The  “ First  Pope  of  Purely  German  Blood ”

Gregory V – Porth – Maria. Carl Porth as Pope GREGORY V in Julius Leopold Klein’s drama of 1860 at the Royal Theater, Berlin. Glazed colored lithograph printed with tone plate after a photograph by R. Marowsky for Louis Veit, Berlin. (1859/60.) 9 × 5⅞ in (23 × 14.8 cm). – Sheet 34 of the Lipperheide set Ucd 19 on light cardboard.

“ One of the most capable appearances on the stage, endowed with intellectual fire, fresh talent, and quite attractive looks, since several years Carl Porth has filled a part of the character of youthful lovers at the Berlin Court Theater … When the fire in the young artist’s representations (is) praised, so one has to grant this appreciation also to his appropriate self-command … Among these chiefly his interpretation and performance of the youthful pope Gregory V in Klein’s poetically intended … tragedy: ‘Maria’ has to be reckoned. ”

Bruno of Carinthia (c. 970 – Rome 999), great-grandson of Otto the Great and court minister at his cousin’s, Otto III, and appointed successor to John XV by this in 996 during his first Italian campaign,

ascended  as  Gregory  V

Carl Porth as Pope Gregory V

as  the  first  German  the  Apostolic  See

to crown Otto emperor immediately. Yet short time later he had to flee to northern Italy from a rebellion led by the Roman nobleman Crescentius who had been deprived of his power by the nomination of Gregory and only after its crushing by Otto he returned to Rome Christmas 997:

“ G. could exercise his high office now unhindered in Rome … and full of youthful ardor, sometimes even with too much impetuosity, he set about curing the damages of the church and restoring and expanding its and the papacy’s authority … His activity is quite comprehensive, conveyed by universal tendencies … Though the time of the pontificate was only short this first pope of purely German blood holds an eminent place among the Roman bishops; he vigorously paved the way for the rise papacy took in the following century ”

(Theodor Lindner, Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, vol. IX, pp. 626 f.).

Julius Leopold Klein (Miskolcz 1810 – Berlin 1876), known foremost by his not completed 13-volume “History of Tragedy”, soon after finishing medical studies turned to literature as dramatic poet and critic. Yet his tragedies – among which beside Maria i. a. Maria von Medici & Richelieu – failed to meet with lasting success on stage:

“ Nevertheless they are full of spirit and energy of characterization and by their eminent content projecting far beyond the common … Generally the critique doubtless has overlooked too coolly these at any rate highly profound tragedies and it should happen easily that they are granted a resurrection ”

(v. Liliencron, op. cit., XVI, pp. 96 f.).

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