Matilda/Matelda: filling in the map of fourteenth-century historical writing about Matilda, Countess of Canossa (1046-1115)
Source TitleDante at Flinders
Proceedings, Flinders Dante Conferences 2002 & 2004
University of Melbourne Author/sRizzi, Andrea
AffiliationArts: Department of French and Italian Studies
Document TypeBook Chapter
CitationsRizzi, A. (2005). Matilda/Matelda: filling in the map of fourteenth-century historical writing about Matilda, Countess of Canossa (1046-1115). In M. Baker, F. Coassin & D. Glenn (Eds.), Dante at Flinders (pp. 102-115). Adelaide, S.A.: Lythrum Press.
Access StatusOpen Access
This is a pre-print of a chapter in Dante at Flinders, published by Lythrum Press. This version is reproduced with the permission of Lythrum Press. http://www.lythrumpress.com.au
The aim of this paper is twofold. First, I explore the historical perception and representation of the life of Matilda during Dante’s time. In particular, I will discuss the works of two early fourteenth century historians, Riccobaldo of Ferrara (c. 1245-1318?) and the Dominican friar Pipino of Bologna (c. 1270-c. 1328). The works of Riccobaldo and Pipino show that early fourteenth century historians had access to a number of sources on the life of Matilda, including arguably the most detailed, albeit propagandistic, narrative on the life of Matilda, the poem called Librum de Principibus Canusinis (also known as Vita Mathildis, completed in 1115, just after Matilda’s death) by Donizo, who was abbot of the Benedictine Monastery of Sant’Apollonio in Canossa (1070-circa 1136). Contrary to Capitani’s assertion, Dante could have known more about Matilda than Villani, Cino da Pistoia and the early commentators of the Commedia knew, for there is evidence that Riccobaldo’s Historie contained an extensive account of the Countess Matilda’s deeds. Unfortunately, the section of Riccobaldo’s Historie covering world history between the years 375-1308 is lost. Any present knowledge we might have of what this portion contained is based upon Pipino’s and Matteo Maria Boiardo’s use of it. The second aim is to demonstrate how at least one of the many rewritings of Donizo’s poem was available within Dante’s cultural environment. This will be discussed by establishing a link between Riccobaldo, Pipino and an early fourteenth century adaptation of the Vita Mathildis. This adaptation, although based on Donizo’s poem, is a narrative that relies also to some extent upon sources other than Donizo’s to dispel the mystery surrounding the more private life of the Countess, including speculation about her marriages and concerning the birth of a child to her. As we shall see, evidence shows that the now lost portion of Riccobaldo’s major work, the Historie, could in fact contain much of what Pipino discussed on Matilda in his Chronicon, which leads to the possibility that Dante himself was at least aware of such assessments of the life of the Countess.
KeywordsBoiardo; Riccobaldo; Dante; translation; Matilda; Matelda; Pipino; Canossa; Historia Imperiale
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