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MATILDA


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MATILDA


The tendency of rationalists and advanced critics of dif- ferent creeds leads them to deny outright the extraor- dinary tletails of the ages of the patriarchs. Catholic commentators, however, find no diSiculty in accept- ing the words of Genesis. Certain exegetes solve the diificulty to their own satisfaction by declaring that the year meant by the sacred writer is not the equiva- lent of our year. In the Samaritan text Mathusala was sixty-seven at Lamech's birth, and 720 at his death. Joseph V. Molloy.

Matilda, Saint, Queen of Germany, wife of King Henry I (The Fowler), b. at the Villa of Engern in Westphalia, about 895; d. at Quedlinburg, 14 March, 90S. She was brought up at the monastery of Erfurt. Henry, whose marriage to a young widow, named Hathburg, had l)een declared invalid, asked for Matilda's hand, and married her in 909 at Wal- hausen, which he [iresented to her as a dowry. Matilda became the mother of : Otto I, Emperor of Germany; Henry, Duke of Bavaria; St. Bnmo, Archbishop of Cologne; Gerberga, who married Louis IV of France; Hedwig, the mother of Hugh Capet. In 912 Ma- tilda's husband succeeded his father as Duke of Saxony, and in 918 he was chosen to succeed King Conrad of Germany. As queen, Matilda was humble, pious, and generous, and was always ready to help the oppressed and unfortunate. She wielded a whole- some influence over the king. After a reign of seven- teen years, he died in 936. He bequeathed to her all his possessions in Quedlinburg, Poehlden, Nordhausen, Grona, and Duderstadt.

It was the king's wish that his eldest son, Otto, should succeed him. Matilda wanted her favourite son Henry on the royal throne. On the plea that he was the first-born son after his father became king, she induced a few nobles to cast their vote for him, but Otto was elected and crowned king on 8 August, 936. Three years later Henry revolted against his brother Otto, but, being unable to wrest the royal crown from him, submitted, and upon the intercession of Ma- tilda was made Duke of Bavaria. Soon, however, the two brothers joined in persecuting their mother, whom they accused of having impoverished the crown by her lavish almsgiving. To satisfy them, she renounced the possessions the deceased king had bequeathed to her, and retired to her villa at Engern in Westphalia. But afterwards, when misfortune overtook her sons, Matilda was called liack to the palace, and both Otto and Henry implored her pardon.

Matilda built many churches, and founded or sup- ported numerous monasteries. Her chief foundations were the monasteries at Quedlinburg, Nordhausen, Engern, and Poehlden. She spent many days at these monasteries and was especially fond of Nordhausen. She died at the convent of Sts. Servatius and Dionysius at Quedlinburg, and was buried there by the side of her husband. She was venerated as a saint im- mediately after her death. Her feast is celebrated on 14 March. . .

Two old Lives of Matilda are extant; one, Vila antiquwr, written in the monastery of Nordhausen and dedicated to the EmperorOttoII; edited by KoEPKEin Afon. Gctto. 5otp(.. X. 575-582. and reprinted in Migne, P. L.. CLI, 1313-^. The other. Vita MahtiUis reginoe, written by order of the l,mp rpr Henry II, is printed in Mon. Germ. Script.. IV, 283-302. and in Migne, P. L.. CXXXV, 889-920. Clakus, Die heilife Malhilde, ihr Gemnhl Heinrich I. und ihre Snhne Otto I. Hnnnch und Brmin (Mimstf-r. 1S67); Schw\viz. Die heiliue MalhMe.Gemah- lin Hcinrirhs I. Kimiqs von Deutschland (Ratisbon, lS4b); Acta SS., March, II. liol -65. „ ^__

Michael Ott.

Matilda of Canossa, Countess of Tuscany, daugh- ter and heiress of the Marquess Boniface of Tuscany, and Beatrice, daughter of Frederick of Lorraine, b. 1046; d. 24 July, 1114. In 1053 her father was mur- dered. Duke Gottfried of Lorraine, an opponent of the Emperor Henry III, went to Italy and married the widowed Beatrice. But, in 1055, when Henry HI X.— 4


entered Italy he took Beatrice and her daughter Matilda prisoners and had them brought to Ger- many. Thus the young countess was early dragged into the bustle of these troublous times. That, however, did not prevent her receiving an excel- lent training; she was finely educated, knew Latin, and was very fond of serious books. She was also deeply religious, and even in her youth followed with interest the great ecclesiastical questions which were then prominent. Before his death in 1056 Henry III gave back to Gottfried of Lorraine his wife and stepdaughter. When Matilda grew to womanhood she was married to her stepbrother Gottfried of Lower Lorraine, from whom, however, she separated in 1071. He was murdered in 1076; the marriage was childless, but it cannot be proved that it was never consum- mated, as many historians asserted. From 1071 Ma- tilda entered upon the government and administra- tion of her extensive possessions in Middle and LIpper Italy. These domains were of the greatest impor- tance in the political and ecclesiastical disputes of that time, as the road from Germany by way of Upper Italy to Rome passed through them. On 22 April, 1073, Gregory VII (q. v.) became pope, and before long the great battle for the independence of the Church and the reform of ecclesiastical life began. In this contest Matilda was the fearless, courageous, and unswerving ally of Gregory and his successors.

Immediately on his elevation to the papacy Gregory entered into close relations with Matilda and her mother. The letters to Matilda (Beatrice d. 1076) give distinct expression to the pope's high esteem and sympathy for the princess. He called her and her mother "his sisters and daughters of St. Peter" (Regest., II, ix), and wished to undertake a Crusade with them to free the Christians in the Holy Land (Reg., I, xi). Matilda and her mother were present at the Roman Lenten synods of 1074 and 1075, at which the pope published the important decrees on the reform of ecclesiastical life. Both mother and daughter reported to the pope favourably on the disposition of the German king, Henry IV, and on 7 December, 1074, Gregory wrote to him, thanking him for the friendly reception of the papal legate, and for his intention to co-operate in the uprooting of simony and conculiinage from among the clergy. However, the quarrel between Gregory and Henry IV soon began. In a letter to Beatrice and Matilda (11 Sept., 1075) the pope complained of the inconstancy and ehangeableness of the king, who apparently had no desire to he at peace with him. In the next year (1076) Matilda's first husljand, Gottfried of Lorraine, was murdered at Antwerp. Gregory wrote to Bishop Hermann of Metz, 25 August, 1076, that ho did not yet know in which state Matilda "the fnilliful hand- maid of St. Peter " would, under God'sguidaiu-c, rcrnain.

On account of the action of the Synod of Worms against Gregory (1076), the latter was compelled to lay Henry IV under excommunication. As the major- ity of the princes of the empire now took siiles against the king, Henry wished to be reconciled wil h I he jiope, and consequently travelled to Italy in the niiddle of a severe winter, in order to meet the pope there before the latter should leave Italian soil on hi.s jovirney to Germany. Gregory, who had already arrived in Lom- bardy when he heard of the king's journey, lietook himself at Matilda's advice to her mountiiin stronghold of Canossa for security. The excommunicalcd king had asked the Countess Matilda, his inothiT-in-law Adelaide, and Abbot Hugli of Cluny, to intercede with the pope for him. These fulfilled the king's recpiest, and after long opposition Gregory jiermil ted Henry to .ap)ic:ir liefore liini personally at Cano.ssa and atone for his guilt by pulilic penance. After the king's depart- ure t he ]io\n- set out for Mantua. For .safety Matilda accompanied him with armed men, but hearing a rumour that Archbishop Wibert of Ravenna, who