Otto de la Roche

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Otto (or Othon) de la Roche (died 1234) was a Burgundian nobleman from the castle of La Roche-sur-l'Ognon, in the Franche-Comté commune of Rigney, Doubs. He joined the Fourth Crusade in 1204 and became the first Duke of Athens. The historians Geoffroy de Villehardouin and Robert de Clari both relate that Otto captured the Shroud of Turin and gave it to the Knights Templar, who brought it back to France.

He took the title of megaskyr or grand seignior in Athens. He held his Greek possessions from the King of Thessalonica. He fortified the Acropolis. In 1208, he took the title of duke.

In May 1209, the Latin emperor Henry called his first of two parliaments at Ravennika and Otto and his close ally Geoffrey I of Villehardouin made an appearance to demonstrate their loyalty to the emperor. On 2 May 1210, at the second parliament, the two barons ratified the pact between church and state, but he did little to effect it. He was accused of treating the Greek priests as serfs, since many of them were former serfs raised to their clerical status by Greek prelates desiring to lift the heavy burden the Franks could impose with their corvées on the local populace. Pope Honorius III excommunicated him and put his lands under interdict, as he did to Geoffrey for like disobedience to the pact. About 1223, Otto made a treaty with the pope by which he returned church lands, but kept church furnishings at the cost of an annual indemnity. A quota was also placed on the number priests...
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