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The Middle Ages: Unruly Octavian, Slavery, & More

Kings, emperors, slaves, and warriors all play a role in the history of the Middle Ages, which is often categorized into a variety of time periods, including late Middle Ages, early Middle Ages, and high Middle Ages. A lot of trivia is attached to this time period, which includes some pretty interesting facts concerning the kings and emperors of this moment in history.

During most of the Middle Ages, did you know that very few people could read a book or write out their name? This even included the people in power, such as kings and emperors. The only people at that time to truly master the skill of reading and writing were the clergy.

The reason that slavery came to an end in Western Europe belongs to a romantic tale. During the 7th century, a British girl named Bathilde was taken as a slave and sold to Clovis II, who was the King of the Franks from 638 to 655. Clovis became so smitten by the woman that he fell in love and eventually took her as his wife. After the king passed away, Bathilde, who acted as regent for their three young sons, made it a law to abolish slavery.

Cordoba was a Moorish capital that was often referred to as the “Athens of the West.” This location was situated in Andalusia, which was the southernmost region in Spain. Records show that in 900 AD, the city was home to ½ million people; possessed a library that was filled with 400,000 books, and walked on streets that were paved for miles. 

Unruly Octavian

When it comes to important people during the Middle Ages, a significant character is Octavian, who was known as the Count of Tusculum. Octavian was brutal and regarded as one of the worst popes in history. He was made Pope John XII in 955 and by 963, the waves that he had been making over the years finally came to a head.

It was his outrageous decisions and even more offensive behavior that moved Holy Roman Emperor Otto I to gather a council to deliver charges on John. He ordained a deacon in a stable and consecrated a boy that was only ten years old as bishop of Todi. He transformed the Lateran Palace into a brothel and was accused of raping female pilgrims in St. Peter’s. People accused him of stealing church offerings and in a drunken stupor , would make toasts to the Devil. As he played dice, he would ask Venus and other pagan gods for good luck.

Nevertheless, John was deposed, but sought revenge on everyone who opposed him, as he took the opportunity to return as pope after Otto departed Rome. He is said to have “maimed and mutilated all who had opposed him.” John continued to become a nuisance until one day he suffered a serious beating by a man who the pope was having an affair with. On May 14th, 964, he passed away from his injuries without ever having a chance to receive confession.