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Canossa(känôs`sä), village, in Emilia-Romagna, N central Italy, in the Apennines. There are ruins of the 10th-century castle of the powerful feudal family that took its name from the place. In the 10th and 11th cent. they ruled over much of Tuscany and Emilia. MatildaMatilda,
1046–1115, countess of Tuscany, called the Great Countess; supporter of Pope Gregory VII in the papal conflict with the Holy Roman emperors. Ruling over Tuscany and parts of Emilia-Romagna and Umbria, she controlled the most powerful feudal state in central Italy.
..... Click the link for more information. , countess of Tuscany, was the last of the family. In Jan., 1077, the castle was the scene of penance done by Emperor Henry IVHenry IV,
1050–1106, Holy Roman emperor (1084–1105) and German king (1056–1105), son and successor of Henry III. He was the central figure in the opening stages of the long struggle between the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy.
..... Click the link for more information. to obtain from Pope Gregory VII the withdrawal of the excommunication against him. The pope was Matilda's guest at the castle, and Henry is said to have stood three days barefoot in the snow before being admitted to the pope's presence. Henry was absolved, but the peace between him and the pope was short-lived. The political implications of this episode inspired Bismarck to coin the phrase "to go to Canossa" (i.e., to submit to the demands of the Roman Catholic Church) in the Kulturkampf.
a castle in northern Italy, 18 km from the city of Reggio nell’Emilia. The castle was the scene of a famous incident that occurred during the investiture struggle: the meeting in January 1077 between Pope Gregory VII (a guest of Countess Matilda of Tuscany, the owner of the castle) and Henry IV, the excommunicated and deposed German emperor. According to some chronicles, Henry IV, dressed as a penitent sinner, stood for three days at the walls of the castle awaiting reception by the pope. The expression “to go to Canossa” came to mean a humiliating capitulation (although the “going” to Canossa of HenryIV was actually only a political maneuver).