Otto II. and Theophanu




Cologne in 1499

Medieval Cologne

At the time of the Ottonians, as Romanesque was taking shape as generally the first original German art period, Cologne was experiencing its early medieval heyday. Since Charlemagne had founded the archbishopric of Cologne, the city had already developed into one of the most influential cultural, political, and also economic centres of the Holy Roman Empire.

The links of the city on the Rhine, particularly of its high church dignitaries, to the Imperial House of Saxony, and to the homeland of the Ottonians, today’s Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, were close and diverse. A distinct sign of this proximity is the tomb of Empress Theophanu, the wife of Otto II, a highly-educated, politically-active, and influential Byzantine princess, who brought many artists and academics with her to Germany from the Greek-Roman metropolis on the Bosporus.

As Empress, she always remained linked in a special way to Cologne and, at her own request, was buried in the Romanesque church of St. Pantaleon. The consequences of this theological and artistic cultural exchange, particularly for Cologne, were diverse, and can, in part, still be seen today.

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