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Otto of St. Blasien

Chronicler, b. about the middle of the twelfth century; d. 23 July, 1223, at St. Blasien in the Black Forest, Baden

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Otto of St. Blasien, chronicler, b. about the middle of the twelfth century; d. 23 July, 1223, at St. Blasien in the Black Forest, Baden. Nothing is known of the events of his life. It is probable that in his later days he became abbot of the renowned Benedictine monastery of St. Blasien. He is known as the writer who continued the chronicles of Otto of Freising, like whom he possessed a great talent for presenting a clear survey of events. His language was lofty, and followed the model of the ancient classics. Like many of his contemporaries, he liked to apply the fixed formulas of Justinian to the German emperors, probably on the assumption, then widespread, that the Holy Roman Empire was only the continuation of the Roman Empire of the Caesars. His chronicles, written in the form of annals, "Ad librum VII chronici Ottonis Frisingensis episcopi continuatae historiae appendix sive Continuatio Sanblasiana", embrace the period from 1146 to 1209, that is, the period from Conrad III to the murder of Philip of Swabia. Since he was distant in time from the facts he narrates, his accounts are wholly objective, even though he makes no concealment of his prejudice in favor of the Hohenstaufen, who in 1218 received the bailiwick of St. Blasien from the dukes of Zähringen. Yet, after Otto IV of Wittelsbach was recognized as German emperor, he writes of him in the same objective way as of his predecessors. Nevertheless, without any apparent cause, the narrative breaks off at the coronation of Otto IV. Perhaps the chronicler shrank from describing the bloody party conflicts of the times. His chief sources were the "Gesta Friderici" and perhaps Alsatian chronicles. On the whole his statements may be trusted. It is only when he has to resort to oral reports that he becomes unreliable; this is especially the case in his chronology, though he is not to be reproached with intentional misrepresentation of facts for this reason. His chronicles were published by R. Wilmans in "Mon. Germ. Hist.: Script." (XX, pp. 304-34); they were translated into German by Horst Kohl in "Geschichtschreiber der deutschen Vorzeit" (12 century, vol. VIII, Leipzig, 1881, 2nd ed., 1894).

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