Maud was the eldest, legitimate daughter of Henry I of England. Her major claim to fame is that she warred for 19 years with Stephen of Blois, her cousin (both were grandchildren of William the Conqueror), for the throne of England. This period of English history is known as ‘The Anarchy’.
Maud resolved to take this path after the death of her brother, Henry, who went down with the White Ship in 1120 AD. His death left King Henry with no legitimate sons (and up to twenty illegitimate ones). In English law, illegitimate sons could not inherit, which left only Maud to take the throne. While Henry was still alive, he tried very hard to get the barons to swear they would follow Maud. Afterwards … Stephen felt that as a legitimate male, even if descended through his mother, Adela, a daughter of William.
Stephen and his wife, Matilda, were crowned King and Queen of England in 1135, shortly after King Henry’s death. They had crossed the English Channel from Normandy more quickly than Maud and claimed the throne.
Both Stephen and Maud, of course, were Normans. The spoke French, they held lands in Normandy and France, and hadn’t actually spent very much time in England before they began fighting over it.
“Matilda is the Latin form of Maud, and the name of the only surviving legitimate child of King Henry I. She was born in 1101, generally it is said at Winchester, but recent research indicates that she was actually born at the Royal Palace in Sutton Courtenay (Berkshire).
In something of a political coup for her father, Matilda was betrothed to the German Emperor, Henry V, when she was only eight. They were married on 7th January 1114. She was twelve and he was thirty-two. Unfortunately there were no children and on the Emperor’s death in 1125, Matilda was recalled to her father’s court.
Matilda’s only legitimate brother had been killed in the disastrous Wreck of the White Ship in late 1120 and she was now her father’s only hope for the continuation of his dynasty. The barons swore allegiance to the young Princess and promised to make her queen after her father’s death. She herself needed heirs though and in April 1127, Matilda found herself obliged to marry Prince Geoffrey of Anjou and Maine (the future Geoffrey V, Count of those Regions). He was thirteen, she twenty-three. It is thought that the two never got on. However, despite this unhappy situation they had had three sons in four years.” http://www.britannia.com/history/monarchs/mon25a.html
Unfortunately, when Maud did have a chance to claim the crown, the people of London refused to crown her and drove her from the city. The chronicles report that she was haughty and disagreeable (Norman, remember, overseeing Saxon subjects). King Stephen’s Queen, Matilda, though also Norman, had behaved more to their liking. Maud never came close to gaining the throne again. http://www.guide-to-castles-of-europe.com/empress-matilda.html
The final outcome of The Anarchy was Maud’s retirement from the field in 1148 at the death of her greatest supporter, her half-brother Robert (who was illegitimate). Once King Stephen’s son, Eustace died in 1153, it allowed for “the possibility of a peaceful settlement between Stephen and his rival, the young Henry of Anjou. According to William of Newburgh, King Stephen was “grieved beyond measure by the death of the son who he hoped would succeed him; he pursued warlike preparations less vigorously, and listened more patiently than usual to the voices of those urging peace.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eustace_IV,_Count_of_Boulogne
Here is a timeline for Maud’s life: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/empressmatilda/a/matilda_timelin.htm
King Owain Gwynedd (King of North Wales) took advantage of The Anarchy to consolidate his lands and power. This period in the twelfth century is the setting for my Gareth and Gwen Medieval Mysteries.