The Ottonians and Benedictines were expanding across Europe around the same time. However, other than in Rome they didn't have much overlap. I've heard references in some history and medieval architecture classes that there was some sort of antagonism between the two. Is this something that is findable in sources? Was there any contact or friction between the two groups of any kind? Some checking in the books I have on the period never covered this and a quick Google search did not come up with anything. Were there relations between the two, and if so, what were they? If there are sources on them I'd be curious to see them.

What I would like to see are sources that note the contact between the two and what sort of diplomacy or contact is noted between a religious order the size and influence of the benedictines and the Ottonians.

  • Two "empires" that share time and space will in general always be antagonistic, and when one empire as in this case is supposedly religious and the other an empire of kings there are plenty of excuses. I'm sure there are a lot of examples of conflicts between Ottonian kings and Benedictine holy men, but this would not be different from any other conflict between a king and church. As such I don't really understand what kind of answer you want or expect that could be meaningful. Nov 29, 2011 at 10:03
  • I was looking for sources that note the contact between the two, I added more to note this so hopefully that would answer your question.
    – MichaelF
    Nov 29, 2011 at 13:56
  • 1
    I decided to look for an answer. Look at my first result: google.com/… lol
    – astabada
    Jan 22, 2013 at 20:43

1 Answer 1


These two factors may have been important:

1) It seems that Benedictine monasticism is not a strong or important force in the Ottonian lands. There is almost no mention of the Ottonian lands, for example in Marilyn Dunn's Emergence of Monasticism for example.

One reason for this may have been the prominence, instead, of the "Aachen Rule" for canonesses and canons found in the monastaries/chapels that the Ottonians were particularly fond of attaching to their noble houses. A bit on this in a footnote on p164 of Henry Mayr-Harting Rule and Conflict in an Early Medieval Society: Ottonian Saxony: "majority of the houses we have discussed here did not follow the Benedictine rule in the tenth and early eleventh centuries but a form of the Aachen rule..."

2) The critiques implicit of priestly life and the separation of it may have caused tension with the Ottonian rulers with their strong control over bishops, prelates, and religious life. In Mayr-Harting's book, this comes through strongly in chapter 8 "The Ottonians as Sacral Kings" and 9, "Lay Nobles and Sacrosanct Rulers"

Still though, hoping someone might be able to add more on direct interactions between the two.

Whatever antagonism there was, if there was active antagonism, it must have found resolution. Hentry II became an oblate for the Benedictine Order and is still remembered by it.

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