period: The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth – Empress Matilda

The Anarcy was a period of intermittent civil war that broke out on the death of King Henry I in 1135. Following the death of his heir in the White Ship disaster of 1120, Henry had nominated his daughter Matilda (1102–1167) as his heir, but when Henry died in 1135 the throne was seized by Matilda’s cousin Stephen of Blois.

In 1139, Matilda crossed to England to take the kingdom by force, supported by her half-brother Robert of Gloucester and her uncle King David I of Scotland. The war degenerated into a stalemate, with Matilda and Stephen each controlling parts of England while much of the country was in the hands of local, independent barons. A settlement was only reached in 1153 when Stephen recognised Matilda’s son Henry Plantagenet as his heir.

Matilda was buried under the high altar at Bec Abbey with the epitaph on her tomb stating: ‘ Great by birth, greater by marriage, greatest in her offspring: here lies Matilda, the daughter, wife, and mother of Henry’.

The Pillars of the Earth centres around the building of a magnificent cathedral in Kingsbridge during the Anarchy and Matilda was played by Alison Pill.

The makeup

Colleen Quinton was the makeup department head; Kathy Kelso was the key makeup artist.

Iván Pohárnok (FilmEfex Studio) was the prosthetics makeup designer.