Vita Mathildis

Vita Mathildis – Belser Verlag – Vat. lat. 4922 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

Monastery of Saint Apollonius in Canossa (Italy) β€” 1115

About the powerful mediator in the famous Investiture Controversy: the life and work of the deeply devout Mathilda of Canossa in the gold-decorated miniatures of a talented Benedictine monk

  1. The Margraves of Tuscia rose to become on of the most powerful families of 11th century Italy

  2. This family history is centered on Mathilda of Canossa (1046–1115), the dynasty's last Marchioness

  3. The story of this deeply pious woman's life is recorded in luminous colors and 23 karat gold

Vita Mathildis

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Vita Mathildis

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.

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 karat 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.


Alternative Titles
Life of Matilda of Tuscany
Acta Comitissae Mathildis
Life of Mathilda of Canossa
Vita der Mathilde von Canossa
Size / Format
180 pages / 21.0 Γ— 16.0 cm
8 miniatures and many initials
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Vita Mathildis – Belser Verlag – Vat. lat. 4922 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1984
Limited Edition: 2000 copies
Detail Picture

Vita Mathildis

Boniface III, Margrave of Tuscany

The most powerful prince in northern Italy during the early-10th century is literally covered with gold leaf from head to toe in this splendid early Romanesque miniature. Boniface III was a major player in imperial politics and an important ally of the Holy Roman Emperors during this period and his intrigues resulted in his assassination 1052. The script down the side reads: Te redimat SothΓ©r Bonifaci marchio duxque – β€œMay the Savior redeem you Boniface, duke and margrave”.

Vita Mathildis – Belser Verlag – Vat. lat. 4922 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Single Page

Vita Mathildis

Presentation Miniature

This miniature depicts Marchioness Matilda of Tuscany enthroned and wearing lavish robes trimmed with ermine, which is depicted with gold leaf, as are her shoes. She looks straight at the beholder with a cool, imperious expression one might expect from a powerful, independent noblewoman. The inscription reads: Mathildis lucens, precor hoc cape cara volume or β€œResplendent Matilda, please accept this book, oh you dear one”.

Framed by royal purple, Matilda is flanked by a tonsured cleric and a man-at-arms wearing gold chain mail. The cleric to her left is Donzio, who created the manuscript, which he is presenting to Matilda. On the right, sword in hand, stands her man-at-arms, dressed in a red tunic, blue cloak, and knee-high leather boots.

Vita Mathildis – Belser Verlag – Vat. lat. 4922 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Vita der Mathilde von Canossa

Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1984

Publisher: Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1984
Limited Edition: 2000 copies
Binding: Red leather
Commentary: 1 volume (221 pages) by Carlo Golinelli and Axel Janeck
Language: German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
(under 1,000€)
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