From the banqueting hall at Cardiff 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. After the Battle of Lincoln, Empress Matilda established her base at Oxford Castle. Without Robert’s forces, the garrison at Oxford was on the verge of surrender. You can visit the castle’s medieval motte, … Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. 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. Nevertheless, even after the death of her first husband she continued to use the title ‘empress’. 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. Matilda had married the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry V, in 1114, but the latter died in 1125. No sooner was Robert gone than Stephen launched a sudden attack and brought his army to surround the castle. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. ( Log Out /  During the retreat from the city, she was dealt a further blow when Robert of Gloucester was taken prisoner. Justice! Author: PurpleHz, British Library, Cotton Nero D. VII, f. 7. The war degenerated into a stalemate, with Matilda controlling much of the south-west of England, and … Matilda was left in Oxford Castle, presumably believing herself to be safe. Comprising the History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Accession of Henry II. 6 – From the BBC website. He attacked and seized the town and then besieged Matilda at Oxford Castle. Following Stephen's recovery, says the author of the anti-Angevin Gesta, the King acted like a man "awakened as out of sleep". Also, the Acts of Stephen, King of England and Duke of Normandy (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853). T: 01865 260666, Heritage Projects (Oxford Castle) Ltd [6] Edmund King and K. R. Potter, eds., William of Malmesbury, Historia Novella: The Contemporary History (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), p. 127. 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. 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]. The widowed king married Adeliza of Louvain in the hope of producing more children, but their marriage was a childless one. Oxford Castle & Prison: Matilda - See 2,673 traveler reviews, 1,022 candid photos, and great deals for Oxford, UK, at Tripadvisor. Photograph of St George’s Tower. For International Women’s Day, we are honouring the strongest woman in Oxford Castle’s history: Empress Matilda. [1] For my published account of this event, see Dan Spencer, The Castle at War in Medieval England and Wales (Stroud: Amberley Publishing, 2018). Registered in England No: 5763243 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. Later Oxford served as the Royal capital during the Civil War and thereafter was used as a prison until 1996. 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. [160] In response, in July Matilda … 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. foreground: background: Image title: ... and during the wars of Stephen and Matilda. 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. Original at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MS 373 3895B. 4 – From Wikipedia. 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. The tower, together with the other structures in the fortress, was later rebuilt in stone. Matilda responded by escaping from the castle. 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. 1 – Charles Ricketts, ‘The Flight of Matilda from Oxford’, from Cassell’s History of England. It was thick snow and bitterly cold, but she managed to reach the town of Wallingford during the night. [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’. [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. She crossed the River Thames (which had evidently frozen over) and miraculously made her way through the royalist camp without being detected. 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. 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. The Empress Matilda was forced to flee London and was besieged in Winchester, which she managed to escape from with great difficulty. 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. 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. Step back in time with our costumed guided tours and see fascinating stories come to life. ( Log Out /  Photograph of a very snowy Oxford Castle taken by Amanda Coombs. 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'… If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. Matilda had taken up residence in Oxford Castle in 1141, but it was besieged by the forces of her cousin King Stephen. Oxford Castle Unlocked is a museum in Oxford. So, for International Women’s Day, we are honouring the strongest woman in Oxford Castle’s history: Empress Matilda. 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. The castle has a natural moat. 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'. Edmund King and K. R. Potter, eds., William of Malmesbury, Historia Novella: The Contemporary History (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998). Tweet us @oxfordcastle and let us know: Who is the strongest woman you know? [10] William of Malmesbury describes her escape as being ‘a manifest miracle of God’. [9] Thomas Forester, ed., The Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon. St George's Tower at Oxford Castle. This shortage of food prompted the Empress Matilda to make the desperate attempt to flee from the castle. Matilda found herself besieged at Oxford Castle during the winter of 1142. However, by the 14th century the castle was in a ruinous state, at least in part. Registered Office: St. Edmund's House, Margaret Street, YORK, YO10 4UX. The visitor attraction, Oxford Castle and Prison, brings the site’s history to life, opening a whole new perspective on Oxford. 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 and her household were confined to the castle where they were closely besieged by the royalists. [4], (Plan of Oxford Castle as it would have appeared in c.1250. 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). Heritage Projects (Oxford Castle) Ltd Registered in England No: 5763243 Registered Office: St. Edmund's House, Margaret Street, YORK, YO10 4UX Her second marriage is recorded by Orderic Vitalis[164]. 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. In 1139, she crossed to England and joined forces with her half-brother Robert of Gloucester. The siege lasted 3 months. The capture of Oxford would thereby allow the royalists to put pressure on the garrison of Wallingford Castle. I n 1142 Empress Matilda escaped from Oxford Castle where she was being held by her dynastic rival, Stephen of Blois. Empress Matilda escaped from Oxford Castle in 1141 in the Anarchy. Oxford Castle Marker Matilda, famously escaped by fleeing down the frozen Thames dressed in white. 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 … All Rights Reserved. What comes next is one of the greatest escape stories in English history, and is well renowned as … From the Roman Invasion to the Wars of the Roses, volume 1 (London: Cassell and Company, Limited, 1909), p. 176. She then donned a pair of ice skates and fled across the frozen River Thames to the safety of Wallingford Castle. Key themes, people and exhibits in the museum include: marshall william smith, geoffrey of monmouth, crime and punishment, victorian prison, empress matilda, john … Eventually after great exertions she reached the safety of Wallingford. 7 – From Wikipedia. A. Giles, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (London: G. Bell and Sons, Ltd, 1914). William of Malmesbury, a monastic chronicler, records that on 26 September, Stephen’s army stormed the town of Oxford. (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. This won him the port town of Wareham—cutting the Angevins' line of commu… [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. This provided the opportunity for Matilda to assert her claim to the throne through force. 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. 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. Yet Henry’s relationship with his daughter and her husband was a fraught one. 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 meant that Henry’s only surviving legitimate child was his daughter Matilda, who he wished to succeed him. Oxford Castle & Prison He then advanced with his army towards Oxford. Also, the Acts of Stephen, King of England and Duke of Normandy (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853), p. 281. water, castles, ruins, trees, bridges, greyscale. 44-46 Oxford Castle, Oxford OX1 1AY R… [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. In this she was gravely mistaken. [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. J. The Snow Queen: a Christmas fairytale ballet. Matilda based herself at Oxford Castle in 1141 but quickly found herself under siege from Stephen’s forces. [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’. 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 … What comes next is one of the greatest escape stories in English history, and is well renowned as such. This provided a golden opportunity for Matilda to win the conflict, with many of the king’s supporters deserting his 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. 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. In the following year, Stephen went on the offensive and succeeded in capturing Wareham and Cirencester. 140-3. They sought to bolster their position in England and Normandy through securing control of strategic castles, which angered the king. [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. Oxford Castle, in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England more. 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. 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. The castle has played an important role in the history of Oxford and of England. In 1142 Matilda was again besieged, in Oxford, but managed to escape, crossing the frozen Thames in white camouflage and reaching Wallingford. [3] Ibid; Edmund King, King Stephen (London: Yale University Press, 2012), pp. When her father died she was ousted from her rightful inheritance by her rivalrous … In the 12th century, a fierce battle was fought for the throne of England between Stephen and Matilda, grandchildren of William the Conqueror. The siege lasted 3 months. 3 – From Wikipedia. It took the form of a motte and bailey castle, which incorporated timber buildings, including a tower situated on top of the motte. The castle was built strategically off a stream of … Oxford Castle & Prison 44-46 Oxford Castle, Oxford OX1 1AY T: 01865 260666. The war was only finally ended by negotiations between her son, Henry Plantagenet (the future Henry II) and Stephen, in the summer of 1153. The royalists soon overran the town and laid siege to the castle, where the Empress Matilda was residing. ( Log Out /  The museum features exhibits related to: law and order, personalities, social history, religion and architecture. Stephen took the opportunity to besiege Oxford Castle, where Matilda was then based. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. The invasion had created an Anglo-Norman elite, many with estates spread … Robert was so important to his sister’s cause that she was willing to ransom him for Stephen. Matilda, realising that the game was up, snuck away from the castle … 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. 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. The Anarchy Empress Matilda Angevin kings of England Battle of Lincoln (1141) Rout of Winchester Hear the great tales of Empress Matilda or the fate of Mary Blandy, one of the prisons’ most famous criminals. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. © 2020 Oxford Castle & Prison. In December 1141, Stephen unexpectedly marched upon Oxford. 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. Oxford Castle was constructed in 1071 re-using earlier Saxon defences. 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. In 1216, Fawkes de Breauté held the castle for King John against a baronial army. ( Log Out /  His plan was to besiege the castle, trapping his cousin inside and starving her into submission. 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 … K. R. Potter, and R. H. C. Davis, eds., Gesta Stephani (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1976). H. M. Colvin, ed., The History of the King’s Works, volume 2 (London: H. M. S. O, 1963). In November 1120, the only legitimate son of Henry I, William Adelin, drowned whilst crossing to England from Normandy, when his ship sank. 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. Thomas Forester, ed., The Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon. 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. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. [11] King and Potter, William of Malmesbury, pp. 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. Empress Matilda escaped from Oxford Castle in 1141 in the Anarchy. 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’. [10] J. [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]. The food … Empress Matilda escaped from Oxford Castle in 1141 in the Anarchy. Comprising the History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Accession of Henry II. [7] K. R. Potter, and R. H. C. Davis, eds., Gesta Stephani (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1976), pp. 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. 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. [5] H. M. Colvin, ed., The History of the King’s Works, volume 2 (London: H. M. S. O, 1963), pp. Matilda found herself besieged at Oxford Castle during the winter of 1142. 771-2. Yet she in turn suffered a major reversal of fortune due, in large part, to the efforts of Queen Matilda (Stephen’s wife). Henry I of England miracle of God ’ daughter and her husband was a childless one,! The oxford castle matilda features exhibits related to: law and order, personalities, history... John against a baronial army then donned a pair of ice skates and fled across the frozen River Thames the. London: Yale University Press, 2012 ) a childless one as being ‘ a manifest of... Year history of England suamviduam\ '' to \ '' filiam suamviduam\ '' \! Besieged at Oxford Castle in 1141 in the dead of night, Oxfordshire, England.! 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