Middle Ages – intro and crossroads

The Middle Ages are the era of knights, minnesong, Romanesque art and medieval castles. In the Valley of the Rhine, many ruins and even well preserved medieval castles have remained. In the Seven Mountains, we can visit three ruins of medieval castles: those on the mountains Drachenfels, Löwenburg and Rosenau. Unfortunately, nothing has remained of the medieval castle on top of Mount Wolkenburg.

As we have already said, the history of our region is also a bit German and European history. They met again during the time of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. It was emperor Henry VI who held King Richard I “Lionheart” captive for a long time and only released him when Richard’s mother Alienor of Aquitaine delivered the huge ransom. Yet, Richard had impressed the Rhenish nobility. After a great festivity in Cologne, mother and son were accompanied to England, and good relations between London and Cologne remained. Richard also had to send hostages, among them his nephew Otto, later king Otto IV.

Richard I Lionheart and Otto

It was Richard who suggested Otto as candidate for the throne in 1198, and the city of Cologne that launched his candidature against Philip of Swabia supported by the Hohenstaufen party. Soon, a war for the throne broke out. During all this years of fighting, the Counts of Sayn stood firmly on Otto side. Around 1200, the medieval castle on Mount Löwenburg was built.

Otto and his uncle Richard Lionheart were very close. Otto’s mother was Matilda Plantagenet, Richard’s sister, his grandparents on the mother’s side were Alienor of Aquitaine and Henry II of England. When Mathilde’s husband Duke Henry the Lion was exiled in 1182, the Duke and his family went to the Angevine court. So Otto grew up as an Angevine prince. Richard was very fond of his nephew, took personally care of his education and then knighted him.

Compared to the Hohenstaufen emperors, only little is reported about him. Otto was a capable warrior, he had learned that from his uncle Richard I Lionheart, but he was not cruel. For instance, he did not exercise the “imperial right” of destroying entire cities for revenge, and often he prohibited plundering and riots.

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