Reinette is educated, amibitious and graceful. She posses a sharp wit, even biting at times, and yet filled with poetry and adept at imbuing even the most bizarre of her circumstances with beauty: “There is a vessel in your world where the days of my life are pressed together like the chapters of a book”. Reinette’s poise hides her vulnerability, but there is steel found under it as well. She’s the child who demanded to know what the clockwork droid wanted with her and she’s the young woman who stole a kiss from an impossible man. She walks among Doctor’s memories as if it is second nature to her and calmly confronts the monsters which plagued her for three decades.
And she is Madame de Pompadour. A title, a larger-than-life persona, a shining figure of history. And still so very human.
Queens of England +Matilda aka Edith of Scotland (1080-1118)
Matilda was born around 1080 in Dunfermline, the daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland and Saint Margaret. She was christened Edith, and Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, stood as godfather at the ceremony. Queen Matilda, the consort of William the Conqueror, was also present at the baptismal font and served as her godmother. Baby Matilda pulled at Queen Matilda’s headdress, which was seen as an omen that the younger Matilda would be queen one day.
When she was about six years old, Matilda of Scotland and her sister Mary were sent to Romsey Abbey, near Southampton, where their aunt Cristina was abbess. Her education went beyond the standard feminine pursuits. This was not surprising as her mother was a great lover of books. Her daughters learned English, French, and some Latin, and were sufficiently literate to read St. Augustine and the Bible.
After the mysterious death of William II in August 1100, his brother, Henry, immediately seized the royal treasury and crown. His next task was to marry and Henry’s choice was Matilda. Because Matilda had spent most of her life in a convent, there was some controversy over whether she was a nun and thus canonically ineligible for marriage. Matilda testified that she had never taken holy vows, insisting that her parents had sent her and her sister to England for educational purposes, and her aunt Cristina had veiled her to protect her “from the lust of the Normans.” Matilda claimed she had pulled the veil off and stamped on it, and her aunt beat and scolded her for this act.
Matilda’s mother was the sister of Edgar the Ætheling, proclaimed but uncrowned King of England after Harold, and, through her, Matilda was descended from Edmund Ironside and thus from the royal family of Wessex, which in the 10th century had become the royal family of a united England. This was extremely important because although Henry had been born in England, he needed a bride with ties to the ancient Wessex line to increase his popularity with the English and to reconcile the Normans and Anglo-Saxons.
After Matilda and Henry were married on 11 November 1100 at Westminster Abbey by Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury, she was crowned as “Matilda,” a hallowed Norman name. By courtiers, however, she and her husband were soon nicknamed ‘Godric and Godiva’. She gave birth to a daughter, Matilda, born in February 1102, and a son, William, called “Adelin”, in November 1103. Matilda was the designated head of Henry’s curia and acted as regent during his frequent absences.
Matilda had great interest in architecture and instigated the building of many Norman-style buildings, including Waltham Abbey and Holy Trinity Aldgate. She also had the first arched bridge in England built, at Stratford-le-Bow, as well as a bathhouse with piped-in water and public lavatories at Queenhithe.
She was an active queen and, like her mother, was renowned for her devotion to religion and the poor. Matilda exhibited a particular interest in leprosy, founding at least two leper hospitals, including the institution that later became the parish church of St Giles-in-the-Fields. She also administered extensive dower properties and was known as a patron of the arts, especially music.
After Matilda died on 1 May 1118 at Westminster Palace, she was buried at Westminster Abbey.After her death, she was remembered by her subjects as “Matilda the Good Queen” and “Matilda of Blessed Memory”, and for a time sainthood was sought for her, though she was never canonized. Matilda is also thought to be the identity of the “Fair Lady” mentioned at the end of each verse in the nursery rhyme London Bridge Is Falling Down. The post-Norman conquest English monarchs to the present day are related to the Anglo-Saxon House of Wessex monarchs via Matilda of Scotland as she was the great-granddaughter of King Edmund Ironside. (x)