Information about Duke Othon of Athens

Duke Othon of Athens ((unknown) - 1234)

Othon de la Roche, also Otho de la Roche (died before 1234), was a Burgundian nobleman from the castle of La Roche-sur-l'Ognon. He joined the Fourth Crusade and became the first Frankish Lord of Athens in 1204. In addition to Athens, he acquired Thebes by around 1211.

The chronicler Alberic of Trois-Fontaines writes that Othon was the son of "a certain noble Pons of La Roche in Burgundy". The identification of La Roche is uncertain, because Burgundy may refer either to the Free County or to the Duchy of Burgundy. He was with the Fourth Crusade on its arrival before the walls of Constantinople in 1203. At that time, he was a member of the "sixth division" of the crusading army, which "was formed by the people of Burgundy", according to the chronicler Geoffrey of Villehardouin. The crusaders captured Constantinople on 12 April 1204. They started the conquest of the Byzantine Empire under the command of Baldwin IX of Flanders who was elected the first Latin Emperor of Constantinople on 9 May.

An agreement on the distribution of the Byzantine Empire was reached in October 1204. Boniface of Montferrat's claim to the western regions of the Byzantine Empire was tacitly acknowledged. He went on to conquer Thessaly, Boeotia and Attica in November, granting these regions to his commanders. To Othon de la Roche, he gave Athens.

Othon took the title of Megaskyr (μεγασκύρ) or "Grand Lord" in Athens. There is uncertainty about when and how or even if he acquired the title "Duke" (dux). The traditional account, found in the Chronicle of the Morea, states that it was first officially bestowed by King Louis IX of France around 1259 to Othon's successor, Guy I de la Roche. The title does appear in some pre-1260 documents, including a letter of Pope Innocent III from July 1208, which refers to Othon as Duke, although the papal chancery generally preferred "Lord".

Othon ceases to be mentioned after 1225, when he is commonly held to have resigned the Duchy of Athens to his son Guy I and returned home to Burgundy with his wife, although this is unsubstantiated. He died sometime before 1234, since in that year his other son Othon II of Ray called himself "a son of the former lord Othon, duke of Athens" (filius quondam domini Ottonis, ducis Athenarum).

Duke Othon of Athens reigned in...
Reigned asIn CountryFromToCoins Issued
Duke Othon Athens, Duchy of 1205 1225
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