MALE Matilda (Mathilde) of Flanders

Wife of William the Conqueror.

Matilda, the daughter of count Baldwin V of Flanders, was married between 1049 and 1053 to duke William (II) of Normandy, better known as William "the Conqueror", who became king of England by conquest in 1066. On Whitsunday (i.e., Pentecost, 11 May in that year) 1068, Matilda was consecrated as queen at Westminster by archbishop Ealdred ["On þisan Eastron com se kyng to Wincestre, & þa wæron Eastra on .x. kalendas Aprilis, & sona æfter þam com Mathild seo hlæfdie hider to land, & Ealdred arcebiscop hig gehalgode to cwene on Westmynstre on Hwitan Sunnandæg." ASC[D], s.a. 1067 [1068], 83; Douglas (1964), 213].

Date of Birth: Unknown.
Place of Birth: Unknown.

Date of Death: 2 November 1083.
Version E of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that Matilda died the day after All Saint's Day ["... & on þæs ilcan geares forðferde Mahtild Willelmes cynges cwen on þone dæg æfter ealra halgena mæssedæg." ASC[E], s.a. 1083, 93].
Place of Death: Unknown.

Father: Baldwin V, d. 1067, count of Flanders.

Mother: Adèle, d. 1079, daughter of Robert II, king of France.
["... Balduinum Insulanum, qui duxit filiam Rodberti regis Francorum Adelam. Balduinus Insulanus genuit Balduinum Hasnoniensem, et Rodbertum cognomento postea Ihersolimitanum, et Mathildem uxorem Guillelmi regis Anglorum." Genealogia comitum Flandriae Bertiniana, MGH SS 9:306; "Balduinus Pius comes Flandrie duxit Adelam, filiam Roberti regis Francie, ex qua suscepit Balduinum Montensum et Robertum Frisonem et Mathildam filiam, que nupsit Wilhelmo comiti Normannie, qui Angliam acquisivit." De genere comitum Flandrensium notae Parisienses, MGH SS 13: 257]

Spouse: m. 1049×1053, William "the Conqueror", d. 9 September 1087, duke of Normandy, 1035-1087; king of England, 1066-1087.
[See the page of William the Conqueror].

[For documentation, see the page of William the Conqueror.]

MALE Robert "Curthose", d. 10 Feb 1134, duke of Normandy; m. Sibyl de Conversano.

MALE Richard, d. 1069×1074.

FEMALE Adelaide (or Adeliza), a nun, died a virgin.

FEMALE Cecily, b. 1058×9, d. 1127, abbess of Holy Trinity, Caen.

MALE William II "Rufus", d. 2 August 1100, king of England.

FEMALE Matilda, living 1086.

FEMALE Constance, d. 1090, m. 1086, Alan IV, count of Brittany.

FEMALE Adela, d. 1137, m. 1080, Étienne (Stephen), count of Blois.

MALE Henry I, b. 1068, d. 1135, king of England, duke of Normandy.

For the uncertain possibility that there was also a daughter named Agatha, see the page of William the Conqueror.


Falsely attributed daughter: Gundreda, m. William de Warenne.
Falsely attributed earlier husband:
Gerbod, advocate of Saint-Bertin.
Falsely attributed son:
Gerbod the Fleming, earl of Chester.
Falsely attributed son:
Frederick, Domesday landowner.

The parentage of Gundreda, wife of William de Warenne, earl of Surrey, and in particular, the claim that she was a daughter of Matilda of Flanders, was controversial during much of the nineteenth century. Prior to 1846, the common belief was that Gundreda was a daughter of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders. In that year, a variant of the theory appeared when Stapleton published an article [not seen by me] claiming that Gundreda was a not a daughter of William, but of Matilda by an earlier marriage to Gerbod, advocate of Saint-Bertin, by whom she also had two sons, Gerbod, earl of Chester, and Frederick. This version of the theory got a big boost when it was accepted by Freeman in his history of the Norman Conquest [Freeman (1870-9)]. However, in 1878, Waters published the letter of Anselm (see below), a key piece of evidence which clinches the negative case. [Note: I have not seen the publications of Waters on the subject, and I am relying on their description in Freeman (1888) and EYC.] Following the work of Waters, Freeman reversed his earlier opinion in an article for the English Historical Review in 1888 [Freeman (1888)].

The early evidence which would appear to directly link Gundreda with either William the Conqueror or Matilda all comes from three charters (or alleged charters) from Lewes Priory in Sussex. The one direct link between Gundreda and William appears only as a late addition to a charter of William the conqueror, in which the words "filie mee" have been added in a later hand over an erasure after Gundreda's name [Monast. Angl. 5: 13 (#4), not noting the interlineation, or the later hand; EYC 8: 56 (#4)]. The other two relevant charters appear to suggest that Gundreda was a daughter of Matilda. In a false charter of William de Warenne, he appears to make Matilda the mother of his wife [".. pro salute domine mee Matildis regine, matris uxoris mee, ..." Monast. Angl. 8: 12 (#2); Cart. Cluny 4: 691 (#3561); for the falseness of the charter, see EYC 8: 59-62], and another charter (to be mentioned further below) has the following phrase: "Karletuna quam dedit Matilda regina mater Henrici et Gundredæ comitissæ; et ipsa Gundreda dedit nobis: locata fuit pro x. libris." [Monast. Angl. 5: 14 (#6, Norfolk)] Gundreda's tomb, of which the first words are "Stirps Gundreda ducum", has also been used as evidence supporting a connection to William the Conqueror.

The evidence that Gundreda was a sister of Gerbod the Fleming is clear. The relationship is attested by both Orderic Vitalis ["... et Guillelmo de Guarenna qui Gundredam sororem Gherbodi coniugem habebat ..." OV Book iv (2: 264)] and by the chronicle of Hyde abbey ["Quo tempore comes Cistrensis decessit Gerbodo, frater Gundradæ comitissæ, Flandriamque veniens, inimicorum præventus insidiis miserabiliter periit." [Chron. Monast. Hyde, 296]. Thus, since the words "filie mee" mentioned above, being in a later hand, have no force, it is not surprising that this evidence was combined to suggest that Matilda had an earlier husband by whom she was mother of Gerbod and Gundreda. For the elder Gerbod (the suggested father of the younger Gerbod) and Frederick (possibly another brother), see the discussion by Clay [EYC 8: 44-6].

However, in the original foundation charter for Lewes priory, William the Conqueror mentions William de Warenne and his wife Gundreda without any indication that Gundreda was related to William or Matilda ["In nomine Domini nostri Ihesu Christi ego Guillelmus Dei gratia rex Anglorum inspiratione diuina compunctus, pro incolomitate regni mei et salute anime mee, rogantibus etiam et obnixe postulantibus Willelmo de Warenna et uxore ejus Gundreda ..." EYC 8: 54-5 (#2); Cart. Cluny 4: 688 (#3559)]. This, along with the weakness of the positive evidence, would be enough to cast doubt on the relationship, for the late addition of "filie mee", the false charter of William de Warenne, and the statement on Gundreda's tomb have little strength. In addition, Waters pointed out that the other piece of evidence, apparently making Gundreda a daughter of Matilda and sister of Henry I, should probably be read without the et between Henrici and Gundredæ, leaving Gundredæ comitissæ to be in the dative case rather than the genitive, and thus acting as the indirect object of dedit [i.e., "Karletuna quam dedit Matilda regina mater Henrici Gundredæ comitissæ; et ipsa Gundreda dedit nobis: locata fuit pro x. libris." (Carlton, which queen Matilda, mother of Henry, gave to countess Gundreda, and which Gundreda gave to us, is "locata" for £10)].

The decisive negative evidence, as pointed out by Waters, is a letter from Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury, to king Henry I, in which Anselm forbade the marriage of Gundreda's son William de Warenne the younger to a daughter of the king, because they were related in the fourth generation on one side and the sixth generation on the other ["Quærit consilium celsitudo vestra quid sibi faciendum sit de hoc quia pacta est filiam suam dare Guillelmo de Vuarenne; cum ipse et filia vestra ex una parte sint cognati in quarta generatione, et ex altera in sexta." Anselm, Epistolæ, iv, 84, PL 159: 245]. If Gundreda were a daughter of Matilda, then she would be a sister (or half-sister) of Henry, making the prospective bride and groom first-cousins, in which case Anslem would have certainly objected on that point, rather than bringing up a distant relationship. It is now regarded as settled that Gundreda was a daughter of neither William nor Matilda, although the error reappears frequently in amateur genealogical databases, and has even been made recently by one "standard" source [ES 2: 81]. [Freeman (1888) and EYC 8: 50-6 are good sources discussing the evidence and the history of the controversy. See also the notes on Gundreda at Chris Phillips's "Some Notes on Medieval English Genealogy" website.]


ASC[D] = G. P. Cubbin, ed., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle - A Collaborative Edition (Volume 6: MS D) (Cambridge, 1996).

ASC[E] = Susan Irvine, ed., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle - A Collaborative Edition (Volume 7: MS E) (Cambridge, 2004).

Cart. Cluny = A. Bernard & A. Bruel, Recueil des chartes de l'abbaye de Cluny, 6 vols., (Paris, 1876-1903).

Chron. Monast. Hyde = Chronica monasterii de Hida juxta Wintoniam, in Edward Edwards. ed., Liber Monasterii de Hyde (Rolls series 45, London 1866), Appendix A, 283-321.

Douglas (1964) = David C. Douglas, William the Conqueror (University of California Press, Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1964).

ES = Detlev Schwennicke, Europäische Stammtafeln (neue Folge), (Marburg, 1980-present).

EYC = W. Farrar and C. T. Clay, Early Yorkshire Charters, 12 vols. (Yorkshire Arch. Soc., 1914-65).

Freeman (1870-9) = Edward A. Freeman, The History of the Norman Conquest of England (5 vols. + index vol., Oxford, 1870-9).

Freeman (1888) = Edward A. Freeman, "The parentage of Gundrada, wife of William of Warren", English Historical Review 3 (1888):680-701.

MGH SS = Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores series.

Monast. Angl. = William Dugdale, ed. (new ed. by Caley, Ellis, Bandniel), Monasticon Anglicanum (London, 1817-30).

OV = Marjorie Chibnall, ed. & trans., The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, 6 vols. (Oxford, 1969-80).

PL = P. Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus, series Latina, 221 vols. (Paris, 1844-1859).

Compiled by Stewart Baldwin

Originally uploaded 12 October 2006.

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