We are continuing with the Germans series. The Germans were originally tribal people, the Bavarians, Swabians, Franks, and the Saxons were all unified by a language and a common enemy. The Magyars swept through the tribal territories. They attacked villages and burned castles. King Otto unified the German tribes to fight the Magyars. The Bavarians, Swabians, Franks, Lorrainians, and Saxons all unified to fight the Magyars. The Magyars were confident of victory, however, they did not know they were facing King Otto.
Before the battle against the Magyars, Otto was the Duke of Saxony. However, his ambitions were bigger: he wanted to be Emperor over a united Europe. He wanted to be as powerful as Charlemagne. He wanted to revive the Roman Empire. However, he started small. He rode into Aachen where he convened all the nobles to be voted as their next king. His father King Henry wanted Otto to succeed him as king. It was tradition for the dying King to divide up the kingdom between his sons, however, King Henry changed the rules and chose one son to succeed him. It was in Aachen, Otto was elected King of the Germans and was accepted by the common people. He was then crowned on Charlemagne’s throne in Aachen.
The action of sitting down on Charlemagne’s throne led to outrage among the other nobles. It was a signal to them that King Otto wanted to rule over all of Christendom. This caused some controversy among the people as well. Otto was a king who ruled on his horse. He traveled widely (over 180 days a year) and had to be taken care of by the people. The people had to provide their king with food and shelter and with food in short supply among the peasants, King Otto’s trips were expensive indeed. The phrase “God bless the king, but may he never return,” was common among all ranks of people. However, by moving from place to place, many peasants would have seen the king and have spoken to the king.
When Otto’s first wife died, he married again to Adelaide of Italy. Together they had a son Henry, who could succeed Otto as King. However, this caused trouble with Liudolf, who was promised that he would be the next king of the Germans. Liudolf then went to the Magyars and tried to make a deal with them. There was also a fight between father and son which led to Liudolf fleeing from the fight. Liudolf takes shelter in a city that Otto promptly attacks. Eventually, Liudolf was reconciled with his father, but he would never be considered heir again. Together, they came united to fight the Magyars. The German emerged victoriously.
With the victory, the German tribes came together. If they had lost the battle they probably would have had to pay tribute to the Magyars. The Germans probably would have been divided into tribes again as well. With this Victory, Otto’s ambitions grew. When the Pope called for King Otto to defend the papal states, Otto answered. Otto would go to Italy as king and would leave Italy as Emperor. King Otto was prepared to defend Rome. He would be crowned with the Imperial Crown and would be known as Holy Roman Emperor. The Holy Roman Empire would unify the German people for centuries to come.
To find out more continue to watch the documentary. In the meantime, keep this documentary in your files to share with a class. You can always use clips from this documentary in a lecture too.
You can access the YouTube video here.
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