STEPHEN OF BLOIS IN ENGLAND
When Stephen of Blois rushed across the English Channel in 1135 to claim his uncle's throne, the speed of his action bought him several years of relative security. His opponents found their position severely undermined within the space of a few weeks. However valid Matilda's claims might have been to her father's English crown, Stephen had the benefit of being the anointed king. His acquisition of the duchy of Normandy left her with Anjou as her only base of support, and the long-standing animosity between Normans and Angevins only precluded her attracting large number of sympathizers within the duchy. Yet it was only a matter of time before the business of kingship meant that Stephen was going to anger certain of his subjects. Matilda naturally attracted these, like Baldwin de Redvers or Eustace fitz John, who suffered losses under the new monarch.1 Her cause received its greatest boost in the spring of 1138 when Matilda's half-brother Robert, earl of Gloucester, renounced his fealty to Stephen and officially joined her cause. With him Matilda gained a capable military leader and, through his properties, a necessary foothold in England itself.2 And with Robert of Gloucester's defection, the incidence of rebellion picked up its pace.
The conflict between Stephen and Matilda has naturally attracted much attention from historians. Starting with John Horace Round's dominating picture of Geoffrey de Mandeville as a professional traitor, always ready to sell himself for an ever-growing list of powers, privileges, and immunities, interpretations of Stephen's reign have____________________