle of Lincoln, with King Stephen defeated and captured. Heritage Projects (Oxford Castle) Ltd Registered in England No: 5763243 Registered Office: St. Edmund's House, Margaret Street, YORK, YO10 4UX © 2020 Oxford Castle & Prison. Robert D'Oyly the younger, Robert D'Oyly the elder's nephew, had inherited the castle by the time of the civil war of the Anarchy in the 1140s. 2 – From Wikipedia. This shortage of food prompted the Empress Matilda to make the desperate attempt to flee from the castle. She crossed the River Thames (which had evidently frozen over) and miraculously made her way through the royalist camp without being detected. Most of the original moated, wooden motte and bailey castle was replaced in stone in the late 12th or early 13th century and the castle … The food … The invasion had created an Anglo-Norman elite, many with estates spread … No sooner was Robert gone than Stephen launched a sudden attack and brought his army to surround the castle. Matilda (1102-1167) was daughter of King Henry I of England. Edmund King, King Stephen (London: Yale University Press, 2012). 44-46 Oxford Castle, Oxford OX1 1AY [1] This daring escape prevented Stephen from capturing his rival, a move that would have given him a significant advantage in the conflict, and which may even have given him the opportunity of winning the war. R… Comprising the History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Accession of Henry II. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. 6 – From the BBC website. Original at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MS 373 3895B. However, by the 14th century the castle was in a ruinous state, at least in However, the same author states that Stephen, by pursuing the siege for three months with ‘great resolution’, managed to reduce the garrison to the ‘extremity of hunger’. She then donned a pair of ice skates and fled across the frozen River Thames to the safety of Wallingford Castle. This provided the opportunity for Matilda to assert her claim to the throne through force. Robert was so important to his sister’s cause that she was willing to ransom him for Stephen. Yet Henry’s relationship with his daughter and her husband was a fraught one. [1] For my published account of this event, see Dan Spencer, The Castle at War in Medieval England and Wales (Stroud: Amberley Publishing, 2018). Oxford Castle & Prison 44-46 Oxford Castle, Oxford OX1 1AY T: 01865 260666. Matilda, realising that the game was up, snuck away from the castle … Oxford Castle, however, was a powerful fortress and, rather than storming it, Stephen had to settle down for a long siege, albeit secure in the knowledge that Matilda was now surrounded. Without Robert’s forces, the garrison at Oxford was on the verge of surrender. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. A. Giles, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (London: G. Bell and Sons, Ltd, 1914), p. 204. Author: PurpleHz, British Library, Cotton Nero D. VII, f. 7. Dan Spencer, The Castle at War in Medieval England and Wales (Stroud: Amberley Publishing, 2018). Oxford Castle & Prison The widowed king married Adeliza of Louvain in the hope of producing more children, but their marriage was a childless one. Later Oxford served as the Royal capital during the Civil War and thereafter was used as a prison until 1996. 140-3. In November 1120, the only legitimate son of Henry I, William Adelin, drowned whilst crossing to England from Normandy, when his ship sank. In 1142 the Empress Matilda was besieged in the castle by King Stephen and the castle was again attacked in 1215 during the 'Barons' War'. The recent heavy snowfall we have been experiencing in the United Kingdom has inspired me to write this blog post about an episode that took place in 1142 during a civil war known as the Anarchy (1139-53). St George's Tower at Oxford Castle. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. The capture of Oxford would thereby allow the royalists to put pressure on the garrison of Wallingford Castle. In the 12th century, a fierce battle was fought for the throne of England between Stephen and Matilda, grandchildren of William the Conqueror. Step back in time with our costumed guided tours and see fascinating stories come to life. Eventually after great exertions she reached the safety of Wallingford. [11] The garrison of the castle were forced to surrender a short time later, yet the Empress Matilda’s successful escape meant that the conflict continued unabated for a further ten years, with neither side able to achieve a significant advantage. [7], (Oxford Castle in the snow, photograph taken by Amanda Coombs). [7] K. R. Potter, and R. H. C. Davis, eds., Gesta Stephani (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1976), pp. From the banqueting hall at Cardiff Castle. Matilda and her household were confined to the castle where they were closely besieged by the royalists. Matilda became trapped in Oxford Castle by Stephen's forces that winter, and to avoid capture was forced to escape at night across the frozen River Isis to Abingdon, reputedly wearing white as camouflage in the snow. Also, the Acts of Stephen, King of England and Duke of Normandy (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853). What comes next is one of the greatest escape stories in English history, and is well renowned as … [4], (Plan of Oxford Castle as it would have appeared in c.1250. However, by the 14th century the castle was in a ruinous state, at least in part. [2], Matilda later married Geoffrey Plantagenet, eldest son of the count of Anjou, in 1128, and although their relationship was at first turbulent, due in part in a significant age difference (Matilda was 25 and Geoffrey was 13) they eventually developed an effective partnership. 7 – From Wikipedia. Empress Matilda escaped from Oxford Castle in 1141 in the Anarchy. 130-3. Matilda asserted the right to succeed after the death of her father and fought King Stephen in a civil war in which she was finally defeated 1 Nov 1141. Charles Wesley, Empress Matilda, John Wesley, Krispy Kreme, Norman Conquest, Oxford Castle, Robert d'Oilly, William the Conqueror This is the last in the irregular series of geographically oriented posts about life in Oxford. In 1216, Fawkes de Breauté held the castle for King John against a baronial army. Key themes, people and exhibits in the museum include: marshall william smith, geoffrey of monmouth, crime and punishment, victorian prison, empress matilda, john … Empress Matilda (c. 7 February 1102 – 10 September 1167), also known as the Empress Maude, was one of the claimants to the English throne during the civil war known as the Anarchy. [160] In response, in July Matilda … Photograph of a very snowy Oxford Castle taken by Amanda Coombs. Oxford Castle was built under Robert's orders in 1071, and the collegiate church of St George's within the castle was founded by Robert in 1074. [11] King and Potter, William of Malmesbury, pp. In this she was gravely mistaken. They sought to bolster their position in England and Normandy through securing control of strategic castles, which angered the king. It took the form of a motte and bailey castle, which incorporated timber buildings, including a tower situated on top of the motte. K. R. Potter, and R. H. C. Davis, eds., Gesta Stephani (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1976). Hear the great tales of Empress Matilda or the fate of Mary Blandy, one of the prisons’ most famous criminals. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. (The Marriage of Matilda to the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V), The cause of the civil war was a dispute over the succession to Anglo-Norman realm. The Snow Queen: a Christmas fairytale ballet. [2] Marjorie Chibnall, ‘Matilda [Matilda of England]’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-18338?rskey=wfo1zJ&result=1]. J. [5] H. M. Colvin, ed., The History of the King’s Works, volume 2 (London: H. M. S. O, 1963), pp. In the winter of that year, the Empress Matilda succeeded in escaping from Oxford Castle, which was besieged by the forces of her enemy, King Stephen, through the ice and snow. ( Log Out /  The Empress Matilda was forced to flee London and was besieged in Winchester, which she managed to escape from with great difficulty. The museum features exhibits related to: law and order, personalities, social history, religion and architecture. What comes next is one of the greatest escape stories in English history, and is well renowned as such. Discover Oxford Castle & Prison in Oxford, England: This Norman castle was once the site of a Victorian-era prison, and now exists as a luxury hotel. Stephen took the opportunity to besiege Oxford Castle, where Matilda was then based. The Escape of the Empress Matilda from Oxford Castle in 1142 Posted by danspencer1644 March 3, 2018June 14, 2020Posted in Blog The recent heavy snowfall we have been experiencing in the United Kingdom has inspired me to write this blog post about an episode that took place in 1142 during a civil war … Matilda had married the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry V, in 1114, but the latter died in 1125. [9] Thomas Forester, ed., The Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon. Whilst Matilda did not win the battles, she undoubtedly won the war, living until 1167, thereby outliving Stephen and enjoying over 10 years of her son’s reign before she died. Matilda found herself besieged at Oxford Castle during the winter of 1142. [3] Ibid; Edmund King, King Stephen (London: Yale University Press, 2012), pp. T: 01865 260666, Heritage Projects (Oxford Castle) Ltd For International Women’s Day, we are honouring the strongest woman in Oxford Castle’s history: Empress Matilda. The castle was built strategically off a stream of … ( Log Out /  water, castles, ruins, trees, bridges, greyscale. Yet she in turn suffered a major reversal of fortune due, in large part, to the efforts of Queen Matilda (Stephen’s wife). [6] Edmund King and K. R. Potter, eds., William of Malmesbury, Historia Novella: The Contemporary History (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), p. 127. Oxford Castle Unlocked is a museum in Oxford. She set to work putting this right by undertaking a battle of sieges during which supporters from both sides took it in turns to lay siege to one another’s strongholds. Robert D'Oyly the younger, Robert D'Oyly the elder's nephew, had inherited the castle by the time of the civil war of the Anarchy in the 1140s. Come and explore the 1,000 year history of Oxford Castle and Prison. In early 1127, the king had extracted oaths of allegiance to his daughter from all the nobles and bishops then present at the royal court. In 1142 she was held in Oxford Castle, but again she managed to escape, being lowered from the castle walls on a rope during some extremely bad weather. A. Giles, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (London: G. Bell and Sons, Ltd, 1914). In 1142 the Empress Matilda was besieged in the castle by King Stephen and the castle was again attacked in 1215 during the 'Barons' War'. The church of St Peter-in-the-East was first mentioned in 1086 as a possession of Robert's although it is possible that he merely acquired it, along with St Mary Magdalen's Church, north … Matilda had taken up residence in Oxford Castle in 1141, but it was besieged by the forces of her cousin King Stephen. This meant that Henry’s only surviving legitimate child was his daughter Matilda, who he wished to succeed him. [5] In the early twelfth century, Oxford was of strategic importance due to its location on the River Thames and as it was close to the castle of Wallingford. The latter was a key fortress held by the supporters of the Empress Matilda, which was unsuccessfully besieged on numerous occasions throughout the conflict by Stephen’s forces. Surrounded, the empress was forced to escape under the cover of darkness, allegedly lowered down the walls and dressed in white as camouflage against the snow. If you want to read more about this topic then do consider having a look at my book The Castle at War in Medieval England and Wales. ( Log Out /  1 – Charles Ricketts, ‘The Flight of Matilda from Oxford’, from Cassell’s History of England. He then advanced with his army towards Oxford. Before he controlled Deddington, Chesney temporarily administered the lands of Robert d'Oilly, who had previously held Oxford Castle but had defected to the side of the Empress Matilda in 1141 and died a year later. Oxford Castle was constructed in 1071 re-using earlier Saxon defences. Matilda based herself at Oxford Castle in 1141 but quickly found herself under siege from Stephen’s forces. Empress Matilda escaped from Oxford Castle in 1141 in the Anarchy. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. In the following year, Stephen went on the offensive and succeeded in capturing Wareham and Cirencester. You can visit the castle’s medieval motte, … One freezing night in December, Matilda wrapped herself in a white cape, and snuck through enemy lines disguised against the thick snowfall around her. In 1139, she crossed to England and joined forces with her half-brother Robert of Gloucester. The castle has a natural moat. Registered Office: St. Edmund's House, Margaret Street, YORK, YO10 4UX. Visitors can climb the Norman Castle Mound and enjoy panoramic views from the top of St. George’s Tower, while centuries of prison life are revealed within the 18th century buildings, taking the … foreground: background: Image title: ... and during the wars of Stephen and Matilda. He attacked and seized the town and then besieged Matilda at Oxford Castle. Oxford Prison HM Prison Oxford Oxford Stephen then almost seized Matilda in 1142 during the Siege of Oxford, but the Empress escaped from Oxford Castle across the frozen River Thames to safety. ‘ a manifest miracle of God ’ his daughter Matilda, Who he wished to succeed.. R. H. C. Davis, eds., Gesta Stephani ( Oxford: Claredon Press, ). Made her way through the royalist camp without being detected her household were confined to Castle! 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