Richard the Lionheart and Otto

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, when Richard the Lionheart was king of England.

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

Richard and Otto 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 Matildas husband Duke Henry the Lion was exiled in 1182, the Duke and his family went to the Angevine court of Henry II. Otto was a boy back , he grew up in the Anglo-Norman culture of his mother and his uncle Richard the Lionheart. His first mother tongue was probably French. Richard was very fond of his nephew, took personally care of his education and then knighted him.

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. Richard himself must not have forgotten his imprisonment in Germany.

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.

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.

Middle Ages
Europe in the Middle Ages | Ottonian and Salian Dynasties | Hohenstaufen Dynasty | Richard and Otto IV, uncle and nephew | Late Middle Ages

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