Matilda of Tuscany

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Matilda of Tuscany (Italian: Matilde, Latin: Matilda, Mathilda) (1046 – 24 July 1115) was an Italian noblewoman, the principal Italian supporter of Pope Gregory VII during the Investiture Controversy. She is one of the few medieval women to be remembered for her military accomplishments. She is sometimes called la Gran Contessa ("the Great Countess") or Matilda of Canossa after the her ancestral castle of Canossa.


Childhood and regency

She was the daughter of Boniface III, ruler of many counties, among them Reggio, Modena, Mantua, Brescia, and Ferrara. He held a great estate on both sides of the Apennines, though the greater part was in Lombardy and Emilia. Matilda's mother was Beatrice, a daughter of Frederick II, Duke of Upper Lorraine, and of Matilda, daughter of Herman II of Swabia.

Matilda's place of birth is unknown. Mantua, Modena, Cremona, and Verona have all been suggested, though scholarly opinion favours Lucca or the nearby castle of Porcari.[1] Based on her fluency in German, some authors have asserted that she was born in Lorraine, her mother's province. She was her parents' youngest child, but her father was murdered in 1052 and one year later (1053) her older sister Beatrice (namesake of their mother) also died. The elder Beatrice, in order to protect her children's inheritance, married Godfrey the Bearded, a cousin who had been Duke of Upper Lorraine before rebelling against the Emperor Henry III. The two were married in 1053 or 1054 in the church of San Pietro at Mantua by Pope Leo IX himself as he returned from a trip to Germany. At the same time, Matilda was betrothed to Godfrey the Hunchback, a son of Godfrey the Bearded by a previous marriage and thus her stepbrother.

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