Poets crown

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Piccolomini's coronation by Friedrich III. Detail from a fresco by Pinturicchio

The concept of the poet's crown is understood in a figurative sense to mean the highest distinction a poet can receive. A poeta laureatus ( Latin for " laurel- crowned poet ") is a poet wreathed with an evergreen laurel wreath. The designation national poet is less official, but similar in rank .

The award of the poet's crown was based on the ancient Greek and Roman custom of crowning the winner in the poets' contest with laurel and thus officially honoring him. The poet was to be given permanent fame .

After the tradition of the coronation of poets was occasionally resumed in the High Middle Ages, the old custom was remembered, especially during humanism in Italy. There, cities and universities in particular crowned poets. In the 15th century, the Roman emperors increasingly crowned poets. In 1501 Maximilian I gave the collegium poetarum atque mathematicorum the privilegium creandi poetas . The winners of the poets' crown were given the right to hold lectures on poetics and rhetoric at all universities in the empire. In the Baroque period, the emperor delegated the title of Count Palatine to already crowned famous poets such as Johann Rist and Sigmund von Birken , which authorized them to undertake coronations of poets themselves.

Due to the academic institutionalization, the emperors later crowned only a few poets and left this to the universities and their rectors. Since the middle of the 17th century, the use of poets' coronations was almost inflationary, and the title Poeta laureatus lost almost completely the social significance it had had since humanism. In the Age of Enlightenment , poets themselves increasingly showed no interest in the coronation of poets. Goethe even refused them. The last imperial coronation of poets took place in 1804. With the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the poeta laureatus also disappeared as a stately recognized institution.

In Great Britain there is still the honorary title of Poet Laureate .

Crowned poets


  • Christoph Schubert : Coronation of poets. In: Albrecht Cordes , Heiner Lück , Dieter Werkmüller , Ruth Schmidt-Wiegand (eds.): Concise dictionary on German legal history . Volume 1: Aachen - Spiritual Bank. 2nd, completely revised and enlarged edition. Erich Schmidt, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-503-07912-4 , Sp. 1032-1034.
  • John L. Flood: Poets Laureate in the Holy Roman Empire. A Bio-Bibliographical Handbook. 4 volumes. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin et al. 2006, ISBN 3-11-018100-2 (describes more than 1300 poets crowned by the emperor between 1355 and 1804).
  • Albert Schirrmeister: Triumph of the poet. Crowned intellectuals in the 16th century. Böhlau, Cologne et al. 2003, ISBN 3-412-09703-9 (At the same time: Freiburg (Breisgau), University, dissertation, 2002: Poetae laureati - intellectuals in the 16th century. ).
  • Dieter Mertens : On the social history and function of the poeta laureatus in the age of Maximilian I. In: Rainer Christoph Schwinges (Hrsg.): Schehre im Reich. On the social and impact history of academic elites from the 14th to the 16th century (= journal for historical research . Supplement. 18). Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-428-08728-3 , pp. 327-348.
  • Hanna Leitgeb: The excellent author. Municipal literary prizes and cultural policy in Germany 1926–1971 (= European Cultures. Vol. 4). de Gruyter, Berlin et al. 1994, ISBN 3-11-014402-6 ( European Cultures 4), (also: Cologne, University, dissertation, 1994).
  • Alois Schmid : "Poeta et orator a Caesare laureatus". The coronations of the poets of Emperor Maximilian I. In: Historisches Jahrbuch . Vol. 109, 1989, pp. 56-108.