#43 The Rise and Fall of the Ezzonids or How a single family dominated Cologne in the 11th century

The noble family of the Ezzones was at the height of power in the 11th century. The namesake and Count Palatine of Lorraine named Ezzo had already attained an almost ducal position on the Rhine around the year 1000. How had he managed this? It was, as so often in life, the circumstance of having the right connections and the right nose. Ezzo had successfully married into the then still existing Ottonian imperial dynasty. He then used his proximity to the ruling family to successively expand his power in all parts of the Rhineland.

A powerful noble family dominates the Rhineland and the bordering low mountain range Eifel. In this episode, their political influence expands even further. Also on Cologne, which they will dominate in many ways for decades in the middle of the 11th century. But in the end, a man from Swabia, insignificant at first sight, will initiate their end.

Ezzo & Mathilde

Depiction of Mathilde from the 12th century

Sadly, there seem to be no image or drawing of Ezzo from the Middle Ages. I only found a picture of Mathilde in a family tree of the Ottonians from the 12th century.

Abby of Brauweiler

© Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)
The abbey in 1925. I just found this shot beautiful and wanted to share it

Tomb of Polish queen Richeza in Cologne Cathedral

19th century depiction Richeza
14th century depiction of Richeza next to her tomb in Cologne Cathedral

Abbess Ida’s tomb in St. Mary in the Capitol

11th century Church door donated by Ida

Sorry, it was behind these bars to keep it safe from history nerds like me. 🙂

St. Mary in the Capitol

We now finally have a church building in our podcast that you can see still in its form as it has been in the episode and 900 years ago. Even the reconstruction after WW2 did its best, to recreate the 11th century architecture.

Sadly, this mighty basilica is nowadays completely surrounded by houses, traffic and other buildings. It is nearly impossible to get a good shot of it.

The last image shows the church in 1925 before its destruction in WW2. Sadly, the numerous medieval paintings on the walls and ceilings are lost forever.


Von Elke Wetzig (Elya) – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0.

The backside of the Hermann-Ida-Cross. At the bottom, you can see on the left Hermann and on the right Ida kneeling.

Frontside of the cross.

Von Kleon3 – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Archbishop Hermann II.

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