Page 1254

1254 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-TEE MODERN WORLD.

lineage, and was fool enough to style himself a Greek by birth and a Roman by right

of rule. Albeit but little good might be expected to flow from the Imperial scepter

while wielded by a prince so fantastic in

disposition and absurd in his royal mannerisms.

In accordance with his theory of regarding

himself as a Roman rather than a German Emperor, young Otho made all speed to the

Eternal City to receive his crown at the

hands of the Holy Father. The papal chair

was at that time occupied by Pope John XVI, whom Otho had recently aided in a struggle

with a certain Roman noble named Crescentius, who had endeavored to usurp the

government of the city. The Pope, however, died while the Emperor was en route

into Italy; and the latter found it necessary to create his own creator by appointing to the papacy his cousin Bruno, who took the seat of St. Peter with the title of

Gregory V. By him Otho was crowned a

few days after his arrival in the city. How,

indeed, could the Pope do otherwise, when he

himself had been raised up for that special

duty?

It soon appeared that the Pope had the

worst of the bargain. When the ceremony

of coronation was done, and Otho had retired

from Italy, Crescentius rose against the Pope,

expelled him from power, and set up a new

creature of his own. On arriving in Germany

Otho found that the Wends of Prussia were

again in insurrection, and that his northern

frontier had been broken in by the Danes.

Notwithstanding this alarming condition of

affairs, the Emperor left his own country to

defend herself against her enemies, and

hastily recrossing the Alps, fell upon the

enemies of Gregory. The rival Pope was

seized and barbarously mutilated. Crescentius

was taken and beheaded, and Gregory reinstated in the papacy. The triumph of the

latter, however, was of short duration. He

died in 999, and his place was taken by

Gerbert of Rheims, whom Otho now raised

to the papal chair, with the title of Sylvester II.

The new pontiff had been the teacher of

the Emperor in boyhood, and was greatly esteemed for his learning, though not at all for

his piety. Indeed, the Pope's scholarship, especially in matters of science, was such as to gain for him the bad fame of being a magician. It was held by the people that he

practiced the Black Art and Was the servant

of his master, the Devil. Already were discoverable the symptoms of an outbreak between the calm spirited, benevolent founders

of science and the ignorant zeal of bigoted

credulity.

For three years Otho III remained in

Rome, occupying his time with the religious

pageants of the city and cultivating the acquaintance of the celebrities of the Church.

In A. D. 1000 he returned to Germany,

where his aunt, the Princess Matilda, had

held rule during his absence in the South.

Here his attention was at once absorbed

with the religious affairs of the Empire.

One of the most serious questions of the

times was the setting up of an independent

Church by the Poles. These people, under

the lead of the Archbishop of Magdeburg,

demanded and obtained from the Emperor

the separation of their diocese from that

of the Empire. The concessions made by

Otho in this respect were so many and important that the authority of the German

Empire over the rising kingdom of Poland

was presently denied.

During the negotiations of Otho with the

Poles, he turned aside from the principal

business in hand to make a pilgrimage to the

tomb of St. Adalbert at Prague. Afterwards

he made a journey to Aix la Chapelle, and

there gratified his morbid fancy by entering

the sepulcher of Charlemagne. It was one

of the dreams of Otho that he should become

the restorer of the Roman Empire of the

West. That, too, had been the delusive

vision which flitted before the fancy of the

greatest Carlovingian. Now the German

prince entered the gloomy vault where the

body of Charlemagne had lain for nearly two

hundred years, believing that the spectral

lips would speak to him and teach him how

his object might be accomplished.

It was not long until the condition of affairs in Italy again demanded the presence of

the Emperor. Sylvester was not much more

kindly received by the Romans than had been

his predecessor. A strong party of the Italican

clergy openly denounced the scandalous proceeding of Otho in the appointment of the

last two Popes. In the year 1001 the Emperor returned to Rome and established his