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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Mathilde of Tuscany

b. 1046, Lucca, Italy; d. 1115, Bondeno, Italy

Mathilde (Matilda) was born to an influential Italian family and became the countess of Tuscany upon the death of her father in 1052. All of her close relatives, including her mother, husband, and daughter, died in the early part of her life, which left her in control of their many estates. A supporter of the papacy, Mathilde is remembered for the command of her armies against King Henry IV of Germany, who sought to invade Rome and depose Pope Gregory VII. She was defeated in 1081 by Henry IV in his bid for the Roman crown, but Mathilde and her allies regrouped and supported Victor III of Benevento as their choice for pope after Gregory’s death, eventually defeating Henry and destroying his supporters in Italy. When Mathilde died of gout in 1115, she left her entire estate to the papacy. In the seventeenth century, her remains were reinterred in Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.