Matilda of Flanders, queen to William the Conqueror was beautiful, exquisitely small, clever, with a perfect courtesy trained in the rigid school of medieval manners. But within lay a root of darkness -- inheritance, perhaps, of Viking ancestors. Twice, at least, in her lifetime the Viking streak broke through, in vengeance on a faithless lover, in fury wreaked on a rival of the marriagebed. The marriage, though fruitful of so many children, was on her side no match of love. But a passionate loyalty to her husband, an equally passionate ambition, together with her own sense of justice, gave her the will and the skill to dissemble her feelings and to make her the praise of Christendom. No Queen ever wielded so much power as she in the long years she ruled Normandy; before her no woman in England was ever crowned or known as Queen.