• 962-973: Holy Roman Emporer
  • 961-973: King of Italy
  • 936-973: King of East Francia
  • 936-973: Duke of Saxony
  • AKA: Otto the Great
  • Ottonian dynasty

Otto I von Sachsen was born 23 November 912 in Wallhausen, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany to Heinrich von Sachsen (876-936) and Matilda von Ringelheim (c895-968) and died 7 May 973 Memleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany of unspecified causes. He married Eadgyth of Wessex (910-946) 929 JL . He married Adelaide de Bourgogne (c931-999) 951 JL .


Otto the Great, also known as Otto I, was a prominent ruler who served as the Holy Roman Emperor from 962 until his death in 973. He was born on November 23, 912, in Saxony, Germany, and belonged to the Ottonian dynasty, named after him. Otto's reign marked a significant period in the medieval history of Europe, characterized by the restoration of the Western Roman Empire and the consolidation of imperial power.

Here are some key details about Otto the Great and his reign:

Early life and family

Bas-côté nord, baie VI Otto Rex (dernier tiers XIIe)

12th-century stained glass depiction of Otto I, Strasbourg Cathedral

Otto was born on 23 November 912, the oldest son of the Duke of Saxony, Henry the Fowler and his second wife Matilda, the daughter of Dietrich of Ringelheim, a Saxon count in Westphalia.[1] Henry had previously married Hatheburg of Merseburg, also a daughter of a Saxon count, in 906, but this marriage was annulled, probably in 909 after she had given birth to Henry's first son and Otto's half-brother Thankmar.[2] Otto had four full siblings: Hedwig, Gerberga, Henry and Bruno.[1]

Consolidation of the Holy Roman Empire:

Otto's most significant achievement was the revival of the Western Roman Empire, which had fallen in 476. In 962, he was crowned as the Holy Roman Emperor by Pope John XII, establishing the Holy Roman Empire and becoming its first emperor. This event marked the beginning of the medieval German-Roman Empire, which lasted until 1806.

Military Campaigns and Expansion:

Otto the Great embarked on numerous military campaigns during his reign to expand and solidify his empire's borders. He successfully conquered and integrated territories such as Italy, Bohemia, Burgundy, and parts of Denmark into his realm. These conquests increased his influence and power in Europe.

Relationship with the Papacy:

Otto's alliance with the Papacy played a crucial role in his reign. Pope John XII's coronation of Otto as the Holy Roman Emperor symbolized the cooperation between the secular and religious powers. Otto sought to strengthen his ties with the Papacy to legitimize his rule and gain support from the Church.

Imperial Administration and Reforms:

Otto the Great implemented administrative reforms to centralize power and strengthen his empire. He established a system of imperial counts, who were his trusted officials, to govern regions and ensure loyalty. Otto also appointed bishops and abbots to influential positions, further consolidating his control over the Church.

Ottonian Renaissance:

Central Europe, 919-1125

Central Europe, 919–1125. The Kingdom of Germany included the duchies of Saxony (yellow), Franconia (blue), Bavaria (green), Swabia (orange) and Lorraine (pink left). Various dukes rebelled against Otto's rule in 937 and again in 939.

Otto's reign was marked by a period of cultural and intellectual revival known as the Ottonian Renaissance. He supported education and the arts, attracting scholars and artists to his court. Monastic and cathedral schools flourished, and the production of illuminated manuscripts reached its peak during this time.

Conflict with the Eastern Roman Empire:

Otto the Great had complex relations with the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. Although he sought to strengthen ties with Byzantium through diplomatic marriages, there were tensions over territorial claims and ecclesiastical authority. The conflict culminated in the Battle of Lechfeld in 955 when Otto defeated the Magyars, who were allies of the Byzantine Empire.

Succession and Legacy:

Otto the Great's reign laid the foundation for the Holy Roman Empire's future development. He ensured a smooth transition of power by securing the succession of his son, Otto II, as the next emperor. His descendants, known as the Ottonian dynasty, ruled the Holy Roman Empire for several generations. Otto's reign also contributed to the cultural and political development of medieval Europe.

Family and children

Although never Emperor, Otto's father Henry I the Fowler is considered the founder of the Ottonian dynasty. In relation to the other members of his dynasty, Otto I was the son of Henry I, father of Otto II, grandfather of Otto III, and great-uncle to Henry II. The Ottonians would rule Germany (later the Holy Roman Empire) for over a century from 919 until 1024.

Otto had two wives and at least seven children, one of which was illegitimate.[3]

1st Marriage: Eadgyth of England

  1. Liudolf (930 – 6 September 957) – Duke of Swabia from 950 to 954, Otto's expected successor from 947 until death[5]
  2. Liutgarde (932[6]–953) – married Conrad, Duke of Lorraine, in 947[7]

2nd Marriage: Adelaide of Italy

  1. Henry (952–954)[9]
  2. Bruno (probably 954–957)[10]
  3. Matilda (954–999) – Abbess of Quedlinburg from 966 until death[11]
  4. Otto II (955 – 7 December 983) – Holy Roman Emperor from 973 until death[12]

Other Children

  • With an unidentified Slavic woman:
  1. William (929 – 2 March 968) – Archbishop of Mainz from 17 December 954 until death[13]


Offspring of Otto I von Sachsen and Eadgyth of Wessex (910-946)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Liutgarde von Sachsen (932-953) 932 18 November 953 Mainz Conrad the Red (c922-955)
Liudolf von Sachsen (930-957) 930 6 September 937 Pombia Ida von Schwaben (?-?)

Offspring of Otto I von Sachsen and Adelaide de Bourgogne (c931-999)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Heinrich von Sachsen (952-954) 952 954
Bruno von Sachsen (953-957) 953 8 September 957
Matilda von Sachsen (954-999) 954 7 February 999
Otto II von Sachsen (955-983) 955 7 December 983 Rome Theophanu Skleros (960-991)

Offspring of Otto I von Sachsen and unknown parent
Name Birth Death Joined with
Reginlint von Sachsen (c950-) Konrad von Schwaben (c930-997)

Offspring of Otto I von Sachsen and unknown parent
Name Birth Death Joined with
William of Mainz (929-968)


Offspring of Heinrich von Sachsen (876-936) and Witwe Hatheburg (?-?)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Thankmar von Sachsen (c903-938) 903 28 August 938

Offspring of Heinrich von Sachsen (876-936) and Matilda von Ringelheim (c895-968)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Otto I von Sachsen (912-973) 23 November 912 Wallhausen, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany 7 May 973 Memleben, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany Eadgyth of Wessex (910-946)
Adelaide de Bourgogne (c931-999)
Gerberga von Sachsen (913-969) 913 5 May 969 Giselbert de Lorraine (c885-939)
Louis IV (c920-954)
Hadwig von Sachsen (c917-959) 917 10 May 959 Hugh the Great (898-956)
Heinrich I von Bayern (c920-955) 920 955 Judith von Bayern (925-985)
Brun von Sachsen (925-965) 925 11 October 965

See Also


  • Arnulf of Milan (1072–1077). "Liber gestorum recentium". In Zey, Claudia. Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH). Scriptores rerum Germanicarum in usum scholarum separatim editi. 67 (1994). Translated by W. North. Hahnsche Buchhandlung. ISBN 978-3-7752-5388-8. 
  • Thietmar of Merseburg (1012–1018). "Chronicon Thietmari Merseburgensis". In Warner, David A.. Ottonian Germany. The Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg (2001). Translated by David A. Warner. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-4926-2. 
  • Vita Mathildis reginae posterior (c. 1003, written for Matilda's great-grandson Henry II), ed. Bernd Schütte. Die Lebensbeschreibungen der Königin Mathilde. MGH SS rer. Germ. in usum scholarum 66. Hannover, 1994. 143–202. Edition by Georg Heinrich Pertz. MGH SS 4: 282–302; tr. in Sean Gilsdorf, Queenship and Sanctity, 88–127. Digital MGH archive.

External Links

Royal Succession Chart

Otto I von Sachsen (912-973)
Born: 23 November 912 Died: 7 May 973
Regnal titles
Title last held by
Holy Roman Emperor
with Otto II (967–973)
Succeeded by
Otto II
Preceded by
Berengar II
King of Italy
Preceded by
Henry I
King of Germany
with Otto II (961–973)
Duke of Saxony
Succeeded by
Bernard I

Contemporary References

The primary sources that provide valuable insights into the life and reign of Otto the Great are:

  1. "The Deeds of the Saxons" (Res gestae Saxonicae) by Widukind of Corvey: Widukind was a contemporary chronicler and his work provides a detailed account of the life and achievements of Otto the Great. It covers the period from Otto's birth to his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor.
  2. "The Annals of Quedlinburg" (Annales Quedlinburgenses): This chronicle, compiled by an anonymous author, provides a concise account of Otto's reign, focusing on his military campaigns and political activities. It offers valuable information on key events and political developments during his time as emperor.
  3. "The Liutprand of Cremona's Works" (Opera Omnia): Liutprand of Cremona was an Italian bishop and diplomat who served as an envoy to the Byzantine court during Otto's reign. His works, particularly "Antapodosis" and "Historia Ottonis," provide important insights into Otto's relationships with the Byzantine Empire and other European powers.
  4. "The Life of Emperor Otto" (Vita Ottonis) by an anonymous author: This biography, written shortly after Otto's death, offers a detailed account of his life, military campaigns, and accomplishments. It portrays Otto in a positive light, emphasizing his piety, wisdom, and political prowess.
  5. Imperial charters and diplomas: Official documents issued by Otto the Great, such as charters and diplomas, provide important information about his political and administrative policies. These documents often contain details about territorial acquisitions, alliances, and the establishment of institutions.
  6. Correspondence and papal letters: Letters exchanged between Otto and various political figures, including popes, bishops, and other rulers, shed light on diplomatic relations, religious matters, and political alliances. The Papal letters, in particular, reveal the close relationship between Otto and the Papacy.


  1. ^ a b Keller 2008, p. 26.
  2. ^ Keller 2008, pp. 24, 26.
  3. ^ Althoff, Gerd (1998) (in de). Otto I. der Große. Historische Kommission, BAdW. pp. 656–660. ISBN 978-3-428-00200-9. 
  4. ^ Poole 1911, p. 313.
  5. ^ Schnith, Karl (1985) (in de). Liudolf. Historische Kommission, BAdW. pp. 717 f. 
  6. ^ Schutz 2010, p. 41.
  7. ^ Reuter 1991, pp. 154, 337.
  8. ^ Holböck 2002, p. 127.
  9. ^ Keller & Althoff 2008, p. 193.
  10. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named BALDWIN
  11. ^ Freise, Eckhard (1990) (in de). Mathilde. Historische Kommission, BAdW. pp. 376–378. 
  12. ^ Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named SEIBERT
  13. ^ Uhlirz, Karl (1898) (in de). Wilhelm. Historische Kommission, BAdW. pp. 115–117. 

Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General

Bergsmit, Rtol, Phlox, Thurstan, MainTour