Name change: Edith to Matilda

Matilda (or Maud) of Scotland - Queen of England, Duchess of Normandy
Queen Matilda (also called Maud)

Henry I — one of the sons of William the Conqueror, England’s first Norman king — ruled England from 1100 to 1135.

About two months after Henry was crowned king, he married Eadgyth [Edith], the daughter of Malcolm III of Scotland.

When she was crowned Queen of England, Eadgyth promptly dropped her Anglo-Saxon baptismal name and adopted the Germanic name Matilda (which had also been the name of Henry’s late mother).

From then on, she was known as either Matilda or Maud.

Why the name change?

Because “Matilda” was a name favored by the Normans. As historian Robert Bartlett put it, “A lot of people changed their names [following the Norman Conquest] because they wanted to pass in polite society — they didn’t want to be mistaken for a peasant, marked out with an Anglo-Saxon name.”

In fact, Norman nobles liked to mock the couple by calling them Godric and Godiva, both of which are Anglo-Saxon names. “Godric and Godiva were the Jack and Jill of their period.”


Image: Queen Maud (14th cen.)

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