Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Matilda of Canossa

From Nobility:
Before his death in 1056 Henry III gave back to Gottfried of Lorraine his wife and stepdaughter. When Matilda grew to womanhood she was married to her stepbrother Gottfried of Lower Lorraine, from whom, however, she separated in 1071. He was murdered in 1076; the marriage was childless, but it cannot be proved that it was never consummated, as many historians asserted. From 1071 Matilda entered upon the government and administration of her extensive possessions in Middle and Upper Italy. These domains were of the greatest importance in the political and ecclesiastical disputes of that time, as the road from Germany by way of Upper Italy to Rome passed through them. On 22 April, 1071, Gregory VII became pope, and before long the great battle for the independence of the Church and the reform of ecclesiastical life began. In this contest Matilda was the fearless, courageous, and unswerving ally of Gregory and his successors.

 Immediately on his elevation to the papacy Gregory entered into close relations with Matilda and her mother. The letters to Matilda (Beatrice d. 1076) give distinct expression to the pope’s high esteem and sympathy for the princess. He called her and her mother “his sisters and daughters of St. Peter” (Regest., II, ix), and wished to undertake a Crusade with them to free the Christians in the Holy Land (Reg., I, xi). Matilda and her mother were present at the Roman Lenten synods of 1074 and 1075, at which the pope published the important decrees on the reform of ecclesiastical life. Both mother and daughter reported to the pope favourably on the disposition of the German king, Henry IV, and on 7 December, 1074, Gregory wrote to him, thanking him for the friendly reception of the papal legate, and for his intention to co- operate in the uprooting of simony and concubinage from among the clergy. However, the quarrel between Gregory and Henry IV soon began. In a letter to Beatrice and Matilda (11 Sept., 1075) the pope complained of the inconstancy and changeableness of the king, who apparently had no desire to be at peace with him. In the next year (1076) Matilda’s first husband, Gottfried of Lorraine, was murdered at Antwerp. Gregory wrote to Bishop Hermann of Metz, 25 August, 1076, that he did not yet know in which state Matilda “the faithful handmaid of St. Peter” would, under God’s guidance, remain. (Read more.)

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