Saint Mathilda or Saint Matilda (c. 895 – March 14, 968) was the wife of Henry I, King of the East Franks and the first ruler of the Ottonian or Liudolfing dynasty. Their son, Otto, succeeded his father as King (and later Emperor) Otto I.
The details of St. Mathilda's life come largely from brief mentions in the Res Gestae Saxonicae (Deeds of the Saxons) of the monastic historian Widukind of Corvey, and from two sacred biographies (the vita antiquior and vita posterior) written, respectively, c. 974 and c. 1003.
St. Mathilda was the daughter of the Westphalian count Dietrich and his wife Reinhild, and her biographers traced her ancestry back to the famed Saxon hero, Widukind (c. 730 - 807). As a young girl, she was sent to the convent of Herford, where her reputation for beauty and virtue is said to have attracted the attention of Duke Otto of Saxony, who betrothed her to his son, Henry the Fowler. They were married in 909 and had three sons and two daughters:
After Henry the Fowler's death in 936, St. Mathilda remained at the court of her son Otto, until a cabal of royal advisors is reported to have accused her of weakening the royal treasury in order to pay for her charitable activities. After a brief exile at the Westphalian monastery of Enger, St. Mathilda was brought back to court at the urging of Otto I's first wife, the Anglo-Saxon princess Queen Edith.
St. Mathilda was celebrated for her devotion to prayer and almsgiving; her first biographer depicted her (in a passage indebted to the sixth-century vita of the Frankish queen Radegund by Venantius Fortunatus) leaving her husband's side in the middle of the night and sneaking off to church to pray. St. Mathilda founded many religious institutions, including the canonry of Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt, a center of Ottonian ecclesiastical and secular life and the burial place of St. Mathilda and her husband, and the convent of Nordhausen, Thuringia, likely the source of at least one of her vitae. She was later canonized, with her cult largely confined to Saxony and Bavaria. St. Mathilda's feast day is on March 14.