This article needs additional citations for verification. According to contemporary sources, he was forced to humiliate himself on his knees waiting for three days and three nights before canossa PDF entrance gate of the castle, while a blizzard raged.
Indeed, the episode has been described as „one of the most dramatic moments of the Middle Ages“. It has also spurred a lot of debate among medieval chroniclers as well as modern historians, who argue about whether the walk was a „brilliant masterstroke“ or an embarrassing humiliation. The Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor had disputed over the precedence of ecclesiastical or secular power since the spread of the Gregorian Reforms in the 11th century. The conflict became increasingly severe, after Henry had been able to suppress the Saxon Rebellion in the Battle of Langensalza in June 1075. In September he installed a new Bishop of Milan, which annoyed Gregory who openly required obedience. In response, Gregory excommunicated and deposed Henry in the Lenten synod of 1076 at Rome.
He stated furthermore that, one year from that day, the loss of kingship would become irrevocable. Gregory had also declared the oaths of allegiance sworn by the Princes null and void, which turned out to be more dangerous to Henry’s rule, as the development met the interests of several territorial rulers in the Empire. On the suggestion of his adversaries, he arranged to meet with the Pope who had set out along the path across the Alps towards Augsburg. Henry commenced his trip in Speyer and, travelling southward down the Rhine, he found his position precarious. When Henry reached Matilda’s castle, the Pope ordered that he be refused entry. Waiting at the gates, Henry took on the behavior of penance.