It's nearly 10 years since we reviewed Æthelred the Unready and gave him a score of 0 for Battleyness - not surprising for the king who suffered decades of Viking raids and was kicked off the throne (nearly twice) but have we been too harsh? We speak to Brandon Bender who has written a book about Æthelred's military campaign which suggests he was a far more proactive and capable leader than his reputation suggests. Will we be convinced or will Æthelred remain at the bottom of the pile for Battleyness?
Brandon's book is called 'England's Unlikely Commander: The Military Career of Æthelred the Unready'
We're starting a new, intermittent film review podcast for Privy Councillors where we watch and review films relating to kings and queens. In each episode, we'll go through the film plot (largely for Ali's benefit), then review it for historical accuracy and entertainment. Our first film is The King, starring Timothée Chalamet as King Henry V in a sort-of-adaptation of William Shakespeare. As this is the first one and we've not been able to do our normal podcasting recently, we're making this episode available to all Rex Factor listeners. If you've seen the film then send in your reviews and let us know what you think.
The last of the Normans and the last of the Matilda's, Matilda of Boulogne was Queen Consort to King Stephen through the Anarchy. Stephen's reign was not particularly successful but it would have been far worse had he not had the support of his wife, who played a strong and vital leadership role in his cause. Overshadowed by her namesake and rival, the Empress Matilda, could this be the time for Matilda of Boulogne to shine?
Adeliza was the second consort of Henry I of England with the primary task being to produce a new heir for Henry after the death of his only (legitimate) son in the White Ship Disaster. After two very powerful Norman consorts, Adeliza had a lot to live up to as the years without an heir mount up, Henry would look to his daughter, Matilda, instead and Adeliza would be dragged into the drama of the Anarchy. Cometh the hour, cometh the woman? Or would Adeliza be lost amidst the chaos?
Matilda of Scotland (confusingly originally called Edith) was the daughter of the King of Scots and inheritor of the Anglo-Saxon royal line, which made her an alluring prospect of consort for the Norman king Henry I. Matilda was a highly confident and capable queen who proved very popular with her subjects as well as providing ample opportunity for Rex Facts. But will this be enough to get the Rex Factor?
A global lockdown is not enough to stop Rex Factor! For the first time, we do a full episode via Skype, meaning Ali is in charge of his own recording equipment! After a slightly chaotic first ten minutes, we have an extended Correspondents Corner with lots of messages from listeners and then previews of some of our bonus content with a clip from our most recent Privy Chamber episode (on Matilda of Flanders) and our most recent special episode (Chateau Gaillard). Normal service will resume next time when we review Matilda of Scotland.
We leave the Saxons behind and enter the Norman era. Matilda of Flanders was the first of the Norman consorts, bringing some prestigious French royal genes to the illegitimate William the Conqueror. Matilda was a trusted partner of William in Normandy and enjoyed great status as Queen of England after 1066. Revered for her piety, Matilda also had an independent streak and would clash with William when their eldest son, Robert, rebelled. Who will come out on top? And will Matilda start the new era off with the Rex Factor?
We're not reviewing a person in this special episode but a castle - Chateau Gaillard in Normandy, built by Richard the Lionheart in 1196. The most advanced castle of the age, Ali is in his happy place as we explore why Richard decided to build it and what makes the castle so special. It was also the subject of a dramatic siege as Philip Augustus of France tried to capture the supposedly impregnable castle from King John of England, while later finding itself dragged into a royal scandal and (in a way) Scotland!
Ealdgyth of Mercia is not a famous name, but her episode is full of Rex Factors. As consort to Harold Godwinson, she was the last Anglo-Saxon consort and her story has plenty to fascinate: Lady Godiva, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn and a Welsh/Mercian alliance, and of course the dramatic events of 1066. So will the Saxons go out on a high or is Ealdgyth another queen who will remain lost to history?
With Edith of Wessex we come to the dramatic events of 1066 and the fall of the Anglo-Saxons. Edith was the daughter of the powerful earldoman, Godwin, sister to Harold Godwinson and queen consort to Edward the Confessor. Things got off to a shaky start with Edward, but Edith was able to establish herself as a powerful figure at court and tried to position herself for the succession. But when 1066 throws everything into chaos, will Edith be able to ride out the storm?