Litercurious Book Review

TitleStephen and Matilda’s Civil War:
Cousins of Anarchy
AuthorMatthew Lewis
PublisherPen & Sword History (4 Nov. 2019)
FormatKindle, Hardcover
ISBN # 10 / 131526718332 / 978-1526718334


Matthew Lewis was born in England. He obtained a law degree, but history has always been his passion. He has authored numerous historical books, both fiction and non-fiction. You can find his blog here, his Facebook page here, his Goodreads page here, and his Twitter page here.


This book is best suited for historians, students of medieval history or anyone who enjoys learning about the English ancient ruling class.


Stephen and Matilda’s Civil War is the tale of two cousins fight over the throne of England. King Henry I died in 1135 and had no legitimate male heir. His only legitimate son, William Adelin, drowned in the “White Ship” disaster in 1120. His only other legitimate child was Empress Matilda, a female. No female had ever ruled England at this time, but Henry I wanted her to reign after him. Unfortunately for Matilda she was in Anjou at the time of her father’s death. Her first cousin Stephen of Blois rushed in and usurped the crown in her absence. This led to The Anarchy (civil-war) that endured nearly two decades.

Matthew Lewis composes a compelling tale of a tumultuous time in English history. His research and writing ability are evident throughout the book. He delves into the chaos of the time and brings to light the suffering of all those involved. The war ebbs and flows back and forth with no one really seeming to get the upper hand. The external and internal conflicts surrounding this event in history are too numerous to comprehend, but Matthew does an excellent job. He uses personal accounts, quotes, and even a few images to help the reader try to understand the complexities of the times.


Stephen and Matilda’s Civil War is an exceptionally researched historic look at The Anarchy. The author is able to describe in detail the look and feel of the era, as if you were standing there observing it in real time. The battles, both political and literal are played out across the pages of this manuscript. A great read for anyone who is interested in medieval England.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


I would like to thank Matthew Lewis, NetGalley, and Pen & Sword History for affording me the opportunity to review Stephen and Matilda’s Civil War: Cousins of Anarchy.

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