Κυριακή, 4 Μαρτίου 2018

Otto II : A great enemy of Byzantine Empire and his absolute defeat in greek southern Italy by the Saracens

The Ottonian dynasty was a Saxon dynasty of German monarchs (919–1024), named after three of its kings and Holy Roman Emperors named Otto, especially its first Emperor Otto I. It is also known as the Saxon dynasty after the family's origin in the German stem duchy of Saxony. The family itself is also sometimes known as the Liudolfings (Liudolfinger), after its earliest known member Count Liudolf (d. 866) and one of its primary leading-names. The Ottonian rulers were successors of the Germanic king Conrad I who was the only Germanic king to rule in East Francia after the Carolingian dynasty and before this dynasty. Although never Emperor, Henry the Fowler was arguably the founder of the imperial dynasty. While East Francia under the rule of the last Carolingian kings was ravaged by Hungarian invasions, he was chosen to be primus inter pares among the German dukes. Elected Rex Francorum in May 919, Henry abandoned the claim to dominate the whole disintegrating Carolingian Empire and, unlike his predecessor Conrad I, succeeded in gaining the support of the Franconian, Bavarian, Swabian and Lotharingian dukes. In 933 he led a German army to victory over the Hungarian forces at the Battle of Riade and campaigned both the land of the Polabian Slavs and the Duchy of Bohemia. Because he had assimilated so much power through his conquest, he was able to transfer power to his second son Otto I. Otto I, Duke of Saxony upon the death of his father in 936, was elected king within a few weeks. He continued the work of unifying all of the German tribes into a single kingdom, greatly expanding the powers of the king at the expense of the aristocracy. Through strategic marriages and personal appointments, he installed members of his own family to the kingdom's most important duchies. This, however, did not prevent his relatives from entering into civil war: both Otto's brother Duke Henry of Bavaria and his son Duke Liudolf of Swabia revolted against his rule. Otto was able to suppress their uprisings, in consequence, the various dukes, who had previously been co-equals with the king, were reduced into royal subjects under the king's authority. His decisive victory over the Magyars at the Battle of Lechfeld in 955 ended the Hungarian invasions of Europe and secured his hold over his kingdom. The defeat of the pagan Magyars earned King Otto the reputation as the savior of Christendom and the epithet "the Great". He transformed the Church in Germany into a kind of proprietary church and major royal power base to which he donated charity and for the creation of which his family was responsible. By 961, Otto had conquered the Kingdom of Italy, which was a troublesome inheritance that none wanted, and extended his kingdom's borders to the north, east, and south. In control of much of central and southern Europe, the patronage of Otto and his immediate successors caused a limited cultural renaissance of the arts and architecture. He confirmed the 754 Donation of Pepin and, with recourse to the concept of translatio imperii in succession of Charlemagne, proceeded to Rome to have himself crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope John XII in 962. He even reached a settlement with the Byzantine emperor John I Tzimiskes by marrying his son and heir Otto II to John's niece Theophanu. In 968 he established the Archbishopric of Magdeburg at his long-time residence.
Otto II (955 - 983), called the Red (Rufus), was Holy Roman Emperor from 973 until his death in 983. A member of the Ottonian dynasty, Otto II was the youngest and sole surviving son of Otto the Great and Adelaide of Italy. When his father died after a 37-year reign, the eighteen-year-old Otto II became absolute ruler of the Holy Roman Empire in a peaceful succession. Otto II spent his reign continuing his father's policy of strengthening Imperial rule in Germany and extending the borders of the Empire deeper into southern (Byzantine) Italy. Otto II also continued the work of Otto I in subordinating the Catholic Church to Imperial control. With domestic affairs settled, Otto II would focus his attention from 980 onward to annexing the whole of Italy into the Empire. His conquests brought him into conflict with the Byzantine Empire and with the Muslims of the Fatimid Caliphate, who both held territories in southern Italy. After initial successes in unifying the southern Lombard principalities under his authority and in conquering Byzantine-controlled territory, Otto II's campaigns in southern Italy ended in 982 following a disastrous defeat by the Muslims. While he was preparing to counterattack Muslim forces, a major uprising by the Slavs broke out in 983, forcing the Empire to abandon its major territorial holdings east of the Elbe river. Otto II died suddenly in 983 at the age of 28 after a ten-year reign. He was succeeded as Emperor by his three-year-old son Otto III, plunging the Empire into a political crisis. In regard to his Italian policy, Otto II went beyond the goals of his father. Not satisfied with the territorial gains made under Otto I, Otto II wanted more. His policy was based not only on securing his power in Rome, or to cooperate with the Papacy, but also to gain absolute dominion over the whole of Italy. By 982 the entire area once ruled by Pandulf had collapsed, weakening Otto II's position against the Byzantines. The Byzantines still claimed sovereignty over the Lombard principalities and the lack of singular leader to prevent their advances into Lombard territory allowed the Byzantines to make inroads further north. Otto II attempted on several occasions to reunify the Lombard principalities politically and ecclesiastically into his Empire after Pandulf's death. Though he unsuccessfully besieged Manso I in Salerno, Otto II ultimately obtained the recognition of his authority from all the Lombard principalities. With his authority reestablished over the Lombard princes, Otto II turned his attention towards the threat from Muslim Sicily. Needing allies in his campaign against the Muslims and the Byzantine Empire, Otto II reconciled with Amalfian Duke Manso I, granting Imperial recognition of his rule over Salerno. Otto II's troops marched on Byzantine-controlled Apulia in January 982 with the purpose of annexing the territory into his Empire. Otto II's march caused the Byzantine Empire to seek an alliance with Muslim Sicily in order to hold onto their southern Italian possessions. The Emperor's army besieged and captured the Byzantine city of Taranto, the administrative center of Apulia, in March 982. After celebrating Easter in Taranto, Otto II moved his army westward, defeating a Muslim army in early July. Emir Abu al-Qasim, who had declared a Holy War (jihad) against the Empire, retreated when he noticed the unexpected strength of Otto II's troops when the Emperor was not far from Rossano Calabro. Informed of the Muslim retreat, Otto II left his wife Theophanu and young son Otto III (along with the Imperial treasury) in the city and marched his army to pursue the Muslim force. Al-Qasim faced the Imperial army in a pitched battle south of Crotone at Cape Colonna on July 14, 982. After a violent clash, a corps of Otto II's heavy cavalry destroyed the Muslim center and pushed towards al-Qasim's guards, with the Emir killed during the charge. Despite the Emir's death, the Muslim troops did not flee the battlefield. The Muslims regrouped and managed to surround the Imperial soldiers, slaughtering many of them and inflicting a severe defeat upon the Emperor. According to the historian Muslim Ibn al-Athir, Imperial casualties numbered around 4,000. The Lombard Princes Landulf IV of Benevento and Pandulf II of Salerno, German Bishop Henry I of Augsburg, German Margrave Gunther of Merseburg, the Abbot of Fulda, and numerous other Imperial officials were among the battle's casualties. The Imperial defeat shocked the political makeup of Southern Italy. With two Lombard princes dead, the Principalities of Capua and the Benevento passed to younger branches of the Landulfid family. The Muslim troops were forced to retreat to Sicily after their victory. The Ottonian defeat, the worst in the history of the Empire at the time, greatly weakened Imperial power in southern Italy. The Byzantines joined forces with the Muslims and regained possession of Apulia from Ottonian forces.
The Battle of Stilo or Cape Colonna was fought on 13 or 14 July 982 near Crotone in Calabria between the forces of the Emperor Otto II and his Italo-Lombard allies and those of the Kalbid emir of Sicily, Abu'l-Qasim. Muslims received support from the Byzantines, in retaliation for Otto's invasion of their province of Apulia. Abu'l-Qasim, who had declared a Holy War (jihad) against the Germans, retreated when he noticed the unexpected strength of Otto's troops when he was not far from Rossano Calabro. Informed by some ships of the Muslim retreat, Otto left in that city his wife and children with the baggage and the imperial treasure, and set to pursue the enemy. When Abu'l-Qasim recognized that his flight had no hope of success, he fielded his army for a pitched battle south of Crotone at Cape Colonna. After a violent clash, a corps of German heavy cavalry destroyed the Muslim centre and pushed towards al-Qasim's guards. The emir was killed, but his troops were not shaken by the loss: they even managed to surround the German troops with a hidden cavalry reserve (approx. 5,000 warriors), slaughtering many of them. According to the historian Ibn al-Athir, casualties were around 4,000. Landulf IV of Benevento, Henry I, Bishop of Augsburg, Günther, Margrave of Merseburg, the Abbot of Fulda and 19 other German counts were among them. Otto had to flee the battle field and swim towards a Greek merchant ship which gave him shelter. Resting in Rossano, he only returned to Rome on 12 November 982. The defeat forced Otto to flee north, where he held an assembly of primarily north Italian magnates at Verona. He sent his nephew Otto I, Duke of Swabia and Bavaria, back to Germany with the news, but he died en route. News of the battle did reach as far as Wessex, which is significant of the magnitude of the disaster. Bernard I of Saxony was heading south for the assembly when Danish Viking raids forced him to return. Saxon losses at Stilo had been most severe. At the assemblage, Otto secured his son Otto III's election as King of Italy and a call for reinforcements from Germany. He died the next year before continuing his campaign in the south. The state of the Mezzogiorno was shaken up. Besides Landulf IV, his brothers Pandulf II of Salerno and Atenulf also died in battle. Though the Kalbid troops were forced to retreat afterwards to Sicily, the Saracens remained a presence in southern Italy, harassing the Greeks and Lombards. Capua and Benevento meanwhile passed to younger branches of the Landulfid family and Salerno was snatched by Manso, Duke of Amalfi. In Germany, the Elbean Slavs, upon hearing news of the emperor's defeat, rose against their German suzerains under Mstivoj in a great revolt known as the Slawenaufstand. The Germanisation and Christianisation of the Slavs was put back for decades.
As a conclusion of the result of the failure of German forces in southern Italy it can be said that Byzantine diplomacy was successful in protecting its territory in Italy. Dimitri Obolensky asserts that the preservation of civilization in Eastern Europe was due to the skill and resourcefulness of Byzantine diplomacy, which remains one of Byzantium's lasting contributions to the history of Europe and the Middle East. After the fall of Rome, the key challenge to the Byzantine Empire was to maintain a set of relations between itself and its sundry neighbors. All these neighbors lacked a key resource that Byzantium had taken over from Rome, namely a formalized legal structure. When they set about forging formal political institutions, they were dependent on the empire. Whereas classical writers are fond of making a sharp distinction between peace and war, for the Byzantines diplomacy was a form of war by other means. Byzantium's "Bureau of Barbarians" was the first foreign intelligence agency, gathering information on the empire’s rivals from every imaginable source. Byzantine diplomacy drew its neighbors into a network of international and interstate relations, controlled by the empire itself. This process revolved around treaty making. The Byzantines availed themselves of a number of mostly diplomatic practices. The fact that Byzantium in its dealings with the barbarians generally preferred diplomacy to war is not surprising. For the East Romans, faced with the ever-present necessity of having to battle on two fronts knew from personal experience how expensive war is both in money and manpower. The Byzantines were skilled at using diplomacy as a weapon of war.

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