By Gerd Althoff
Otto III (980–1002) used to be the most robust rulers in Europe within the past due 10th century. he's additionally probably 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 merely twenty-one years previous on the time of his loss of life. still, his reign had a long-lasting influence 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 give an explanation for how in perform early medieval kingship worked.
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Otto III (980–1002) was once some of the most strong rulers in Europe within the past due 10th century. he's additionally 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II and the Greek princess Theophanu, he got here to the throne on the age of 3 and was once simply twenty-one years outdated on the time of his loss of life.
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Postulating it therefore draws from modern views, which were completely foreign to the tenth century. To some extent the same is true in analyzing the ruler’s choice of a circle of advisors, something that assumes great significance in the historiography of Otto III. In the view of historians, he supposedly made this choice on the basis of personal impressions and preferences. Doing so changed the customs that had prevailed up to that point. Here again it is improbable that such changes in rank and the potential to exert influence would have taken place without opposition.
Each ruler had to value each person proportionate to this honor, in 10164 Otto III 7/30/03 9:06 AM Page 18 18 ‡ 0tt0 iii other words give preferential treatment, listen, give gifts. For the acknowledgment of honor, a wealth of material and even more importantly immaterial distinctions were at his disposal. The spectrum ranged from presents to offices, to honorary positions like that of sword-bearer, honorable placement, greeting, conversation, and many others. Such events were staged at the numerous court days, when the magnates appeared before the ruler, and where the policies of the Ottonian age were crafted.
Such an understanding also set its stamp on the duties and powers of medieval kings, as the significance of peace and justice among the ruler’s duties attests. But performing such duties did not so much require some sort of future-oriented planning as the employment of the customary usages by which people had always performed these duties. 27 In sketching the norms and rules at the base of ruling activity in the tenth century, I wish to emphasize two points. The first is that the rules are deeply anchored in worldviews and mentalities of their age and that those are not readily accessible to our understanding.