Today in the Middle Ages: September 30, 1139

Matilda, also called Maud, the daughter of Henry I, landed in England to claim its crown on September 30, 1139. She was the first woman ever to rule the kingdom of England.

Although she was the heir, the throne was then held by her cousin Stephen of Blois. She took him prisoner at one point, but was eventually forced to exchange him for her most valued supporter, Robert of Gloucester, and Stephen regained control. The years of war between them form an interesting background to the Brother Cadfael medieval mystery novels by Ellis Peters.