Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 January 2013
I would like to examine a few examples taken from the reign of Henry II of Germany that illustrate the interaction of royal self-representation, or imagination, if you will, and historical memory, especially as it came to be recorded. Throughout, one will see that rituals of various sorts played an important role in these examples as it did throughout the early Middle Ages. In particular, I address three topics: aspects of how Henry imagined and represented his claims to rulership, aspects of how Henry imagined and represented himself to be the master of the church, and one manuscript portrait of Henry II that provides a visual example of the intersection of royal self-representation and historical memory.
Self-Representation and Ritual in the Legitimization of Henry II's rulership
In January 1002 Otto III died suddenly in Italy without an heir and without having made arrangements for succession. This event caused much discussion among the powerful about the succession, and three main candidates emerged for the German throne: Duke Henry of Bavaria, Count Ekkehard of Meissen, and Duke Hermann of Swabia. Of these three, Duke Henry of Bavaria succeeded in making the strongest claim to succeed Otto III on the basis of heredity and his closeness (Königsnähe) to the previous ruler.