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Summary

A life of Matilda - empress, skilled military leader, and one of the greatest figures of the English Middle Ages.  

Matilda was a daughter, wife, and mother. But she was also empress, heir to the English crown - the first woman ever to hold the position - and an able military general.  

This new biography explores Matilda's achievements as military and political leader and sets her life and career in full context. Catherine Hanley provides fresh insight into Matilda's campaign to claim the title of queen, her approach to allied kingdoms and rival rulers, and her role in the succession crisis. Hanley highlights how Matilda fought for the throne and argues that although she never sat on it herself, her reward was to see her son become king. Extraordinarily, her line has continued through every single monarch of England or Britain from that time to the present day.

©2019 Catherine Hanley (P)2019 Tantor

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Wonderful biography of an overlooked queen

I loved this biography of Matilda. What a woman! So ahead of her time, she had no chance of success, but nonetheless became a foundation stone of the British monarchy. Poor Stephen comes across well too. The book was slightly marred by a narration that wasn't my cup of tea. Jennifer Dixon has a lovely voice, but one is always aware that she is reading - the best narrators have a flow to their delivery where it is easy to forget that they have a script in front of them.

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Hysterical introduction!

Sorry, this is not history, but rather agenda driven feminist propaganda bringing a twenty first century anachronistic mindset to a medieval historical biography. When you listen to the words “because she was a woman” twice within the first five minutes, as if that somehow is the final word on her character, then you are literally shutting down any real debate as to the nature of her personality. Matilda was simply a strong minded, privileged, ruthless individual, who was no better or worse than her male peers and was a product of her times.

She should be judged by her deeds rather then her gender, anything else is bad history.

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amazing story well told

really interesting story and a complex and interesting woman living through extremely challenging times. bring to life both the complexities of the story but also the issues and barriers and expectations relating to women in the 12th century. given the common view of the time was the only place a woman could rule was on the behalf of men applies to her and to some her antagonists and brings you light all the superb women who have been overlooked by history.

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Not to be side-lined as a woman

well researched, very interesting , reads a bit like a thriller. loved it. worth reading.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-09-19

Both entertaining and scholarly

Hanley spins a colorful and entertaining narrative on a skeleton of historic facts, bringing to life this 12th century queen whom history has long ignored. It was the audio equivalent of a page turner. The narration was also very good.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Laura
  • 16-08-19

a wonderful way to learn about a great woman

Matilda wasn't mentioned in high school history class. I'm interested in the history of Great Britain. This is my first biography normally one to lesson to novels. I learned a lot about a great woman who I now feel more women and girls of today should know about. this book has now made want to find more biographies on female Noble women of that time. I highly recommend this book.


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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-04-21

Wonderful Book

Matilda’s story is fascinating and is told very well in this book. Jennifer Dixon also does an outstanding narration. Would highly recommend to to anyone interested in a thorough recount of Matilda’s life.

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  • Christopher Zachary
  • 14-06-21

essential study for English royal succession

I am an amateur historian if not more a fan of history. I am also a huge fan of this work.

the author does an excellent job of filling the reader in on what is going on else where and providing context. of special interest the author invests their time in cutting through the bias laid on the topic by the many intervening years to provide as honest and accurate an image of the subject as this reader believes possible.