OP - Viaggiare nell’Oglio Po
   |    Local action group Oglio Po water lands

The Canossa

The family has always been associated with the name of Matilda, one of the most important women in history of all time. Active in the political field, Matilda played a key role in the clashes between the Papacy and the Empire, becoming over the centuries an almost sanctified figure. The Canossa family originated from Lucca, and found first contacts in our area with the purchase of a large Villinianum property, between Parma and Reggio, through the work of the forefather Sigifredo. His son Atto, a man of great personality and political skills, raised the role of the family, sealed in 940 with the construction of the powerful fortress of Canossa, thanks to a fortuitous event. The fortress in fact, providing refuge in 951 for Queen Adelaide, who had fled from King Berengario II, in fact became the site of the wedding of the queen herself and her host Atto, who had offered her protection. The event led to the emergence of a significant alliance with the Emperor, which culminated in the extension of the function of count to Modena and Mantua. The history of the Canossas is thus tied from this time to that of the Empire, until the domain of Corrado II, who acquired the absolute primacy of the Italian Imperial party. Killed in an attack in the woods between Spineda and San Martino, on 6 May, 1052, he left little Matilda as the sole heir of the Canossa fortune. Under her rule this land took on continental significance. Initially living with her husband Goffredo in Lorraine, in 1071 she returned to Canossa after separating from her husband. The most important episodes of her history followed the advent of Pope Gregory VII, upon which began a period of great contrasts between the Papacy and the Empire. Matilda sided clearly in favour of the Papacy, providing the Pope a place of refuge from the persecutions of the Emperor Henry IV. Matilda’s great capacity and mediation skills played on this occasion a key role, culminating in the encounter between these two historical figures on 28 January 1077. The episode of Canossa marked the final choice of field by Matilda, whose domain extended over a large part of central and northern Italy. Between September 1079 and March 1080 the Grand Countess donated all her possessions to the Holy See. Following the death of Gregory, Matilda of Canossa dominated the scene over the next 20 years, going through a second failed marriage with Guelfo of Bavaria and addressing the increasing internal rebellions. On 6 May, 1111 Matilda gave hospitality to Henry V, son of her cousin and enemy, in Bianello who named her vice queen of Italy. She finally died in Bondeno di Roncore on 24 July, 1115.