//Clémence Poesy as Empress Matilda
was the daughter and heir of King Henry I of England. Matilda and her younger brother, William Adelin, were the only legitimate children of King Henry to survive to adulthood. However, her brother’s death in the White Ship disaster in 1120 resulted in Matilda being her father’s sole heir. As a child, Matilda was betrothed to and later married Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, acquiring the title Empress. The couple had no known children and after eleven years of marriage Henry died, leaving Matilda widowed. However, she was then married to Geoffrey, Count of Anjou in a union which her father hoped would produce a male heir and continue the dynasty. She had three sons by Geoffrey of Anjou, the eldest of whom eventually became King Henry II of England. Upon the death of her father in 1135, Matilda was usurped to the throne by her rival and cousin Stephen of Blois, who moved quickly and became crowned King of England whilst Matilda was in Normandy, pregnant with her third child. Their rivalry for the throne led to years of unrest and civil war in England that have been called The Anarchy. Matilda was the first female ruler of the Kingdom of England, though the length of her effective rule was brief – a few months in 1141. She was never crowned and failed to consolidate her rule (legally and politically). For this reason, she is normally excluded from lists of English monarchs, and her rival (and cousin) Stephen of Blois is listed as monarch for the period 1135–1154. She campaigned unstintingly for her oldest son’s inheritance, living to see him ascend the throne of England in 1154.