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Empress Matilda has as good a claim as anyone to being the founder of the University of Aldergate. Magnificent woman, but perhaps her most important accomplishment was less the product of her genius and daring than a good old up-yours to her cousin Stephen of Blois.

Under other circumstances, Aldergate might have ended up going the way of Cambridge and Oxford; perfectly fine schools, if you like that sort of thing, but hardly bastions of bloody-minded scholastic independence. Back in the 1100's, however, the throne of England was in a precarious state, and Empress M was justifiably worried that Aldergate - her pet project - might fall into the wrong hands if she got usurped. She did, in fact, get usurped; not, however, before signing off on a charter that created the newborn University more or less as a sovereign state.

This mandate for independence was subsequently reaffirmed by Matty's son, Henry II.

Empress College is named in her honour.