For scholars as well as for readers it is a little bit confusing how to spell Matilda’s name. Here in Canossa – and elsewhere in Italy – her name is usually written as Matilde. Germans tend to insert an h in her name, turning it into Mathilde. And then you can also sometimes find Mathilda. So when writing my book Queen of the Vatican I had to take a decision about my way of spelling.
For three weeks already I am living in the tower under Matilda’s castle in Canossa, the spot where in 1077 emperor Henry IV had to wait for three days until he was admitted in the castle in order to do penitence with pope Gregory VII. From here I have an incredible view on the landscape around the castle, a view that must have been rooted in Matilda’s heart. But I not only look at the ‘terre Matildiche’, but also at the little piazza in front of ‘my’ tower. It’s the place of several manifestations to be celebrated this year at the occasion of Matilda’s death 900 years ago. Yesterday I witnessed a very special event: the inauguration and blessing of a monument for Matilda, next to the entrance of the castle. It felt as if Matilda was returning to the place of her ancestors.