Page 1253

1253 FEUDAL ASCENDENCY-FEUDAL GERMANY.

German Emperor. For one year a desultory

war was carried on between the belligerents

of Italy; but in the summer of 982, a great

and decisive battle was fought on the coast

of Calabria. The army of Otho was utterly

routed by the Saracens, and he himself

only escaped destruction by flinging himself

into the sea and swimming to a ship. The

vessel was found to be a galley of the Greeks,

but Otho induced the captain to put him

ashore at Rossano, where he was joined

by the Empress. Thence the Imperial pair

made their escape into Northern Italy,

and in jthe following year Otho summoned

the Diet of the Empire to meet him at

Verona.

The call was obeyed with alacrity. The

princes assembled from most of the states

of Western Europe, and the Diet was the

most imposing deliberative body which had

been convened for centuries. The kings

of Hungary and Bohemia sat side by side

with the dukes of Saxony, France, and

Bavaria. One of the first duties devolving

on the assembly was the establishment of

the succession. The choice fell naturally

on the Emperor's son, then a child but three

years of age, afterwards to be known as

Otho III. Great preparations were then

made for prosecuting the war with the

Saracens. The national spirit of the Germans was thoroughly aroused, and the

energies of the Empire were bent to the

destruction of the Mohammedan buccaneers

in the Mediterranean. But before the preparations for the conflict could be completed the

Emperor Otho fell sick and died, being then

in the twenty-eighth year of his age and the

tenth of his reign.

The ministers at Aix la Chapelle were engaged in the coronation of Otho III-following in that matter the decree of the Diet at Verona-at the time when the news came of

his father's death. The establishment of a

regency became an immediate necessity, and

a violent dispute arose between the queen mother, Theophania, and the queen grandmother, Adelheid, as to which should have the

guardianship of the Imperial scion. Duke

Henry of Bavaria also came forward and

claimed the regency, being actuated thereto

by the ill-disguised motive of obtaining the

crown for himself. The German princes,

however, were not at all disposed to favor this ambitious project, and the vision of

the aspiring Henry was soon reduced to

his own dukedom of Bavaria. The regency

went to Adelheid and Theophania, the latter

exercising authority in the name of her son

in Germany, and the former doing likewise

in Italy. In both countries these royal

women wielded their authority with prudence and success. After eight years Theophania died, and the now aged Adelheid

became sole regent of the Empire. Choosing

the dukes of Saxony, Suabia, Bavaria, and

Tuscany as members of her council, she

continued for three years longer to sway

the Imperial scepter, and was then succeeded

by her grandson, who, on reaching the age of

sixteen, took into his own hands the reins of

government.

In this period of thirteen years since the

death of Otho II the Empire was almost

constantly menaced with war. The Wends

in Brandenburg again revolted and fell upon

the German settlements beyond the Elbe.

Nor, for the time, was any effective aid

rendered by the Imperial army to the people

of this exposed frontier. The Saxons themselves, however, proved equal to the emergency, and the Wendish revolt was suppressed after a severe and bloody struggle.

Nor were the relations of the Empire on

the side of France more peaceable than

in the Northeast. Though open hostilities

were not resorted to, the sentiment of war

prevailed during the whole minority of

Otho III. This was the epoch in French

history when the House of Charlemagne

was in the slow agonies of extinction. Duke

Charles, last of that degenerate line, was

setting up his feeble and ridiculous claim

to the crown of the kingdom, while the

great Hugh Capet was quietly taking to

himself the royal dignity, with the ample

consent of the nobles and the people of

France.

Little was the German Empire benefited

by the transfer of the scepter from the withered but virtuous hand of Adelheid to that of

her facile and capricious grandson. Though

the education of Otho III had by no means

been neglected, his instruction had been

Greek rather than German. Like many

another upstart stripling, he preferred his foreign to his native culture. He affected to

be-and perhaps was-ashamed of his Saxon