Matilda of Tuscany was a powerful feudal ruler in northern Italy and the chief Italian supporter of Pope Gregory VII during the Investiture Controversy. Sometimes called la Gran Contessa (“the Great Countess”) or Matilda of Canossa after her ancestral castle of Canossa, she was certainly one of the most important and interesting figures of the Italian Middle Ages: she lived in a period of constant battles, intrigues and excommunications, and was able to demonstrate an extraordinary force, even enduring great pain and humiliation, showing an innate leadership ability. // alison pill as matilda of canossa
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