ABSTRACT

This chronicle, one of the main sources for German history at the end of the twelfth century, was written c. 1209-10, and intended as a continuation to the Chronicle of Bishop Otto of Freising, from which the author frequently quoted. The attribution to Otto of St Blasien comes in a fifteenth-century manuscript, one of only four medieval manuscripts known. The strong Swabian bias of the text supports this attribution. Its presumed author, Otto, subsequently became Abbot of the monastery of St Blasien (in the Black Forest) in 1222, but died a year later. The account of German history at this period is generally favourable to the Staufen, or perhaps more accurately to the imperial authority, irrespective of who wielded it; hence the view of Otto IV as ruler in 1208/9 is similarly favourable to that of the earlier Staufen emperors. Otto of St Blasien was particularly interested in the Third Crusade, but he also provided quite a lengthy, if not always entirely accurate, account of Henry VI’s conquest of the kingdom of Sicily, and showed an interest in Parisian theological study in his own time. One should, however, note that dates are sometimes given a year in arrears, and that a number of important events have been misplaced. Indeed, despite the chronicle’s annalistic format, Otto’s chronology is often very dubious. Thus the Treaty of Konstanz was recorded two years after the event, while Count Richard of Acerra, whose death was reported during Henry VI’s successful invasion of the kingdom of Sicily in 1194 (itself misdated), was in fact only captured and executed two years later. Similarly, the account of the brutal repression of conspiracy on Sicily, which Otto suggests took place immediately after the conquest, refers to events which actually took place in 1197. Otto also conflated the conquest of 1194 and the subsequent German Crusade of 1197, of which he left a vivid, if often disapproving, account. Nevertheless, despite such chronological uncertainty, this is an important and often informative source concerning Germany at the end of the twelfth century.1