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MATILDA OF CANOSSA AND THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN MEDIEVAL POLITICS BY MAJKA BEARD A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirement s for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under th e sponsorship of Thomas McCarthy Sarasota, Florida May 2012
ii To my parents
iii Contents Abstract iv Introduction 1 Chapter 1: Medieval Noblewomen in the Eleventh Century 11 Chapter 2: Portrayals of Matilda in the L iterature of the Investiture Contest 29 Chapter 3: Matilda as a Secular A lly to the Gregorian Papacy 46 Conclusion 66 Appendix : Map of the German Empire un der the Salians 70 Bibliography 71
iv MATILDA OF CANOSSA AND THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN MEDIEVAL POLITICS Majka Beard New College of Florida, 2012 ABSTRACT This thesis discusses the life of Countess Matilda of Canossa (1046 1115) and her participation in the Investiture Contest, one of the most significant conflicts of the Middle Ages. Matilda's involvement in the Investiture Contest demonstrates how she managed to retain her autonomy in Tuscany by establishing a close relat ionship with the Gregorian papacy and thus demonstrates the roles that women could play in medieval politics. While many noblewomen were able to take on substantial roles in medieval society Matilda's position was quite unique Although some women were able to rule with their husband s or serve as regents for their young sons, they were still bound within the patriarchal so cial structures of their time. Matilda's role as a military defender of the Gregorian papacy on the other hand, allowed her to rule Tuscany independently. At the same time, her unsuccessful marriages reveal a deliberate attempt by the countess to break with tradition and rule without being controlled by a man. The lack of scholarly research on Matilda's notable li fe highlights the need for more study on medieval women and their role in politics. Dr Thomas McCarthy Division of Social Sciences
1 Introduction In 1071 at the age of twenty six, Countess Matilda of Canossa (1046 1115) left her husband of two years, Godfrey the Hunchback (d. 1076) As an anonymous chronicler from the monastery of St Hubert in the A rdennes described, Godfrey was rej ected by her and driven f rom Italy" back to his home in Lotharingia, despite his insistence that Matilda reconcile herself with him. 1 For years Godfrey tried to persuade Matilda to return to him in Lotharingia, but even at her mother s insistence the coun tess refused. Matilda s abandonment of her husband was quite unusual for the time since most medieval wives were under the completely control of their husbands The fact that Matilda simply walked out on her marriage and stayed there was an early indicat ion that the countess s life would not conform to many of the social norms of her time. Matilda s repudiation of her husband reveals the decisive action she was willing to take to ensure her autonomy and control of her vast inheritance. This thesis explo res the unique place of Matilda of Canossa in medieval politics and particularly her ability to retain her independence as countess of Tuscany in the highly patriarchal period of the Middle Ages Matilda was born in 1046 to Count Boniface of Canossa (c. 985 1052) and his wife Beatrice ( c. 1017 76) Following her father and older siblings death s Matilda inherited her father s vast lands in Tuscany Under Roman law women could inherit their father s lands Thus Matil da then ruled along side her mother in Tuscany and following her death became the sole ruler of the county of Tuscany. 1 Chronicon sancti Huberi Andaginesis, MGH SS 8, 583, trans. in D. J. Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa, 1046 1115 (Manchester, 2008), 43.
2 Matilda came to power during one of the most significant political disputes of the Middle Ages. The conflict between empire and papacy, or the Investiture Contest, result ed in civil war within the German Empire during the reign of Henry IV ( 1056 1106) and in to the reign of his son Henry V ( 1099 1125 ) Matilda was a key support er of the Gregorian reform movement which opposed Henry IV and eventually Henry V throughout the second half of the eleventh century. Under the Salian dynasty the Western Empire consisted of the kingdoms of Germany, Burgundy and Italy The German king ruled over all three kingdoms in close cooperation with various secular princes as well as import ant Church officials, such as bishops and abbots The Church provided organization and unity throughout its expansive lands in the empire. 2 Positions within the Church were appointed by the German king through the ceremony of investiture which created a close relationship between the king and these important authority figures. 3 When Henry IV came of age in 1065 he sought to uphold investiture and came into con flict with Church reformers who opposed this practice He nry was also concerned with recoveri ng his authority in the empire due to the heavy loss of imperial lands to various noblemen who had control of Henry s government during his minority 4 The impression of a loss of imperial prestige as well as a sense of customary rights to investiture mot ivated Henry IV s actions throughout the conflict between empire and papacy. Henry IV believed that he was protecting the traditional rights of the German monarchy 5 2 T. Reuter, The "Imperial Church System" of the Ottonians and Salian Rulers: A Reconsideration Journal of Ecclesiastical History 33 (1982), 348. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid., 62. 5 I. S. Robinson, Henry IV of Germany, 1056 1106 (Cambridge, 1999), 15.
3 At the same time Henry was dealing with a growing reform movement in the Church which came out of monastic reform movements of the tenth century seeking to eliminate corruption that eventually spread to many facets of the Church 6 Many within the empire, including emp erors like Henry III had supported Church reform 7 At first t he practi ce of simony, buying Church positions like a bishopric, was attacked as heresy. Eventually the ceremony of investiture, in which a bishop or abbot would perform homage to the king, was challenged as heretical as well. Many who supported reform felt offic ials within the Church should o nly pledge their loyalty to God and no one else. Others who originally believed in reform within the Church suddenly felt their rights were under attack, such as Henry IV. Although this practice went unchallenged before the eleventh century, it became a vital issue in the civil war of the 1080s The relationship between the papacy and emperor changed during this period of reform as well Under Henry III the papacy was under the protection of the emperor. 8 Following his d eath and during the minority of Henry IV the papacy was no longer under the direct protection of the German emperor At the same time more reform minded individuals, brought to Rome by figures such as Pope Leo IX, became influential within the Church hie rarchy In 1059 a new papal election decree announced that seven cardinal bishops would now elec t the pope under the approval of the king to lessen the influence of powerful Roman families and other secular figures 9 This new election process aimed to e nsure that only reform minded individuals could be come pope 10 These changes in Rome made the papacy more t han just a local institution. Accordingly, t he papacy, 6 H. Fuhrmann, Germany in the High Middle Ages, c. 1050 1200 ( Cambridge 1986), 110. 7 S. Weinfurter, The Salian Century: Main Currents in an Age of Transition (Philadelphia, 1999), 91. 8 Robinson, Henry IV 20. 9 Weinfurter, The Salian Century, 116. 10 I. S. Robinson, The Papacy 1073 1198: Continuity and Innovation (Cambridge, 1990), 36.
4 esp ecially under Pope Gregory VII ( 1073 85 ) began to have more political significance throug hout Europe in the eleventh century. As the reform movement began to become more popular, particularly under Pope Gregory VII Henry IV found himself in conflict with those within the Church as well as with the laity who supported it. In 1076 Gregory VI I excommunicated the king which eventually plunged the empire into civil war. 11 Gregory and his particular brand of reform was supported by those who believed in his cause, as well as secular princes such as the Saxon nobility in Germa ny who opposed Hen ry for political reasons. 12 Henry also had secular princes and members of the clergy who backed his cause many who believed in reform for the Church but disagreed with Gregory s methods. Others simply backed Henry for political reasons. Thus, the confl ict between empire and papacy included a wide variety of followers on both sides with different motivations An interesting result of the Investiture C ontest was the unprecedented amount of polemical literature written throughout the period These lette rs and pamphlets were intended to convince prominent individuals, mainly bishops and secular princes to take a certain side in the conflict. 13 They were not widely read since most were written for specific individuals and because the conflict was between mem bers of the nobility and clergy. Matilda herself sponsored a variety of polemical works, many of which supported her role in the Gregorian party. After Matilda s mother Beatrice died, Matilda ruled Tuscany on her own. Her letters and diplomas throu ghout her time as countess reveal a particular dedication to the 11 Robinson, Henry IV 160. 12 Weinfurter, The Salian Century 139. 13 I. S. Robinson, Authority and Resi stance in the Investiture Contest: The Polemical Literature of the Late Eleventh Century (Manchester, 1978), 4 5.
5 Church both within her own lands and throughout the German kingdom. She regularly donated lands to the Church and settled disputes for various monasteries and c hurch men in her lands, often siding with the Church as opposed to influential noblemen. The Investiture Contest started soon after Matil da became the sole ruler of Tuscan y Thus Matilda became a key defender of the Gregorian mov ement in the kingdom of Italy. In this thesis I seek to show Matilda s ability to retain her autonomy in Tuscany during the Investiture Contest, revealing the roles that women could play in medieval politics. There has been a considerable amount of scholarly research on the conflict between empire and papacy in the eleventh century This body of research has focused particularly on traditional political history I. S. Robinson s, Authority and Resistance in the Investiture Contest: The Polemical Literature of the Late Eleventh Century (1978) for example, a nalyzes the various polemical works of the time. His book, Henry IV is centered around the controversial German king yet it covers almost all political and religious aspects of the conflict during Henry s lifetime 14 Timothy Retuer s Medieval Polities an d Modern M entalities discusses the conflict while exploring how historians study the past and their own pre conceived notions. 15 Pope Gregory VII by H. E. J. Cowdrey is centered around the pope whose political actions in the German Empire began the conflict 16 Matilda is mentioned in many works which cover the Investiture Contest, but none of them focus on her exclusively or her role as a women in medieval politics. Like the research on the Investiture Contest, there is little scholarly work within the f ield of women s studies on Matilda s place in medieval history Women s history has 14 I. S. Robinson, Henry IV of Germany (Cambridge, 1999). 15 Timothy Reuter and Janet L. Nelson, Medieval Polities and Modern Mentalities (Camb ridge, 2006). 16 H. E. J. Cowdrey, Pope Gregory VII, 1073 1085 (Oxford, 1998).
6 emerged within the past thirty years following women s rights movements of the twentieth century. This field of history seeks to explore the place of women throughout his tory since so much previous scholarship has be en limited to fields of history which were dominated by men such as political and economic history Linda Mitchell s Women in Medieval Western European Culture covers thematic topics concerning medieval women seeking to contextualize these women in their own society 17 The book Que ens, Regents and P otentates, edited by Theresa Vann offers a number of case studies on influential women in medieval politics, such as Countess Almodis of Barcelona, and how these women obtained authority. 18 The expansion of the field of women s history has sought to reveal and investigate the lives of women in the past especially since they have been ignored in more traditional forms of history This thesis will seek to integrate current scholarship on the Investiture Contest with the more recent field of women s history to demonstrate Matilda of Canossa s role within the conflict. There has been a rather recent, yet modest, current of interest in English scholarship concerning M atilda of Canossa specifically focused on her accomplishments as a female military leader. This was the subject of doctoral dissertations by David Hay and Valerie Eads, both written in 2000 19 Expanding on this work, Hay continued his study of Matilda wi th The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa, 1046 1115 The book explores the countess s military training and early life as well as her abilities as a commander for the Gregorian reform movement Using a variety of primary sources, t he 17 Linda E. Mitchell, Women in Medieval Western European Culture (London, 1999). 18 Donald J. Kagay, "Countess Almodis of Barcelona: Illustrious and Distinguished Queen or Woman of Sad, Unbridled Lew d ness, in Queens, Regents and Potentates ed. Theresa Vann (Dallas, 1993), 39. 19 D. J. Hay, "The Campaigns of Countess Matilda of Canossa (1046 1115): Analysis of the History and Social Significance of a Woman s Military Leadership" (PhD diss, University of Toronto, 2000); Valerie Eads, Mighty in War: The Campaigns of Matilda of Tuscany" (PhD. diss: City University of New York, 2000).
7 book highlig hts how Matild a s military leadership developed during Henry IV s var ious campaigns in Italy His book is primarily a military biography but it also includes a discussion of medieval constructions of gender, finding that although stereotypes of women as w eak and incompetent in military matters prevailed, Matilda s circle of writers defended her role as a military leader against the imperial party in Italy Eads s recent article The Geography of Power: Matilda of Tuscany an d the Strategy of Active Defens e likewise stresses the need to study the military significance of the Investiture Contest and Matilda s role in the conflict 20 She emphasizes Matilda s military and financial capabilities against Henry due to her vast and strategic lands in Tuscany, es pecially her control of the Apennine routes which provided access into southern Italy These works are beneficial to the study of the military aspects of the Investiture Contest and Matilda s involvement. Overall despite her important role in eleventh century politics, there is a lack of scholarship focused exclusively on Matilda. She is mentioned in a variety of polemical texts in both a positive and negative light ; t hese polemics provide the resources to analyze the countess on more than just a mili tary level. The lack of secondary literature on Matilda was part of my motivation to focus on her portrayal and actions in this thesis Her military accomplishme nts, especially as a women, are a compelling topic but instead this thesis focuses on the ro le s of medieval women in eleventh century politics This thesis does not attempt to portray Matilda as a "modern anomaly within medieval history or to argue that Matilda sought to change the patriarchal social structures of the time. Many w omen were ab le to have positions of authority similar to 20 V. Eads, The Geography of Power: Matilda of Tuscany and the Strategy of Active Defense in Crus aders, Condottieri, and Cannon: Medieval Warfare in Societies around the Mediterranean ed. D. J. Kag ay and L. J. A. Villalon (Leiden, 2002)
8 Matilda s, usually through land inherited from their fathers or husbands. Others rule d along side their husbands. Like them, Matilda inherited her father s vast lands in Italy and then used her influence to mai ntain a certain level of autonomy Where she does stand out from many other powerful women of her time is in her efforts to not be married or under the control of any men. Similarly, a lthough Matilda directly opposed the German emperor at the time, Henry IV, she was not trying to subvert the male dominated social structures of the time. She was focuse d on her own situation in Italy, ensuring she was not forced into marriage and out of her position as ruler of Tuscany. Chapter one focuses the influences of noblewomen in medieval politics providing a context for the life of Matilda of Canossa This chapter reveals that noblewomen s experiences were dictated by the prominent men they were associated with, mainly their fathers and husbands A young women s future was decided by her father and limited either to marriage or to joining a convent. Noblewomen who joined the Church had more opportunities to become educated, but could never leave their communities Married noblewomen had opportunities to play sig nificant roles in their husband s domains, yet their husbands could easily restrict the involvement of their wives in politics Widows arguably had the most autonomy because of the ir considerable inheritances from their husband s estates, but there was significant social pressure for them to remarry thus putting them once more under the control of a man This chapter demonstrates the considerable political influence that certain women, such as Agnes of Poitou (c. 1025 77) Eleanor of Aquitaine (c. 112 2 1204 ), and Countess Ermessenda of Barcelona (975 1058 ) had in medieval society yet acknowledges the limitations of their authority due to their sex.
9 Chapter two examines the polemical literature of the Investiture Contest specifically that concerni ng Matilda of Canossa and Henry IV of Germany. The chapter is broken down into four sections involving specific criticism s of Matilda and Henry. Both Matilda and Henry were accused of being promiscuous, innovative, weak and corrupting figures. Yet the a ccusations made against Matilda focused on her sex whereas those made against Henry condemned him for being an unconventional exception to a long tradition of noble German kings Henry and Matilda were both accused of promiscuity, yet to the polemical au thors on the imperial side this was simply how all women behaved and Matilda was no exception. The se attacks against Matilda were used to alienate support for the papal reform movement in the German Empire but they also reveal the misogynistic nature of the time in which Matilda lived Chapter three shows how Matilda managed to maintain her authority in Italy despite of the patriarchal structure of society The chapter outlines Matilda s role as a secular ally of the Gregorian reform movement and exa mines how this position also benefited the countess. When Henry s supporters denounce d Matilda for her use of force against fellow Christians many Gregorian writers came to Matilda s defense They praised Matilda, citing Christian history and biblical p recedent to show that her military actions were justified. The works defending Matilda also praised her as an independent ruler. Thus Matilda defended the Gregorian movement largely because of her piety, but also to ensure that she could safeguard her au tonomy in Tuscany, resulting in a mutually beneficial relationship between the two The history of her unsuccessful marriages to Godfrey the Hunchback and Welf V reveal s that Matilda s actions were not only dictated by her dedication to the Church but als o by her desire to ensure her own independence
10 This thesis seeks to il lustrate the notable ability of Matilda of Canossa to retain her political independence in the eleventh century offering a different perspective on her role throughout the Investit ure Contest Although many women of her time wielded considerable political authority, Matilda stands out as she aimed to prevent herself from being controlled by the men in her life. Matilda s actions as countess of Tuscany show her to be a unique chara cter in medieval politics that overcame the significant obstacles of the time period in which she lived
11 Medieval Noblewomen in the Eleventh Century This chapter will discuss nob lewomen in the eleventh century: their accomplishments, influences and limit ations. Contrary to modern expectations and stereotypes, important noblewomen such as Matilda of Canossa (1046 1 115), were prominent actors in medieval politics. Many of these women served as regents when their husbands were away or after they died mad e donations to the Church and some were highly educated members of the Church These were common activities for many noblewomen of the time but unlike Matilda, the actions of these noblewomen were lar gely dictated by men Noblewomen who became widows r each ed the highest level of autonomy but there was significant social pressure to remarry Although medieval noblewomen affected medieval society, the majority of their lives were controlled by the men around them and independence, even in widowhood, was difficult to obtain. Women s History Women s history is a relatively new field within the discipline of History. Many works have been published in the last thirty years concerning the lives of women in the Middle Ages. 1 As the field emerged many hi storians tried to separate and investigate only medieval women, since much previous scholarship had been devoted to various st udies such as political history, which was dominated by men. 2 At the same time the roles of these women on medieval politics has yet to be fully examined. This chapter will 1 Linda E. Mitchell, Women in Medieval Western European Culture (London, 1999), 1. 2 Christine Owens, "Noblewomen and Political Activity," in Women in Medieval Western European Culture, ed. Linda E. Mitchell (London, 1999), 212.
12 explore how noblewomen exerted influence over their ow n lives and on medieval politics. The Lives of Noblewomen Typically a noblewoman s place in society was dictated by her marital status. Before marriage a girl would live with her immediate family but by her mid to late teens her close male relatives would make arrangements for her marriage unless she was to live a monastic life. After being married a noblewoman s husband would become the most influent ial man in her life. Noblewomen commonly became widows si nce they were often married to older men. Widowhood allowed women to experience a new state of independence and continued importance in society since many inherited vast amounts of land. Although noblewomen had many avenues of exerting influence in medieval s ociety throughout their lives this was often done through informal means and not institutionalized. If a medieval noblewoma n did not marry her only other option was to join a convent, which provided an avenue for women to receive an education and exercise a degree of authority Nuns, such as Hildegard of Bingen ( 1098 1179) could dedicate their lives to scholarship and avoid the dangers of childbirth. 3 Hildegard was born in Bermersheim, Ger many, the tenth c hild of noble parents Hildebert and Mechthild 4 When Hildegard was eight years old her parents placed her in a Benedictine convent as an oblate. Noble families often placed their youngest children in monasteries to relieve 3 Janet Nelson, Medieval Queenship," in Women in Medieval Western European Culture, ed. Linda E. Mitchell (London, 1999), 191. 4 Heinrich Schipperges, Hildegard of Bingen: Healing and the Nature of the Cosmos trans. John A. Broadwin (Princeton: 1997), 9.
13 the financial burden of having such large families 5 These children, called oblates, were placed in a monastery at a young age and came with a gift of land or money to help support the monastery. This required donation meant that religious communities in the Middle Ag es were usually limited to the noble class. Hildegard flourished as a member of the Church and took advantage of the education she received in the convent She was instructed by the magistra of the convent, Jutta von Spanheim. 6 The education Hildegard received allowed her explore a variety of studies including composition, theology, science and medicine. 7 After Jutta died Hildegard was elected head of the convent at Disibodenberg. She wrote to a variety of influential figures of her time including th e German Emperor Frederick I, Henry II of England and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine as well as to a number of abbots, abbesses, bishops and even laypeople. 8 Life in a convent provided noblewo men like Hildegard with the opportunity to become e ducated. Th e monastic life was the only other possibility for a noblewoma n besides marriage Nuns did not have a choice in joining a convent since the decision was largely up to the ir father s Furthermore, once in a convent it was extremely rare for someone ever to leave. A life in the Church was an alternative for women instead of having a husband that could control them, but this "alternate" was the only other conceivable avenue for these women. 5 James G. Clark, The Benedictines in the Middle Ages (Woodbridge, 2011), 64. 6 Schipperges, Hildegard of Bingen 9. 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid., 16.
14 Marriage While some noblewomen entered monasteries, the majori ty of women married which marked a major change in their lives. Marriage arrangements between those in the nobility allowed noble families to make alliances and raise their social standings. 9 A noblewoman s inheritance from her father s estate would oft en be her dowry when she married. Roman law ensured women could inherit from their father s estate and this tradition carried on into the medieval period; in the eighth century the Carolingians formally recognized this right for women. The groom s family was also expected to give a dower to the bride with which she could support herself if her husband died. Marriage arrangements might be made early in a girl s life but the wedding typically did not take place until she was older. It was not uncommon fo r royal brides to be sent to their future husband s home as a child to immerse them in their new culture. 10 Elizabeth of Hungary (1207 31) for example, was sent to live with her future husband s family at the age of four, even though the two did not marry for another ten years. 11 The Empress Matilda (1102 67) wife of Henry V, was sent to live with Henry s family when she was eight years old to begin her training as queen consort. 12 Sending young brides to stay with their future husband s family also weake ne d a girl s tie s to her own family; foreign brides were often treated with distrust so limiting a girl s time with her own fam ily helped ease concerns over her loyalty later on 9 Amy Livingstone, Powerful Allies and Dangerous Adversaries: Noblewomen in Medieval Society," in Women in Medieval Western European Culture, ed. Linda E. Mitchell (London, 1999), 14. 10 John Parsons, Medieval Queenship (New York, 1993), 4. 11 Livingstone, Powerful Allies and Dangerous Adversaries," 13. 12 Marjorie Chibnall, The Empress Matilda: Queen Consort, Queen Mother and Lady of the English (Cambridge, 1992), 9.
15 While marriages were used by noble famil ies to make alliances with others in the nobility these unions were also important in raising the social status of noble families. The Countess Almodis of Barcelona s desertion of her husband, Pons of Toulouse for Count Ramon Berenguer I of Barcelona in 1053 was most likely to raise th e social status of her family, yet she was criticized for licentious motivations at the time Chroniclers such as the English writer William Malmesbury wrote a century late r about Almodis saying she was a woman of sad unbridled lewdness who, when one h usband became disgusting to her from long intercourse, would take her abode with another. 13 This report of Almodis fits in with common portray al s of medieval women as promiscuous and untrustworthy. Other prominent noblewomen such as Eleanor of Aquitaine (c. 1122 1204 ), wife of two medieval kings, L ouis VII of France and Henry II of England was also labeled as lascivious in her time. Archb ishop William of Tyre (b. 1130) d escribed Eleanor in his work, History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea, as being "unfaith ful to her husband" and disregarding her marriage vows" to Louis VII 14 Malmesbury s depiction of Almodis mimics this approach of casting women as promiscuous when in reality Almodis s desertion of her husband was probably done to help elev ate her family s social status. Instead of seeing Almodis as promiscuous, Donald Kagey argues that Almodis hoped to bring "stability and advancement" for herself and her family by marrying Ramon Berenguer. 15 Her family, traditionally lords of La Marche, had seen their p ower diminish with the collapse of the Carolingian Empire. Although her marriage to Pons of 13 Donald J. Kagay, "Countess Almodis of Barcelona : Illustrious and Distinguished Queen or Woman of Sad, Unbridled Lew d ness, in Queens, Regents and Potentates ed. Theresa Vann (Dallas, 1993), 39. 14 William of Tyre, A History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea trans E. A. Babcock and A. C. Krey, 2 vols. (New York, 1943), 180. 15 Donald J. Kagay, "Countess Almodis of Barcelona, 39.
16 Toulouse seemed prosperous since the couple had four children Almodis married Ramon in 1053 while still married to Pons. Ramon s family had vast land holdings in southern France which would strengthen her family s position in the region. The story of Ramon and Almodis became a scandal, even leading to accusations that Ramon had kidnapped the countess. Although portrayed as licentious by medieval chroniclers, Al modis most likely left her first husband to help her own family s standing. Her actions reveal how important unions with other noble families were established though marriage. Married L ife As a noblewoman transitioned into living with her new husband she took on overseeing her husband s household such as keep ing track of the revenues and income of her husband s property. 16 Counte ss Ermessenda of Barcelona (975 1058) is a useful case study of a medieval noble woma n exerting influence in the High Middle Ages. The daughter of Count Roger the Old and Countess Adelaise o f Carcassonne married Ramo n Borrell in 993. Ramon controlled the counties of Barcelona, Gerona and Ausone. The countess was politically active throughout the reign of her husband and even after his death Do cuments from the period reveal that Ermessenda participated in donating, selling and exchanging property, witnessing and signing documents and presided over court proceedings with her husband Ramon. 17 Ermessenda was extensively involved in her husband s county. Ramon s will left vast portions of his lands to the countess 16 Livingstone, Powerful Allies and Dangerous Adversaries," 14. 17 Patricia Humphrey, Ermessenda of Barcelona: The Status of her Authority," in Queens, Regents and Potentates, ed. Theresa Vann (Dallas, 1993), 13.
17 showing his support and trust in Ermessenda. 18 Another indication of noblewomen exercising influence in their husband s domain was their presence in diplomas and char ters issued by their husbands. Agnes of Poitou (1025 77) wife of Emperor Henry III (1017 56) was often listed as an intervener in her husband s diplomas. ( An intervener was someone close to the king who could ask for something on his behalf like donat ing land for a monastery .) The intervention clause in a diploma revealed who had influence and access to the king. In the last six years of Henry s life Agnes was liste d as an intervener in sixty percent of the diplomas he issued. 19 The number of times she appears in his political dealings shows that Agnes was an influential advisor to her husband. She also continue d to be a part of politics in the German Empire following her husband s death in 1056. Like Agnes, Queen Emma of England (c. 985 1052) wa s often listed as a witness in her husbands charters. She married thelred II of England in 1002 and was listed as a witness in a many of his charters. Following her first husband s death she married the Danish invader Cnut the Great in 1017 ( who then beca me the king of England). Since Cnut was also king of Denmark he was often away from England Pauline Stafford proposes that Cnut married Emma for her expertise in English politics and used his new bride as a regent when he was away. 20 In fact, i t was common by the eleventh century for noblemen to use their wives to supervise their estates while either off on crusade, business or war. 21 Em ma was an ideal candidate for Cnut s regent since she had already been queen of England for fifteen years. Her sex also ensured that she could not usurp 18 Hump hrey, Ermessenda of Barcelona," 23. 19 I. S. Robinson, Henry IV of Germany, 1056 1106 (Cambridge, 1999), 23. 20 Pauline Stafford, The Portrayal of Royal Women in England, Mid Tenth to Mid T welfth Centuries," in Medieval Queenship, ed. John Parsons (New Yor k, 1993), 19. 21 Livingstone, Powerful Allies and Dangerous Adversaries," 17.
18 Cnut s newly gained kingdom. Emma s long position as queen of England under two kings allowed her to influence politics in England for a considerable period. Her proximity to her husbands, like Agnes and Ermessenda, gave her authority in her husband s realm. Although it was not institutionalized power, many noblewomen married to important men undoubted ly influenced their husband s politics. While there were many influential noblewomen that affected their husband s policies and ruled alongside them some noblewomen were kept out of their husband s political activities. Emperor Henry IV of Germany s (1050 1106) second wife, Eupraxia (1071 1109) was a Russian princess who was betrothed to Henry in 1088. Eupraxia had previously been married to Count Henry III of Stade, margrave of the Saxon Nordmark and the son of a rebel leader from the Great Saxon rebellion of 1073. The Saxons were a constant source of problems for the Salians since the Saxon nobility felt their in fluence was being targeted by the German kings. Therefore, Henry married Eupraxia because of her previous marr iage to a powerful Saxon noblema n. Unlike Henry s first wife Bertha of Savoy, Eupraxia was mostly uninvolved in her husband s reign. While Bert ha appeared more often than any other intervener in her husband s diplomas during their marriage, Eupraxia s name is only mentioned in one diploma. 22 It seems probable that Henry either disliked or did not trust his new bride, perhaps because of her Saxon ties although paradoxically this had probably been his motivation for marrying her Matilda of Canossa s chronicler Donizo of Canossa, who keenly opposed Henry IV, claimed that Eupr axia was treated as a pri soner in the imperial entourage" by her husband 23 She was hardly mentioned in any chronicle s and most pro imperial sources leave her out 22 Robinson, Henry IV, 266. 23 Ibid. 289.
19 completely, which might suggest that the e mpress never g ained the confidence of her husband. 24 In fact, Eupraxia left Henry in 1094 and joined the mounting rebellion against him. Thus while some medieval noble wo men such as Agnes and Ermessenda had considerable influence through their husbands, it was easy for a husband to cut his wife out of his political life or even from most of society such as Eupraxia This reveals the precarious position in which most medieval women found themselves in due to the influence of their husbands. Marriage and Children Medieval marriages allowed noble families to form alliances and improve their social standing but much of this depended on the marriage producing children, particularly a t least one male. Women were often blamed if a marr iage failed to produce a child or a son 25 The English chronicler Roger of Howden commented in the early 1190s on the divorce of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII of France. Roger mentioned that Eleanor had only produced two daughters with Louis and that this was grounds for divorce after fifteen years of marriage. 26 Roger's comment reveals ho w the lack of an heir could easily result in a h usband leaving his wife, which could possibly ruin a woman's reputation at the time. Although the lack of a son could easily end a marriage in the Middle Ages other medieval couples stayed together even if they had no children. Emperor Henry II of Ge rmany (972 1024) and his wife Cunigunde never had children prompting many of his 24 Robinson, Henry IV 290. 25 Nelson, Janet, Medieval Queenship In Women in Medieval Western European Culture ed. Linda E. Mitchell ( London 1999 ), 199. 26 Marcus Graham Bull, and Catherine Lglu, The World of Eleanor of Aquita ine: Literature and Society in S outhern France betwe en the Eleventh and Thirteenth C enturies (Rochester, 2005), 15.
20 contemporaries to question why he did not dismiss his queen. 27 The eleventh century chronicler Frutolf of Michelsberg noted that Henry II never knew Cunigunde his consort in the kingdom but loved her like a sister. 28 The two claimed they chose to remain chaste and instead had a spiritual marriage. Other couples such as Edward the Confessor (c.1003 66) and his wife Queen Edith also claimed to have a spiritual marriage whi ch failed to produce children. 29 Virginity was highly valued in medieval society which made noblewomen such as Cunigunde very popular in her time ; yet it was a precarious position for a noblewoman since many in society felt their only duty was to produce an heir. While some women were able to profess their maidenhood others were cast aside by husbands that were desperate for heirs. Widowhood Widowhood marked another major stage of a noblewoman s life. It was common for noblewomen to be widows, even at a young age, since noblemen were often fighting in various wars or rebellions often seen as the function of the noble class 30 Also, women were often significantly younger than their husbands. Widowhood was the first opportunity a noblewoman had to be independent without her father or husband controlling her actions. Pauline Stafford contends that widows were the most powerful group of eleventh century women due to their landholdings, visibility and actions. 31 A widow would inherit her dower, which wa s often as much as one third of her husband s 27 Parsons, Medieval Queenship, 5. 28 Frutolf of Michelsberg, Chronicle annal for 1 001 trans. T. J. H. McCarthy, in Chronicles of the Investiture Contest: Frutolf of Michelsberg and his Continuators (Manchester, forthcoming) 29 Parsons, Medieval Queenship 4. 30 G. Duby, The Chivalrous Society trans. C. Postan (Berkeley, 1977), 88. 31 St afford, The Portrayal of Royal Women in England," 19.
21 land and sometimes more. 32 Dowers were vital for a noblewoman to sustain herself if she became a widow. A noblewoma n would also get back her inheritance from her father which had previously been controlled by her husband. These widows would then be responsible for settling disputes, appointing officials in her lands and managing tenants. These rights for widow s resulted in many powerful widows in the Middle Ages but there was societal pressure to remarry, w hich lessened these women s autonomy. The Byzantine princess Theophanu, who married Emperor Otto II in 973 is a well documented case of the importance of a dower to a noblewoman. After her wedding, the ter ms of Theophanu s dower were se t out o n purple tinted parchment with gold lettering. 33 The use of such expensive materials reveals the significance of the dower to Theophanu. She was given lands in both Germany and Italy as well as three wealthy nunneries. 34 This ensured that she had an incom e if and when Otto died. A dower was important for a noblewoman s life after marriage. There are many examples of widows exerting influence in their husban d s realms after their husbands died. Even during the reign of her husband, Count Robert II (1093 1111), Countess Clemence of Flanders (c. 1065 1133) served as a regent for her husband when he was away on crusade. 35 Following his death Clemence became a powerful widow that used her influence to challenge Charles the Good, the successor to her husband s lands. After her husband s death she served as a co ruler with her son Count Baldwin VII until his death in 1119 Baldwin had arranged for Charles the Good, a cousin, to replace him since Baldwin was unmarried and had no h eirs. Clemence refused 32 Livingstone, Powerful Allies and Dangerous Adversaries," 19. 33 Nelson, Medieval Queenship 190. 34 Ibid. 35 Kristi DiClemente, "The Women of Flanders and their Husbands: The Role of Women in the Lib er Floridus," Essays in Medieval Studies 23 (2006), 80.
22 to accept Charles as the new count and instead gathe red an army to oppose Charles, using her personal relationships with people in the county to summon support against him 36 Charles s biographer, Walter of Therouanne commented tha t Clemence was, "urged on by blind envy" to try and expel Charles from Flanders. 37 Eventually Charles defeated Clemence, but her attempt shows that Clemence must have had considerable influence in the county for her to be able to challenge Charles, especia lly as a woman. Clemence shows the influence noblewomen obtained as wives and that it continued on even after they became widows. Widows as Regents An important role of noble widows was serving as regents for their young sons which gave them notable authority since they could be regents for their son and even grandsons for a lengthy period of time. One of the few instances in which women are mentioned in medieval c hronicles is when a widow served as regent for her son. Since succession disp utes were such important political events, the wives and mothers of kings were at the center of these disputes For noblewomen the position of regent was often a precarious one Some female regents were challenged such as Emperor Henry III of Germany s wife, Agnes of Poitou (c. 1025 77), who was overthrown in 1062. Agnes of Poitou was appointed regent for her son, Henry IV, after her husband died in 1056. Agnes was well trusted by her husband since she appeared quite often in his imperial diplomas. The empress reportedly claimed that she would prefer to take the veil rather than the burdens of the imperial 36 Penelope Adair, "Countess Clemence: her Power and its Foundation in Queens, Regents and Potentates, ed. Theresa M. Vann (Dallas, 1993), 63. 37 Ibid.
23 regency but nonetheless became regent for her young son. 38 As regent, Agnes closely followed the policies of her husband by keeping close contro l over the appointment of episcopal positions, sought reconciliation with her husband s enemies and chose advisors that had been close to her husband. 39 Some historians such as I. S. Robinson find that since Agnes emulated her husband s policies she must have been unsure of herself as ruler. 40 Although it is clear that Agnes copied her husband s approach to governance it does not necessarily show that she had no idea how to rule or was intimidated by the position. Instead Agnes might have been trying n ot to make any drastic changes in the German Empire to protect her young son since his position as king was still insecure. The pro Saxon chronicler and stro ng supporter of the aristocracy Lampert of Hersfel d reported in 1056 that Agnes, protected the in terests of the endangered realm with such skill that, despite the extreme novelty of this situation, t here was no rebellion or unrest" under the empress. 41 The German chroni cler Frutolf of Michelsberg also reported that Agnes took the kingdom under her c are and ruled wisely and vigorously 42 For the first six years of her reign Agnes manage d to keep the peace in the German Empire but in 1062 Archbishop Anno of Cologne and other German princes plotted against the empress to take control of the Empire. A t the city of Kaiserswerth Anno and his supporters kidnapped the twelve year old king which brought an end to Agnes s control of the government. Until Henry came of age in 1065 Anno was in control of the young king and present in his diplomas Althoug h most historians note that this was the end of Agnes s power in Germany, she still appears in many of Henry IV s diplomas, 38 H. Fuhrmann, Germany in the High Middle Age s, c. 1050 1200 (Cambridge, 1986), 52. 39 Robinson, Henry IV, 29. 40 Ibid., 28. 41 Ibid. 27. 42 Frutolf of Michelsberg, Chronicle annal 1056, 120.
24 which is peculiar if she no longer had any influence. When Henry did come of age in 1065 Agnes appears in more diplomas than any on e else for two months before she decided to retire to the abbey of Fruttuaria in Italy. 43 Clearly, Agnes s influence over her son was not entirely taken away when Anno kidnapped the young king. Perhaps Henry was uncooperative without his mother s presence so Anno allowed her access to her son without the title of regent Alternatively, perhaps Agnes did not want the position of regent but still decided to stay with her son until he was of age and more prepared to rule. Her time as regent of the German Empire is one of the best do cumented examples of a noblewoma n in a clear position of autho rity in the eleventh century. Her six years in power were fairly peaceful and even after the supposed coup against her she continued to influence her son until he ca me of age. Even in Henry IV s adulthood, various figures in German politics, even Pope Gregory VII, would call on Agnes to speak to her son on their behalf revealing how important of a figure Agnes was throughout her times as empress of the German Empire A hundred years before Ag n e s s reign, the regency of Theophanu, the Byzantine princess and wife of Otto II of Germany is another example of a mother acting as regent for a young king of the German Empire. Theophanu was the niece of the Byzantine Empe ror John I Tzimiskes who in 971 married Otto II She had his son, Otto III in 980, but only three years later Theophanu s husband died, leaving an infant as heir to the throne. Theophanu was made regent for her young son and held the Ottonian regnum al ong with her mother in law the dowager Empress Adelheid. 44 The two empresses were also close to Adelheid s sister, Abbess Matilda of Quedlinburg who was an 43 Robinson, Henry IV, 44 45. 44 K. Leyser, Rule and Conflict in an Early Medieval Society : Ottonian Saxony (Blo omington, 1979), 49.
25 influential member of the Church 45 Together these three women had a considerable impact on the po litics of the Empire as well as within the Church The Ottonian chronicler Thietmar of Mersebu rg remarked that Theophanu was always benevolent to the just, but terrified and conquered rebels" during her regency preserving her son s rulership with manly watchfulness. 46 Theietmar s high praise shows the respect Theophanu accrued as empress. Shortly after her husband s death the Saxon noble Henry the Wrangler (951 995) Duke of Bavaria, took Otto III away from his mother claiming to be his rightful guar dian. Henry was a first cousin of the infant king, but many opposed his usurpation of imperial power and insisted that he return the young king and royal authority to Theophanu in 984. The princes of the Empire must have been confident in Theophanu as re gent and hoped to preserve the Ottonian line when they forced Henry the Wrangler to give back Otto III. Their trust in the empress was considerable because Otto III was only three years old at the time which meant the Empress would be in control for a si gnificant period of time. In fact, Theopahnu died seven years later and her mother in law Adelheid took over as regent. Unlike Agnes, Theophanu was able to continue her position as regent for her son for the rest of her life even after an attempted coup by Henry the Wrangler. Noblewomen and the Church Noblewomen were often patrons of the Church in the Middle Ages. Many noblewomen had family members, such as siblings in monasteries which encouraged them to make donations on their behalf. Women that came from pious families, such as 45 Leyser, Rule and Conflict in an Early Medieval Society, 49. 46 Thietmar of Merseburg, Chronicle, 158.
26 Agnes of Poitou, continued to make extensive donations to the Church as they reached adulthood. Agnes s family had founded the reform monastery of Cluny and her marriage to Henry III brought the Empire much closer to the Cluniac movement. 47 The Swabian monastery of St Blasien remembered Agnes as the bringer of the regu lar discipline of our monastery" in 1072 when she traveled from the abbey of Fruttuaria to Germany. 48 She was influential in bringing this reform movement to the German Empire while at the same time supporting various monasteries financially Janet Nelson notes that medieval queens were often supporters of the Church since it could create was a mutually beneficial relationship 49 While Agnes was extremely p ious it was also in her interests to have the support of important Church officials, especially while she was regent of the Empire. The relationship between the Church and medieval noblewomen, therefore, was beneficial for both sides. Matilda of Canos sa was another major benefactor of the Church which was to her own advantage as well The chronicler Bernold of St Blasien who supported the Gregorian movement against Emperor Henry IV reported that Matilda was the most faithful vassal of St Peter th at did not cease to support the holy Church of God in all things." 50 Like her mother, Beatrice of Canossa, Matilda donated large amounts of her vast land holdings in Italy to the Church In a letter to all our faithful present and future in 1080 Matil da donated the Church of Gonzaga, which had been in her family s possession for some time making it secure and fre e from all secular foundations." 51 47 Robinson, Henry IV 20. 48 Ibid., 126. 49 Nelson, "Medieval Queenship," 200. 50 Bernold of St Blasien, Chronicle annal for 1085 t rans. I. S. Robinson, in Eleventh Century Germany: The Swabian Chronicles (Manchester, 2008), 283. 51 Matilda of Canossa, "Letter to the Public," http://epistolae.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/letter/ 1270.html (accessed April 15, 2012).
27 This is only one of countless examples of Matilda giving lands to the Church She continued to be a prom inent patron of the Church and also protected the interests of various churches and monasteries in her lands In 1080 Matilda was asked by the abbot of the monastery of Farfa for her protection. A family member of the founders of the monastery, Lupo was trying to claim it for himself. Matilda decided to support t he monks and not Lupo, a noblema n, who only wanted control of the monastery for monetary benefit. This is only one example of Matilda as a protector and mediator on the Church s behalf, which c reated a close relationship between the countess and the Church This relationship between the Church and Matilda was also beneficial for Matilda s position as a prominent land holder in Italy and a woman. Matilda was widowed twice in her life and maint ained control of her lands even when married. It is possible that Matilda supported the Church substantially to help her secure her position as C ountess of Canossa and the lands over which she presided without having a male to support her position of auth ority. Other women who exercised influence in the medieval period needed a man to justify their influence, such as either being a regent for a young son, or the wife of a powerful nobleman. Matilda, instead, was ruling over lands she inherited. Conseque ntly, Matilda formed a close relationship with the Church and papacy in the eleventh century. She might have been such a considerable donor to and protector of the Church so that many within the Church would write about her importance to the Church an d ba ck up her position Members of the clergy, such as Bernold of St Blasien constantly praised the countess for her unwavering piety. While it is likely that Matilda was pious she also used the Church for her own protection.
28 Conclusion The impact o f noblewomen on politics in the Middle Ages has only recently become part of historical research. These women straddled the borders between public and private life, yet their impact on society was still considerable. The lack of formal institutionalized power conceals the variety of ways noblewomen affected their society through more unofficial means. Their proximity to their husbands and sons allowed many to have significant influence, yet they could also be easily cut off from society entirely by their husbands. So although noblewomen could exercise authority in medieval society their actions were still restricted by men. Widowhood and relationships with the Church allowed noblewomen independence that was previo usly impossible in their lives.
29 Portraya ls of Matilda in the L iterature of the Investiture Contest Pro imperial c haracterizations of Matilda of Canossa (1046 1115) in eleventh century polemical works present ed her as a villainous, unworthy actor in the Investiture Contest The conflict betwee n empire and papacy produced an unprecedented body of polemical literature in which many Gregorian writers praised Matilda for her piety and dedication to the papacy while the imperialists attacked Matilda s character to weaken support for the reform move ment. Portrayals of Henry IV paralleled depictions of Matilda, yet many negative presentations of the countess were evidently linked to her being a woman. Arguments made against Henry IV s character contextualize the attacks present in polemical work aga inst Matilda s personality. This chapter will analyze the negative representations of Matilda revealing the distinct arguments made against her character due to her sex. Criticisms of Matilda aimed to weaken support for the Gregorian party by portraying its leaders in a negative light. Pro imperial authors hoped to dissuade various bishops and princes from supporting the Gregorians by writing negative accounts of various leaders within the movements, such as Matilda. The works which condemned Matilda s position within the reform party include Cosmas of Prague s Chronicle of the Bohemians the anonymously written Life of Henry IV, Frutolf of Michelsberg s Chronicle, The Synodal Decree of 1076 by pro Henrician bishops and Bishop Benzo of Alba s To Henry Throughout imperialist polemical literature Matilda was characterized as corrupting, promiscuous, innovative and weak. Although some of these portrayals of the countess contradicted each oth er, all attempted to undermine Matilda s authority.
30 Matilda as C orrupting As the principal supporter of Pope Gregory VII, Matilda was a heroine of the reform party. Matilda s diligent support of Gregorian reform resulted in Henrician suppo rters attacking her reputation They targeted Matilda s moral character and p ortrayed her as an unethical figure to undermine the credibility of the papal party. Henrician authors accused her of swaying prominent male figures within the imperialist faction. Matilda s sex, according to imperial writers, allowed her to influen ce individuals such as Conrad of Italy which is evident in the lack of discussion women who rebelled against Henry IV. In 1093 after campaigning in Italy for over six years for his father Henry IV Conrad of Italy (1074 1101) turned on his father and jo ined forces with the reform papacy. Henry IV had originally tasked his son Conrad who had already been crowned king and successor to Henry in 1087, with working against Mat ilda taking out of t he hand of a woman that kingdom" of Italy. 1 Historians hav e suggested various motives for Conrad s rebellion and Matilda s role in his mutiny. I. S. Robinson suggests that Conrad hoped to seize his father s realm and joined the papal party because of his common cause with the he iress of Canossa and her allies" against Henry IV. 2 Matilda and the Gregorians were an obvious choice for Conrad since they were formidable enemies of Henry, essential if Conrad wanted to overthrow his father. David Hay argues that Matilda s efforts against the emperor in Italy most lik ely encouraged Conrad but that she 1 Anon., Life of Emperor Henry IV, trans. T. E. Mommsen and K. F. Morrison, Imperial Lives and Letters of the Eleventh Century (New York, 2000), 118. 2 Ibid., 228.
31 was not the only factor in Conrad s rebellion. 3 It is probable that Conrad felt that joining the papal party was the only means of ending the civil war in Germany and his best chance of taking the throne Although Co nrad s rebellion was probably due to his own conclusions based on the situation in the German Empire at the time, royalists blamed Matilda for scheming to turn him against the e mperor The Life of Henry IV written shortly after the emperor s death in 110 6 was a panegyric of the emperor and virulently anti Gregorian in its attitude. It condemned Matilda for her role in Conrad s rebellion claiming that Conrad was won over by the persuasions of Mat ilda for whom may not woma nly guile corrupt or deceive? a n d joined his father s enemies." 4 For the author, Matilda s sex was the specific means that allowed her to corrupt and charm Conrad into turning on his father. Careful not to blame Conrad for his own part in the rebellion, the Life of Henry IV claims that Matilda s co ercion was the "definite reason" for that rebellion. 5 The author put all responsibility on Matilda alone asserting that even Matilda s supporters confirmed tha t she had turned Conrad since, they praised the deed of the son, and they praised especially the woman who w as the chief mover of the deed." 6 Again, Matilda appears the sole cause of Conrad s mutiny; her womanly deceptions were capable of making sons betray fathers. To the au thor this type of betrayal was "profane" and fought agains t nature. 7 The Life painted the countess as a depraved person that no one should support. Imperialist writers continued this pattern of blaming Matilda for corrupting other 3 D. J. Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Ca nossa 1046 1115 (Manchester, 2008), 145. 4 Anon., Life of Emperor Henry IV, 118 9. 5 Ibid., 118. 6 Ibid., 119. 7 Ibid.
32 important male reformists. 8 These works tried to show that Matilda s nefarious n ature infected those who interacted with her to sway support for the Gregorian party. Her role in the rebellion of Conrad of Italy, Henry IV s son, fueled cynical reports of Matilda s wicked nature. Although r oyalist writers virulently opposed Matilda they limited their discussion of Matilda s immorality to situations involving male figures. Her possible role in persuading women to join the Gregorian party was ignored by i mperialist polemical writers. In 1094 Henry IV s second wife Eupraxia also re belled against her husband The empress had been married to Henry for four years and was described by Gregorian sources as a virtual prisoner throughout their marriage. 9 Eupraxia s defiance of her husband was similar to Conrad s, yet her rebellion was di sregarded by pro imperial sources. In his chronicle, Frutolf of Michelsberg (d. 1103) a monk and distinguished scholar at the monastery of Michelsberg in Bamberg, reports Conrad s deser tion in 1093 yet never mentions Eupraxia leaving Germany and joining Matilda. The discussion of Eupraxia s betrayal is limited to pro papal sources which praise her for leaving her evil husband. The pro Gregorian chronicler, Bernold of St Blasien, reported that the wife of this emperor... at last fl ed to Duke Welf" wher e Matilda received her joyfully. 10 (Duke Welf V of Bavaria (1072 1120 ) was Matilda s second husband who aided Matilda and the reform party against Henry IV.) S ince Gregorian sources noted Eu praxia s actions it is not unreasonable to assume that at leas t some imperial writers knew of her rebellion; yet it does not appear in their works. This shows that anti papal sources targeted Matilda 8 Cosmas of Prague, Chronicle, trans. L. Wolverton, in Cosmas of Prague: The Chronicle of the Czechs (Washington, D.C., 2009), 155. 9 I. S. Robinson, Henry IV of Germany (Cambridge, 1999), 289. 10 Bernold of St Blasien, Chronicle annal for 1094 trans. I. S. Robinson, in Eleventh Century Germany: The Swabian Chronicles (Manchester, 2008), 317.
33 and her relationships particularly with m en within the reform movement, seeking to insinuate that Matilda s actions w ith these men was improper. Royalist supporters frequently noted Matilda s associations with men within the papal party hoping to draw association between Matilda and sp ecific villainous women in the Bible The majority of the individuals polemical auth ors wrote for were well educated and thus versed in the Bible These writers hoped to assoc iate Matilda with biblical women such as Jezebel in their descriptions of the countess s actions linking the countess with negative stereotypes of women at the t ime Jezebel, in the B ook of Kings, was a queen of Israel notorious for controlling her husband Ahab Henrician authors hoped to relate Matilda to Jezebel, to convince readers that Matilda was controlling Conrad in order to secure his support against Hen ry IV. The antip ope Wibert of Ravenna, crowned as Clement III by Henry and thirty imperial bishops at the council of Brixen in 1080 depicte d Matilda as a scheming Jezebel" in a letter to Cardinal Deacon Hugh Candidus an inveterate opponent of Gregory V II 11 The antipope continually attacked the Gregorian reformist s for bringing division to the W estern Church To Wibert, Matilda was a modern day Jezebel bent on garnering influence by controlling men such as Conrad. Royalists hoped to tarnish Matilda s reputation to discredit her and the entire Gregorian p arty. T h is goal made Eupraxia s rebellion useless for imperial authors and therefore it was generally ignored. Matilda as P romiscuous A second theme among imperial portrayals of Mati l da was her pro miscuity while the Gregorians made similar accusations against Henry IV Matilda s polemical writers 11 Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa 205.
34 presented Henry as an unfit king who se behavior contradicted nature ; they strove to show how Henry was an unsuitable leader of the German Empire to dimin ish princely support for the emperor. This paralleled imperialist literature which also attempted to suppress allegiance for Matilda during the Investiture C ontest by attacking her character. Although similar tactics were leveled against both Matilda an d Henry, the accusations made against Matilda revolved around her being a woman. The papal party attempted to draw supporters by noting Matilda s pious nature. Gregorian supporters often illustrated the countess as a unique daughter of St Peter who wa s dedicated to serving the papacy 12 The abbot Ekkehard of Aura (d. 1126) who continued Frutolf of Michelsberg s chronicle described the countess as "undoubtedly another Deborah" in his work. 13 Some pro papal authors such as Matilda s biographer Donizo of Canossa even left out any mention of Matilda s two husbands possibly to play down her sexuality. 14 The countess embodied an ideal influential figure within the reform party due to her dutiful spirituality and therefore the Henrician polemics attacked this perception of Matilda. A common tactic used by medieval authors to delegitimize female rulers was to represent them as promiscuous. Women in positions of authority were often presented as harlots who used their bodies to attain nefarious and illicit po we r" in order to undermine their influence 15 Henry IV s mothe r, Empress Agnes of Poitou (c. 1025 77) was described by the papal sympathizer Bonizo of Sutri as doing "much that was against the 12 Urban II, "Letter to Matilda," http://epistolae,ccnmtl.columbia.edu/letter/223.html (accessed April 15, 2012). 13 Ekkehard of Aura, Chronicle annal for 1106, trans. T. J. H. McCarthy, in Chronicles of the Investiture Contest: Frutolf of Mi chelsberg and his Continuators (Manchester, Forthcoming), 314 5 14 Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa 17. 15 Ibid. 202.
35 law" due to her "feminine temerity" while she was regent 16 Ag nes was also accused of a sexual relationship with her advisor, Bishop Henry of Augsburg, by the chronicler Lampert of Hersfeld. 17 Royalists likewise accused Matilda of lascivious behavior to offset her pious reputation and role in the Investiture Contest Pious depictions of Matilda were counteracted by Henrician supporters In his Chronicle of the Bohemians Cosmas of Prague denounced Matilda s devout status with his description of Matilda s interactions with Duke Welf V. The work of the Czech chronicl er ( born c. 1045 ) does not directly address the issues of the Investiture Contest, but it reveals his imperialist sympathies in its discussion of Henry IV 18 Cosmas recounts, for example, how Matilda tried seduce the much younger D uke Welf V on their weddi ng night and failed. The countess is described as leading Welf into her bedchamber where she was, naked as she came from her mother s womb. 19 Cosmas implies that Mat ilda s attempt at seduction caused a falling out between the two that she forced Welf t o leave and that she threatened that the duke would "die a bad death" if he returned to her. 20 Cosmas attempts to portray Matilda as promiscuous by including intimate yet most likely fabricated details of Matilda and the duke s union. It was an attempt comm on in the Investiture Contest, to denounce her rule as stereotypically femini ne: lascivious, fickle and vain" by imperial apologists. 21 More shockingly, pro imperial writers also accused Matilda of improper relations with Pope Gregory VII. Matilda wa s Gregory s most important lay supporter throughout 16 Bonizo of Sutri, Liber ad amicum trans. I. S. Robinson, The Papal Reform of the Eleventh Century: Lives of Pope Leo IX and Pope Gregory VII (Manchester, 2004), 201. 17 Robinson, Henry IV, 31. 18 Cosmas of Prague, Chronicle, 160. 19 Ibid., 155. 20 Ibid. 21 Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa 198.
36 the cont roversy between the papacy and e mpire, and Gregory often noted his reliance on Matilda. In a letter to Matilda in 1074, for example, he informed the countess that, in none of the princes of any lands do we more surely trust than in your excellencies. 22 This mutual dependence between pope and countess was criticized by many Henrician writers who accused the two of inappropriate relations. At the Synod of Worms in 1076 for example, imperial bis hops renounced Gregory VII at the behest of the king. Henry had organized the synod in response to Gregory s ultimatum concerning Henry s association with excommunicates. 23 The pope threatened Henry with excommunication if he did not do penance for his o ffences. 24 At the synod the imperial bishops accused Gregory of, fill[ing] the entire Church as it were, with the stench of the gravest of scandals, arising from your intimacy and cohabitation with another s wife who is more closely integrated into your household than is necessary. 25 The bishops, in effect, accused Gregory and Matilda of having an affair, claiming that Gregory and Matilda s actions had plunge d the entire universal Church into a deplorable state. 26 The position of p ope, a figure who represented Christ on earth, was the m ost sacred within the Church Accusing Matilda of inappropriate relations with the patriarch of Rome was an extremely serious assault on her character The Henricians also tried to show that the Gregorian party did n ot represent God s will and were actually breaking Church law. They stated that the a ctions of the papal party went against 22 Gregory VII, Letters trans. H. E. J. Cowdrey, The Register of Pope Gregory VII, 1073 1085: An English Translation (Oxford, 2002), 103. 23 Robinson, Henry IV, 43 24 Ibid., 142. 25 Synodal Decree of 1076 trans. T. E. Mommsen and K. F. Morrison, Imperial Lives and Letters of the Eleventh Century (New York, 2000), 14 9. 26 Ibid., 147.
37 human and divine law. 27 Imperialist sources persistently chastised Matilda for her supposed affair with the pope and even some pr o papal sources brought up the accusation. 28 At the same time papal supporters made claims of Henry s promiscuous nature, but it was far less common than accusations against Matilda. Henry s actions during his marriage to Bertha of Turin (1051 1087) and his attempts to divorce her were a point of issue for the Gregorians. The two were betrothed in 1055 when Henry was only five years of age and were married in 1066. Their union guaranteed the loyalty of Bertha s family, the Savoy Turin dynasty. 29 The Swa bian monk, Berthold of Reichenau, criticized Henry s marital indiscretions throughout his chronicle 30 Berthold as serted that in 1068 Henry was "led astray by the folly of his youth, he was so forgetful of his lawful wife [Bertha] and was widely rumored to be implicated in such abominable offences." 31 He accuses Henry of being unfaithful to his wife but then justifies Henry s actions as being due to his age. Although Berthold was a devoted reformist he excused Henry s behavior, since the king was a man and therefore some lapses were acceptable to the chronicler. This leniency was not present in allegations of Matilda s promiscuity by imperialist sympathizers and instead she was widely criticized for a supposed affair with Gregory VII. The annalist Lampe rt of Hersfeld described Henry s infidelities in a similar manner to Berthold of Reichenau. Lampert was a sympathizer of the Saxon nobility in the 27 Synodal Decree of 1076 147. 28 Lampert of Hersfeld, Annals 1073 trans G. A. Loud, 13. 29 Robinson, Henry IV 25. 30 I. S. Robinson, Eleventh Century Germany: The Swabian Chronicles (Manchester, 2008), 32. 31 Berthold of Reichenau, Chronicl e annal for 1068 trans. I. S. Robinson, in Eleventh Century Germany: The Swabian Chronicles (Manchester, 2008), 122.
38 German Empire and presented an aristocratic view of Henry IV in the Empire. In his work Lampert stated that once Henry had reached an adult age and understanding he gave up "those other shameful excesses through which he had as a youth stained the royal dignity ." 32 Again, Lampert explained Henry s adultery as merely the recklessness of youth. Portraying Henr y as promiscuous was meant to show that he did not conform to the ideal image of king and that he was an unfit ruler yet his actions were somewhat justified by both Lampert and Berthold By 1069, the emperor had attempted to divorce his first wife, but w as denied his request at an assembly in Worms. This attempted divorce led to more accusations against Henry of improper behavior with women other than his wife, but it seems that Henry s martial indiscretions were not a key issue for pro papal authors. H enry s supposed affairs were less frequently mentioned by papal sources, in comparison to accusations of Matilda as promiscuous, even though the goal of these works was to damage Henry s reputation. Matilda as I nnovative Another Henrician tactic was to d epict Matilda as innovative In the Middle A ges an age deeply hostile to novelty," charging someone with being innovative was insulting. 33 Works attempting to tarnish Matilda s reputation therefore accused her of inventiveness. The reformist party was often accused of unprecedented ideas con cerning the role of Church and e mpire during the Investiture Contest. 34 Some of t hese charges were specifically targeted at Matilda The royalist party tried to show that Matilda 32 Lampert of Hersfeld, Annals 1073 6. 33 P. Healy, Matilda of Tuscany in the Polemics of the Investiture Contest ," in Victims or Viragos ? ed. C. Meek and C. Lewis (Dublin, 2005), 53. 34 T. J. H. McCarthy, Chronicles of the Investiture Contest: Frutolf of Michelsberg and his Continuators (Manchester, forthcoming), 38.
39 wanted control of the papacy throug hout her role in the Investiture Contest. For example, Frutolf of Miche lsberg implies in his chronicle that after Gregory VII s death in 1085 Matilda selected the next pope He wrote that with the assent of the Normans and Matilda, the most powerful w oman in the kingdom of Italy, and all those of this sort emulating that sect, Deside riusreplaced him [Gregory VII]" as pope. 35 Frutolf saw the election of Deside rius (Pope Victor III) by Matilda and the Normans as innovative since the papal election decr ee of 1059, adopted at the Lateran Synod of 1059, ensured that cardinal bishops would be responsible for electing future popes. 36 Before this election decree was passed, Roman families and German emperors intervened in papal elections appointing their own candidates to the office of the pope. Frutolf s account that Matilda and the Normans had named the next pope essentially accused the countess of breaking the papal election d ecree. Furthermore, he mentions that a certain Urban [II] was appointed to the same seat" by these "same electors and choosers which implies that Matilda again broke Church law and appointed another pope. 37 This would have been seen as an innovative attempt by the countess to further her control of the papacy. Imperial apologist s also attempted to show that Matilda was controlling the papacy during the pontificate of Gregory VII. A t the synod of Worms which denounced Gregory VII for an inappropriate relationship with Matilda German bishops also claimed that Matilda s unsuitable relation ship with the pope had resulted in the countess controlling the entire Western Church The bishops stated that, the general complaint is sounded everywhere that all judgments and decrees are enacted by women in the Apostolic See, 35 Frutolf of Michelsberg, Chronicle annal for 1085, 138 36 S. Weinfurter The Salian Century: Main Currents in an Age of Transition (Philadelphia, 1999), 116. 37 Frutolf of Michelsberg, Chronicle annal for 1085, 138
40 and ultimately that the whole orb of the Church is administered by this new senate of women. 38 The bishops were especially concerned that Gregory would allow a wo man to govern the Church Matilda s alleged usurpation of the papacy was so offensive to the German bishops that "no one can complain adequately" of her actions. 39 Gregory was depicted as a weak ruler who allowed himself to relinquish his power to Matilda She was an innovator who broke with long standing tradition and the laws of the Church in an attempt to a cquire more influence for herself in the Empire. The countess s unique position in the Gregorian reform party as a vital financer, military leader and also a woman made her a target of the imperialists. In a field of men, Matilda s high ranking role in the Investiture Contest stood out. She was not acting as a regent on behalf of a male; instead she acted alone and of her own will a fact the imperialists viewed as highly innovative. They tried to show that Matilda constantly sought more authority, be yond her family s land in Tuscany and specifically striving to control the papacy. The imperialists claimed that Matilda s only ability to control the papal party was through sex. They maintained that Gregory s staunch loyalty and faith in the countess c ould only have resulted from inappropriate relations between the two. Henry IV was the subject similar attacks like those against Matilda which vilified him for his innovative actions as a tyrant king. Like depictions of Matilda, Henry was attempting t o expand his power in the empire. By casting Henry as a tyrant his opponents felt they could further convince German princes and noblemen to side with the reformists during the Investiture C ontest. The author Lampert of He rsfeld noted that 38 Renunciation of Gregory VII by the German Bishops, trans. T. E. Mommsen and K. F. Morrison, Imperial Lives a nd Letters of the Eleventh Century (New York, 2000), 149. 39 Ibid.
41 there was a g reat difference between a king and a tyrant. 40 A tyrant was defined as no longer upholding the standards and responsibilities a king owed to his people, thus the reformist could argue his subjects were no longer obligated to remain loyal to Henry. Like M atilda s supposed attempts to control the papacy, Henry was depicted as an innovative king that wanted to suppress the rights of the nobility and have more authority in the empire. During the Investiture Contest authors defined tyranny bas ed on the w orks of the encyclop edist Isidore of Seville (c. 560 636). I n his Etymologiae Isidore characterized a rex tyrannus as "very wicked and shameless ." 41 Isidore s work was often echoed in discussion s of Henry IV. His definition of a tyrant was used by papal reformers to justify rebellion and open war against Henry during the Investiture Contest. Henry IV s actions in Saxony for example were often categorized a s tyrannical German kings were expected to uphold the rights of the nobility in the empire an d Henry s supposed tyrannical actions meant he was breaking with tradition and was therefore accused of being innovative by the Gregorians. I. S. Robinson noted how until the conflict with the papacy emerged, Henry s primary concern during his reign was d e aling with the region of Saxony 42 The Saxon nobility often rebelled against Henry due to their perception of Henry stealing their traditional authority in the region. The chron icler Lampert praised the Saxons for their rebellion since the Saxon people had just cause for their rebellion due to Henry s actions. 43 According to Lampert, Henry had extorted obedience from those who were unwilling through violence and cruelty when 40 Lampert of Hersfeld, Annals 1076 16. 41 Robinson, Henry IV, 113. 42 Ibid. 163. 43 Lampert of Hersfeld, Annals 1076 16.
42 he was in Saxony 44 This was one of many example to th e anti imperialists of Henry s "customary tyranny" as king. 45 Berthold of Reichneau reported how Henry unjustly seized for himself very many fortification s and thus aroused the mi nds of many men against himself" in Saxony. 46 Berthold was very interested in the reform papacy and discussed its role in eleventh century politics extensively. Throughout, Berthold casts Henry as an example of a tyrant king while Gregory VII was Berthold s hero. Henry s behavior in Saxony was depicted as tyrannical and innovative by reformists such as Lampert and Berthold in order to vilify Henry IV. Like Henry, Matilda s innovative actions were motivated by a desire to expand her authority. The bishops vilification of Matilda sought to weaken the Gregorian party and prevent princes from joinin g their cause Unlike Henry though, Matilda accomplished her objective through the use of her body in order to seduce Gregory VII again highlighting how both Henry and Matilda had similar accusations made against them but Matilda s actions were always so mehow centered on her sex. Matilda as C owardly Along with portraying Matilda as corrupting, promiscuous and innovative Imperialist writers described her as weak. Gregorian polemical authors likewise presented Henry as cowardly throughout their works This was done to encourage dissent among important figures in the empire, such bishops and secular princes. This depiction of Matilda seems to contradict other pro imperial representations of Mati lda as scheming and corrupting, but it was common place i n the Middle Ages to depict women as fragile 44 Lampert of Hersfeld, Annals 1076 6. 45 Bernold of St Blasien, Chro nicle annal for 1088, 294. 46 Berthold of Reichenau, Chronicle annal for 1072, 127.
43 and this may account for imperialist inconsistencies. Anti Gregorian authors could easily find verses in the Bible such as silly women laden with sins" to support their views of women. 47 The polemicist Bishop Benzo of Alba gave a mocking portrait of Matilda trapped in Canossa, wringing her hands and weeping, she lost castles, estates, and monas teries" when she faced Henry in 1082 and was nearly defeated. 48 Benzo gave this description of the countess in his pa negyric work of the emperor, Ad Heinricum He sought to show Matilda as fearful of Henry IV and unable to handle the stress es of war. It was an important argument for the imperialists to make since Matilda was Gregory VII s most indispensable military s upporter. She provi ded much needed capital and man power for the papal party. Although Matilda won many important battles for the Gregorians in Italy she was painted as unable to handle her responsibilities as an important military leader for the Gregoria n party. Accusations of Henry being a cowardly ruler parallel representations of Matilda as a timid leader for the papal party. Critics accused Henry of being afraid of his duties as a military and political leader. This was a compelling tactic against Henry since t he office of the king in the German Empire was not always a secure position and rebellion among the German princes was quite common. For example, during the reign of Henry IV s father, Henry III (1017 56), Matilda s future step father Godfrey the Bearded (997 1069) rebelled against Henry III. Godfrey s rebellion persisted for a considerable portion of Henry III s monarchy. 49 A long with dealing with the Investiture Contest, Henry IV was plagued by constant uprisings in the northern region of Sa xony. Matildine writers hoped 47 2 Timothy 3:6 48 V. Eads, The Geography of Power: Matilda of Tuscany and the Strategy of Active Defe ns e," in Crusaders, Condottieri, and Cannon: Medieval Warfare in So cieties around the Mediterranean ed. D. J. Kaga y and L. J. A. Villalon (Leiden, 2002) 378. 49 Weinfurter, The Salian Century, 106.
44 depictions of Henry IV as a weak and timid king would further encourage rebellion in Henry s empire. Portrayals of Henry in battle by papal sources often noted him as cowardly. Ber thold of Reichenau claimed that while fig h t ing the Saxons in 1075 Henry very prudently decided to remain in the rear with his elite warr iors to serve as his protection" instead of engaging in the battle. 50 Similarly ch ronicler Bernold of St Blasian accused Henry of being "the very first to fle e" when his forces lost the Battle of Pleichfeld, north east of Wrzburg in August 1086. 51 He continued his portrait of Henry as hesitant to fight and easily scared in tense situations in his chronicle. In making made Henry seem afraid of his duties as a warrior and leader Berthold and Bernold portrayed him as an exception to the traditional role of German kings and therefore unworthy of his position to the Gregorians While p ro Gregorian sources specifically targeted Henry s position as king and a milit ary ruler, Matilda s attackers also hoped to weaken her position as a military leader but these allegations against Matilda strove to link her with contemporary stereotypes associated with women. Claims of Henry s cowardly actions were not viewed as a ty pical of kings; instead the Gregorians attempted to show that Henry was unworthy of the position because he did not uphold the characteristics of a usual king of Germany. Henry was an exception, but Matilda was typically feminine, and therefore obviously weak. 50 Berthold of Reichenau, Chronicle annal for 1075, 135. 51 Bernold of St Blasien, Chronicle annal for 1086, 286.
45 Conclusion Negative portrayal s of both Henry IV and Matilda of Canossa were prominent in the polemical literature of the Investiture Contest. Both figures were vital commanders for their sides in the conflict and were therefore attacked as inc ompetent leaders Henry was distinctly shown as novel, breaking with the traditional role o f a king and these portrayals make evident that accusations made against Matilda focused on her sex and presented the countess as stereotypically female Matilda w as shown as using sex to corrupt males within the imperialist party Other royalists described the countess as promiscuous to emphasize the immorality of the Gregorian party and showed Matilda as impious to dissuade important figures from supporting the movement The countess was also shown as innovative, in her supposed efforts to contr ol the papacy Henricians additionally depicted her as an incompetent ruler, afraid of her military duties. The negative portrayals of Matilda of Canossa tried to offse t support for the Gregorian party.
46 Matilda as a Secular A lly to the Gregorian Papacy This chapter will explore Countess Matilda of Canossa s active role in the conflict between empire and papacy in the eleventh century. Matilda was the most powerful sec ular ally o f the reform papacy. She struggled with her role in the conflict, which involved carrying out military endea vors against the imperial party in Italy Intellectuals within the Gregorian party strove to justify Matilda s military actions which had been criticized by pro imperialists. Throughout the Investiture Contest, Matilda assembled a circle of writers around her who both defended her military engagements and her position as an independent female rule r in Italy. Matilda s desire to maintai n a level of autonomy complicated her relationship with the reform movement yet ultimate ly Matilda emerged as a champion of the Gregorian cause. The polemical writers of the reform movement backed Matilda s independence and validate d her role as a militar y leader and approach that ultimately benefited both the countess and the Gregorians. Early Life Matilda s early life influenced her close relationship with the Church when she became Countess of Tuscany. Her father held extensive lands in Tuscany and therefore had considerable authority in the kingdom of Italy. Boniface died in 1052 when Matilda was only six years old After Boniface s death Matilda s mother remarried a prominent opponent of Emperor Henry III (1017 56), Godfrey the Bearded ( 997 10 69) who served as a protector of the papacy following the death of Henry III in 1056. 1 As Matilda reached adulthood she ruled along with her mother in Tuscany. Paul 1 I. S. Ro binson, Henry IV of Germany, 1056 1106 (Cambridge, 1999), 20.
47 of Bernried a south German biographer of Gregory VII writing in the early twelfth cent ury, noted that Beatrice and her daughter Matilda were the foremost among the rulers of Italy" in his Life of Pope Gregory VII 2 Beatrice was a very pious woman and supporter of the papacy and Patrick Healy claims that from the beginning of his pontifi cate in 1073, Gregory VII hoped that Matilda would play similar role in protecting the papa cy 3 Gregory often wrote to Matilda and praised her for her piety calli ng her a maiden of exceptional character. 4 Thus he sought to fortify her relationship wit h him and the reform movement By the time her mother died in 1076, Matilda was prepared to rule her lands independently. In his Annals the pro Saxon chronicler Lampert of Hersfeld noted that the general perception of Matilda was that she was wealthier than the other princes of the land since such a considerable part of Italy appeared to be under her rule. 5 It is probable that Matilda s pious family and friendship with Gregory VII was a decisive influence on her staunch support of the Church in late r years when she was the sole ruler of Tuscany. Matilda s S upport of the Church As countess of Tuscany, Matilda supported the Church in a variety of ways. On a local level, Matilda acted as mediator in various disput es on her own lands and consistentl y sided with monasteries and members of the clergy. In March 1100, for example, Matilda sent a letter addressed to the public in support of the monastery of 2 Paul of Bernried, Life of Pope Gregory VII, trans. I. S. Robinson, The Papal Reform of the Eleventh Century: Lives of Pope Leo IX and Pope Gregory VII (Manchester, 2004), 309. 3 P. Healy, Ma tilda of Tuscany in the Polemics of the Investiture Contest ," in Victims or V iragos? ed. C. Meek and C. Lewis (Dublin, 2005), 50. 4 Gregory VII, Letters trans. H. E. J. Cowdrey, The Register of Pope Gregory VII, 1073 1085: An English Translation (Oxford, 2002), 45. 5 Lampert of Hersfeld, Annals 1076 trans G. A. Loud, 13.
48 Vallombrosa, near Florence, which Matilda claimed had been very harshly despised and abused by th e audacity of certain faithful subjects of ours. 6 The monastery was being oppressed by local noblemen who were using it to house themselves and their armies from time to time The monks appealed to Matilda to settle the issue and Matilda stated in the l etter that we order that thenceforth no duke or greater or lesser person of any dignity should presume to trouble with habitual injustice the aforesaid monasteries. 7 Thus she protect ed the freedom of the Church from the persecution of the nobility. ( In fact, those within the reform m ovement made similar arguments for the freedom of the Church from Emperor Henry IV. ) This dispute between the monastery of Vallombrosa is a clear example of how Matilda medi ated arguments in her own lands and reliably si ded with the Church 8 Matilda was not only an essential ally of the local Church institution s s he also served as a mediator and protector of the papal reform party within Italy Once the pope excommunicated Henry IV in 1076 the king traveled urgently t o Italy to intercept Gregory and be reconcile d 9 According to Lampert of Hersfeld w hen Gregory heard that Henry was on his way in 1076 on Matilda s advice he turned aside to a strongly fortified castle called Canossa" where the countess serve d as media tor between the emperor and Gregory 10 Matilda and Gregory were also concerned that Henry might have been seeking retribution for being excommunicated, which was another reason for Gregory to stay with the countess in her castle. Once Henry arrived he per formed 6 Matilda of Canossa, "Letter 1100," http://epistolae.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/letter/1273.html. ( accessed April 19, 2012). 7 Ibid. 8 Matilda of Canossa, "Letter to the Public," http://epistolae.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/letter/1270.html (accessed April 15, 2012). 9 Robinson, Henry IV 160. 10 Lampert of Hersfeld, Annals 1076 13.
49 p enance for three day before he was allowed to meet with the pope to ask for absolution. After Henry s display of repentance, the Gregorian chronicler Berthold of Reichenau claimed that, primarily through the mediation and help of Margravi ne Matil da," Henry IV and Gregory were able to reach an agreement and Henry was absolved 11 Although records show that there were other mediators present at Canossa besides Matilda, such as Abbot Hugh of Cluny, the countess probably played an important role in the negotiations since she had the confidence of Gregory and was a kinswoman of Henry IV. 12 The absolution at Canossa was a major event of the Investiture Contest which had sign ificant ramifications afterwards for both Henry IV and Gregory VII Matilda s in volvement at Canossa reveals the important role she played as a mediator for the reform party in disputes, especially with the nobility. Matilda could be respected as a mediator on both sides as part of the secular ruling class and trusted by the Gregoria n party. Matilda P rotection of the Church Beyond serving as an arbitrator for the reform movement Matilda offered military protection to the growing reform party in Italy. She fought Henry IV and his forces almost constantly between 1081 and 1097, d uring Henry IV s second and third Italian expeditions. 13 Along with launching military forces against Henry, Matilda also offered protection to a wide range of figures within the pro Gregorian movement, which included powerful c hurch men, polemicists, memb ers of the nobility and even displaced 11 Berthold of Reichenau, Chronicle annal for 107 7, trans. I. S. Robinson in Eleventh Century Germany: The Swabian Chronicles (Manchester, 2008), 159. 12 Robinson, Henry IV 161. 13 D. J. Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa 1046 1115 (Manchester, 2008), 59.
50 townsfolk. 14 Gregorian polemicists praised Matilda as undoubtedly another Deborah. 15 In the book of Judges, Deborah is credited with successfully defeating the force s of Jabin, the king of Cannan. Deborah was the q uinte ssential female warrior of the Old Testament. 16 Matilda was continuously seen as a modern Deborah for the reform party which could never have sustained attacks from Henry in Italy without Matilda s protection. In particular, Henry IV s second Ital ian expedition marked the beginning of Matilda s extensive defense of the reform movement in Italy. In 1081 Henry returned to the kingdom of Italy and immediately began besieging Matilda s lands, which lay between the German kingdom and the Patrimony of S t Peter. Valerie Eads notes that both Henrician supporters and Gregorian advocates reported that Matilda suffered heavy losses at the beginning of the Henry s campaign in 1081. 17 Until 1084 pro papal forces were succumbing to Henry and his allies. Defeat seemed imminent for the Gregorian party until Matilda s triumph at the Battle of Sobara on 2 July 1084 against Lombard bishops that supported Henry. 18 The polemicist Ranger of Lucca wrote that Matilda s surprise attack on the pro im perial troops caused su ch a su dden fear that made them blind," thus allowing Matilda to change the tide of war in favor of the Gregorians. 19 Henry s second Italian campaign ended shortly after Matilda s victory at Sobara allowing the reformists to continue their cause in the k ingdom of Italy. 14 Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa 149. 15 Ekkehard of Aura, Chronicle annal for 1106, trans. T. J. H. McCarthy, in Chronicles of the Investiture Contest: Frutolf of Michelsberg and his Continuators (Manchester, forthcoming), 314 5. 16 Judges 4:9. 17 V. Eads, The Geog raphy of Power: Matilda of Tuscany and the Strategy of Active Defense in Crusaders, Condottieri, and Cannon: Medieval Warfare in Societies around the Mediterranean ed. D. J. Kag ay and L. J. A. Villalon (Leiden, 2002) 378. 18 Hay, The Military Leadershi p of Matilda of Canossa 99; I. S. Robinson, Authority and Resistance in the Investiture Contest: The Polemical Literature of the Late Eleventh Century (Manchester, 1978), 276. 19 Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa 99.
51 Henry s third and longest Italian campaign wa s yet another failure for the e mperor. Although the reform party had been weakened by the death of Gregory VII in 1085, Matilda continued to be a rallying figure for the movement in Italy. 20 Her marriage to Duke Welf V of Bavaria (1072 1120) in September of 1089 might have influenced Henry to return to Italy once again because of the threat of the marriage alliance between the Canossa and Welf dynasties. 21 B ernold of Reichenau notes that Henr y the so called king was grea tly saddened by the marriage," which created a formidable alliance between the two families in Germany and Italy. 22 It is also probable that Henry was already planning an expedition to Italy and that the papacy negotiated th e marriage in response to Henry s arrival. 23 Henry and his supporters had several victories in Italy during his third expedition. In 1092, for example, Henry besieged Matilda s stronghold of Canossa, although at the price of very heavy losses for himself as well. Nevertheless Matilda continued to prevent Henry s advance in Italy. Numerous victories such as the Battle of Nogara, at a fortress of Matilda s near Verona in 1095 weakened Henry s position as e mperor since he still could not subdue Italy. 24 H enry and his supporters were growing weary after fighting for many years in Italy. Matilda s marriage to Welf V strengthened her forces in Italy but the subsequent failure of their marriage by 1095 weakened the Gregorian's position against Henry and his s upporters. After Welf and Matilda s marriage was over Welf s father, Duke Welf IV made peace with Henry, which allowed the emperor to 20 D. J. Hay, "The C ampaigns of Countess Matilda of Canossa (1046 1115): Analysis of the History and Social Significance of a Woman s Military Leadership" (PhD diss, University of Toronto, 2000), 54. 21 Robinson, Henry IV, 280. 22 Bernold of St Blasien, Chronicle annal for 10 89, trans. I. S. Robinson, in Eleventh Century Germany: The Swabian Chronicles (Manchester, 2008), 297. 23 Robinson, Henry IV, 280. 24 Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa 148.
52 return to the German kingdom after years of being confined in Italy by the Gregorians, notably Matilda. Bern old of St. B lasien, a reformist leaning monk, asserted that years of fighting Matilda and her followers had courageously forced Henry to flee from Lombardy and, after recovering her property, she never ceased to give thanks to God and St Peter 25 Again we see how Ma tilda was praised by papal supporters as their chief military protector against Henry IV in Italy. Matilda s Struggle as D efender of the Church Although Matilda used her vast resources in Italy to defend the reform papacy, her military actions were a con stant struggle for the pious countess. Matilda s partiality for the Church as opposed to the nobility when she mediated various disputes reveals a strong devotion to the Christian faith. All of the countess s letters were signed, Matilda, by God s grace if she is anything. 26 Matilda felt that her faith surpassed all other aspects of her life. She even considered becoming a nun early in her life but was discouraged by Gregory VII and other reformers. In 1073 in fact, Gregory wrote to the countess and her mother reiterating that he did not want them to take the veil since he needed them to protect the wretch ed and oppressed c hurch es" in the service of the universal Church ." 27 Instead, Gregory told Matilda that her sins would be forgiven if she contin ued to defend the Church The anonymous biography of Bishop Anselm II of Lucca, a staunch supporter of Matilda s, written shortly after his death in 1086, recounted that, Matilda surrendered herself totally to [Gregory VII s] direction, receiving from hi m 25 Bernold of St Blasien, Chronicle annal for 1097, 332. 26 Matil da of Canossa, "Letter 1100," http://epistolae.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/letter/1273.html. ( accessed April 19, 2012). 27 Gregory VII, Letters, 56.
53 this command in remission of her sins that she should judge people, practice warfare and resist the heretics and schematics. 28 Gregory effectively gave Matilda permission to engage in Christian warfare for the sake of her own soul. Although Matilda h ad Gregory s blessing, members within the imperial party attacked Matilda for using force against other Christians, which made Matilda question her military role in protecting the Church in Italy. Wibertine Attacks Against the Countess The antipope Wib ert of Ravenna (c. 1029 1100) and his followers condemned Matilda and Gre gory VII s other secular allies for their use of force against other Christians. In 1080 the Synod of Brixen elected Henry IV s candidate, Wibert of Ravenna as Pope Clement III sinc e Henry no longer recognized Gregory VII as po pe and he wanted to be crowned e mperor. Wibert of Ravenna remain ed Henry s antipope until his death in 1100. Wibert s statements about the countess s actions seems to have made Matilda question her military e fforts against the imperial supporters since she subsequently commissioned many works to justify her use of force in defense of the Church 29 Wibert may have also wanted Matilda to abandon the Gregorian cause and support him and the imperialists in Italy. 30 In a letter to the German bishops in 1091, Wibert wrote how great [was] the shedding of human blood in the Italian and German kingdoms occasioned by the [Gregorians ] preaching." 31 Here Wibert seeks to gain the sympathy of the bishops by painting the G regorians as a violent and almost savage group 28 I. S. Robinson, The Papal Reform of the Eleve nth Century, 47. 29 Healy, Matilda of Tuscany in the Polemics of the I nvestiture Contest, 51. 30 Robinson, Authority and Resistance in the Investiture Contest, 100. 31 Robinson, The Papal Reform of the Eleventh Century 46.
54 that had no consideration for human life. Wibert also claimed that he would only use the arms that the Fathers used in defense of the Christian faith" such as synodal decrees, even though Wibert supported He nry IV who was also using military force. 32 Wibert wanted to portray himself as a proper pontiff, issuing decrees like other popes beforehand, while depicting Gregory as unworthy of the position, especially since many still saw Gregory as the true pope. T he antipope also charged Gregory with deceiving Matilda by claiming her military actions for the Church would result in the remission of her sins, which Gregory VII had allegedly assured the countess. Gregory s willingness to fight other Christians was pr oof for Wibert that th e pope s claims were invalid and that Matilda was being deceived by the Grego rian party for her military support. 33 Wibert attacked the actions of the papal party in Italy while also criticizing the validly of Gregory VII s words and position as pope. In a letter to Cardinal Deacon Hugh Candidus who had recently shifted allegiances to the imperialist party, Wibert directed his attack upon the Gregorians to Matilda specifically, depicting the countess as being possessed by muliebrem insaniam (women s insanity ) and that this was the true cause for her assaults on Henry s troops. 34 Matilda was lambasted for her military actions by Wibert and the imperialists, who attributed Matilda s actions to her sex. The anonymous imperial polemici st of Hersfeld, in his work, Liber de unitate ecclesiae conservanda, wrote that Matilda was seduce d by the pope, and now she was impossible to restrain, animated by female passions so that she prefers war to peace. 35 These remarks by the Wibertines, alli es of Henry IV, all 32 Robinson, The Papal Reform of the Eleventh Century 46. 33 Robinson, Authority and Resistance in the In vestiture Contest, 100. 34 Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa 205. 35 Robinson, The Papal Reform of the Eleventh Century 47.
55 condemned the countess for her actions in Italy resulting in myriad works from the other side by Matildine writers that praised her use of force. Th e Matildine Cir cle of Writers and the Notion of Christian Warfare As the war conti nued, many Gregorian intellectuals gathered at Matilda s court. She provided protection against Henry s supporters as well as patronage. W riters such as Heribert of Reggio, Bonizo of Sutri, John of Mantua Ranger of Lucca, and Anselm II of Lucca were all trying to justify the Gregorian doctrine of Chri stian warfare through scripture, canon law, patristic writings, and Christian history. 36 David Hay has shown how the Gregorian reformists in the eleventh century often explained the current events of the Inve stiture Contest through biblical stories. 37 Along with validating Christian warfare these authors also supported Matilda s independence as a female ruler. Heribert, Bishop of Reggio was one of many influential members of Matilda s circle of writers M atilda appointed Heribert as the Bishop of Reggio in Emilia in 1086 after she won at the Battle of Sobara. Matilda most likely placed Heribert in Reggio to help ensure her authority in the region. 38 In his wo rk Heribert tried to establish Henry IV as an e nemy of the Church by likening him to previous persecutors of Christianity. In his treatise Heribert asked, what was Nero, what was Diocletian, what finally is [Henry] who at this time persecutes the Church : surely they are all the gates o f hell." 39 (Bot h Nero and Dioletian were infamous Roman e mperors that oppressed Christians.) Heribert attempted to sh ow Henry as another tyrannical emperor mistreating Christians; this was 36 Robinson, The Papal Reform of the Eleventh Century 48. 37 Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa 2 08. 38 Ibid. 135. 39 Ibid.
56 especia lly effective since the German e mperors at the time envisioned themselves as being the true s uccessors to the ancient Roman e mperors. Establishing Henry as a persecutor of Christianity justified Mati lda s use of force against the e mperor as a defense of the faith. The polemicist Bonizo of Sutri clearly demonstrated how he th ought it was proper for Christians to take up arms in his writings. In 1086 Bonizo wrote his work, Book to a Friend which may have been meant for Matilda herself. Matilda s ancestors are mentioned in the work and the final page of his book Bonizo assert ed Matilda s ability t o defeat the imperialists as a "daughter of St Peter," which hinted that the work may have been intended for the countess. 40 Bon izo wrote that Matilda should oppose the heresy that now rages in the Church in every way, as far as her strength permits. 41 Bonizo believed that any sort of force that was available to a Christian should be used when facing heresy, thus authorizing the use of military force against the e mperor. Bonizo s strong affirmation that Christians were permitted to protect the Church and should, was not only to validate Matilda s actions but also to inspire more of the noble laity to follow in Matilda s footsteps as the gloriosissimi dei milites (the most glorious soldiers of God.) 42 The Gregorian polemicists not on ly justified Matilda s role in the movement but sought to encourage other important noblemen in the papal party to devote themselves as strongly Matilda had to their cause. Bonizo s work, even if it was not for the countess, does not question the use of f orce in defense of the Church Like Bonizo of Sutri, John of Mantua supported the notion of Christian warfare. 40 Bonizo of Sutri, Liber ad amicum trans. I. S. Robinson, The Papal Reform of the Eleventh Ce ntury, (Manchester, 2004), 261. 41 Ibid. 42 Robinson, Authority and Resistance in the Investiture Contest, 102.
57 Unlike Bonizo, we know that John was writing to the countess specifically since she commissioned his commentary on the Song of Songs which w as written around 1083 John thanked Matilda in a letter, in which he also expressed his gratitude that the countess would want him to explicate what is written" in the scriptures for her In the work, John urged M atilda to exercise vengeance with the material sword on the heresy that is springing up and subvertin g the greater part of the world," bringing up the doctrine of the two swords. 43 This is in reference to Pope Gelasius I (429 6), who elaborated on the notion of the two swords from the Gospel o f St. Luke. In the Gospels, Christ takes two swor ds that represent power on Earth, and explains to His disciples that spiritual and secular swords must exist side by side. John wanted Matilda to take up the secular sword and defend spiritual power on Ear th, which Henry IV had threatened. John showed that the laity worked in conjunction with the clergy in supporting the Church like rafters which are set up under the beams in these same houses, so that they supply what is lacking. 44 To John, the laity and Matilda specifically, supported the teachings of the clergy, who could not defend themselves against those who oppose the word of God. John wrote that Matilda needed to use her authority, which was divinely bestowed, to make sure ecclesiastical autho rity was respected as well as her own. This support of the Church was part of the notion of the vita activa (the active life) that John and other Matildine authors saw as proper for the lay nobility. In his commentary on the Song of Songs John developed a clear role for the Christian laity, especially Matilda, in protecting the Church on earth as part of her duties to God. 43 John of Mantua, Song of Songs in I. S. Robinson, The Papal Reform of the Eleventh Century (Manchester, 2004), 45. 44 I. S. Robinson, "Political Allegory in the Biblical Exegesis of Bruno of Segni," Recherches de theology ancient et medievale 50 (1983), 78.
58 Ranger of Lucca (c. 1097 1112), in accord with the other Matildine writers, devoted parts of his biography of Bishop Anselm II of Lucca, Vita metrica Anselmi episcopi Lucensis to the justification of Matilda as military protector of the Church Ranger succeeded Anselm as bishop of Lucca following his death in 1086. He envisioned Matilda as the mulier fortis or "virtuous woman" fro m Proverbs 31 and interprets various lines from the book of Proverbs as echoing Matilda s actions against Henry IV. For examp le, Ranger felt that verse 18, she tasted and s aw that her bargaining was good symbolized Matilda s victories over Henry in It aly, ensuring the protection of the papacy and the entire reform movement. 45 Thus M atildine authors were preoccupied with demonstrating the validity of Matilda s military actions and so in their polemics they frequently interpreted the Bible using the too l of political allegory. Bishop Anselm II of Lucca (1036 1086) was another important member of Matilda s circle as well as the countess s spiritual advisor 46 He was frequently found in Matilda s entourage as she traveled throughout Italy. In 1077 Anselm was present at Canossa for the negotiations between Gregory VII and Henry IV 47 Once Wibert of Ravenna was elected antipope in 1080 Anselm was expelled from his diocese and forced to stay with the countess until his death. Matilda requested Anselm to com pose a commentary on the Psalms for her, but only a few fragments of this work survive in Paul of Bernried s Life of Gregory VII I. S. Robinson maintains that Anselm also adopted the practice of political allegory to explain contemporary events. 48 Anselm criticized Henry s attack on Rome, stating that Henry like the kings of the earth stood up and 45 Robinson, "Politi cal Allegory in the Biblical Exegesis of Bruno of Segni," 81. 46 Ibid., 79. 47 K. G. Cushing, Papacy and Law in the Gregorian Revolution: The Canonistic Work of Anselm of Lucca (Oxford, 1998), 51. 48 Robinson, "Political Allegory in the Biblical Exegesis of Bruno of Segni," 79.
59 besieged the Roman Church with their army to plot against St. Peter and against his vicar G regory." 49 Anselm portrayed Henry and his followers as enemies of the Church This political allegory sought to justify the reformers actions against the imperial party in Italy. In 1085 near the end of his life, Anselm wrote Liber contra Wibertum a response to a letter from the antipope Wibert of Ravenna. 50 Anse lm refut ed Wibert's claim that Matilda wasted her possessions in vain and instead stated that Matilda ensured "an unfailing treasure in heaven" for herself, supporting Gregory VII s notion that Matilda s military actions would result in the remission of her sins. 51 Anselm s clear devotion to the countess is evident in this work against Wibert. Along with the other writers within Matilda s circle Heribert of Reggio, Bonizo of Sutri, John of Mantua Ranger of Lucca Anselm of Lucca presented Matilda with evi dence of the legality and biblical precedent of her actions against the imperial party in Italy. Matilda s R eactions to the Wibertines Matilda also spoke out in reaction to Wibert of Ravenna s accusations against the her, labeling the antipope as a fra ud with no real claim to the title of pope. The countess often sent letters addressed to the public announcing her decisions on legal issues such as land holdings and donations to the Church Sometime after the election of Wibert in 1080 and before Grego ry s death in 1085 Mati lda issued a letter addressed to all those dwelling in the kingdom of the Germans," in which she declared both Henry and Wibert 49 Robinson, "Political Allegory in the Biblical Exegesis of Bruno of Segni," 79. 50 Cushing, Papacy and Law in the Gregorian Revolution, 2. 51 Robinson, The Papal Reform of the Eleventh Century, 46 7
60 unworthy of the loyalty of the German people. 52 The letter most likely dates to 1084 after, as Fr utolf of Michelsberg reported, Wibert was co nsecrated pope by many bishops" and "reverently enthroned" following Gregory s retreat from Rome, which allowed Wibert to crown Henry IV emperor much to the dismay of the reformers. 53 Matilda warned the German peopl e that the false king Henry stole the seal of the lord Pope Gregory by theft making Wibert s position as pope illegitimate as well. Henry had stolen what Matilda felt rightfully belonged to Gregory VII. She label ed Henry and his supporters as "false w itnesses," which was a reference to numerous biblical passages denouncing dishonesty including the commandments. 54 This was an especially compe lling accusation against Wibert who wanted to be seen as God s representative on Earth now that he was pope and in possession of Rome. Since Henry had given Wibert the papal seal, he was linked to Henry s actions and therefore also a false witness. Matilda portrayed Wibert as br eaking with spiritual doctrine and clashing with the ideal image of pope. While the W ibertines attempted to denounce Matilda s reputation because of her use of military force against other Christians, Matilda responded by direct ly addressing the German people, portraying Wibert as an usurper of the highest position within the Church who wa s unworthy of the obedience of the Christian people. In the same letter, Matilda proclaimed her own authority and reinforced the image of the Gregorian movement in Italy at the time. While declaring Henry and his antipope Wibert false witnesses, Matild a maintained that the people of Germany must listen to the 52 Matilda of Canossa, "Letter to the Germans," http://epistolae.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/letter/209.html. (accessed April 15, 2012). 53 Frutolf of Michelsberg, Chronicle, annal for 1084, trans. T. J. H. McCarthy, in Chronicles of the Investiture Contest: Frutolf of Michelsberg and his Continuators (Manchester, forthcoming), 136 54 Ibid. ; Exodus 20:16.
61 instructions of the reform party and not Henry IV. Matilda forcefully told the Germans to not believe anything from anyone who dares to say other than what we say. 55 Here Matilda again attacked Henry s position as king, and asserted that since Henry was not the true king of the empire, the people must support the reform movement. With this statement the countess also defended her own authority. The letter was published during Henry IV s secon d Italian campaign in which the emperor and his various supporters, such as influential bishops and noblemen, were attacking Matilda s lands and strongholds. David Hay notes that in 1084 Matilda was confined to her castle in the Appenines. 56 Her position in Italy was being threatened and her statements reveal a desire to reassert her authority in Tuscany. The letter then ends with a remark that the reform party had a lready recovered Sutri and Nepi" from the imperialists. 57 Both of these cities are fairly close to Rome and Matilda s mention of their recovery was meant to show that the Henricians had not taken complete control of the P atrimony of St Peter. Matilda wanted to ensure that her supporters within the Empire would not think that the Gregorians h ad been defeated since Henry had accomplished his goal of taking Rome and receiving imperial coronation. Th e countess also mentioned that "Henry s pope" had fled from Rome in fear to show that Wibert was not in possession of the holy city 58 Wibert had le ft Rome for Tivoli in 1084 when the Norman prince Robert Guiscard (c. 1015 1085) rescued Gregory from Rome. 59 Again, Matilda emphasized the position of the reform movement. Matilda s letter to the 55 Matilda of Canossa, "Letter to the Germans." http://epistolae.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/letter/209.html (accessed April 15, 2012). 56 Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa 94. 57 Ibid. 58 Ma tilda of Canossa, "Letter to the Germans 59 Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa 94.
62 Germans, was a response to the attacks against her, notabl y those of Wibert of Ravenna. She attacked Wibert s claim to the position of pope while undermining his and Henry IV s authority in the Empire and attempted to restore the image of the reform party in Italy. Matilda as an Independent R uler Matilda s staunch support of the Church can also be interpreted as the necessary position for an independent female ruler. Although many women in this period were able to exert considerable authority, (as shown in chapter one) noble women s positions were tied to t heir association with powerful men, either as widows or regents. Throughout her life Matilda wanted to her retain her own authority; even her relationships with her two husbands clearly reveal her desire for autonomy. Both marriages were most l ikely not favored by the countess and seen as a threat to her position. Her first husband, Duke Godfrey the Hunchback, was the son of her stepfather Godfrey the Bearded. The two married in 1069 following Godfrey the Bearded s death. 60 Their marriage was arranged t o strengthen the Lotharingian Canossa family connection created by Godfrey s marriage to Matilda s mother, but the marriage was ultimately a failure. After only two years Matilda left her husband in L otharingia to return to Tuscany. The anonymous chronic ler from the monastery of St Hubert in the Ardennes reported that in 1071, her husband freq uently ordered that she return," orders that Matilda apparently ignored. 61 Beatrice and Gregory VII both tried to convince Matilda to live with her husband, specifi cally so that Godfrey could carry on his father s role as a protector of the papacy; yet Matilda 60 Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa 43. 61 Chronicon sancti Huberti Andaginensis, MGH SS 8, 583, trans. in D. J. Hay, The Military Lea dership of Matilda of Canossa 1046 1115 (Manchester, 2008) 43.
63 refused. As tensions between Henry and Gregory increased, Matilda remained in Tuscany with her mother while Godfrey became a close ally of Henry IV. 62 If Mati lda s actions supporting the reform party were the result of her strong faith, then it seems strange that the countess did not try and reunite with her husband to ensure his support for the papal party. Instead Matilda knew that if she reconciled with God frey he could co ntrol her vast lands in Tuscany Matilda and Godfrey s failed union reveals that Matilda opposed marriage since it jeopardize d her independence in Tuscany. Matilda s second marriage was similar to her first. In 1089 the Gregorian pole micist Bernold of St Blasien reported that Matilda had agreed to marry Duke We lf V of Bavaria not indeed because of unchastity but rather because of obedience towards the Roman pontiff; namely so that she might the more effectively come to th e aid of the holy Roman Church against the excommunicates 63 Welf was only eighteen years old when the two married and Matilda was over twenty years his senior. 64 Pope Urban II probably arranged the marriage to gain support against Henry in Germany and Matilda hesita ntly agreed. Welf s forces were often noted by Gregori an chroniclers as serving along side Matilda s own forces against the imperialists throughout the early 1090s. Matilda seems to have changed her opinion on marriage but in 1095 Welf wanted to e nd the union. Welf reportedly separated himself completely from his marriage to the lady Matilda, declaring that sh e had never been touched by him" according to Bernold of St Blasien. 65 Matilda had managed to keep her marriage together for six years but then d id not try and reconcile herself with Welf even though he was an ally of the Gregorian movement. This 62 Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa 44. 63 Bernold of St Blasien, Chronicle annal for 1089, 297. 64 Robinson, Henry IV 281. 65 Bernold of St Blasien, Chronicle annal for 109 5, 323.
64 was most likely due to the state of the Gregorian party in Italy at the time since the combined forces of Welf and Matilda s forces in Italy were fairly successful against Henry and his supporters. By 1095 Henry was virtually trapped in north eastern Italy. Matilda no longer needed Welf s support, so when he complained about the state of their marriage Matilda did not attempt a reconciliation 66 O n acc ount of their separation, Welf made peace with Henry and allowed the emperor to return to Germany. Again, similarly to her marriage to Godfrey, Welf was an important aspect of the Gregorian party yet Matilda did not attempt to try and continue her marriag e once Italy seemed safe from Henry IV. Matilda s independence in Tuscany appears to have been more important to the countess than keeping Welf around to support the papal party. Interestingly, Matilda s polemical writers never mentioned either husband even Donizo of Canossa, Matilda s biographer. 67 Matilda did not want to be reminded of her marriages and it seems this was clear to the various authors within her circle of writers. As in her first marriage Matilda managed to evade keeping a husband tha t could possibly take away her position of independence in Tuscany. Although her marital decisions may occasionally have hindered the Gregorian cause, Matilda still supported the Church her entire life. By supporting the Church she was praised by countl ess writers for her actions. Matilda might have felt this relationship was necessary to prevent other noblemen from trying to take her vast possessions. The Czech author Cosmas of Prague noted in his chronicle that various German princes wanted Matilda to ma rry in order to produce an heir 68 Although Cosmas s account of Matilda is clearly biased against the 66 Robinson, Henry IV 293. 67 Hay, The Military Leadership of Matilda of Canossa 126. 68 Cosmas of Prague, Chronicle trans. L. Wolverton, Cosmas of Prague: The Chronicle of the Czechs (Washington, D.C., 2009), 153
65 countess, it reveals that there may have been pressure on Matilda to marry or at least name an heir Instead Matilda continued her strong relation ship with the Church which gave her an alternative to marriage. The Gregorian movement undoubtedly needed Matilda s military support and it appears that Matilda in turn benefited from supporting a movement that validated supported her authority in Italy. Conclusion As an influential military leader in Tuscany Matilda was a vital supporter of the Gregorian movement Even in her more local interactions with the Church Matilda s support was evident. The use of force against Henry and the imperial part y made Matilda question her role in the reform movement, since v arious polemical writers denounced Matilda for her military actions agai nst fellow Christians. Matilda' s uneasiness over this issue was evident in the response to these attacks by Matilda' s c ircle of writers. These authors all strove to prove that Matilda s use of force had biblical precedent and was even necessary. The works by Matilda s circle of authors as well as her own response to imperialist attacks, validated her use of force as well as her position a s an autonomous ruler. Matilda' s failed marriages reveal that Matilda was fearful of a husband taking away her authority in Italy and that her motivation to remain independent was greater than her support for the Church Despite various set backs due to Matilda s desired independence, Matilda s relationship with the Church as a secular ally allowed her to continue her independent rule in Tuscany and benefited the reform movement in the German empire.
66 Conclusion This thesis demonstra tes the ability of Matilda of Canossa to retain her autonomy in Tuscany in the eleventh century by offering a new perspective on Matilda s role within the politics of the Investiture Contest. Matilda used her close relationship with the Gregorian papacy t o benefit from a pro Gregorian circle of writers who defended Matilda s use of force against the imperialists. At the same time, Matilda s unsuccessful marriages reveal a distinct attempt by Matilda to break with tradition and be an independent ruler in T uscany without being controlled by a man. Matilda s position was unique compared to most w omen in the central Middle Ages, yet she still faced misogynistic criticisms due to her position of authority. Chapter one provides a context for the life of Matil da by outlining t he lives of medieval noblewomen Although some noblewomen took on substantial roles in medieval politics, they were bound by the patriarchal social structures of the time. Most women in positions of power needed a man to support their in fluence. S ome were important partners in their husbands realms, such as Ermessenda of Barcelona, but other s were kept out of any positions of authority. Regents such as Theophanu, sometimes took control of entire governments but this authority was only legitimate because they were ruling for their sons. Matilda inherited her domain from her father Boniface and during her time as countess attempted to keep her personal authority in Tuscany from being taken away by either of her husbands By then becomi ng a champion of the papal reform movement, Matilda circumvented needing a man to defend her position as countess. This
67 chapter reveals the actions and limitations of medieval noblewomen showing that Matilda was not a complete anomaly for her time but sh e does stand out. Chap ter two further illustrates the patriarchal nature of medieval society by analyzing the polemical attacks made against Matilda. It shows how similar criticisms were made against Henry IV and Matilda in polemical literature throughout the Investiture Contest yet while Henry s faults were considered unique, Matilda was seen as quintessentially feminine in her negative portrayals. The attacks on Matilda focused on her sex unlike those attacking Henry, her primary rival. Matilda was cr iticized for turning Henry s son to the Gregorian cause ( implying that she seduced him ) while the rebellion of Henry s wife a year later was ignored since Eupraxia was a woman. Although these criticisms of the countess were meant to persuade important fi gures from joining the Gregorians, they highlight the prejudices of the period and the difficulties encountered by women in positions of power. Although Matilda was heavily criticized for her actions in the Investiture Contest, she continued to be one of t he strongest secular allies of the reform party. Chapter three shows how Matilda played a vital role within the Gregorian movement and how her pro papal writers back ed her position when she was condemned by the imperialists. It also reveals that along wi th her pious nature, Matilda was largely motivated to defend the papal part to ensure her position of autonomy in Italy. Matilda opposed both of her marriages and managed to prevent either of her husbands from taking control of her lands in Tuscany. Her first marriage to Godfrey the Hunchback was intended to strengthen the union between the families of Canossa and Lotha ringia, but Matilda quickly abandoned her husband and refused to live with him,
68 effectively ending her marriage. Instead, she chose to ru le in Tuscany alone. Her marriage to Godfrey would have ensure d his support of the papacy ( like his father Godfrey the Bearded before him ) but he abandoned this role due to his failed marriage. Thus Matilda s actions weakened the papacy she supported showing that Matilda was more conc erned with her own autonomy than defending the papacy. Her second failed marriage further illustrates this desire to remain independent: i n 1089 she was pressured to marry Welf V so that he could help fight Henry IV and h is supporters like Godfrey the Hunchback. The marriage lasted for six years before Welf complained that Matilda refused to continue the marriage. Welf helped f orce Henry from Matilda s lands, but after Henry s withdrawal from the region Matilda had no in terest in continuing her marriage to Welf. Although Welf could still have been a vital ally for the papacy in Germany, Matilda refused to reconcile with the duke. Piety thus cannot explain her actions Instead, Matilda was more concerned with maintainin g her independence in Italy without a husband who might interfere. These three chapters demonstrate how Matilda managed to circumvent the social norms of her time despite the considerable opposition against her. In spite of the social pressures to marry and be controlled by a husband as well as chauvinistic attacks against her character Matilda managed to rule Tuscany alone for nearly forty years. Although Matilda played an interesting role in the Investiture Contest and led a rather unusual life, the re is a lack of scholarship such an interesting women of her time. At the same time this thesis shows that there is still substantial study that could be done on medieval women. Historical s cholarship has only recently focused the roles of medieval wome n in society. The first chapter discussed the role Agnes of Poitou who
69 acted as regent for her young son Henry IV and the coup in 1062 that supposedly removed her influence and control of the government. In reality Agnes continued to appear in Henry s d iplomas as an intervener, showing that her role in the minority government continued after the coup. Once Henry came of age Agnes even became the most prominent intervener for her son, again showing that she was not simply removed from power but that the situa tion was more complicated. Most recent scholarship glosses over these details and simply dismisses the role of Agnes in the rest of Henry s minority. Like Matilda Agnes highlights the need for more scholarship of medieval women and their role in po litics. Although these women played substantial roles with in the politics of the eleventh century there are often only briefly mentioned in the scholarship of the Investiture Contest. History could benefit from considering these women within the broader contexts of their time period. This thesis highlights the life of one medieval women and her actions in medieval politics. Her pivotal role in the Investiture Contest fighting against the German emperor offers a new perspective on the conflict and how w omen could wield political influence in the Middle Ages.
70 Appendix. Map of the German Empire under the Salians (kingdoms of Germany, Burgundy and Italy) From T. J. H. McCarthy, Chronicle s of the Investiture Contest: Frutolf of Michelsberg and his Continu ators ( Manchester, forthcoming ). xiv Map 1: The empire during the Salian period (the kingdoms of Germany, Italy and Burg undy)
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