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Who's Who in Medieval History and the Renaissance

Otto I




Europe (Germany)

Otto I, also known as Otto the Great and Duke Otto II of Saxony, son of Henry the Fowler, was the first Holy Roman Emperor since Charlemagne. He consolidated the German Reich and made significant advances for secular influence in papal politics. His reign is generally considered to be the true beginning of the Holy Roman Empire.

Over the course of his reign, Otto defeated revolts by his half-brother, his younger brother and his son, and expanded the boundaries of his empire through constant war. He maneuvered Pope John XII into crowning him Emperor and later deposed him and set Pope Leo VIII in his place. He signed the treaty known as the Privilegium Ottonianum, probably once Leo was pope, which enabled the emperor to ratify papal elections. Though warfare was frequent, Germany was stable under Otto's rule and a small cultural renaissance flourished.

Important Dates

Elected king: Aug. 7, 936
Crowned Emperor:
Feb. 2, 962
Died: May 7, 973

On the Web

Catholic Encyclopedia: Otto I, the Great
Concise biography by F. Kampers.

Otto I, The Great
A concise, well-referenced overview of Otto's reign, written by Ernest Granda, researched by Stephanie Fielder, and edited by Therese Vogel at Northpark University. .

Primary Sources

Emperor Otto the Great: Gift of a Tax to a Convent, 958
English translation scanned and modernizedby Jerome S. Arkenberg, and placed online by Paul Halsall at his Medieval Sourcebook.

Grant of Market, Coinage, and Taxation Privileges to Bishopric of Osnabrück, 952
English translation scanned and modernizedby Jerome S. Arkenberg, and placed online by Paul Halsall at his Medieval Sourcebook.

In Print

The links below will take you to an online bookstore, where you can find more information about the book to help you get it from your local library. This is provided as a convenience to you; neither Melissa Snell nor About is responsible for any purchases you make through these links.

Germany in the Early Middle Ages, 800-1056
by Timothy Reuter

Medieval Germany, 500-1300: A Political Interpretation
by Benjamin Arnold

Related Resources

Medieval Germany
Sites that focus on the portions of northern central Europe that would later be unified as Germany.


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