Köln was a site of political, economic, artistic, and religious activity during the early medieval period. The city began as a Roman colony and, after being conquered and ruled over by the Franks, eventually became the site of the powerful Archbishopric of Köln, which took on a mixed role in politics and religion during the Ottonian period and helped develop the intellectual and artistic landscape of the city. Some interesting and important developments in the city are outlined below.

Religion and Politics, Intertwined

Under the Merovingian and Ottonian rules, the worlds of religion and politics in Köln became increasingly intertwined.  “Archduke” Bruno of Köln best exemplifies this close relationship as one who wielded both secular and religious power as Archbishop of Köln and Duke of Lotharingia. Many other bishops and archbishops of Köln filled both religious and secular positions of power throughout the 4th-mid 11th century. Churches became centerpieces of expansions and led to the growth of suburbs, changing the political and social environment of Köln. The architecture of these churches connects religion to the artistic world of Köln. Religious activity also stimulated artistic production of religious manuscripts.


Köln’s location in the region of East Francia puts it in an important cultural intersection between the post-Roan West and Byzantine east. Its placement on the Rhine connects Köln to the North Sea and all of western Germany. Köln also lies directly between the fertile North German Plain, the Rhine Valley, and mountainous areas. The art world exemplifies many of the competing influences during the development of the city. Manuscript culture shows the combinations of Byzantine and Carolingian tropes and techniques, alongside novel artistic innovations from Köln itself. The scholarly sphere in Köln also shows an active cultural exchange, with Archbishop Bruno interacting with Latin and Greek intellectuals. This influence can also be seen in the architectural borrowing of layout plans from churches and religious institutions in Milan and Aachen.


Economic Presence

Köln’s importance as a river trade-hub has guaranteed its participation and growth throughout large-scale historical changes as the post-Roman world moved into the Middle Ages. Köln interacted with nearby production centers, including the glassware sites in the Hambach forest, which leave evidence of material culture and economic activity. Frequent and heavy merchant activity changed the urban layout of Köln, causing the earliest suburb in Köln to form close to the Rhine.

Overview of Sub-Pages

The politics and economics page covers the political developments in Köln, especially with regards to the Late Roman and Ottonian periods. The page also discusses agricultural and productive changes in the city.

The art and culture page discusses some of the artforms present in Köln at this time, and also discusses the developments in intellectual activity and material culture during the period.

The religion page covers the key religious figures and locations in Köln, and provides a general religious history of the city.

The landscape and urban environment page discusses Köln’s founding, urban expansions during this period, and Köln location in a wider regional sense.




  1. johnsont3

    Here is an overview of what we are planning to cover in our page, just so you guys have an idea of what is going on.
    There might be less information on some of these categories, so they may be compressed or combined.
    Paintings and Drawings
    Sculptures and Carving
    Material Culture/Utilitarian Art
    Architecture (from an aesthetic viewpoint)
    Religion (minimally, more relating to sensibilities and beliefs)

    We plan to present our page seperated by topic, as opposed to a larger integrated timeline. Thus, we can individually focus on certain topics.

    1. pandelakisn

      That looks great. Cece, Sid, and I are planning on covering the important religious figures of Cologne, the churches, monasteries, and other buildings from a religious standpoint, as well as a general history of how religion came to and transformed Cologne from 300-1050 A.D.

  2. johnsont3

    How do we want to structure the city intro?

    I was thinking we could do little blurbs for each like:

    Köln: Politics and Economics

    The politics and economics of Köln were this and that…

    Köln: Religion

    The religion of Köln was ….

    How does this sound?
    Would you guys rather have another way of organizing it?

  3. pandelakisn

    Hello all,

    With Bill’s guidance, Adam and I have found a book that analyzes Ruotger’s Life of Bruno (which is unfortunately untranslated). The title is “The Origins of Courtliness,” which might be especially useful to those researching the politics of Cologne as Bruno occupied an interesting role as Bishop/Archduke. I’m checking it out but let me know if you’re interested in it too!

    1. Sam Nozaki

      This is great! It looks like the entire book is available on JSTOR so Chris and I will definitely take a look. Thanks!

  4. johnsont3

    Can the entire Köln group meet at some point during this weekend? I am most flexible on Saturday, but can do whatever you guys need. This would be a great opportunity to exchange resources, as I know that Sid has a book I would be able to use, and I’ve gotten a couple of books myself.

    When would you all be available to meet?

    1. kitchenc

      Sam can’t meet on Saturday, but I can go and represent our group.

    2. pandelakisn

      I can do Saturday after 3:00 p.m.

  5. johnsont3

    Hey guys:

    Check out the museum Romano-Germanic Museum in Cologne.

    They specialize on Roman artifacts found in Cologne specifically. Good source for early Cologne.

    There are many valuable pictures you can use.

  6. smarta

    To all those who were not present at the Council of the Köln Wikipage (held on the afternoon of March 9, 2019, at 4th Libe):
    Many of us gathered and began to layout the structure of our main page, thinking about the general elements of Köln’s history which stood out to us in our research, especially focusing on elements which seem to cross the boundaries of our individual subpages. Some of the main ideas we want to get across in our landing page:
    – the fusion of political and religious forces in Köln, as exemplified by Bruno of Köln and the title “archduke”
    – the location of Köln in a crossing point between intellectual, artistic, and economic traditions of both Western and Eastern Europe.
    – the continuity in economic importance of Köln throughout the early medieval period

    We are also considering providing an overview of what Köln looked like at the beginning of this period and the end of the periods, allowing the establishment of some “bookends” (partly because it seems like most of the information we have found corresponds to the bookends of this period). This might depend on how much we have to say about the other main ideas.

  7. morscheckc

    Jamie and I are working on fourth libe right now if anyone has questions/comments/help/anything. We were discussing the idea of the “bookends” of what Koln looked like at the beginning and end of the time period, and how that possibly falls mostly in our category of research. Not sure how we want to go about presenting that information in our wiki. Also, how are we planning on connecting topics that branch into other’s wiki’s? I know that some people have been looking at glass production, and we’ve found some resources that pertain to the development of a sort of factory, so just wondering how we should connect those topics across wikis. Let us know or stop by!

  8. smarta

    I am currently in the Rookery on 4th Libe if anyone wants to stop by to work on the main page.

  9. johnsont3

    Hey guys: for the landing page of Köln, this is the plan.

    We have 3 major categories of Köln’s significance and change:

    Religion and Politics Intertwined
    Economic Significance

    For these, just try to say how these things are important through the lens of your own specific topic. For us, who are doing art, we did “In the art world, these changes…..”

    If you have an idea for another main significance(another paragraph), just add it and alert the group so we can make the required changes.

  10. morscheckc

    We’re still about 200 words away from our goal for the overview page so if you haven’t added anything yet please do!

  11. smarta

    I have added a brief description/summary of what can be found within each subpage at the end of our main page. If you want to change your individual description, go ahead.


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