Reconsidering Donizone’s Vita Mathildis: Boniface of Canossa and Emperor Henry II.

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Abstract

Boniface of Canossa is a figure of great importance to the political and military history of eleventh-century Italy. Modern historiography has almost universally argued that Boniface gained his power through a close relationship and alliance with a series of German emperors. Most accounts see Boniface’s fall and eventual murder in 1052 as a direct consequence of the breakdown of this relationship. This analysis is flawed, however, as it rests predominantly on the evidence of a single source: the Vita Mathildis by Donizone of Canossa. This document was produced more than half a century after the death of Boniface by an author who held complex political goals, but these have not been fully considered in the discussion of Boniface. Through the examination of the charter sources, this article argues that Donizone misrepresented Boniface’s actions and that there is considerable evidence that Boniface was not a consistent ally of the German emperors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-408
JournalJournal of Medieval History
Volume41
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2015

Keywords

  • Italy
  • diplomatic
  • authority
  • power
  • relationship networks
  • Donizone of Canossa
  • Boniface of Canossa
  • Holy Roman Empire

Cite this

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title = "Reconsidering Donizone’s Vita Mathildis: Boniface of Canossa and Emperor Henry II.",
abstract = "Boniface of Canossa is a figure of great importance to the political and military history of eleventh-century Italy. Modern historiography has almost universally argued that Boniface gained his power through a close relationship and alliance with a series of German emperors. Most accounts see Boniface’s fall and eventual murder in 1052 as a direct consequence of the breakdown of this relationship. This analysis is flawed, however, as it rests predominantly on the evidence of a single source: the Vita Mathildis by Donizone of Canossa. This document was produced more than half a century after the death of Boniface by an author who held complex political goals, but these have not been fully considered in the discussion of Boniface. Through the examination of the charter sources, this article argues that Donizone misrepresented Boniface’s actions and that there is considerable evidence that Boniface was not a consistent ally of the German emperors.",
keywords = "Italy, diplomatic, authority, power, relationship networks, Donizone of Canossa, Boniface of Canossa, Holy Roman Empire",
author = "Robert Houghton",
year = "2015",
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language = "English",
volume = "41",
pages = "388--408",
number = "4",

}

Reconsidering Donizone’s Vita Mathildis: Boniface of Canossa and Emperor Henry II. / Houghton, Robert.

Vol. 41, No. 4, 30.09.2015, p. 388-408.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Reconsidering Donizone’s Vita Mathildis: Boniface of Canossa and Emperor Henry II.

AU - Houghton, Robert

PY - 2015/9/30

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AB - Boniface of Canossa is a figure of great importance to the political and military history of eleventh-century Italy. Modern historiography has almost universally argued that Boniface gained his power through a close relationship and alliance with a series of German emperors. Most accounts see Boniface’s fall and eventual murder in 1052 as a direct consequence of the breakdown of this relationship. This analysis is flawed, however, as it rests predominantly on the evidence of a single source: the Vita Mathildis by Donizone of Canossa. This document was produced more than half a century after the death of Boniface by an author who held complex political goals, but these have not been fully considered in the discussion of Boniface. Through the examination of the charter sources, this article argues that Donizone misrepresented Boniface’s actions and that there is considerable evidence that Boniface was not a consistent ally of the German emperors.

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KW - authority

KW - power

KW - relationship networks

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KW - Holy Roman Empire

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