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Francis Lancelott Esq.    Matilda of Boulogne, Queen of Stephen

page 10


These proceedings so greatly enraged Prince Eustace, that he withdrew from the field in disgust, and at the head of a band of daring robbers, proceeded to devastate the county of Suffolk. His day, however, was but a short one, the anxiety and indignation at being deprived of his heirship by the young Plantagenet induced a violent brain fever, of which he died, after three days painful illness, at the Abbey of St. Edmund's, on the tenth of August, 1153. He was buried by the side of his mother Matilda, in the Abbey of Feversham.
William, the third son of Stephen and Matilda, inherited the earldoms of Boulogne and Mortagne, and died without issue, "whilst returning home from the siege of Thoulouse in 1160.
Mary, the only surviving daughter of Stephen and Matilda, was born about the year 1136. From her infancy the princess was dedicated by her parents to the cloister, and, when in the nineteenth or twentieth year of her age, she was elevated to the Abbacy of Rumsey. In 1160, on the death of her only surviving brother, Earl William, she became Countess of Boulogne, and Henry the Second, desiring to make her his tool to strengthen his continental alliance, and utterly disregarding the vow of perpetual chastity, which she had solemnly pledged before the Most High, offered her in marriage to Matthew, Earl of Flanders, who, despite of her tears and entreaties, forcibly conveyed her from the seclusion of the nunnery, and by violent threats, compelled her to become his wife, by which he in her right became Count of Boulogne. After a lapse of ten years, she, by the consent of her lord, retired to the nunnery of St. Austrebert, near Montreuil, where she expired in the year 1182, and where her remains were interred with great privacy. By her marriage with Earl Matthew, she had two daughters, Ida and Matilda, both of whom the pope formally legitimatized.
Little more than three years had elapsed since the demise of his beloved Queen, when death suddenly terminated the existence of Stephen. Whilst busily occupied in endeavouring to restore that happiness to the land which civil war had so long banished, he died at Dover, of a painful internal disease, on the twenty fifth of October, 1154, in the fifty first year of his age, and the nineteenth of his reign. His body was ceremoniously entombed by the side of his departed Queen and their unfortunate son Eustace, in the Abbey of Feversham; where it was suffered to repose in peace till the suppression of the abbeys, when, for the paltry value of the lead in which it was encoffined, it was exhumed and ruthlessly flung, without covering or ceremony, into the adjacent river.


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