How Hillary Clinton resembles the Empress Matilda
Different as they appear to be - the Empress Matilda lived in the 12th century and was fighting to inherit the throne of England promised to her by her father and his barons - there are more than a few resemblances in Matilda's and Hillary's dogged fights for their respective crowns.
Matilda has been described as domineering, and Hillary has been described as bossy, and both have encountered resistance to their political ambitions due to their sex.
Matilda had to contend with a woman as resolute as herself - "Stephen's queen, also named Matilda, never gave up the fight" (Oxford DNB). Hillary has had to contend with Michelle Obama.
Matilda's husband, Geoffrey, was supportive, and fortunately for her, perhaps, spent most of his time consolidating family control over Normandy. Bill Clinton, perhaps unfortunately for Hillary, has not been a remote presence and could never be described as someone with a stiff upper lip.
Matilda fought for eleven long years, until her mission was transformed from taking the crown for herself to seeing her son Henry crowned King.
Hillary's campaign to be the presidential nominee of the Democratic party seems to have lasted eleven years, and in the last few months her mission has broadened beyond winning the nomination to proving that a woman will not quit, no matter how rough it gets.
Like Matilda, Hillary has had supporters who were behind her until they wavered and abandoned her; both women have been blamed for causing wrenching losses by continuing their battles.
Matilda inherited her will to achieve from her father and her remarkable mother, who often acted as regent in England when Henry I was absent. Hillary Clinton inherited her will to achieve and her freedom to try from many women, who fought for women's rights.
Though it is said that Hillary inherited her power from Bill Clinton, I doubt Bill would have become president without her. Henry II would never have become king without his mother Matilda.
It is likely that Hillary, like Matilda, will not achieve her original aim. However, Matilda forced Stephen to agree that her son, not his, would be King, and Henry II was crowned after Stephen's death, with momentous consequences for British history. Hillary may become the Democrats' candidate for Vice President.
Like Matilda, Hillary has forever established that a woman can be tough. Whatever she does in the future will probably affect her country. Whether she helps Obama to the 'crown' remains to be seen.
What is certain is that America's success and Britain's would not have been possible without the contributions of American and British women.
For more on Matilda's escape from a besieged castle and her life after her son was on the throne -
In 1142, with her battered garrison surrounded by Stephen's army and her castle stores down to starvation level, it appeared that Stephen would finally be the uncontested king, and the Empress Matilda's mission to take the crown promised her by her father, Henry I, and his barons, was finished. But not quite.
It was night and snowing hard when Matilda was let down by a rope from the rear of the tower towards the river with two or three men. Muffled in white to pass unseen through Stephen's lines, they crossed the river on the ice and walked six miles to Abingdon, where they found horses and Matilda continued her battle for the crown she believed was rightfully hers.
When her son became king he often asked his mother to act for him - Matilda heard court cases, built bridges, negotiated treaties and gave Henry II practical advice which he did not always take.
Unlike her son, for instance, Matilda "was less concerned with the legal principles determining the procedure for judging criminous clerks than with the measures needed to prevent the crimes; she blamed the bishops for ordaining too many clerks without benefices, so that poverty drove them to robbery and violence, while on the other hand some wealthy clerks held as many as four or even seven churches or prebends, contrary to the canon law that forbade more than two" (DNB).
Matilda "set an example of fortitude and patience. . .Her lasting achievement in the long run was to secure - by courage, determination, and shrewd political judgement - the succession of her son Henry II" (DNB).
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