Matilda of Tuscany

Matilda of Tuscany (Italian: Matilde di Canossa [maˈtilde di kaˈnɔssa], Latin: Matilda, Mathilda; 1046 – 24 July 1115) was a powerful feudal Margravine of Tuscany, ruler in northern Italy and the chief Italian supporter of Pope Gregory VII during the Investiture Controversy; in addition, she was one of the few medieval women to be remembered for her military accomplishments, thanks to which she was able to dominate all the territories north of the Papal States.

In 1076 she came into possession of a substantial territory that included present-day Lombardy, Emilia, the Romagna and Tuscany, and made the castle of Canossa, in the Apennines south of Reggio, the centre of her domains. Between 6 and 11 May 1111 she was crowned Imperial Vicar and Vice-Queen of Italy by Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor at the Castle of Bianello (Quattro Castella, Reggio Emilia).[1]

Sometimes called la Gran Contessa ("the Great Countess") or Matilda of Canossa after her ancestral castle of Canossa, Matilda was one of the most important figures of the Italian Middle Ages. She lived in a period of constant battles, intrigues and excommunications, and was able to demonstrate an extraordinary force, even enduring great pain and humiliation, showing an innate leadership ability.

Matilda of Canossa
Margravine of Tuscany
Vicereine of Italy
Imperial Vicar
Hugo-v-cluny heinrich-iv mathilde-v-tuszien cod-vat-lat-4922 1115ad
Miniature from the early 12th-century manuscript of Donizo's Vita Mathildis, emphasising Matilda's key role in the absolution of Henry IV at Canossa
Margravine of Tuscany
PredecessorFrederick, Margrave of Tuscany
Noble familyHouse of Canossa
Spouse(s)Godfrey IV, Duke of Lower Lorraine
Welf II, Duke of Bavaria
FatherBoniface III, Margrave of Tuscany
MotherBeatrice of Lorraine
ReligionRoman Catholicism


Matilda's parents, Boniface (l) and Beatrice (r)

Boniface III of Tuscany
Beatrice of Bar

In a miniature in the early twelfth-century Vita Mathildis by the monk Donizo (or, in Italian, Donizone), Matilda is referred to as 'Resplendent Matilda' (Mathildis Lucens). Since the Latin word lucens is similar to lucensis (of/from Lucca), this may also be a reference to Matilda's origins. She was descended from the nobleman Sigifred of Lucca, and was the youngest of the three children of Margrave Boniface III of Tuscany, ruler of a substantial territory in Northern Italy and one of the most powerful vassals of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry III. Matilda's mother, Beatrice of Lorraine, was the Emperor's first cousin and closely connected to the imperial household.[2] Renowned for her learning, Matilda was literate in Latin, as well as reputed to speak German and French.[3] The extent of Matilda's education in military matters is debated. It has been asserted that she was taught strategy, tactics, riding and wielding weapons,[4] but recent scholarship challenges these claims.[5]

Following the death of their father in 1052, Matilda's brother, Frederick, inherited the family lands and titles under the regency of their mother.[6] Matilda's sister, Beatrice, died the next year, making Matilda heir presumptive to Frederick's personal holdings. In 1054, determined to safeguard the interests of her children as well as her own,[2][7] her mother married Godfrey the Bearded, a distant kinsman who had been stripped of the Duchy of Upper Lorraine after openly rebelling against Emperor Henry III.[6]

Henry was enraged by Beatrice of Lorraine's unauthorised union with his most vigorous adversary and took the opportunity to have her arrested, along with Matilda, when he marched south to attend a synod in Florence on Pentecost in 1055.[2][5] Frederick's rather suspicious death soon thereafter[8] made Matilda the last member of the House of Canossa. Mother and daughter were taken to Germany,[5] but Godfrey successfully avoided capture. Unable to defeat him, Henry sought a rapproachment. The Emperor's death in October 1056, which brought to throne the underage Henry IV, seems to have accelerated the negotiations. Godfrey was reconciled with the crown and recognized as Margrave of Tuscany in December, while Beatrice and Matilda were released. By the time she and her mother returned to Italy, in the company of Pope Victor II, Matilda was formally acknowledged as heir to the greatest territorial lordship in the southern part of the Empire.[8]

Matilda's mother and stepfather became heavily involved in the series of disputed papal elections during their regency, supporting the Gregorian Reforms. Godfrey's brother Frederick became Pope Stephen IX, while both of the following two popes, Nicholas II and Alexander II, had been Tuscan bishops. Matilda made her first journey to Rome with her family in the entourage of Nicholas in 1059. Godfrey and Beatrice actively assisted them in dealing with antipopes, while the adolescent Matilda's role remains unclear. A contemporary account of her stepfather's 1067 expedition against Prince Richard I of Capua on behalf of the papacy mentions Matilda's participation in the campaign, describing it as the "first service that the most excellent daughter of Boniface offered to the blessed prince of the apostles."[9]

First marriage

Italy 1050
The states of the Apennine Peninsula in the second half of the 11th century

In 1069, Godfrey the Bearded lay dying in Verdun. Beatrice and Matilda hastened to reach Lorraine, anxious to ensure a smooth transition of power. Matilda was present at her stepfather's deathbed, and on that occasion she is for the first time clearly mentioned as the wife of her stepbrother, Godfrey the Hunchback,[10] to whom she had been betrothed since childhood.[11] The marriage proved a failure; the death of their only child (a daughter called Beatrice) shortly after birth in August 1071 and Godfrey's physical deformity may have helped fuel deep animosity between the spouses.[11]

By the end of 1071, Matilda had left her husband and returned to Tuscany.[10] Matilda's bold decision to repudiate her husband came at a cost, but ensured her independence. Beatrice started preparing Matilda for rule by holding court jointly with her[10] and, eventually, encouraging her to issue charters on her own as countess (comitissa) and duchess (ducatrix).[7]

Godfrey fiercely protested the separation and demanded that Matilda come back to him, which she repeatedly refused.[11] The Duke descended into Italy in 1072, determined to enforce the marriage.[10][11] He sought the help of both Matilda's mother and her ally, the newly elected Pope Gregory VII, promising military aid to the latter.[11] Matilda's resolution was unshakable,[11] and Godfrey returned to Lorraine alone,[10] losing all hope by 1074. Rather than supporting the Pope as promised, Godfrey turned his attention to imperial affairs. Meanwhile, the conflict later known as the Investiture Controversy was brewing between Gregory and Henry, with both men claiming the right to appoint bishops and abbots within the Empire. Matilda and Godfrey soon found themselves on opposing sides of the dispute, leading to a further detoriation of their difficult relationship. German chroniclers, writing of the synod held at Worms in January 1076, even suggested that Godfrey inspired Henry's allegation of a licentious affair between Gregory and Matilda.[7]


Matilda became a widow on 26 February 1076. Godfrey the Hunchback was assassinated in Flanders while "answering the call of nature". Having been accused of adultery with the Pope the previous month, Matilda was suspected of ordering her estranged husband's death. She could not have known about the proceedings at the Synod of Worms at the time, however, since the news took three months to reach the Pope himself, and it is more likely that Godfrey was killed at the instigation of an enemy nearer to him. Within two months, Beatrice was dead as well. Matilda's power was considerably augmented by these deaths; she was now the undisputed heir of all her parents' allodial lands. Her inheritance would have been threatened had Godfrey survived her mother, but she now enjoyed the privileged status of a widow. It seemed unlikely, however, that Henry would formally invest her with the margraviate.[12]

Between 1076 and 1080, Matilda travelled to Lorraine to lay claim to her husband's estate in Verdun, which he had willed (along with the rest of his patrimony) to his sister Ida's son, Godfrey of Bouillon.[13] Godfrey of Bouillon also disputed her right to Stenay and Mosay, which her mother had received as dowry. The quarrel between aunt and nephew over the episcopal county of Verdun was eventually settled by Theoderic, Bishop of Verdun, who enjoyed the right to nominate the counts. He easily found in favor of Margravine Matilda, as such verdict happened to please both Pope Gregory and King Henry. Matilda then proceeded to enfeoff Verdun to her husband's pro-reform cousin, Albert III of Namur.[14] The deep animosity between Matilda and her nephew is thought to have prevented her from travelling to Jerusalem during the First Crusade, led by him in the late 1090s.[15]

Investiture Controversy

Matilda of Canossa
Miniature of Matilda from the frontispiece of Donizo’s Vita Mathildis (Codex Vat. Lat. 4922, fol. 7v.). Matilda is depicted seated. On her right, Donizo is presenting her with a copy of the Vita Mathildis, on her left is a man with a sword (possibly her man-at-arms). The script underneath reads: Mathildis lucens, precor hoc cape cara volumen (Resplendent Matilda, please accept this book, oh you dear one.)

The disagreement between Pope Gregory VII and King Henry IV culminated in the aftermath of the Synod of Worms in February 1076. Gregory declared Henry excommunicated, releasing all his subjects from allegiance to him and providing the perfect reason for rebellion against his rule.[12] Insubordinate southern German princes gathered in Trebur, awaiting the Pope. Matilda's first military endeavor, as well as the first major task altogether as ruler, turned out to be protecting the Pope during his perilous journey north. Gregory could rely on nobody else; as the sole heir to the Attonid patrimony, Matilda controlled all the Apennine passes and nearly all the rest that connected central Italy to the north. The Lombard bishops, who were also excommunicated for taking part in the synod and whose sees bordered Matilda's domain, were keen to capture Gregory. Gregory was aware of the danger, and recorded that all his advisors except Matilda counselled him against travelling to Trebur.[16]

Henry had other plans, however. He decided to descend into Italy and intercept Gregory, who was thus delayed. The German dukes held a council by themselves and informed the King that he had to submit to the Pope or be replaced. Henry's predecessors dealt easily with troublesome pontiffs - they simply deposed them, and the excommunicated Lombard bishops rejoiced at this prospect. When Matilda heard about Henry's approach, she urged Gregory to take refuge in the Castle of Canossa, her family's eponymous stronghold. Gregory took her advice. It soon became clear that the intention behind Henry's walk to Canossa was to show penance. By 25 January 1077, the King stood barefoot in the snow before the gates of Matilda's castle, accompanied by his mother-in-law, Margravine Adelaide of Susa. He remained there, humbled, until 28 January, when Matilda convinced the Pope to see him. Matilda and Adelaide brokered a deal between the men.[17] Henry was taken back into the Church, with the margravines acting as sponsors and formally swearing to the agreement.[18]

In 1079, Matilda gave the Pope all her domains, in open defiance of Henry IV's claims both as the overlord of some of those domains, and as her close relative. Two years later the fortunes of Papacy and Empire turned again: in 1080 Henry IV summoned a council in Brixen, which deposed Gregory VII. The following year the Emperor decided to travel again to Italy to reinstate his overlordship over his territories. He also declared Matilda, on account of her 1079 donation to the Church, forfeit and be banned from the Empire; although this wasn't enough to eliminate her as a source of trouble, for she retained substantial allodial holdings. On 15 October 1080 near Volta Mantovana the Imperial troops (with Guibert of Ravenna as the newly elected Antipope Clement III) defeated the troops loyal to Gregory VII and controlled by Matilda. This was the first serious military defeat of Matilda (Battle of Volta Mantovana).[19]

Matilda, however, didn't surrender. While Gregory VII was forced into exile, she, retaining control over all the western passes in the Apennines, could force Henry IV to approach Rome via Ravenna; even with this route open, the Emperor would find it hard to besiege Rome with a hostile territory at his back. In December 1080 the citizens of Lucca, then the capital of Tuscany, had revolted and driven out her ally Bishop Anselm. She is believed to have commissioned the renowned Ponte della Maddalena where the Via Francigena crosses the river Serchio at Borgo a Mozzano just north of Lucca.

Matilda remained Pope Gregory VII's chief intermediary for communication with northern Europe even as he lost control of Rome and was holed up in the Castel Sant'Angelo. After Henry caught hold of the Pope's seal, Matilda wrote to supporters in Germany only to trust papal messages that came through her.

Henry IV's control of Rome enabled him to enthrone Antipope Clement III, who, in turn, crowned him Emperor. After this, Henry IV returned to Germany, leaving it to his allies to attempt Matilda's dispossession. These attempts floundered after Matilda (with help of the city of Bologna) defeated them at Sorbara near Modena on 2 July 1084.

Gregory VII died in 1085, and Matilda's forces, with those of Prince Jordan I of Capua (her off and on again enemy), took to the field in support of a new pope, Victor III. In 1087, Matilda led an expedition to Rome in an attempt to install Victor, but the strength of the imperial counterattack soon convinced the pope to withdraw from the city.

Second marriage

In 1088 Matilda was facing a new attempt at invasion by Henry IV, and decided to pre-empt it by means of a political marriage. In 1089 Matilda (in her early forties) married Welf V, who was probably fifteen to seventeen years old.[20] Welf was heir to the Duchy of Bavaria. He was also a member of the Welf dynasty: the Welfs/Guelphs were important papal supporters from the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries in their conflict with the German emperors (see Guelphs and Ghibellines). Matilda and Welf's wedding was part of a network of alliances approved by the new pope, Urban II, in order to effectively counter Henry IV.

Cosmas of Prague (writing in the early twelfth century), included a letter in his Chronica Boemorum, which he claimed that Matilda sent to her future husband, but which is now thought to be spurious:[21]

Not for feminine lightness or recklessness, but for the good of all my kingdom, I send you this letter: agreeing to it, you take with it myself and the rule over the whole of Lombardy. I'll give you so many cities, so many castles and noble palaces, so much gold and silver, that you will have a famous name, if you endear yourself to me; do not reproof me for boldness because I first address you with the proposal. It's reason for both male and female to desire a legitimate union, and it makes no difference whether the man or the woman broaches the first line of love, sofar as an indissoluble marriage is sought. Goodbye.[22]

After this, Matilda sent an army of thousands to the border of Lombardy to escort her bridegroom, welcomed him with honors, and after the marriage (mid-1089), she organized 120 days of wedding festivities, with such splendor that any other medieval ruler's pale in comparison.

Cosmas also reports that for two nights after the wedding, Welf V, fearing witchcraft, refused to share the marital bed. The third day, Matilda appeared naked on a table especially prepared on sawhorses, and told him that everything is in front of you and there is no hidden malice. But the Duke was dumbfounded; Matilda, furious, slapped him and spat in his face, taunting him: Get out of here, monster, you don't deserve our kingdom, you vile thing, viler than a worm or a rotten seaweed, don't let me see you again, or you'll die a miserable death....[23] Matilda and her young husband separated a few years later (1095); they had no children.

Later Matilda allied with the two sons of Henry IV, Conrad and Henry, who rebelled against their father. This forced Henry to return to Italy, where he chased Matilda into the mountains. He was humbled before Canossa, this time in a military defeat in October 1092, from which his influence in Italy never recovered.[24]

The final victory against Henry IV

Matilde di Canossa - signature
Matilda's signature ("Matilda, Dei gratia si quid est"), quite tremulous due to her old age. Notitia Confirmationis (Prato, June 1107), Archivio Storico Diocesano of Lucca, Diplomatico Arcivescovile, perg. ++ I29

After several victories, including one against the Saxons, Henry IV prepared in 1090 his third descent to Italy, in order to inflict the final defeat on the Church. His route was the usual one, Brenner and Verona, along the border of Matilda's possessions, which began outside the cities' gates. The opposing armies would meet near Mantua. Matilda secured the loyalty of the townspeople by exempting them from some taxes, such as teloneo and ripatico, and with the promise of Lombard franchise, entailing the rights to hunt, fish and cut wood on both banks of the Tartaro river.

The Mantua people stood by Matilda until the so-called "Holy Thursday betrayal", when the townspeople, won over by additional concessions from Henry, who had meanwhile besieged the city, sided with him. In 1092 Matilda escaped to the Reggiano Apennines and her most inexpugnable strongholds. Since the times of Adalbert Atto the power of the Canossa family had been based on a network of castles, fortresses and fortified villages in the Val d'Enza, forming a complex polygonal defense that had always resisted all attack from the Apennines. After several bloody battles with mutual defeats, the powerful imperial army was surrounded.

In spite of its fearful power, the Imperial army was defeated by Matilda's liegemen. Among them were small landowners and holders of fortified villages, which remained completely loyal to the Canossas even against the Holy Roman Emperor. Their familiarity with the territory, their quick communications and maneuvering to all the high places of the Val d'Enza gave them victory over Henry's might. It seems that Matilda personally participated, with a handful of chosen faithful men, to the battle, galvanizing the allies with the cry of Just War. The Imperial army was taken as in a vice in the meandering mountain creek. The overall import of Henry's rout was more than a military defeat. The Emperor realized it was impossible to penetrate those places, wholly different from the plains of the Po Valley or of Saxe. There he faced not boundaries drawn by the rivers of Central Europe, but steep trails, ravines, inaccessible places protecting Matilda's fortresses, and high tower houses, whence the defenders could unload on anyone approaching missiles of all kinds: spears, arrows, perhaps even boiling oil,[25] javelins, stones.

After Matilda's victory several cities, such as Milan, Cremona, Lodi and Piacenza, sided with her to free themselves of Imperial rule. In 1093 the Emperor's eldest son, Conrad, supported by the Pope, Matilda and a group of Lombard cities, was crowned King of Italy. Matilda freed and even gave refuge to Henry IV's wife, Eupraxia of Kiev, who, at the urging of Pope Urban II, made a public confession before the church Council of Piacenza.[26] She accused her husband of imprisoning her in Verona[27] after forcing her to participate in orgies, and, according to some later accounts, of attempting a black mass on her naked body.[28][29] Thanks to these scandals and division within the Imperial family, the prestige and power of Henry IV was increasingly weakened.

In 1095, Henry attempted to reverse his fortunes by seizing Matilda's castle of Nogara, but the countess's arrival at the head of an army forced him to retreat. In 1097, Henry withdrew from Italy altogether, after which Matilda reigned virtually unchallenged, although she did continue to launch military operations to restore her authority and regain control of the towns that had remained loyal to the emperor. With the assistance of the French armies heading off to the First Crusade, she was finally able to restore Urban to Rome.[30] She ordered or led successful expeditions against Ferrara (1101), Parma (1104), Prato (1107) and Mantua (1114).

Vice-Queen of Italy

Henry IV died now defeated in 1106; and after the deposition and death of Conrad (1101), his second son and new Holy Roman Emperor, Henry V, began to turn the fight against the Church and Italy. This time the attitude of Matilda against the imperial house had to change and she accepted the will of the Emperor. In 1111, on his way back to Germany, Henry V met her at the Castle of Bianello, near Reggio Emilia. Matilda confirmed him the inheritance rights over the fiefs that Henry IV disputed her, thus ending a fight that had lasted over twenty years. Henry V gave Matilda a new title: between 6 and 11 May 1111, the Emperor crowned Matilda as Imperial Vicar and Vice-Queen of Italy. This episode was the decisive step towards the Concordat of Worms.

Foundation of churches

By legend Matilda of Canossa is said to have founded one hundred churches. Documents and local legend identify well over one hundred churches, monasteries, hospices, and bridges built or restored between the Alps and Rome by Matilda and her mother, Beatrice. Today, churches and monasteries in the regions of Lombardy, Reggio Emilia, Tuscany, and even the Veneto attribute their foundation to her. Built originally with hospices for travelers attached, these churches created a network that united the supporters of the Gregorian reform of the Roman Church which Matilda supported.[31] This network also provided protection for pilgrims, merchants and travelers assisting the Renaissance in culture that occurred in the centuries after Matilda’s death.

Most of these churches continue today to be vital centers of their communities. They include rural churches located along the Po and Arno rivers, and their tributaries; churches built along the Apennine mountain passes which Matilda’s family controlled and those along the ancient highways of the via Emilia, the via Cassia, the via Aurelia and the via Francigena. Among these are monuments listed by UNESCO as among the heritage of our world, including churches in Florence, Ferrara, Lucca, Mantua, Modena, Pisa, Verona and Volterra. Her cultural legacy is enormous throughout Northern Italy.[32]

Some churches traditionally said to have been founded by Matilda include:

It seems that even the foundation of the Church of San Salvaro in Legnago (Verona) was made by Matilda.


Tomb of Countess Matilda of Tuscany by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Matilda's tombstone at St. Peter's Basilica, by Bernini.

Matilda's death from gout in 1115 at Bondeno di Roncore marked the end of an era in Italian politics. It is widely reported that she bequeathed her allodial property to the Pope. Unaccountably, however, this donation was never officially recognized in Rome and no record exists of it. Henry V had promised some of the cities in her territory that he would appoint no successor after he deposed her. In her place the leading citizens of these cities took control, and the era of the city-states in northern Italy began.

Matilda was at first buried in the Abbey of San Benedetto in Polirone, located in the town of San Benedetto Po; then, in 1633, at the behest of Pope Urban VIII, her body was moved to Rome and placed in Castel Sant'Angelo. Finally, in 1645 her remains were definitely deposited in the Vatican, where they now lie in St. Peter's Basilica. She is one of only six women who have the honor of being buried in the Basilica, the others being Queen Christina of Sweden, Maria Clementina Sobieska (wife of James Francis Edward Stuart), St. Petronilla, Queen Charlotte of Cyprus and Agnesina Colonna Caetani.

A memorial tomb for Matilda, commissioned by Pope Urban VIII and designed by Gianlorenzo Bernini, marks her burial place in St Peter's and is often called the Honor and Glory of Italy.

After her death, an aura of legend came to surround Matilda. Church historians gave her the character of a semi-nun, solely dedicated to contemplation and faith. Some argue, instead, that she was a woman of strong passions of both spiritual and carnal nature (indicated by her supposed affairs with Popes Gregory VII and Urban II).


She has been posited by some critics as the origin of the mysterious "Matilda" who appears to Dante gathering flowers in the earthly paradise in Dante's Purgatorio.[35]

The story of Matilda and Henry IV is the main plot device in Luigi Pirandello's play Enrico IV. She is the main historical character in Kathleen McGowan's novel The Book of Love (Simon & Schuster, 2009).

See also


  1. ^ Every year, usually in the last Sunday of May, this episode is recreated in the Corteo Storico Matildico.
  2. ^ a b c Villalon 2003, p. 358.
  3. ^ Ferrante 1997, p. 88.
  4. ^ Beeler 1971, p. 206.
  5. ^ a b c Hay 2008, p. 35.
  6. ^ a b Luscombe & Riley-Smith 2004, p. 78-79.
  7. ^ a b c Hay 2008, p. 44.
  8. ^ a b Hay 2008, p. 34.
  9. ^ Robinson 2004, p. 49.
  10. ^ a b c d e Villalon 2003, p. 361.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Hay 2008, p. 43.
  12. ^ a b Hay 2008, p. 65.
  13. ^ Hay 2008, p. 67.
  14. ^ Healey 2013, p. 55-56.
  15. ^ Hay 2008, p. 164.
  16. ^ Hay 2008, p. 68.
  17. ^ Creber, ‘Women at Canossa'.
  18. ^ Hay 2008, p. 70.
  19. ^ Paolo Golinelli: Sant’Anselmo, Mantova e la lotta per le investiture, 1987.
  20. ^ Hay 2008, p. 124-129.
  21. ^ W. Goez and E. Goez, Die Urkunden und Briefen der Markgraefin Mathilde von Tuszien (Hannover, 1998), no. 140 (1089), p. 361, accessible online at: Monumenta Germaniae Historica (in German and Latin); and J. Chodor, ‘Queens in Early Medieval Chronicles of East Central Europe’, East Central Europe 1: 21–23 (1991), 9–50, at p. 32.
  22. ^ Cosmas of Prague, Chronica Boemorum, II, ch. 32, MGH SS 9 p.88, accessible online in Latin and with an English translation at: Epistolae: Medieval Women's Latin Letters.
  23. ^ Cosmas of Prague, Chronica Boemorum, II, ch.32, in B. Bretholz and W. Weinberger, ed., Die Chronik der Böhmen des Cosmas von Prag, MGH SS rer Germ NS 2 (Berlin, 1923), pp. 128f., accessible online at: Monumenta Germaniae Historica (in Latin).
  24. ^ Eads 2010, p. 23-68.
  25. ^ At the time, the oil was obtained only by cold pressing of the olives; was therefore very rare and expensive.
  26. ^ Althoff 2006, p. 213.
  27. ^ Robinson 2003, p. 289.
  28. ^ Robinson 2003, p. 289ff..
  29. ^ Women of Ancient Rus (In Russian).
  30. ^ Peters 1971, p. 34.
  31. ^ Spike, 2015, Bologna
  32. ^ Spike, 2015, Florence
  33. ^ Provincia di Modena. Chiesa Sant’Andrea Apostolo di Vitriola [retrieved 13 April 2015].
  34. ^ Comune di Pescarolo ed Uniti. Pieve di San Giovanni Decollato [retrieved 13 April 2015].
  35. ^ Binyon 1978.


  • Althoff, G. (2006). Heinrich IV. Darmstadt.
  • Beeler, John (1971). Warfare in Feudal Europe, 730-1200. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0801491207.
  • Binyon, Lawrence (1978). ""Argument", Canto XXVIII". In Milano, Paolo (ed.). The portable Dante (Rev. ed.). Harmondsworth: Penguin. ISBN 978-0140150322.
  • A. Creber, ‘Women at Canossa. The Role of Elite Women in the Reconciliation between Pope Gregory VII and Henry IV of Germany (January 1077),’ Storicamente 13 (2017), article no. 13, pp. 1-44.
  • Eads, Valerie (2010). "The Last Italian Expedition of Henry IV: Re-reading the Vita Mathildis of Donizone of Canossa". Journal of Medieval Military History. 8: 23–68.
  • Ferrante, Joan M. (1997). To the Glory of Her Sex: Women's Roles in the Composition of Medieval Texts. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0253211088.
  • Hay, David (2008). The military leadership of Matilda of Canossa, 1046-1115. Manchester University Press.
  • Healey, Patrick (2013). The Chronicle of Hugh of Flavigny: Reform and the Investiture Contest in the Late Eleventh Century. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-1409479574.
  • Peters, Edward, ed. (1971). The First Crusade. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 978-0812210170.
  • Riley-Smith, Jonathan; Luscombe, David, eds. (2004). The New Cambridge Medieval History: Volume 4, C.1024-c.1198. Cambridge University Press. pp. 78, 84–85. ISBN 978-0521414111.
  • Robinson, I.S. (2003). Henry IV of Germany, 1056-1106. Cambridge.
  • Robinson, Ian (2004). The Papal Reform of the Eleventh Century: Lives of Pope Leo IX and Pope Gregory VII. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0719038754.
  • Spike, Michele (2015). An Illustrated Guide to the 'One Hundred Churches of Matilda of Canossa, Countess of Tuscany. Centro Di, Florence. ISBN 9788870385342.
  • Spike, Michele (2015). Matilda of Canossa and the Origins of the Renaissance. The Muscarelle Museum of Art, The College of William & Mary. ISBN 9780988529373.
  • Spike, Michele (2016). Matilda di Canossa (1046-1115): la donna che mutò il corso della storia / Matilda of Canossa (1046-1115): the women who changed the course of history, exhibition catalogue in Italian & English, Casa Buonarroti, Florence, June 14-October 10, 2016. Centro Di, Florence.
  • Spike, Michele (2015). "Scritto nella pietra: Le 'Cento Chiese,' Programma Gregoriana di Matilda di Canossa" in Atti del Convegno Internazionale "San Cesario sul Panaro da Matilde di Canossa all'Eta'. Bologna: Moderna. Paolo Golinelli and Pierpaolo Bonacini, eds.
  • Spike, Michele (2004). Tuscan Countess: The Life and Extraordinary Times of Matilda of Canossa. Vendome Press. ISBN 978-0865652422.
  • Villalon, L. J. Andrew (2003). Crusaders, Condottieri, and Cannon: Medieval Warfare in Societies Around the Mediterranean. BRILL. p. 358. ISBN 978-9004125537.

External links

Italian nobility
Preceded by
Godfrey the Hunchback
Margravine of Tuscany
Title next held by
Abbey of Frassinoro

The Abbey of Frassinoro was one of the many Benedictine monasteries throughout Europe associated with the noblewoman Matilda of Tuscany, who reigned over the Badia lands near Frassinoro. This abbey was located in Frassinoro, in the Apennines in the province of Modena, on the border with Reggio Emilia.

Adelaide of Susa

Adelaide of Turin (also Adelheid, Adelais, or Adeline; c. 1014/1020 – 19 December 1091) was the Countess of part of the March of Ivrea and the Marchioness of Turin in Northwestern Italy from 1034 to her death. She was the last of the Arduinici and is often incorrectly associated with Susa. She is sometimes compared to her second cousin, and close contemporary, Matilda of Tuscany.

Antonio Maria Pacchioni

Antonio Maria Pacchioni (baptised 5 July 1654 - 15 July 1738) of Modena was a Baroque composer, known for his polyphonic church music. He studied violin technique with Giovanni Maria Bononcini and musical composition with Padre A. Bendinelli. He received holy orders in 1677, which enabled him to become maestro di cappella of the Duomo of Modena in 1694. His oratorios were among the first to be heard publicly in Modena (1677, 1678); of surviving compositions, two were on sacred subjects while a third (1682) concerned the quasi-legendary countess Matilda of Tuscany. His four-voice a cappella motets In monte Oliveti and Velum templi have been recorded.

Pacchioni also served as vice-maestro and then maestro di cappella at the ducal court of Rinaldo d'Este (1655–1737).

Among his pupils was the violinist-composer Tomaso Antonio Vitali.

Arduino della Palude

Arduino della Palude was the military tutor of Matilda of Tuscany in the late eleventh century. He taught her to ride a horse, carry a lance and pike, and wield an axe and sword. In her adulthood he was the commander of her armies.

In 1061 Rome was enveloped in a civil war, with partisans of the Antipope Honorius II holding Trastevere and the Castel Sant'Angelo while the supporters of the legitimate Pope Nicholas II were sustained in the city by the wealth and mercenaries of Leo de Benedicto, who eventually dislodged the antipapists from the castle. An army commanded by Godfrey, former Duke of Lower Lorraine, and Arduino, along with the young Matilda, arrived on the scene and skirmished with the forces of Honorius led by Guibert of Ravenna. Arduino is said to have led a force of 400 archers, 400 pikemen, and a regiment of cavalry with which he charged Guibert, who was trying to join battle with Godfrey, and forced him to retreat.

In 1111 the Emperor Henry V entered Rome to be crowned and left the city with Pope Paschal II, Bernard, Bishop of Parma, and Bonsignore, Bishop of Reggio as prisoners and took to the Sabine country. Matilda promptly sent Arduino to secure their release, which he did through negotiations.


Canossa (Reggiano: Canòsa) is a comune and castle town in the Province of Reggio Emilia, Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy. It is the site where Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV did penance in 1077, standing three days bare-headed in the snow, in order to reverse his excommunication by Pope Gregory VII. The Walk to Canossa is sometimes used as a symbol of the changing relationship between the medieval Church and State.

As of December 2014, Canossa has a population of 3,778, and borders the comuni of Casina, Castelnovo ne' Monti, Neviano degli Arduini (PR), San Polo d'Enza, Traversetolo (PR), Vetto, and Vezzano sul Crostolo.

The town was formerly known as Ciano d'Enza, while Canossa was the name of only the castle, now in ruins, once belonging to Matilda of Tuscany, and nearby hamlet, which lie some 8 km east of the town. The new name was decided in 1992.

Conrad II of Italy

Conrad II or Conrad (III) (12 February 1074 – 27 July 1101) was the Duke of Lower Lorraine (1076–87), King of Germany (1087–98) and King of Italy (1093–98). He was the second son of Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV and Bertha of Savoy, and their eldest son to reach adulthood, his older brother Henry having been born and died in the same month of August 1071. Conrad's rule in Lorraine and Germany was nominal. He spent most of his life in Italy and there he was king in fact as well as in name.


Donizo (also Domnizo, Donizone) of Canossa, was an Italian monk and author in the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries. His work is an important source on Matilda of Tuscany and her dynasty, and also on Gregorian Reform and the Investiture Controversy more generally.

Godfrey IV, Duke of Lower Lorraine

Godfrey IV (died 26 or 27 February 1076), known as the Hunchback, was a son of Godfrey the Bearded, whom he succeeded as Duke of Lower Lorraine in 1069, and Doda.In the year of his succession, he married Margravine Matilda of Tuscany, daughter of his stepmother Beatrice of Bar, and thus became margrave of Tuscany. Godfrey and Matilda had only one child, Beatrice, who was born in 1071 and died the same year. From 1071 on, Godfrey lived apart from his wife. The two spouses were on opposite sides in the Investiture Controversy: Matilda was a partisan of Pope Gregory VII and Godfrey of Emperor Henry IV.He warred on Henry's behalf against Magnus, Duke of Saxony, in 1075 and on that of the bishop of Utrecht in 1076 against Dirk V of Holland and Robert I of Flanders. He was assassinated by spear in Vlaardingen while "answering the call of nature". Despite Matilda's opposition he nominated his nephew Godfrey of Bouillon to succeed him, but the emperor instead appointed his own son, Conrad. Godfrey of Bouillon succeeded eventually in 1087 and gained fame on the First Crusade.

Landulf (bishop of Pisa)

Landulf (died 25 October 1079) was the bishop of Pisa from the spring of 1077 until his death. His election marked a return to canon law in Pisa and he was consecrated by Pope Gregory VII. His election was also supported by Marchioness Matilda of Tuscany, who made a large donation to the canons of the cathedral during his episcopate.On 1 September 1077, Pope Gregory appointed Landulf, then bishop-elect, the permanent legate of the Holy See in Corsica. On 16 September he sent a letter to the all the clergy and laity of Corsica reminding them of the papal lordship over their island and informing them that he was sending Landulf to safeguard the rights of the Holy See there. On 30 November 1078, Gregory confirmed the canonicity of Landulf's election, promised papal protection to his diocese and extended the vicariate in Corsica to Landulf's successors.At the Lenten synod held in Rome in 1079, the theologian Berengar of Tours, charged with heresy, accused Landulf and his fellow Italian bishop, Ulrich of Padua, of having convinced Pope Gregory to refuse to allow Berengar to prove his orthodoxy by an oath and an ordeal. Landulf and Ulrich prevailed on the synod to defer the issue to the next Lenten council.

Mahdia campaign of 1087

The Mahdia campaign of 1087 was an attack on the North African town of Mahdia by armed ships from the northern Italian maritime republics of Genoa and Pisa. It had been prompted by the actions of the Zirid ruler Tamim ibn Muizz (reigned 1062–1108) as a pirate in waters off the Italian Peninsula, along with his involvement in Sicily fighting the Norman invasion. The attack was led by Hugh of Pisa, with military aid from Rome and the Genoese navy; the nobleman Pantaleone from Amalfi was also involved, and the whole endeavour had the backing of Matilda of Tuscany. It succeeded in capturing the city, but they could not hold it; the money from the plunder was spent on the cathedral at Pisa and to build a new church.

Crusade historian Carl Erdmann considers the raid a direct precursor to the First Crusade ("ganz als Kreuzzug ausgeführt") which occurred eight years later, as it was conducted under the banner of St. Peter against a Muslim ruler who was demonised in the accounts of it, and a form of indulgence was granted to the campaigners by Pope Victor III.

The main source of information for the campaigns is the Carmen in victoriam Pisanorum, written within months of it by a Pisan religious cleric.

Neviano degli Arduini

Neviano degli Arduini (Parmigiano: Nevian di Arduèn) is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Parma in the Italian region Emilia-Romagna, located about 80 kilometres (50 mi) west of Bologna and about 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of Parma.

In the communal territory is the Romanesque Pieve di Sasso, a national monument, dating from the 11th century. Its reconstruction around 1080 is traditionally attributed to Matilda of Tuscany. It is a church with a nave and two aisles, built in rough stone. Notable is the façade, parted by thin pilasters and a medieval portal. It houses a sculpted baptismal font with octagonal plan, and figures of the Evangelists. Other notable buildings include the church of Sant'Ambrogio a Bazzano.

Ponte della Maddalena

Ponte della Maddalena (Italian: "Bridge of Mary Magdalene") is a bridge crossing the Serchio river near the town of Borgo a Mozzano in the Italian province of Lucca. One of numerous medieval bridges known as Ponte del Diavolo, the "Bridge of the Devil", it was a vital river crossing on the Via Francigena, an early medieval road to Rome for those coming from France that was an important medieval pilgrimage route.

The bridge is a remarkable example of medieval engineering, probably commissioned by the Countess Matilda of Tuscany c. 1080-1100. It was renovated c. 1300 under the direction of Castruccio Castracani. The largest span is 37.8 m. The bridge is also described in a 14th-century novella by Giovanni Sercambi of Lucca.

Circa 1500 it took on the name of Ponte della Maddalena, from an oratory dedicated to Mary Magdalene, whose statue stood at the foot of the bridge on the eastern bank.

In 1670 the General Council of the Republic of Lucca issued a decree prohibiting passage over the bridge with millstones (ceppi) and sacks of flour in order to preserve the structure.

In 1836, after being badly damaged during a flood, the bridge underwent urgent repair work. In the early 1900s in order to make room for the surfaced roadway an additional arch was added to the right hand section, considerably altering the original design.

Republic of Florence

The Republic of Florence, also known as the Florentine Republic (Italian: Repubblica Fiorentina, pronounced [reˈpubblika fjorenˈtiːna], or Repubblica di Firenze), was a medieval and early modern state that was centered on the Italian city of Florence in Tuscany. The republic originated in 1115, when the Florentine people rebelled against the Margraviate of Tuscany upon the death of Matilda of Tuscany, a woman who controlled vast territories that included Florence. The Florentines formed a commune in her successors' place. The republic was ruled by a council known as the Signoria of Florence. The signoria was chosen by the gonfaloniere (titular ruler of the city), who was elected every two months by Florentine guild members.

The republic had a checkered history of coups and counter-coups against various factions. The Medici faction gained governance of the city in 1434 under Cosimo de' Medici. The Medici kept control of Florence until 1494. Giovanni de' Medici (later Pope Leo X) re-conquered the republic in 1512.

Florence repudiated Medici authority for a second time in 1527, during the War of the League of Cognac. The Medici re-assumed their rule in 1531 after an 11-month siege of the city. The republican government was disestablished in 1532, when Pope Clement VII appointed Alessandro de' Medici "Duke of the Florentine Republic", making the "republic" a hereditary monarchy.

Road to Canossa

The Road to Canossa, sometimes called the Walk to Canossa (German: Gang nach Canossa/Kanossa) or Humiliation of Canossa (Italian: L'umiliazione di Canossa), refers to Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV's trek to Canossa Castle, Italy, where Pope Gregory VII was staying as the guest of Margravine Matilda of Tuscany, at the height of the investiture controversy in January 1077 to seek absolution of his excommunication.

According to contemporary sources, he was forced to humiliate himself on his knees waiting for three days and three nights before the entrance gate of the castle, while a blizzard raged. Indeed, the episode has been described as "one of the most dramatic moments of the Middle Ages". It has also spurred a lot of debate among medieval chroniclers as well as modern historians, who argue about whether the walk was a "brilliant masterstroke" or an embarrassing humiliation.

Tedald (bishop of Arezzo)

Tedald (c. 990 – 12 June 1036), also known as Theodald, Theodaldus, Tedaldus, Tedaldo, or Teodaldo, was the forty-third Bishop of Arezzo from 1023 until his death.

Tedald came from the highest ranks of the nobility of central Italy. He was the second son of Tedald, Count of Brescia, of the House of Canossa, and Willa, possible daughter of Theobald II of Spoleto. His elder brother was Boniface III of Tuscany. He was the uncle of Matilda of Tuscany, who was born after his death.

As bishop Tedald encouraged and protected the monastic life. He granted permission for Saint Romuald to found a monastery and a hermitage (eremo) at Camaldoli in his diocese (c. 1024). Tedald also sponsored the work of the monk Guido of Arezzo, whose treatise on music theory, the Micrologus, was dedicated to him. At Tedald's invitation, Guido took up the training of the cathedral singers at Arezzo around 1025. The bishop also supported the architect Maginardo, who added to the cathedral during his episcopate and was sent by Tedald in 1026 on a paid visit to Ravenna to study its Byzantine architecture.He was succeeded in the diocese by Immo, a canon from Worms and chaplain at the court of Emperor Conrad II.

Terre Matildiche

The term "Terre Matildiche" is referred to the group of territories ruled by the countess Matilda of Tuscany.

Tomb of Countess Matilda of Tuscany

The Tomb of Countess Matilda of Tuscany is a large sculptural memorial designed by the Italian artist Gianlorenzo Bernini and executed by Bernini and various other sculptors. It was commissioned by Pope Urban VIII in 1633 and was destined for St. Peter's, Rome, where it still sits now. The final parts were completed in 1644.

Ulrich of Attems

Ulrich of Attems (Ulrich von Attems) (born circa 1082 (Attimis, Udine) - died 1170) was an Italian nobleman from the family of Attems. He also served as the vicar (and de facto head of) of Tuscany and Spoleto between 1139 and 1152.

Ulrich was the son Conrad of Attems (1052-1106), who was a Minister of King Conrad III, who regarded himself as the heir of Henry V. Therefore, Ulrich tried in 1128-1130 in opposition to the popes to seize the vast Italian properties of Matilda of Tuscany. In 1137, Henry X, Duke of Bavaria (Henry the Proud) of the Welf family was named the Margrave of Tuscany by Lothair II, Holy Roman Emperor. Shortly before the death of Henry in 1139, Ulrich was appointed by Conrad (who succeeded Lothair) as vicar there. This led to further conflicts between Konrad and the Welf family. Ulrich as vicar ruled over Tuscany and Spoleto until 1152.

During his time in Tuscany, the Normans from the Kingdom of Sicily attacked and conquered northern Abruzzo (at that time part of the Duchy of Spoleto) in 1140. King Roger II of Sicily sent his son Alfonso of Capua supported by his eldest son Roger III, Duke of Apulia, across the border at Pescara which overwhelmed the defensive forces against them. The resulting territory up to the Tronto River was then incorporated into the Kingdom of Sicily.Subsequently, Ulrich had difficulty maintaining and consolidating his power in Tuscany. After the death of Conrad in 1152, another member of the Welf family, Welf VI was named the Margrave of Tuscany and Duke of the remainder of Spoleto by Frederick I.

Welf II, Duke of Bavaria

Welf II (1072 – 24 September 1120, Kaufering), or Welfhard, called Welf the Fat (pinguis), was Duke of Bavaria from 1101 until his death. In the Welf genealogy, he is counted as Welf V.

Ancestors of Matilda of Tuscany
16. Sigifred of Lucca
8. Adalbert Atto of Canossa
4. Tedald of Canossa
9. Hildegard
2. Boniface III, Margrave of Tuscany
20. Hugh of Italy
10. Hubert, Duke of Spoleto
21. Wandelmoda
5. Willa of Bologna
22. Boniface I of Spoleto
11. Willa of Spoleto
23. Waldrada of Burgundy
1. Matilda of Tuscany
24. Frederick I, Duke of Upper Lorraine
12. Thierry I, Duke of Upper Lorraine
25. Beatrice of France
6. Frederick II, Duke of Upper Lorraine
26. Folmar I, Count of Bliesgau
13. Richilde von Blieskastel
27. Bertha of Metz
3. Beatrice of Lorraine
28. Conrad I, Duke of Swabia
14. Herman II, Duke of Swabia
7. Matilda of Swabia
30. Conrad of Burgundy
15. Gerberga of Burgundy
31. Matilda of France

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.