Parents: Boniface III, margrave of Tuscany, and Beatrice of Upper Lorraine
Date of Birth: 1046
Royal House: Canossa
Spouse: Humaira Begum, daughter of Sardar Ahmad Shah Khan and Zarin Begum
Predecessor: Godfrey IV
Reign: 1055 – 1115
Summary: Born to the noble family of Canossa, she was the youngest child of her parents. Her father was murdered when she was six and her older sister died the next year. In fear that her two surviving children would be targets of ambitious nobles, her mother, Beatrice, married Godfrey the Bearded, duke of Upper Lorraine. Soon afterwards, he and Beatrice went into open rebellion against the Holy Roman Emperor Henry III. Matilda, meanwhile, was betrothed to Godfrey's son by a different mother, Godfrey the Hunchback. Henry III was angered by Beatrice's unauthorized marriage and Beatrice ventured north to speak with the emperor. She took with her Frederick, Matilda's brother and the margrave of Tuscany. Beatrice was imprisoned in terrible conditions while Frederick was treated well but died in 1055 all the same. Matilda, unexpectedly, became the legitimate margravine of Tuscany upon his death.
Her stepfather, Godfrey, took direct control of Tuscany as her self-proclaimed regent. Since she was only around nine years old at the time, this was expected. When Henry III died, Beatrice was released and she returned to Italy with Godfrey to rule in peace. During the 1050s, the army of Tuscany was used multiple times to defend the popes from Imperial attacks, especially since three popes in a row were from Tuscany. Matilda was raised as a warrior queen. She learned military arts and horseriding alongside German and French. She married Godfrey the Hunchback sometime in the 1060s but there was little love between the pair. They only produced a single daughter before Godfrey returned to Germany, never to set foot in Tuscany again. In 1076, Matilda took control over her inheritance. Her parents both died that year and she was around thirty-years-old in any case. Harboring the Tuscan popes turned ill for her when Emperor Henry IV showed up at her door in 1077, barefoot and kneeling. Pope Gregory VII was being housed at Canossa at the time and Henry sought penance. Yet by 1080, she found herself fighting Imperial forces coming from Ravenna in the north. At the battle of Volta Mantovana, the Tuscan army was defeated. This led to a public revolt in Lucca, the capital, where her ally Bishop Anselm was ousted. In 1081, Henry IV formally deposed her but that did not have a major effect on her control over Tuscany. Matilda personally took control over her army and routed the Imperials at Sorbara in a dispossession attempt. With Gregory's death in 1085, Matilda supported the new pope, Victor III, and attempted to invade Rome to install him. The Imperial garrison was too strong, however, and she and the new pope were forced to flee. In 1090, Matilda married Welf V of Bavaria and Henry IV invaded. The newlyweds were forced into the mountains, but the Tuscan army soundly defeated the Imperial army in 1092 and Henry was never again able to gain dominance in the region. By 1095, Henry was trying to hurt Matilda in any way possible, but when she arrived at the head of an army, he fled. She spent the next twenty years reasserting her authority throughout Tuscany. The new emperor, Henry V, recognized her achievements and made her Imperial viceroy of Liguria in 1111. Matilda died of gout in 1115 and her estates were left to the pope, who divided them up and prompted the era of city-states in northern Italy. Michelangelo would later claim descent through her daughter, though records suggest the daughter may have died as a child.
Date of Death: 24 July 1115
Successor: Conrad von Scheiern
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