Cultural depictions of the Empress Matilda

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The 12th-century ruler Empress Matilda has been depicted in various cultural media.

Theatre, film and television[edit]

Matilda is a character in Henry I of England, a play by Beth Flintoff, which was first performed in November 2016 at St James's Church, Reading.[1] The drama follows the story of the three sons of William the Conqueror and ends with the early reign of her father Henry, including the time when Matilda became Empress by marrying Henry V of Germany. The narrative continues in Flintoff’s play Matilda the Empress, first performed in 2017 with Dani McCallum taking the lead part. It depicts Matilda’s later life and The Anarchy period after Henry I’s death when she and her cousin Stephen were rivals for the succession.[2]

Matilda is also a character in Jean Anouilh's play Becket. In the 1964 film adaptation she was portrayed by Martita Hunt.[3] Alison Pill portrayed Matilda in the 2010 TV miniseries The Pillars of the Earth, an adaptation of Follett's novel. She was played by Brenda Bruce in the 1978 BBC TV series The Devil's Crown, which dramatised the reigns of her son and grandsons.[4]

Historical fiction[edit]

Novels dealing with the civil war between Matilda and Stephen include: