Upon the untimely death of Otto II at age 28 in 983, the child Otto III became emperor. He had already received the crown as co-emperor during his father's lifetime. Since Otto III was only 3 years old, his mother Theophanu served as regent until her death in 991. Otto II's mother, Saint Adelaide of Italy then served as regent until Otto III reached his majority.
Otto III strove to make the city of Rome his imperial seat, unlike his grandfather Otto I the Great's family , who established Quedlinburg as the seat of the empire at that time. He saw to it that his associate (and former tutor) Gerbert of Aurillac became Pope Silvester II.
Otto III died at the age of 22 in the year 1002 without having produced an heir. He was succeeded by his cousin, Henry II of Saxony.