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Queen of the Conqueror: The Life of Matilda, Wife of William I

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  602 ratings  ·  107 reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Around the year 1049, William, Duke of Normandy and future conqueror of England, raced to the palace of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders. The count’s eldest daughter, Matilda, had refused William’s offer of marriage and publicly denounced him as a bastard. Encountering the young woman, William furiously dragged her to the ground by her hair and beat he
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Hardcover, 296 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Bantam (first published September 1st 2011)
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A Distant Mirror by Barbara W. TuchmanThe Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England by Ian MortimerEleanor of Aquitaine by Alison WeirA World Lit Only by Fire by William R. ManchesterIn Search of the Dark Ages by Michael Wood
Best Medieval History Books
18th out of 424 books — 159 voters
Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison WeirShe-Wolves by Helen CastorQueen Isabella by Alison WeirQueen of the Conqueror by Tracy BormanEleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings by Amy Kelly
Medieval Queens of England
4th out of 29 books — 19 voters


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Community Reviews

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Nikki
I was quite enjoying this -- a lot of research seems to have gone into it, but there are significant problems too. Borman doesn't seem to have known how to be selective with her sources; she repeats myths as if they're true and only then explains the dubious provenance of the story -- and she still uses it as part of her narrative, suggesting that it may reflect elements of the truth.

Matilda was surely a formidable woman, and at its best this work shows us that side of her, the woman who was dec
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Orsolya
Although everyone may have heard of William the Conqueror; less is known about his influential wife, Matilda. Tracy Borman attempts to open the windows into Matilda’s life with “Queen of the Conquer: The Life of Matilda, Wife of William I”.

The life (and sometimes plight) of Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror; is unfortunately loose in resources. Thus, “Queen of the Conqueror” begins like many other biographies surrounding ill-documented figures by describing the world and events surrounding
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Jordan
I found this book to be ultimately, a very frustrating read. Part of the frustration comes from the fact that there isn't that much historians know about Matilda; the records just aren't there, so a lot of the book isn't about her.

But a much bigger part of the frustration comes from the author and her writing style. I started questioning what I was reading when the author stated that bones thought to be Matilda's meant that she was only 4'2". This is just not true. There was a miscommunication w
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Pete daPixie
As biographies of historical figures of the eleventh century go, Tracy Borman's 'Matilda-Queen of the Conqueror' (2011) is quite good. She writes historical narrative in a very colourful way that makes for easy reading.
She relies heavily for her sources upon Norman and English 11th and 12th century writers. William of Jumieges for the Norman histories and William of Malmesbury and Orderic Vitalis for the more English perspectives, as well as the Anglo Saxon Chronicles and all the way into the ni
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Kim
Tracy Borman chose a difficult subject for a biography, and succeeded at it remarkably well. Though a significant person in the affairs of western Europe during her lifetime, concrete information on Matilda of Flanders is difficult to find and ascertain.

Nonetheless, Borman builds as comprehensive picture as possible on the wife of William the Conqueror, placing her at the center of their new dynasty and utlimately making her the glue that bound the family together.

There were a few places where t
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Cori Sherman North
In general this was a decent narrative biography, but the writing style left Much to be desired. Regularly throughout the book, the author would write up a "known" historical bit as if it were a continuation in the Matilda story, comment on it, and Then announce it was from a 19th c writer or some other source that would obviously be unlikely to be factual. It would have been so much more interesting if the author had collected all these later glosses and had a last chapter of Matilda's developm ...more
Karen
A biography of Matilda of Flanders is one of the things I have been hoping for, for many years. Tracy Borman has written a very good book which would appeal to a wide-ranging audience. I highly enjoyed it.

There are a few things which may surprise people - for example that Judith, wife of Tostig Godwineson, may have been Matilda's aunt and not her sister as has been assumed for years. I am not entirely convinced by many of the Brihtric stories that form part of Matilda's legend, and I would have
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Rindis
Tracy Borman’s book about Queen Matilda (William the Conqueror’s wife, if you’re not keeping score at home) does a very good job with tracing the live of a medieval woman (much better than Weir’s Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life , but it is also only 3/4s the length of that book), but manages to be irritating on a regular basis.

The introduction of the book gives a commonly told story of Matilda, upon hearing that she was to be betrothed to Duke William “the Bastard” of Normandy, rejecting the idea
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Rebecca Huston
A very coherent, thorough biography of one of the lesser known queens of English history, Matilda of Flanders, wife of William the Conqueror. A great deal is given over to the beating that he gave her when she refused his offer of marriage, the familial background of the couple, their many children and the role that Matilda played in shaping what would be the queen's duties as the consort of an English king. She was cultured, well-educated, generous to the Church and to the poor. I was very surp ...more
Seonaid
Writing the biography of a woman from the 11th century is never going to be an easy task, due to a lack of primary sources that often fail to even record the birth (or death) of a daughter, let alone the social restrictions placed on women of the period, but Matilda, being an unusually powerful woman, has left a greater amount of recorded activity than just about any other woman of her period. So yes, there are issues of real evidence in the biography that Borman deals with by a liberal use of t ...more
Christie
Around the year 1049, William, Duke of Normandy and future conqueror of England, rode furiously to the palace of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders, in Bruges.

Matilda of Flanders, wife of William I the Conqueror, remains a mystery to history. Who was the woman behind the man who conquered England? How did her tempestuous marriage come about? In this biography, Tracy Borman tries to make sense of the conflicting accounts of Matilda's life and how she became the queen that every monarch of England is
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Steven Peterson
As one goes back in time, it often becomes more and more difficult to create a convincing biography. When I first read about this book, I wondered how a biography of a king's wife could be sustained. But Tracy Borman has accomplished exactly that. Using what sources are available and extrapolating sensibly (not going far beyond what is based on documentation--however uncertain those sources might be), Borman develops a pretty compelling story of Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror, who became ...more
Therese
$15.99

Not too long ago the only thing I had ever heard about was the year 1066 and enable William the Conqueror. I'm not saying I know a whole lot more now, but I do know considerable more than I did before, and I'm so glad I read this twice about Matilda, Williams wife. She was not some helpless female that William chose, and although she didn't want to marry him at first, she finally relented. It is not easy to keep track of how many children they had, but there are records of about 9 although
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Marilyn
What a treat it was, to read Tracy Norman's book, Queen of the Conqueror! Matilda of Flanders was said to have paved the way, for other strong willed Queens yet to come. That she did, and in a big way. Tiny Matilda was not going to be pushed around by anyone, not even her husband Duke William, who would in the year 1066, defeat King Harold at the battle of Hastings and become the next King of England. William's victory would bring about much change in England, since he was the first Norman King ...more
Maureen
Jul 17, 2014 Maureen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those interested in Medieval English history or the history of the British monarchy
An interesting and concise biography of Matilda I, wife of William the Conqueror. The author reveals the strength and fortitude of Matilda who was definitely the woman beside the man and throne--sometimes the one on the throne.
Laurie
Up front, I want to admit that I read this book on my Kindle. If, after reading this review, you choose to purchase it, PLEASE buy a hard copy. My Kindle immediately started me at the Introduction, and I therefore missed four fairly important pages of genealogy and maps that are virtually unreadable on the Kindle. In reality, the book could have used additional pages of genealogical charts showing the connections of important relatives and other kings and queens (Henry, King of France? Emma, the ...more
Lisa
This is an interesting read--a biography of Matilda, Duchess of Normandy and Queen of England, wife to William the Conqueror and mother of nine. She was an amazing woman and made a great difference for good in curbing the brutality and excesses of her husband (although not enough) and keeping her family from disintegrating into quarreling and treachery among the sons--which it finally did, with one son during her lifetime and completely after her death. My only complaint is that the author sever ...more
M.J.
I really wanted to enjoy this book, and indeed, the writing style is pleasant enough and it reads well. However, it falls into that category of history book which has to be labelled 'apologist'. The author can excuse her heroine almost anything in her attempts to present a picture of the alleged, First Queen of England. And in juxtaposing her against William the Conqueror, she paints a bleak picture of what he was like as a person. I'm under the impression, after reading the book, that the autho ...more
Regina Beard
Many have heard of William the Conqueror, but few know of his wife, Matilda of Flanders. In this biography, Tracy Borman examines Matilda's life in a passionate prose that draws the reader into the narrative. Although Queen of the Conqueror is well researched, there is too much attention placed on rumors about Matilda written centuries after her death. The author is correct in addressing later writers who slander Matilda to point out that misogyny is the main reason historians know so little abo ...more
Elis Madison
This is a historical biography, rather than a novel, but it grabbed and kept my interest where dry historical texts tend to lose it. The author relates what is known about Matilda of Flanders, based on contemporary accounts that aren't always trustworthy, and the author's extrapolation based on information on record. This one will end up on my "keeper" shelf because of the author's meticulous research and mostly reasonable suppositions, about one of the most fascinating women of the Conquest era ...more
Emily
I enjoyed this book, despite the obvious challenge the author faced in writing a biography of someone who lived in a time for which we have so few remaining records. Matilda was certainly a fascinating figure, and I gained a more nuanced understanding of her role in the complicated political landscape of Normandy and England. I appreciated the way the author drew reasonable conclusions about Matilda's character, outlook, and talents. I also thought the author did well in reminding the reader abo ...more
Mercedes Rochelle
Queen Matilda, small but never diminutive, seems to have cast a large shadow over the pages of history. Beloved by her husband the great William I, strong-willed and intrepid, she demonstrated to Europe how a powerful woman could provide more to her country than just heirs. In many ways she reminded me of Eleanor of Aquitaine: one might call her marriage a great love match which eventually went bad; she loved one son to excess and supported him against his father; she was perfectly capable of ru ...more
Jennifer
I had never heard of Matilda until I picked up this book and I am so glad I picked it up. Matilda was not only a wife to William the Conqueror but also it seems was quite literally “the wind beneath his wings”. She was a woman who provided her husband not only with 9 children but the kind of steadying influence which enabled him to successfully conquer and rule England and Normandy for many years. There is not much in the way of biographical details about Matilda’s everyday life in the historica ...more
Dee
From the title and the cover, I feared this would be a Philippa Gregory-type abomination. I hate "historical" books that imbue historical figures with motivations and emotions that can't be known, that alter events, that try to make them sexy and modern.

This is not that book. While not as dense as a scholarly treatise, Borman takes care to always cite her sources, and to offer competing narratives of an event for the reader's understanding. If three historians offer three variations, Borman lay
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Cassy Collins
A wonderful portrait of an unknown, and yet, incredibly famous Queen. She, as the power behind the throne, is the only reason William the Conqueror was ever successful at conquering. Without her expertise in politics, England would likely be an incredibly different land than it is today. This book does a magnificent job in bringing to life an era much romanticized, but poorly understood. It takes the time to re-examine assumptions made about Queen Matilda, and looks at the evidence that remains; ...more
Glen Stott
This is the biography of Matilda, queen of William the Conqueror. The story begins in 1049 when William, Duke of Normandy and future conqueror of England rides to the palace of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders to drag the Count’s daughter to the ground and beat her mercilessly for refusing his offer of marriage. Two days later she shocked her family by declaring she would marry William. She was a small woman physically, but she took on the challenge of conquering William. She established a new model ...more
Nancy
***
As a fan of historical fiction, I wasn’t sure if I’d like this book or not, but I found myself drawn into an ancient world where Matilda, the first Queen of England, proved to have a strength of character unknown for women of her time. It’s an absorbing story of ruthless men used to having their own way and women who were used as chattel to gain territory and allies for their fathers or were sent to nunneries where they served their families in a spiritual and religious way.

There were times
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Tania
Ms. Borman has put together an impressively thorough account of Queen Matilda's life in the face of a lack of credible contemporary sources regarding the intimate details of a woman in that time period. She has pieced the facts together quite well, inferred where she had to from charters and other government documents, compared and contrasted different recorded accounts and proposed the most likely truths about Matilda's character, marriage, family, and political influence.

Covering everything f
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Marie Z. Johansen
When I heard that Tracy Borman was releasing a new title I had to pre-order it right away. I has so enjoyed her earlier work , "Elizabeth's Women" (I ordered if from Amazon UK so that I would not have to wait for the US release!) that I had high hopes for "Wife of The Conqueror" - and I was, happily, not disappointed!



Many of us have read a book about William , or at least know about who he was and what his claims to fame are, but few of us know much about his Queen, the very first Queen of Engla
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Fajar
Sesuai judulnya, biografi ini berfokus kepada kehidupan Matilda dalam perannya sebagai istri dari William the Conqueror. Matilda adalah sosok perempuan yang cukup beruntung. Lahir dari keluarga bangsawan, menikah dengan pria yang kelak menjadi penguasa besar, dan melahirkan banyak keturunan. Dia memiliki semua kriteria perempuan ideal menurut zamannya.

Namun itu semua bukanlah alasan mengapa sosok Matilda menjadi dikenang. Matilda adalah sosok ratu yang cukup aktif dalam perannya sehingga menghas
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 16, 2015 11:12AM  
Goodreads Librari...: ISBN13: 9780099549130 5 13 Mar 31, 2014 07:45AM  
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Tracey Borman is a historian and author from Scothern, United Kingdom. She is most widely known as the author of Elizabeth's Women.

Borman was born and brought up in the village of Scothern, England near Lincoln. She was educated at Scothern Primary School (now Ellison Boulters School), William Farr School, Welton, and Yarborough School, Lincoln. She taught history at the University of Hull, where
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More about Tracy Borman...
Elizabeth's Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant Henrietta Howard: King's Mistress, Queen's Servant Witches, a tale of Scandal, Sorcery and Seduction Our Reigning Queens: The History Girls. Tracy Borman ... [Et Al.]

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