By Gerd Althoff
Otto III (980–1002) used to be probably the most strong rulers in Europe within the overdue 10th century. he's additionally essentially the most enigmatic. The son of the German emperor Otto II and the Greek princess Theophanu, he got here to the throne on the age of 3 and used to be simply twenty-one years outdated on the time of his loss of life. still, his reign had a long-lasting impression on either Germany and Italy for generations. during this booklet, Gerd Althoff offers a much-needed biography of this attention-grabbing determine. within the technique, he makes use of Otto’s existence to provide an explanation for how in perform early medieval kingship worked.
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Extra resources for Otto III
2 But the actual situation for Otto III involved an even more disturbing circumstance: the last years of his father’s reign had been unfortunate also. In July 982 the German army had suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of the Saracens at Crotone in southern Italy. More great nobles, both secular and spiritual, had fallen on the battlefield at Crotone than at any time since the Magyar invasions at the beginning of the century. 3 One year later the Slavs east of the Elbe staged an uprising.
But the ladies, as we said, through whose care the kingdom and the king’s youth were guided, received him [Henry] with renewed honor, greatly rejoicing at the humble demeanor of such a high man—for that is the custom of the pious, not only not to requite good with evil, but indeed to render good in return for evil. 40 The significance of this scene only becomes clear to the modern reader when it is compared to other descriptions of ritual and symbolic acts. 41 But it is evident that the Quedlinburg account describes other elements having nothing to do with homage.
Every king of the Middle Ages gathered a circle of confidants around himself. They had access to him, advised him, and carried out all suitable business. The position of members in this circle, although not precisely delineated, was so high mainly because there was no general right of direct access to the ruler. In this way the circle acted on one hand as a filter, and on the other hand conveyed petitions and business to the king. In his choice of this close entourage the ruler had a certain discretionary latitude but certainly not an unlimited one.