OTHON II THE UNHAPPY
OTHON II THE UNHAPPY (955-983) - Hotel to visit Ravenna centre
THEOPHANE, PRINCESS IN THE OTHONS' COURT
Photo:1) Othon II e Theophane, ivory, 2) Adelaide e Theophane with Madonna,3)San Severo and the Basilica di S.Apollinare in Classe in an old map
Othon II was perhaps the unhappiest of the three emperors; only a few physical and psychological notes about him have passed down to us today by his contemporary Gerbert of Aurillac.
His father was exceptionally large and strong and had - rare for the times - a long beard that reached his chest, increasing his imposing stature. All activities that were practiced outdoors were favoured by him, from hunting to warlike horse-riding.
The young Othon II did not take after his father at all: minute, already chubby and almost pot-bellied, he shunned physical exercise. A sensitive and introvert boy, shy and not very self-confident, he was soon torn between the unquestionable charm of his young wife Theophane and the influence of his mother, the Empress Adelaide.
Theophane, as beautiful as she was brilliant, brought with her the prestige of Byzantium and a superior culture compared to that of all the literary men of the Saxon reign. Adelaide, daughter of the King of Burgundy, had lived in the North of Italy until her early widowhood, for which she fell into the hands of ambitious vassals and was imprisoned. Freed by Othon who then married her, she was a very devote and intelligent woman, though hardened through circumstance almost to insensitiveness.
There were two central episodes in the young Othon's life: his legendary wedding in 972 in Rome with Theophane, granddaughter of the emperor Giovanni Zimisce, and the unfortunate military expedition in Southern Italy against the Arabs and the Italian nobility, their allies.
As far as the marriage is concerned, this should be considered as the apex of his father's political objectives: he was officially recognised as emperor, equal to the Orient's "basileus", even renouncing his reclaim of Puglia and Calabria and satisfying himself with other Italian lands that were part of the Princess' dowry.
In 980 the future Othon III was born and the emperor organised a solemn ceremony of reconciliation between his wife and his mother Adelaide at Ravenna, once again in the San Severo monastery. Christmas was spent in familial harmony in Ravenna, planning the eventually fatal expedition.
Political judgement on Othon II can be expressed in a lapidary way: he continued in his father's footsteps trying to expand imperial dominion to Southern Italy, he activated the possessions brought in dowry by his wife and fought against their persistent Arab enemies.
The pleasure of fine accommodation in the centre of Ravenna: we recommend the Fabbri hotels for a pleasant stay as follows:
The Centrale Byron hotel, 3-star hotel in the centre of Ravenna;
The Bisanzio, 4-star hotel in the centre of Ravenna;
Once you have reached the hotel and parked your car, forget it and walk everywhere, because everything is within walking distance.
The railway station is near our hotels and within walking distance.
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