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Hapsburg, Otto von
German kings and Holy Roman emperors:
Otto I. Born Nov. 23, 912; died May 7, 973, in Memleben. King of Germany from 936; Holy Roman emperor from 962. A member of the Saxon dynasty. Son of Henry I.
In his struggle against the separatism of the hereditary dukes of Swabia, Bavaria, and Lotharingia (Lorraine), Otto I relied on support from the bishops and abbots, granting them broad immunities (the Ottonian privileges). He transferred particular parts of the duchies to episcopal administration, often putting his relatives in charge of them. These measures served as the prerequisites for strengthening royal authority in Germany between the tenth century and the first half of the 11th.
Otto I continued the conquest of the lands of the Polabian Slavs and, in order to convert them to Christianity, established the archbishopric of Magdeburg (968). Commanding German and Czech troops, he defeated the Hungarians at Lechfeld (955) and put an end to their attempts to penetrate the West. In 951 he subjugated Lombardy and received the title of king of Italy. Under the pretext of rendering aid to Pope John XII, who had been driven out by the people of Rome, Otto I launched a campaign against Rome in 961. On Feb. 2, 962, he received the imperial crown from the pope, thus laying the foundation for the Holy Roman Empire. Taking advantage of the decline of the papacy, Otto I made it subordinate in fact to his authority. He was unsuccessful in his attempt to subjugate southern Italy in the campaign of 967–971.
Otto II. Born 955; died Dec. 7, 983, in Rome. King of Germany and Holy Roman emperor from 973. Son of Otto I.
In Germany Otto II continued to strengthen the episcopal system established by Otto I. Among the measures intended to counteract the increasing strength of the dukes was the suppression of a separatist revolt led by the duke of Bavaria (976). In 981, Otto II invaded southern Italy, attempting to capture it as a “dowry” for his wife, the Byzantine princess Theophano. However, he encountered resistance from Byzantium and from the Arabs, who defeated him at Crotone (Calabria) in 982. As a result of an uprising during his reign (983), most of the Polabian Slavs were freed from German domination for a long time.
Otto III. Born 980; died Jan. 23, 1002, in Paterno, near Viterbo, Italy. King of Germany from 983; Holy Roman emperor from 996. Son of Otto II.
Until Otto III came of age (995), his mother Theophano (until 991) and his grandmother Adelaide served as regents. Concentrating on efforts to carry out a Utopian plan to revive the Roman “world empire” with Rome as its capital, Otto III spent most of his time in Italy.
Otto IV (Otto of Brunswick). Born circa 1175 or 1182; died May 19, 1218, in Harzburg Castle. King of Germay from 1198; Holy Roman emperor from 1209. A member of the Guelph dynasty. Son of Henry the Lion. Nephew of the English king Richard I the Lionhearted. Count of Poitou.
After the death of Emperor Henry VI of Hohenstaufen (1197), Otto IV was put forward by the Guelphs as an “antiking” in opposition to Philip of Swabia (Henry VI’s brother). Otto IV waged a prolonged struggle against Philip and was confirmed as king of Germany after Philip’s murder in 1208. At first, he received support from Innocent III, in return for promising certain concessions to the papacy. However, after Otto IV attempted to capture the Kingdom of Sicily (1210), which was under the supreme authority of the pope, Innocent III excommunicated him and made Frederick of Hohenstaufen (Henry VI’s son) the king of Germany. After his defeat at Bouvines (1214), Otto IV was in fact deprived of his power.
REFERENCESKolesnitskii, N. F. “Issledovanie po istorii feodal’nogo gosudarstva v Germanii.” In Uch. zap. Moskovskogo oblastnogo ped. in-ta. Kafedra Vseobschei istorii, 1959, vol. 81, issue 2.
Müller-Mertens, E. Das Zeitalter der Ottonen. Berlin, 1955.
Holzmann, R. Geschichte der sächsischen Kaiserzeit, 3rd ed. Berlin, 1955.
N. F. KOLESNITSKII