Medieval Musing about Matilda

1. In “male genealogy” it was not uncommon for a ruler to invoke Constantine or David and assume the title of a New Constantine or New David.  Did it surprise you to hear this language used in the case of Matilda?

2.  Why was Matilda such a paragon of virtue? Was her prowess on the battlefield striking to you?

3.  How did the monks of Polirone commemorate Matilda upon her death?  Did the extent of their commemoration seem warranted?

4.  The author makes a case for Matilda’s sanctity that includes the verification of her remains, a miracle, and a cult that grew up in her memory.  Indeed, Polirone’s monastic identity is virtually conflated with that of Matilda.  Mull and discuss.

5.  Lucrezia Pico della Mirandola (great name, no?) models her behavior and patronage after those of Matilda.  What are some examples of monuments that share this prototype: imitation relationship?

6.  If Polirone was revered as a “relic” of Matilda’s visual reign, then rebuilding the church would be a sacrilege.  Does that strike you as a justification for merely renovating the church?

7.  How does Luchino’s account rewrite history?

8.  What role does memory play in this narrative?


4 responses

  1. I did find Matilda’s prowess on the battlefield striking and was surprised to read that the portrait of her on horseback was defended. The fact that the defense of the piece mentioned that Matilda “was not only beautiful of face, but valorous and also very brave, contrary to the ways of the female sex,” however, did not surprise me. If a woman is to be on horseback like a man, of course it is only because she is contrary to other women (but still beautiful!). (641)

    The ways in which Luchino writes about Lucrezia’s motivations as well as the posthumous changes made about her requests were really interesting to me. I think it might be interesting to discuss them.

    I thought that it was fascinating when Holman made the point that “the same cult of Matilda that earlier may have inspired Lucrezia’s donation for the new
    church seems to have galvanized support for the preservation of the old one.” (648)

    I’m looking forward to discussing this article!

  2. 1. It didn’t surprise me, but only because she was revered for her male virtues.

    3. I thought the food disrtibuted to the poor was very poetic.

    4. I found the story of the removal of her ring that caused blindness to be the opposite of what saints are supposed to do. Usually people are not so heavily smited for stealing things.

    7. Luchino seems to have emphasized and degraded the involvement of certain individuals in his account. I think that because Lucrezia was a woman, he was more prone to romanticing her involvement.

    8. I think that the reading makes the point that if it weren’t for Lucrezia’s involvement, then the memory of matolda would not be so strong.

  3. I find it strange that women had such control over their wealth because often when I think of women’s history I think of the limitations. When did men take legal power over women’s wealth? (I know that it was a “thing” later in history.) Why did that change take place? Why did women have control of their wealth in the Renaissance?

    Why did these two women choose the church?

    It seems to me that Matilda is eligible for sainthood… Why isn’t she? What are the requirements to be deemed a saint?

    Why was the likeness to the sarcophagi of kin important in the design? Was it merely tradition?

    I’ll be honest when I first read the article I saw the word dominatrix, not donatrix. Then when I went to look it up both Google and tried to correct it to dominatrix. What is donatrix Latin for?

    I feel like a lot of the information in this article was irrelevant to the main thesis of the paper (the histories of the two women patrons and their correlation.) I wanted the author to explain the significance/value much of the information she presented. For example, how does Giulio relate to these two women?

  4. Like Ellie, I wonder why these women chose to be so connected to the church? I also wonder what the response to a more “secular” Matilda might be. I think that the demands left by Miranda and Lucrezia are especially interesting. Their need to be remembered and honored after their death is something that I especially want to discuss in class.

    I too wonder about the path of women’s rights throughout history. I really wish I had a better understanding of the path that these rights have taken over time. We often look at the modern era as so liberated and look at anything before us as worse. I think this is a limiting and dangerous outlook.

    This gives some quick information about how one is sainted. It is really fascinating!

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