In Our Time - The Anarchy
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss The Anarchy, the period of bloody civil war that took place in 12th-century England.
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss The Anarchy, the civil war that took place in mid-twelfth century England. The war began as a succession dispute between the Empress Matilda, daughter of Henry I, and her cousin, Stephen of Blois. On Henry's death Stephen seized the English throne and held it for a number of years before Matilda wrestled it from him, although she was chased out of London before she could be crowned.
The Anarchy dragged on for nearly twenty years and is so called because of the chaos and lawlessness that characterised the period. Yet only one major battle ever took place, the Battle of Lincoln in 1141, and any other fighting associated with the conflict was fairly localised. This has led historians to question the accuracy of labelling the civil war as The Anarchy, a name only bestowed on the era in the 19th century. But why did Matilda fail to become the monarch, and what impact did it have on the way England was ruled in centuries to come?
John Gillingham Emeritus Professor of History at the London School of Economics and Political Science
Louise Wilkinson Reader in Medieval History at Canterbury Christ Church University
David Carpenter Professor of Medieval History at Kings College London.
Producer: Natalia Fernandez.