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Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor

Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor

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Otto I the Great son of Henry I the Fowler and Matilda of Ringelheim
Matilda of Ringelheim
Saint Mathilda was the wife of King Henry I of Germany, the first ruler of the Saxon Ottonian dynasty, thereby Duchess consort of Saxony from 912 and German Queen from 919 until 936. Their eldest son Otto succeeded his father as German King and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 962...

, was Duke of Saxony
Duchy of Saxony
The medieval Duchy of Saxony was a late Early Middle Ages "Carolingian stem duchy" covering the greater part of Northern Germany. It covered the area of the modern German states of Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Saxony-Anhalt and most of Schleswig-Holstein...

, King of Germany, King of Italy
King of Italy
King of Italy is a title adopted by many rulers of the Italian peninsula after the fall of the Roman Empire...

, and "the first of the Germans to be called the emperor of Italy" according to Arnulf of Milan
Arnulf of Milan
Arnulf of Milan, or Arnulfus Mediolanensis was a chronicler of events in Northern Italy in the work in five books by which he is known, Liber gestorum recentium, a "book of the deeds of recent times"...

. While Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 had been crowned Emperor in 800, his empire had been divided amongst his grandsons, and following the assassination of Berengar of Friuli in 924, the Imperial title had lain vacant for nearly forty years. On 2 February 962, Otto was crowned Emperor of what later became the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

.

Early reign


Married to Eadgyth
Eadgyth
Edith of England , also spelt Eadgyth or Ædgyth, was the daughter of Edward the Elder, and the wife of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor.-Life:...

 of England in 929, Otto succeeded his father as king of Germany (officially still known as East Francia) in 936.

He arranged for his coronation to be held in Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

's former capital, Aachen
Aachen
Aachen has historically been a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, ...

, where he was anointed by Hildebert archbishop of Mainz, primate of the German church. According to the Saxon historian Widukind of Corvey
Widukind of Corvey
Widukind of Corvey was a Saxon historical chronicler, named after the Saxon duke and national hero Widukind who had battled Charlemagne. Widukind the chronicler was born in 925 and died after 973 at the Benedictine abbey of Corvey in East Westphalia...

, at his coronation banquet, he had the four other dukes of the empire, those of Franconia
Franconia
Franconia is a region of Germany comprising the northern parts of the modern state of Bavaria, a small part of southern Thuringia, and a region in northeastern Baden-Württemberg called Tauberfranken...

, Swabia
Duke of Swabia
The following is a list of Dukes of Swabia in southwest Germany.Swabia was one of the five stem duchies of the medieval German kingdom, and its dukes were thus among the most powerful magnates of Germany. The most notable family to hold Swabia were the Hohenstaufen, who held it, with a brief...

, Bavaria and Lorraine
Lotharingia
Lotharingia was a region in northwest Europe, comprising the Low Countries, the western Rhineland, the lands today on the border between France and Germany, and what is now western Switzerland. It was born of the tripartite division in 855, of the kingdom of Middle Francia, itself formed of the...

, act as his personal attendants: Arnulf I of Bavaria
Arnulf, Duke of Bavaria
Arnulf , called the Bad or the Evil , was the duke of Bavaria from 907 until his death. He was a member of the Luitpolding dynasty....

 as marshal
Marshal
Marshal , is a word used in several official titles of various branches of society. The word is an ancient loan word from Old French, cf...

 (or stablemaster), Herman I, Duke of Swabia
Herman I, Duke of Swabia
Herman I was the first Conradine Duke of Swabia , the son of Gebhard, Duke of Lorraine, and a cousin of King Conrad I of Germany....

 as cupbearer, Eberhard III of Franconia as steward
Steward (office)
A steward is an official who is appointed by the legal ruling monarch to represent him or her in a country, and may have a mandate to govern it in his or her name; in the latter case, it roughly corresponds with the position of governor or deputy...

 (or seneschal
Seneschal
A seneschal was an officer in the houses of important nobles in the Middle Ages. In the French administrative system of the Middle Ages, the sénéchal was also a royal officer in charge of justice and control of the administration in southern provinces, equivalent to the northern French bailli...

), and Gilbert of Lorraine as Chamberlain
Chamberlain (office)
A chamberlain is an officer in charge of managing a household. In many countries there are ceremonial posts associated with the household of the sovereign....

. From the outset of his reign he signaled that he was the successor to Charlemagne, whose last heirs in East Francia had died out in 911, and that he had the German church, with its powerful bishops and abbots, behind him. However, the Neustria
Neustria
The territory of Neustria or Neustrasia, meaning "new [western] land", originated in 511, made up of the regions from Aquitaine to the English Channel, approximating most of the north of present-day France, with Paris and Soissons as its main cities...

n reign (West Francia), had been and still was under the rule of the Carolingian dynasty.

Otto intended to dominate the church and use that sole unifying institution in the German lands in order to establish an institution of theocratic Imperial power. The Church offered wealth, military manpower and its monopoly on literacy. For his part the Emperor offered protection against the nobles, the promise of endowments, and an avenue to power as his ministeriales.

In 938, a rich vein of silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

 was discovered at the Rammelsberg
Mines of Rammelsberg
The Rammelsberg is a mountain, high, on the northern edge of the Harz, south of the town of Goslar in the north German state of Lower Saxony. The mountain is the location of an important mine, the only mine which had been working continuously for over 1,000 years when it finally closed in 1988...

 in Saxony. This mineral wealth helped fund Otto's activities throughout his reign; indeed, it would provide much of Europe's silver, copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

, and lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

 for the next two hundred years.

Otto's early reign was marked by a series of ducal revolts. In 938, Eberhard
Eberhard, Duke of Bavaria
Eberhard was the eldest son and successor of Arnulf the Bad, duke of Bavaria . His dukeship was short, however, for he was banished by King Otto the Great in 938....

, the new duke of Bavaria, refused to pay Otto homage. Otto responded with two campaigns in 938, during spring and fall, defeating Eberhard
Eberhard, Duke of Bavaria
Eberhard was the eldest son and successor of Arnulf the Bad, duke of Bavaria . His dukeship was short, however, for he was banished by King Otto the Great in 938....

 and banishing him. Berthold
Berthold, Duke of Bavaria
Berthold , of the Luitpolding dynasty, was the younger son of Margrave Luitpold of Bavaria and Cunigunda, sister of Duke Erchanger of Swabia. He followed his nephew Eberhard as Duke of Bavaria in 938....

, Arnulf's brother, formerly duke of Carinthia became new duke of Bavaria.

After the death of Siegfried, Count of Merseburg in 937, Thankmar claimed Merseburg. Otto, however, appointed Gero
Gero
Gero I , called the Great , ruled an initially modest march centred on Merseburg, which he expanded into a vast territory named after him: the marca Geronis. During the mid-10th century, he was the leader of the Saxon Drang nach Osten.-Succession and early conflicts:Gero was the son of Count...

, Siegfried's brother, as count of Merseburg. During this dispute, Eberhard of Franconia and Wichmann the Elder
Wichmann the Elder
Wichmann I the Elder was a member of the Saxon House of Billung. He was a brother of Amelung, Bishop of Verden, and Herman, Duke of Saxony....

 revolted against Otto and Thankmar joined them. Thankmar
Thankmar
Thankmar was the eldest son of Henry I of Germany by his first wife, Hatheburg . His mother had been previously married and widowed, after which she entered a convent. Because she left the convent to marry Henry, her second marriage was considered invalid and the couple split...

 and Eberhard of Franconia captured Belecke on the Möhne. Wichmann the Elder
Wichmann the Elder
Wichmann I the Elder was a member of the Saxon House of Billung. He was a brother of Amelung, Bishop of Verden, and Herman, Duke of Saxony....

 was reconciled with Otto and the revolt in Saxony broke down. The fortress of Eresburg was besieged and occupied by the Imperial army and Thankmar
Thankmar
Thankmar was the eldest son of Henry I of Germany by his first wife, Hatheburg . His mother had been previously married and widowed, after which she entered a convent. Because she left the convent to marry Henry, her second marriage was considered invalid and the couple split...

 was killed by Maginzo at the altar of the church of Saint Peter. Eberhard of Franconia was briefly imprisoned at Hildesheim, but was released and entered into a compact with Henry, Otto's younger brother.

The Rebellion of the Dukes


The revolt continued when Gilbert, the duke of Lorraine, swore fealty to King Louis IV of France
Louis IV of France
Louis IV , called d'Outremer or Transmarinus , reigned as King of Western Francia from 936 to 954...

. Louis IV of France
Louis IV of France
Louis IV , called d'Outremer or Transmarinus , reigned as King of Western Francia from 936 to 954...

, in the hope of attaching Lorraine once more to the West Frankish dominions, joined forces with Duke Gilbert. Otto allied with Louis' chief antagonists Hugh the Great
Hugh the Great
Hugh the Great or Hugues le Grand was duke of the Franks and count of Paris, son of King Robert I of France and nephew of King Odo. He was born in Paris, Île-de-France, France. His eldest son was Hugh Capet who became King of France in 987...

, Herbert II, Count of Vermandois
Herbert II, Count of Vermandois
Herbert II , Count of Vermandois and Count of Troyes, was the son of Herbert I of Vermandois.-Life:He inherited the domain of his father and in 907, added to it the Saint de Soissons abbey. His marriage with Hildebrand of France brought him the County of Meaux. In 918, he was also named Count of...

, William I, Duke of Normandy and Arnulf I, Count of Flanders
Arnulf I, Count of Flanders
Arnulf of Flanders , called the Great, was the third Count of Flanders, who ruled the County of Flanders, an area that is now northwestern Belgium and southwestern Holland....

.
Henry liberated Merseburg then marched to join Gilbert in Lorraine. Otto, besieged them in the castle of Chevremont near Liege, but he was forced to set out against Louis IV of France
Louis IV of France
Louis IV , called d'Outremer or Transmarinus , reigned as King of Western Francia from 936 to 954...

, who had occupied Verdun. Otto, subsequently drove Louis back to his capital at Laon.

Otto then besieged Duke of Franconia in the fortress of Breisach on the Rhine. During this time, Frederick, Archbishop of Mainz joined his forces with Henry and Gilbert against Otto. Otto’s army, commanded by Konrad Kurzbold, count of Niederlahngau, and his cousin Udo, count of Wetterau and Rheingau, met the rebel dukes' army at Andernach
Battle of Andernach
The Battle of Andernach, between the followers and the opponents of King Otto I of Germany, took place at 2 October 939 in Andernach on the Rhine river and ended with a decisive defeat of the rebels and the death of their leaders....

. Eberhard was slain in the fight and Gilbert drowned in the Rhine. Henry fled to France, and Otto responded by supporting Hugh the Great
Hugh the Great
Hugh the Great or Hugues le Grand was duke of the Franks and count of Paris, son of King Robert I of France and nephew of King Odo. He was born in Paris, Île-de-France, France. His eldest son was Hugh Capet who became King of France in 987...

 in his campaign against the French crown. In 941, Otto and Henry were reconciled through the efforts of their mother, and the next year Otto withdrew from France after Louis recognized his suzerainty over Lorraine. Later when Otto was at war against the Slavic tribes Henry conspired with Frederick, Archbishop of Mainz
Frederick, Archbishop of Mainz
Frederick was the Archbishop of Mainz from 937, following the late Hildebert, until his death. He was a son of Reginar, Duke of Lorraine....

, to assassin
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

ate him during the celebration of Easter at Quedlinburg. But the plot was discovered and Henry fled, but was later pardoned by Otto.

To prevent further revolts, Otto arranged for all the important duchies in the German kingdom to be held by close family members. He kept the vacant duchy of Franconia as a fiefdom, while in 944 he bestowed the duchy of Lorraine upon Conrad the Red, nephew of Conrad I, who later married his daughter Liutgarde
Liutgarde
Liutgarde was the daughter of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor and his first wife Eadgyth. In 947 she married Conrad, Duke of Lorraine, also known as Conrad the Red. Otto's Empire did not pass to Liutgarde's brother, Liudolf, Duke of Swabia, but instead passed through his second wife Adelaide of Italy...

.With death of Duke Berthold in 947 his duchy of Bavaria passed to the king's own brother Henry. Meanwhile, he arranged for his son Liutdolf
Liudolf, Duke of Swabia
Liudolf was the duke of Swabia from 950 until 954. He was the only son of Otto I, king of Germany, from his wife Eadgyth, daughter of Edward the Elder, king of England....

 to marry Ida, the daughter of Duke Herman of Swabia, and to inherit that duchy when Herman died in 947. A similar arrangement led to Henry becoming duke of Bavaria in 949.

War on the eastern frontier


The death of Henry the Fowler, was a signal for the Eastern European tribes to rebel against imperial power. In 936 the Redarii revolted, but were again reduced to submission by Hermann Billung. In 937, Otto defeated Hungarian raids into Saxony. When Otto was in war with his vassals, the Hungarian made new raids into Germany, but they suffered two bloody defeats in the Harz Mountains, near Stetternburg and in the Dromling. In 944, the Hungarians invaded the Empire, but were defeated in Carinthia by Duke Berthold. In 950, Henry defeated the Hungarians that invaded Bavaria. Otto in 950 made an expedition into Bohemia and was recognized as overlord by Duke Boleslaus I of Bohemia.

In the summer of 940, Otto I entered France to punish Louis for his interference in Lorraine. He forced Louis back to the Seine and made him sign a treaty with Burgundy. In 942, a compact was concluded between Otto and Louis at Vouzieres. In the late summer of 946, Otto again invaded France, but had limited success. Laon, Rheims, and Senlis were all besieged, but only Rheims was captured. The two kings then made a plundering raid into Normandy, but were unsuccessful and Otto made his way back to Germany.

Campaigns in Italy and eastern Europe



Meanwhile, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 had fallen into political chaos. On the death (950), possibly by poisoning, of Lothair of Arles
Lothair II of Italy
Lothair II , often Lothair of Arles, was the King of Italy from 948 to his death. He was of the noble Frankish lineage of the Bosonids, descended from Boso the Elder...

, the Italian throne was inherited by a woman, Adelaide of Italy
Adelaide of Italy
Saint Adelaide of Italy , also called Adelaide of Burgundy, was the second wife of Otto the Great, Holy Roman Emperor...

, the respective daughter, daughter-in-law, and widow of the last three kings of Italy. A local noble, Berengar of Ivrea, declared himself King of Italy, abducted Adelaide, and tried to legitimize his reign by forcing Adelaide to marry his son Adalbert. However, Adelaide escaped to Canossa
Canossa
Canossa is a comune and castle town in Emilia-Romagna, famous as the site where Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV did penance in 1077, standing three days bare-headed in the snow, in order to reverse his excommunication by Pope Gregory VII...

 and requested German intervention. Luidolf and Henry independently invaded northern Italy to take advantage of the situation, but in 951 Otto frustrated his son's and his brother's ambitions by invading Italy himself. He received the homage of the Italian nobility, assumed the title "King of the Lombards" and in 952 forced Berengar and Adalbert to pay homage, allowing them to rule Italy as his vassals. Having been widowed since 946, he married Adelaide himself.

When Adelaide bore a son, Liudolf
Liudolf, Duke of Swabia
Liudolf was the duke of Swabia from 950 until 954. He was the only son of Otto I, king of Germany, from his wife Eadgyth, daughter of Edward the Elder, king of England....

 feared for his position as Otto's heir. In 953 he rebelled in league with Conrad, Duke of Lorraine
Conrad, Duke of Lorraine
Conrad the Red was a Duke of Lorraine from the Salian dynasty.He was the son of Werner V, Count of the Nahegau, Speyergau, and Wormsgau. His mother was a sister of Conrad I of Germany. In 941, he succeeded his father in his counties and obtained an additional territory, the Niddagau...

 and the Archbishop of Mainz. While Otto was initially successful in reasserting his authority in Lorraine, he was captured while attacking Mainz
Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

, and by the next year, the rebellion had spread throughout the kingdom. However, Conrad and Liudolf erred by allying themselves with the Magyars. Extensive Magyar raids in southern Germany in 954 compelled the German nobles to reunite, and at the Diet of Auerstadt, Conrad and Luitdolf were stripped of their titles and Otto's authority reestablished. In 955, Otto cemented his authority by routing Magyar forces at the Battle of Lechfeld
Battle of Lechfeld
The Battle of Lechfeld , often seen as the defining event for holding off the incursions of the Hungarians into Western Europe, was a decisive victory by Otto I the Great, King of the Germans, over the Hungarian leaders, the harka Bulcsú and the chieftains Lél and Súr...

 (10 August 955) and the Obodrites at the Battle of Recknitz
Battle of Recknitz
The Battle of Recknitz river]]") was fought on 16 October 955 between the forces of Otto I of Germany allied with the Rani tribe on one side, and the Obotrite federation under Nako and his brother Stoinegin with their allied and tributary Slav neighbours on the other in the region of present-day...

 (16 October 955).

The Ottonian system



As a key element of his domestic policy, Otto sought to strengthen ecclesiastical authorities, chiefly bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s and abbot
Abbot
The word abbot, meaning father, is a title given to the head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not actually the head of a monastery...

s, at the expense of the secular nobility who threatened his own power. To control the forces that the Church represented, Otto made consistent use of three institutions. One was the royal investiture of bishops and abbots with the symbols of their offices, both spiritual, for Otto was the anointed King of the Germans, and temporal, in which Otto secured his bishops and abbots as his vassal
Vassal
A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

s through a commendation ceremony
Commendation ceremony
A commendation ceremony is a formal ceremony that evolved during the Early Medieval period to create a bond between a lord and his fighting man, called his vassal . The first recorded ceremony of commendatio was in 7th century France, but the relationship of vassalage was older, and predated even...

.

"Under these conditions clerical election became a mere formality in the Ottonian empire, and the king filled up the ranks of the episcopate with his own relatives and with his loyal chancery clerks, who were also appointed to head the great monasteries" (Cantor, 1994 p. 213). The second institution was more securely established in Ottonian territories, that of the proprietary church
Proprietary church
During the Middle Ages, the proprietary church was a church, abbey or cloister built on private ground by a feudal lord, over which he retained proprietary interests, especially the right of what in English law is "advowson", that of nominating the ecclesiastic personnel...

es (Eigenkirchen; in English law the right of "advowson
Advowson
Advowson is the right in English law of a patron to present or appoint a nominee to a vacant ecclesiastical benefice or church living, a process known as presentation. In effect this means the right to nominate a person to hold a church office in a parish...

").

In German law, any structure built on land owned by a lord belonged to that lord, unless a charter had very specifically conveyed away those rights. Otto and his chancery aggressively reclaimed proprietary rights over many landed churches and abbeys. The third instrument of Ottonian power was the system of the advocatus
Advocatus
An advocatus, or advocate, was generally a medieval term meaning "lawyer". The term was also used in continental Europe as the title of the lay lord charged with the protection and representation in secular matters of an abbey, known more fully as an advocatus ecclesiae.-Middle Ages:The office is...

(German Vogt). The advocatus was a secular manager of ecclesiastical estates, who was entitled to a certain share of the agricultural produce and other revenues and was responsible for safety and good order. Unlike countships, which quickly became hereditary, the Vogt
Vogt
A Vogt ; plural Vögte; Dutch voogd; Danish foged; ; ultimately from Latin [ad]vocatus) in the Holy Roman Empire was the German title of a reeve or advocate, an overlord exerting guardianship or military protection as well as secular justice...

 performed the duties of a West Frankish bailli
Bailiff
A bailiff is a governor or custodian ; a legal officer to whom some degree of authority, care or jurisdiction is committed...

and held his position solely at the continued will of the emperor whom he served.

Otto endowed the bishoprics and abbeys with large tracts of land, over which secular authorities had neither the power of taxation nor legal jurisdiction. In an extreme example, when Conrad the Red was stripped of his ducal title in Lorraine, Otto appointed his brother Bruno
Bruno I, Archbishop of Cologne
Bruno the Great was Archbishop of Cologne, Germany, from 953 until his death, and Duke of Lotharingia from 954. He was the brother of Otto I, king of Germany and later Holy Roman Emperor....

 – already the Archbishop of Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

 – as the new duke of Lorraine. In the lands Otto conquered from the Wends
Wends
Wends is a historic name for West Slavs living near Germanic settlement areas. It does not refer to a homogeneous people, but to various peoples, tribes or groups depending on where and when it is used...

 and other Slavic peoples
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 on his eastern borders, he founded several new bishoprics.

Because Otto personally appointed the bishops and abbots, these reforms strengthened his central authority, and the upper ranks of the German church functioned in some respect as an arm of the imperial bureaucracy. Conflict over these powerful bishoprics between Otto's successors and the growing power of the Papacy during the Gregorian Reforms would eventually lead to the Investiture Conflict and the undoing of central authority in Germany in the 11th century.

The Ottonian Renaissance



A limited renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 of the arts
ARts
aRts, which stands for analog Real time synthesizer, is an audio framework that is no longer under development. It is best known for previously being used in KDE to simulate an analog synthesizer....

 and architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 depended on court patronage of Otto and his immediate successors. The "Ottonian Renaissance" was manifest in some revived cathedral schools, such as that of Bruno I, Archbishop of Cologne
Bruno I, Archbishop of Cologne
Bruno the Great was Archbishop of Cologne, Germany, from 953 until his death, and Duke of Lotharingia from 954. He was the brother of Otto I, king of Germany and later Holy Roman Emperor....

, and in the production of illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

s, the major art form of the age, from a handful of elite scriptoria
Scriptorium
Scriptorium, literally "a place for writing", is commonly used to refer to a room in medieval European monasteries devoted to the copying of manuscripts by monastic scribes...

, such as that at Quedlinburg Abbey
Quedlinburg Abbey
Quedlinburg Abbey was a house of secular canonesses in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It was founded in 936 on the initiative of Saint Mathilda, the widow of Henry the Fowler, as his memorial...

, founded by Otto in 936. The Imperial abbeys and the Imperial court became the centers of religious and spiritual life, led by the example of women of the royal family. Scandalized by the state of the liturgy in Rome, Otto commissioned the first ever Pontifical Book, a liturgical book
Liturgical book
A liturgical book is a book published by the authority of a church, that contains the text and directions for the liturgy of its official religious services.-Roman Catholic:...

 containing both prayers and ritual instruction. The compilation of the Romano-Germanic Pontifical, as it is now called, was overseen by Archbishop William of Mainz
William, Archbishop of Mainz
William was Archbishop of Mainz from 17 December 954 until his death. He was the son of the Emperor Otto I the Great and a Slav mother....

.

Imperial title



In the early 960s, Italy was again in political turmoil, and when Berengar occupied the northern Papal States
Papal States
The Papal State, State of the Church, or Pontifical States were among the major historical states of Italy from roughly the 6th century until the Italian peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia .The Papal States comprised territories under...

, Pope John XII
Pope John XII
Pope John XII , born Octavianus, was Pope from December 16, 955, to May 14, 964. The son of Alberic II, Patrician of Rome , and his stepsister Alda of Vienne, he was a seventh generation descendant of Charlemagne on his mother's side.Before his death, Alberic administered an oath to the Roman...

 asked Otto for assistance. Otto returned to Italy and on 2 February 962, the pope crowned him Emperor. See Translatio imperii
Translatio imperii
Translatio imperii, Latin for "transfer of rule", is a concept invented in the Middle Ages for describing history as a linear succession of transfers of imperium, that is of supreme power concentrated with a series of single rulers .-Origin:...

. Ten days later, the pope and Emperor ratified the Diploma Ottonianum
Diploma Ottonianum
The Ottonianum was a document co-signed during the darkest days of the Papacy by Pope John XII and Otto I, King of the Germans; it confirmed the earlier Donation of Pippin, granting control of the Papal States to the Popes, regularizing Papal elections, and clarifying the relationship between the...

, under which the Emperor became the guarantor of the independence of the Papal States. This was the first effective guarantee of such protection since the Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty in the Early Middle Ages. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany, and its beginning date is based on the crowning of Charlemagne, or Charles the...

.

After Otto left Rome and reconquered the Papal States from Berengar, however, John became fearful of the Emperor's power and sent envoys to the Magyars and the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 to form a league against Otto. In November 963, Otto returned to Rome and convened a synod of bishops that deposed John and crowned Leo VIII
Pope Leo VIII
Pope Leo VIII , a Roman by birth, is considered by the Church an Antipope from 963 to 964 and a true Pope from 964 to 965. He held the lay office of protoserinus when he was elected pope by the Roman synod in December 963, when it also invalidly deposed Pope John XII , who was still alive...

, at that time a layman, as pope.

When the Emperor left Rome, however, civil war broke out in the city between supporters of the Emperor and of John. John returned to power amidst great bloodshed and excommunicated those who had deposed him, forcing Otto to return to Rome a third time in July 964 to depose Pope Benedict V
Pope Benedict V
Pope Benedict V , Pope in 964, was elected by the Romans on the death of Pope John XII . However the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I did not approve of the choice and had him deposed after only a month and the ex-Pope was carried off to Hamburg and was placed under the care of Adaldag, Archbishop of...

 (John having died two months earlier). On this occasion, Otto extracted from the citizens of Rome a promise not to elect a pope without imperial approval.

Otto unsuccessfully campaigned in southern Italy on several occasions from 966 to 972. In 967, he gave the duchy of Spoleto
Duchy of Spoleto
The independent Duchy of Spoleto was a Lombard territory founded about 570 in central Italy by the Lombard dux Faroald.- Lombards :The Lombards, a Germanic people, had invaded Italy in 568 and conquered much of it, establishing a Kingdom divided between several dukes dependent on the King, who had...

 to Pandulf Ironhead
Pandulf Ironhead
Pandulf I Ironhead was the Prince of Benevento and Capua from 943 until his death. He was made Duke of Spoleto and Camerino in 967 and succeeded as Prince of Salerno in 977 or 978...

, prince of Benevento
Benevento
Benevento is a town and comune of Campania, Italy, capital of the province of Benevento, 50 km northeast of Naples. It is situated on a hill 130 m above sea-level at the confluence of the Calore Irpino and Sabato...

 and Capua
Capua
Capua is a city and comune in the province of Caserta, Campania, southern Italy, situated 25 km north of Naples, on the northeastern edge of the Campanian plain. Ancient Capua was situated where Santa Maria Capua Vetere is now...

, a powerful ally in the Mezzogiorno
Mezzogiorno
The Midday is a wide definition, without any administrative usage, used to indicate the southern half of the Italian state, encompassing the southern section of the continental Italian Peninsula and the two major islands of Sicily and Sardinia, in addition to a large number of minor islands...

. In the next year (968) Otto left the siege
Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

 of Bari
Bari
Bari is the capital city of the province of Bari and of the Apulia region, on the Adriatic Sea, in Italy. It is the second most important economic centre of mainland Southern Italy after Naples, and is well known as a port and university city, as well as the city of Saint Nicholas...

 in the charge of Pandulf, but the allied duke was captured in the battle of Bovino by the Byzantines
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. In 972, the Byzantine Emperor John I Tzimisces recognized Otto's Imperial title and agreed to a marriage between Otto's son and heir Otto II
Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto II , called the Red, was the third ruler of the Saxon or Ottonian dynasty, the son of Otto the Great and Adelaide of Italy.-Early years and co-ruler with Otto I:...

 and his niece Theophanu
Theophanu
Theophanu , also spelled Theophania, Theophana or Theophano, was born in Constantinople, and was the wife of Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor.-Family:...

. Pandulf was released from captivity.

After his death in 973 he was buried next to his first wife Edith of Wessex
Eadgyth
Edith of England , also spelt Eadgyth or Ædgyth, was the daughter of Edward the Elder, and the wife of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor.-Life:...

 in the Cathedral of Magdeburg
Cathedral of Magdeburg
The Protestant Cathedral of Magdeburg , officially called the Cathedral of Saints Catherine and Maurice , is the oldest Gothic cathedral in Germany. It is the proto-cathedral of the former Prince-Archbishopric of Magdeburg. Today it's the principal church of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany...

.

Ancestry





Legacy



Emperor Otto I was selected as the main motif for a high value commemorative coin, the €100 Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire commemorative coin, minted in 2008 by Austria. The obverse shows the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire
Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire
The Imperial Crown , is the hoop crown of the King of the Romans, the rulers of the German Kingdom, since the High Middle Ages. Most of the kings were crowned with it. It was made probably somewhere in Western Germany, either under Otto I , by Conrad II or Conrad III during the late 10th and early...

. The reverse shows Emperor Otto I with old St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

 in Rome in the background, where his coronation took place.

Further reading

  • Barraclough, G. The Origins of Modern Germany (1946) online edition
  • Gallagher, John. Church and state in Germany under Otto the Great (936-973) (1938)
  • Hill, Jr., B. H. Medieval Monarchy in Action: The German Empire from Henry I to Henry IV (1972).
  • Lasko, Peter. Ars Sacra: 800-1200 (1995) ch 9
  • Reuter, Timothy. The New Cambridge Medieval History: c. 900-c. 1024 (2000)pp 250–89
  • Thompson, James Westfall. Feudal Germany (1928) online edition

In German

  • Schneidmüller, Bernd. "Otto I." In Die deutschen Herrscher des Mittelalters. Historische Porträts von Heinrich I bis Maximilian I (919–1519), ed. Bernd Schneidmüller and Stefan Weinfurter. Munich, 2003. 35–61. ISBN 3-406-50958-4.
  • Laudage, Johannes. Otto der Große: (912–973). Eine Biographie. Regensburg, 2001. ISBN 3-7917-1750-2.
  • Althoff, Gerd. "Otto I. der Große." In Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) 19. Berlin, 1999. 656–60. Available here
  • Althoff, Gerd and Hagen Keller. Heinrich I. und Otto der Grosse: Neubeginn auf karolingischem Erbe. Göttingen, 1985.
  • Hiller, Helmut. Otto der Große und seine Zeit. Munich, 1980. ISBN 3-471-77847-0.
  • Wies, Ernst W. Otto der Große. Kämpfer und Beter. 3d ed. Esslingen and Munich, 1998. ISBN 3-7628-0483-4.