Bishop and chaplain to Emperor Otto II (r. 973-983). Born at Schoningen, Germany, he was the son of a wheelwright. After studying and receiving ordination, he was named a canon at Hildesheim and then received appointment as a chaplain to Emperor Otto II. The ruler made Willigis chancellor of Germany in 971 and then archbishop of Mainz in 973. About the same time, Pope Benedict VII (r. 974-983) named him vicar apostolic for Germany. In 983, he crowned the infant emperor Otto III (r. 996-1002) at Aachen and was one of the chief figures in the regency with Otto's mother, Empress Theophano (d. 991) and then Empress Adelaide (d. 999). Following Otto's death in 1002, Willigis was instrumental in securing the election of Henry (r. king, 1002-1024, emperor, 1014-1024) of Bavaria, whom he consecrated as Henry II. A brilliant statesman, he always strove first to a be Church man. He sent missionaries to Scandinavia, founded churches, was careful in the prelates that he appointed to the sees of Germany, and rebuilt the cathedral of Mainz.
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