Vita Mathildis

Vat. lat. 4922 - Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

Alternate Titles:

Life of Matilda of Tuscany, Acta Comitissae Mathildis, Life of Mathilda of Canossa, Vita der Mathilde von Canossa

Facsimile edition
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Alternate Titles

Life of Matilda of Tuscany
Acta Comitissae Mathildis
Life of Mathilda of Canossa
Vita der Mathilde von Canossa

Extent / Format

180 pages / 21.0 x 16.0 cm

Artist / School

Author: Donzio


8 miniatures and many initials

Short description

The Vita Mathildis was produced between 1111 and 1115 by the Benedictine monk Donzio. The work is concerned with the powerful Italian princely family of Canossa and in doing so places Marchioness Mathilda of Canossa at the center. It is decorated with eight splendid, gold-adorned miniatures and numerous embellished initials.

Facsimile editions available


Vita Mathildis

Mathilde of Canossa (1046-1115) was the last representative of the great dynasty of the Margraves of Tuscia. They built up a domain in Italy in less than one hundred years. Her life was under the spell of great politics, which were defined by the power struggle between the papacy and the empire. Through her support of the papacy, which culminated in the transfer of her entire domain to the Papal States, she sacrificed her house’s claim to power. The Vita Mathildis not only brings this illustrious personality to life, but also transmits approaches for the evaluation of historical events and figure which are disputed today.

Partition in Two Parts

The Vita Mathildis was produced between 1111 and 1115 by the Benedictine monk Donzio, who the marchioness knew personally and esteemed. His work is **separated into two books. The first book extols the rise of the House of Canossa to one of the most powerful princely families of 11th century Italy. The second book is dedicated entirely on Marchioness Mathilda. Standing in the foreground is her deep piety, her loyalty to the papacy, and her endeavors to mediate between Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII. The work was first completed after Mathilda’s death, Donzio added a lament as a result.

Romanesque Book Art

The work contains 8 magnificent miniatures in the Romanesque Style. The illustrations impress through luminous colors and lavish application of gold. The master utilized 23 carat gold here. Along with the charming miniatures, the text of the codex is adorned with many embellished initials. With its high-quality illustrations, the Vita Mathildis is an impressive testimony to the development of a dynasty between the poles of contemporary events.

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