Book Review: Stephen and Matilda’s Civil War – Cousins of anarchy by Matthew Lewis

Genre: History

Publisher: Pen and Sword

Pub date: 30 October 2019

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The white ship disaster struck on 25 November 1120 killing William Adelin, the only legitimate son of King Henry I.

Matilda was left as the kings only heir and his death caused the civil war spanning 19 years between 1135 and 1154 known as The Anarchy.

Stephen, the son of Adela who was the daughter of William the conqueror was the cousin of Matilda through her father King Henry I who was a son of William the conqueror.

Upon the death of Henry I, Stephen had himself coronated as king whilst Matilda remained abroad. When Matilda arrives in England the barons of England are torn who to support. Matildas half brother, Robert Earl of Gloucester the illegitimate son of Henry I supports Matilda and is one of the most powerful barons in the land.

Throughout the years Robert fights for Matildas cause but Stephen is always quick to respond. Upon the death of Robert it seems Matilda loses the will to fight and leaves England only to keep supporting her cause to be passed to her son Henry which eventually brought about the birth of Plantaganet Kings.

I have read little about this era but it is fascinating. Neither cousin wants to be defeated but neither does it seem they wish to harm each other.

There is a great use of contemporary evidence used and the book is clearly well researched. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, The Gesta Stephani and an the account of William of Malmesbury have clearly been researched in detail to provide this highly detailed account of The Anarchy.

I enjoyed the book immensely in particular the direct quotes and the images provided at the end of the book.

However, I would only recommend this to those who have a genuine interest in history.

This publishes next week but can be pre-ordered now!

Thank you to NetGalley and Pen and Sword for the opportunity to read this in exchange for my review.

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