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Si chiamava Ottone perché figlioccio dell’imperatore Ottone III.

Subentrò al padre quando aveva appena 15 anni, era nato nel 994 ed era il quarto figlio maschio di Pietro II: il primo, Giovanni, che era stato co-reggente col padre Pietro II (991-1009), era morto nel 1007; il secondo, Orso, era patriarca di Grado; il terzo, Vitale, era vescovo di Torcello.

A 18 anni fu sposato alla figlia del re di Ungheria, Grimelda (da altri chiamata Elena o Maria). Una unione che in seguito scatenò le pretese dei re di Ungheria sulla Dalmazia marittima veneziana.

Ottone ebbe due figli, un maschio (Pietro) che fu re d’Ungheria (1038-1041 e 1044-1046), e una femmina (Froiza o Froila), poi sposa di Adalberto I di Babenberg, margravio d’Austria (1018-1055).

Durante il suo dogado, Ottone Orseolo obbligò il vescovo di Adria a rendere alla Repubblica Loreo e il vicino Porto Fossone sull’Adige, quindi sconfisse i pirati che taglieggiavano i dalmati.

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