There are written records about the town which date back to the year 1037, highlighting its many links with Matilde di Canossa. In 1081, after the humiliation of Henry IV in Canossa, Countess Matilde di Canossa had a castle built here, which was to become the main fortress of the Modenese hills and, subsequently, the favourite residence of the Countess. It was actually during a stay at Montbaranzone, in 1114, that the sixty-eight year-old noblewoman showed the first signs of the serious illness that would lead to her death. In the 12th century, the castle became property of the bishopric of Modena. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries it was to become part of the Podesteria of Sassuolo, along with Fiorano, Montegibbio, Nirano and Varana. The men of Montebaranzone swore allegiance to the City State of Modena in 1197. The slow demise of the castle began in the thirteenth century and continued in the following centuries. Nowadays, just the hamlet and traces of the foundations of the fortress remain, where a recently built shrine now stands. Three churches once existed, built at the foot of the castle: San Michele, San Giovanni and San Donnino; today only the last of these still survives, coming under the Rocca S Maria. The church of San Michele was originally built in 1600, but the current church was built towards the end of the nineteenth century, using the building materials of the earlier church. Inside, it conserves precious religious ornaments, among which a silver chalice said to have belonged to Matilde di Canossa and a cross made from copper dating to the fifteenth century; popular tradition holds these to be gifts from Matilde to the local church. There are also other ornaments in the church, dating to the eighteenth century.