OTTO II. (955-983), Roman emperor, was the son of the emperor Otto the Great, by his second wife Adelaide. He received a good education under the care of his uncle, Bruno, archbishop of Cologne, and his illegitimate half-brother, William, archbishop of Mainz. He was chosen German king at Worms in 961, crowned at Ai.x-la-Chapelle on the 26th of May 961, and on the 25th of December 967 was crowned joint emperor at Rome by Pope John XIII. On the 14th of April 972 he married Theophano, daughter of the eastern emperor Romanus II., and after sharing in various campaigns in Italy, returned to Germany and became sole emperor on the death of his father in May 973. After suppressing a rising in Lorraine, difficulties arose in southern Germany, probably owing to Otto's refusal to grant the duchy of Swabia to Henry II., the Quarrelsome, duke of Bavaria. The first conspiracy was easily suppressed, and in 974 an attempt on the part of Harold III., king of the Danes, to throw off the German yoke was also successfully resisted; but an expedition against the Bohemians led by the king in person in 975 was a partial failure owing to the outbreak of further trouble in Bavaria. In 976 Otto deposed Duke Henry, restored order for the second time in Lorraine, and made another expedition into Bohemia in 977, when King Boleslaus II. promised to return to his earlier allegiance. Having crushed an attempt made by Henry to regain Bavaria, Otto was suddenly attacked by Lothair, king of France, who held Aix in his possession for a few days; but when the emperor retaliated by invading France he met with little resistance. He was, however, compelled by sickness among his troops to raise the siege of Paris, and on the return journey the rearguard of his army was destroyed and the baggage seized by the French. An expedition against the Poles was followed by peace with France, when Lothair renounced his claim on Lorraine. The emperor then prepared for a journey to Italy. In Rome, where he restored Pope Benedict VII., he held a splendid court, attended by princes and nobles from all parts of western Europe. He was next required to punish inroads of the Saracens on the Italian mainland, and in September 981 he marched into Apulia, where he met at first with considerable success; but an alliance between the Arabs and the Eastern Empire, whose hostility had been provoked by the invasion of Apulia, resulted in a severe defeat on Otto's troops near Stilo in July 982. Without revealing his identity, the emperor escaped on a Greek vessel to Rossano. At a diet held at Verona, largely attended by German and Italian princes, a fresh campaign was arranged against the Saracens. Proceeding to Rome, Otto secured the election of Peter of Pavia as Pope John XIV. Just as the news reached him of a general rising of the tribes on the eastern frontier of Germany, he died in his palace in Rome on the 7th of December 983. He left a son, afterwards the emperor Otto III., and three daughters. He was buried in the atrium of St Peter's, and when the church was rebuilt his remains were removed to the crypt, where his tomb may still be seen. Otto, who is sometimes called the " Red," was a man of small stature, by nature brave and impulsive, and by training an accomplished knight. He was generous to the church and aided the spread of Christianity in many ways.
See Die Urkunden des Kaisers Otto II., edited by Th. von Sickel, in the Monumenta Germaniae historica. Diplomata (Hanover, 1879) ; L. von Ranke, Weltgeschichle, Part vii. (Leipzig, 1886); W. von Giesebrecht, Geschichte der deutschen Kaiserzeit (Leipzig, 1881- 1890); and Jahrbiicher des deutsclien Reichs unter Kaiser Otto II. (Berlin, 1837-1840); H. Detmer, Otto II. bis zum Tode seines Voters (Leipzig, 1878); J. Moltmann, Theophano die Gemahtin Ottos II. iti ihrer Bedeulung fiir die Politik Ottos I. und Ottos II. (Gottingen, 1878) ; and A. Matthaei, Die Handel Ottos II. mit Lothar von Frankreich (Halle, 1882).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)