Title: Queen of the Conqueror: The Life of Matilda, Wife of William I
Author: Tracy Borman
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Genre: Non-Fiction, History, Biography
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Matilda, the wife of William the Conqueror, is a woman surrounded by fascinating legends and tales. Historian Tracy Borman wades through all these stories to discover the true story of this remarkable woman and to illustrate how she changed Europe through her words and deeds.
Matilda, the queen of William of Normandy, is shrouded in myth. For example, one of the most famous stories about her is that she refused marriage to William at first because he was a bastard, and therefore unworthy of her and her illustrious lineage. In response, William (whose thunderous temper was well-documented) sought Matilda out and beat her senseless. Instead of becoming incensed by this turn of events, Matilda declared that she would marry no one but William. Confused? It’s understandable. In Tracy Borman’s Queen of the Conqueror, the author dissects these stories and presents an entirely new look at Matilda.
Borman writes in an engaging, accessible way, and as a result, her history of Matilda is never dry or difficult. While this book would be a delight to fans of history, those who aren’t regular biography readers will still appreciate this book, as it will appeal to multiple audiences on different levels. It’s clear that Borman did an extensive amount of research for Queen of the Conqueror, and though she doesn’t often detail her research processes or sources in-text, there is an extensive bibliography at the end of the book for readers.
Readers are treated to an interesting portrayal of Matilda in Queen of the Conqueror – a strong, confident woman whose loyalties were often torn between her husband and sons. She was religious and grateful for all that she had been given in life. She valued her daughters and ensured they received educations, whether they were destined for strategic marriages or for the church. It’s really an appealing woman that Borman presents, and it’s surprising how progressive she was, given that she lived in the eleventh century CE.
Queen of the Conqueror is an excellent biography – well-researched, engaging, and it brings the figure of Matilda to life for the reader. She was an amazingly powerful woman, especially considering the time period, and she served as an influence on her tempestuous husband, encouraging moderation. It’s fitting that she receives a new biography, and the fact that it’s so interesting and easy to read is just icing on the cake for history buffs.