In Her Footsteps: Loneley Planet’s inspiring places, incredible women

In this extract from Lonely Planet’s new title In Her Footsteps, we profile three inspiring places that are connected to incredible women.

The history of the world is filled with the names of men, and their stories are easy to find, adorning countless monuments. The landmarks of female achievement, on the other hand, are often not so simple to find.

There might not always be a towering obelisk to mark their contribution, but look a little closer and you can find monuments to female educators, artists, activists, warriors and more all over the globe. Some are household names; others have been overlooked for too long.

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Canossa Castle, Canossa, Italy — Matilda of Tuscany

Matilda of Tuscany (1046-1115) was one of the most powerful figures of the Italian Middle Ages. Her dominion covered a swath of Northern Italy, including Modena, Reggio, Mantua, Ferrara and Tuscany.

After the death of her father, a nobleman, and two older siblings, young Matilda became the heir to their great holdings. A devout Christian, she supported the papacy in its struggle against the Holy Roman Emperor, a conflict now known as the Investiture Controversy.

Matilda’s life was filled with adventures, from being held hostage with her mother by Emperor Henry III, to donning armour to fight in battles against Henry IV. She gave immense support to her close friend Pope Gregory VII, and it was at her castle Canossa that Henry IV bent a knee to the pope.

Matilda’s personal life was drama-filled as well, with two marriages, including one to 17-year-old Welf V, Duke of Bavaria and Carinthia, when she was 43. Unusually for her era, Matilda was a broadly educated intellectual, who spoke many languages and was a powerful arts patron.

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