Fact of the day: 7th August

On this day in 936 the coronation of King Otto I of Germany took place.

Despite his peaceful transition, the royal family was not harmonious during his early reign. Otto’s younger brother, Henry, also claimed the throne, contrary to his father’s wishes.

According to his biography, Vita Mathildis reginae posterior, their mother had favored Henry as king: in contrast to Otto, Henry had been “born in the purple” during his father’s reign and shared his name.

Otto also faced internal opposition from various local aristocrats. According to Widukind of Corvey, in 936, Otto appointed Hermann Billung as Margrave, granting him authority over a march north of the Elbe River between the Limes Saxoniae and Peene Rivers.

As military governor, Hermann extracted tribute from the Polabian Slavs inhabiting the area and often fought against the Western Slavic tribes of the Lutici, Obotrites, and Wagri. Hermann’s appointment angered his brother, Count Wichmann the Elder.

220px-Otto_the_Great

As the elder and wealthier of the two, Wichmann believed his claim to the office was superior to his brother’s. Additionally, Wichmann was related by marriage to the dowager queen Matilda.

In 937, Otto further offended the nobility through his appointment of Gero to succeed his older brother, Siegfried, as Count and Margrave of a border region abutting the Wends on the lower Saale.

His decision frustrated Thankmar, Otto’s half-brother and Siegfried’s cousin, who felt that he held a greater right to the appointment.

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