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Marozia (* around 892; † after 932), daughter of Count Theophylact I of Tusculum and Theodora I , ruled Rome as a self-appointed Senator ( Senatrix ).

Marozia - the name was a diminutive of Maria at the time - was married to Alberich I for the first time, to Guido von Tuszien for the second and to Hugo of Provence for the third . In addition, at a young age she was reportedly the mistress of Pope Sergius III. and with him had a son who also became Pope, namely John XI. as reported by Liutprand from Cremona .

From about 914 to 932 she ruled the Papal States , the Popes John X , Leo VI. , Stephan VII. And Johannes XI. were dependent on the families of the city nobility led by them.

Around 932 Marozia (presumably together with John XI.) Was captured by her son Alberich II , who now took power in Rome. This happened during her attempted coronation of Hugo as emperor, which would have made her empress herself. Her grandson Octavian was named John XII. also Pope. After the year 932 it is no longer mentioned in history, its further fate is unknown. Presumably she died in captivity. According to a necrology , she died on June 26th, but this, as usual, withholds the year of death.

The image of Marozia as a power-hungry pornocrat is strongly influenced by the monk Liutprand of Cremona , who paints a very negative image of her, characterized by anti-Roman propaganda. At the same time, he has no understanding of the various forms of marriage that were still common at the time and which he condemns from a monastic perspective.


Origin, family

Marozia was born in Rome around 892 as the daughter of Theophylact and Theodora , her name being a diminutive of Maria. Her father held one of the three highest offices in the Lateran Palace, that of vestararius , at the same time he was magister militum and senator. He belonged to a family on the Via Lata . After him, historians named the line of the family that came to be known as theophylacts. Probably through Marozia and her son Alberich (II.), This branch dominated Roman politics from the late 9th to the middle of the 10th century. It was continued in the dynasty of the Counts of Tusculum. Her mother, Teodora vestararissa , also came from a Roman aristocratic family. Marozia had at least four siblings, namely Theodora (II), who died before 945, and from whom the Crescentians were descended, then a brother, perhaps called Theophylactus, who died young; finally Sergia and Boniface, who died as children and were buried in Santa Maria Maggiore .

Relationship to Pope Sergius III, conflicting sources

As Liutprand of Cremona reports in the Antapodosis (p. 58), she had a “nefarium adulterium” with Pope Sergius III. entertained, from whom she gave birth to a child named John, who later became John XI. Became Pope. This is usually put around 907.

Most authors accepted Liutprand's condemnation, others, including Pietro Fedele and Paolo Brezzi, believed that it was more of a slander. But even if Liutprand liked to portray adulterium and luxuria as instruments of power for women, there are at least two other sources that confirm the process independently of Liutprand's work. In the papal lists of the 10th century John appears as “ex patre Sergio papa” ( liber pontificalis ), while Flodoard von Reims declares him “filium Marie, que et Marocia dicitur” (Annales, p. 381). So one source confirms the fatherhood of the Pope, the other the motherhood of Marozia. Other authors, however, cannot be listed here because they depend on Liutprand , like Gregorius Catinensis in Chronicon Farfense (late 11th century). Other sources believe that Johannes was the son of Alberich I , Marozia's husband, and thus the offspring of a legitimate relationship. At the same time, cohabitation was just as common a form of long-term relationship between men and women as the marriage of priests. So the connotation was by no means negative, such relationships not uncommon. The authors from the monastic field, such as Liutprand, did not accept these forms of attachment and therefore judged them extremely negatively.

Marriage to Alberich (915), Saracen victory, city rule

Around 915, Marozia allied with Alberic I , Margrave of Spoleto and Camerino. Again a monk, this time Benedetto di Sant'Andrea del Soratte, accuses Marozia of having lived with a daughter of Theophylact "non quasi uxor sed in consuetudinem malignam" (p. 153). Alberich of Rome was one of the offspring of this illegitimate connection, while Liutprand is now keeping a low profile on legitimacy (“ex Alberico autem marchione, Albericum”, p. 58). It is difficult to believe that the four or five children they had, namely Alberich (II.) (Born in a palace on the Aventine ), Costantino, Sergio (later Bishop of Nepi ), then a daughter , becomes difficult to believe Berta and maybe another daughter.

As said Benedetto suggests (followed by Ferdinand Gregorovius in his History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages ), this family alliance was at the height of its power after John X succeeded in uniting the divided principalities in an alliance against the Saracens . Its troops succeeded in 915 on Garigliano a victory over said Saracens. Pope John personally led the army from Rome and Tuscany. Relations with the Duchy of Spoleto and within Rome finally improved . Marozia did not yet play an active role in this, but she held a key position in the family alliance.

Death of the clan heads, power struggle with King Hugo of Provence, marriage to Guido of Tuszien (926/927), victory over the Pope

But in the early 920s, one influential family member after another, namely Theophylact, Theodora, Alberich von Spoleto, died. In this power vacuum, John X, who rose to Pope in 914, ruled. Up until then he had been a loyal follower of Theopylakt, even if Liutprand again considers him a lover of Theodora. Now he began a policy clearly directed against Marozia and the urban oligarchy behind her . He allied himself with Hugo of Provence , the new king of Italy, in Mantua in the middle of 926 . In it he promised him the coronation of the emperor, the transfer of Sabina , where the theopylacts had interests, as well as the transfer of the Duchy of Spoleto and the march of Camerino to his brother Peter. Alberich was thus excluded from his inheritance and the Senate was divided.

In return, Marozia married Guido or Wido , the margrave of Tuscany from the Bonifacians , around 926/927 , who rejected Hugo's hegemony. As the monk Benedetto (Chronicon, p. 157) reports, after building a strong castle in Orte , Margrave Peter expanded and then recruited Hungarians who devastated Roman territory and Tuscany. In the spring of 927 Marozia and Guido managed to lock Petrus into places outside Rome. This made the train to Rome impossible for Hugo. After Peter invaded Rome at the end of 927, he was again besieged there while Hugo was outside Italy. After Liutprand, the couple succeeded in overpowering Peter, who had locked himself in the Lateran with a few faithful. He was killed in front of his papal brother. In June 928 the Pope was also imprisoned and died the following year. If you follow Liutprand, he was strangled.

Immediate rule of Marozia, marriage projects (from 927/928)

After this victory over the Pope and Margrave, over John X and Peter of Spoleto, the period of the immediate rule of Marozia began. She acquired the title of a senatrix Romanorum (as several sources show) and a patricia (as Flodoard claims). Due to the lack of municipal and private documents, little is known about their rule. During the years 928 to 932, not only did John X step down, but three popes were lifted to the throne, namely Leo VI. (928), Stephan VII. (929–931) and finally their young son Johannes.

After Guido's death in 929, who had a daughter and a second Berta, but no heir, Marozia had to look around again for a suitable candidate for marriage. Hugo had left Tuscany as vicariate to his brother-in-law Adalbert, which also closed this path. Possibly, according to Gina Fasoli , the temptation arose to connect with Byzantium . Emperor Romanos II was supposed to marry a prince of his house to one of Marozia's daughters, possibly the first Berta. However, when the imperial embassy arrived in Rome in February 933, Marozia had already lost power.

Marozia, who had no protection for her position of power after the death of her husband, offered her hand to her previous opponent Hugo. This accepted the offer, especially since it was the coronation of the emperor by John XI. was connected, and thus rule over Rome and Tuscany would fall to him. Already in July 931 Johannes sent the pallium to Hilduin , the archbishop of Milan. This was a clear gesture of approach. In July 932 Hugo came to Rome for the wedding celebration. But Alberich saw his legacy endangered and a rebellion broke out in the course of which Marozia and Hugo were locked up in the Castel Sant'Angelo at the end of December 932 . This is reported by Benedetto as well as Liutprand and Flodoard.

Fall by her son Alberich (932), death (before 936?)

According to Benedetto ( Chronicon , p. 166), Alberich feared being dazzled by Hugo; according to Liutprand, Marozia had planned that Alberich would give Hugo the water at a party. Instead, he doused him with a disrespectful gesture, whereupon Alberich was slapped. In order to anger the Romans against Marozia and Hugo, Alberich had now given a misogynist and xenophobic speech against his mother and the "Burgundiones" (Antapodosis, p. 97 f.). In addition, Liutprand objects to the marriage, Hugo and Marozia were too closely related, because Hugo was a half-brother of Guido of Tuscany. Marozia should never have married her cognate. The two sources contradict each other as to what triggered the uprising. Perhaps, according to Gina Fasoli (p. 123), Hugo provoked this reaction in order to have a pretext for disempowerment. For the city nobility, its autonomy was incompatible with the presence of the king within the city walls.

While Liutprand claims that the couple fled, Marozia stayed with Flodoard in Rome ( Historia Remensis Ecclesie , p. 416 and Annales , p. 381). You and Johannes were probably placed under Alberich's supervision.

A document claims that Marozia died in 945, but she was probably already dead in 936 when Alberich and King Hugo were negotiating a marriage between Alberich and Alda of Provence, the king's daughter (that is, between two siblings by marriage). The anniversary of her death is June 28, she was buried in the monastery of S. Ciriaco e Nicola on Via Lata.


Powerful women are almost a characteristic of the 10th century and the first half of the 11th century. They enjoyed an autonomy that was difficult to explain in later epochs. The same applies to the role of permanently tied couples, in which the woman was in a considerably stronger position than in later times. In the specific case of Rome there was also the fact that the transition of the family poles of power often took place via the female line. Alberich took over the female legacy of Rome and not the male, namely Spoleto and Camerino. The position of the respective families could be strengthened or weakened by means of marriages, which in turn gave external families a great influence.

Marozia has always been considered one of the most controversial figures of the early Middle Ages, for which contemporary, monastic historiography is primarily responsible. That Benedetto di S. Andrea del Soratte quotes Isaiah (3, 4) to substantiate the situation of a woman's domination of the Church : “Subiugatus est Romam potestative in manu femine, sicut in propheta legimus: 'Feminini dominabuntur Hierusalem!'” (P 161). For him, this unthinkable situation of ruling Rome or Jerusalem could only be explained by a divine plan of salvation, as the prophet had just announced. Liudprand not only describes Marozia, but also other female greats of his time with terms such as "scortum" and "meretrix". In connection with Alberich, on the other hand, he introduces the term “meretricum imperium”, a term that was soon sharpened to culminate in the term “pornocracy” by Baronio (p. 650), a term used in the popular Historiography has never gone away. On the contrary, he is kept in consciousness by imaginative descriptions of the alleged conditions at the time. The misogynist basic tone of Liutprand increases in Marozia to the extent that he presents a 'trembling Venus' in her. You and the other Senatrices , such as Theodora [II.], Marozia [II.] Or Stefania, probably form the starting point for the legend of Popess Joan.

In the dispute between the denominations, Marozia almost became a symbol of the moral state of the Catholic Church. In popularizing works, Marozia became "the worst maitress" or even "this horny Roman", with which the Protestant side sought to defame the Roman popes, she was the "Ertzverhurte", "the evil pattern of all fornication".

The eulogy of Eugenius Vulgarius , who addresses Theodora as “sanctissima et Deo amata venenerabilis matrona”, forms a strong contrast , as do other sources, the senators portray the senators as modest people and generously against the Church.

According to Gina Fasoli's judgment , Marozia was probably not an example of Christian modesty, but the basis of her rule was probably different from mere luxury and mere sinfulness. According to the historian, Marozia needed a lot of talent, great abilities and few scruples (p. 108).

The historical material occupied a number of writers and dramaturges, among them Filippo Pistrucci, who presented his tragedy Marozia in 1839 , or the historian and writer Raffaello Giovagnoli , who wrote his work Marozia in 1875 . Dramma storico in cinque atti in versi published a year after Marozia. Scene storiche by Antonio Vismara was published. AG Hales published his English-language Opus Marozia in 1908 . The series could be continued. In 2005, the writer Eric Walz published The Lady of the Popes, a historical novel whose plot is freely developed around the life of Marozia. In 2006 Frederik Berger published the book The Secret Popess, another novel about the story of Marozia, followed by Sex - Power - Whore rule in 2017 . Marozia - historical-biographical novel by Martin Spirig. The mixture of “pornocracy”, church criticism and contempt for women, but also the presentation of “medieval” stereotypes, as they were presented on Deutschlandfunk 2019 - at least scientifically classified through interviews with the historian Klaus Herbers and the church historian Hubert Wolf , the latter - was suitable for popularization however, only commented on celibacy .


  • Liutprandus Cremonensis, Antapodosis , in: Die Werke Liudprand von Cremona , ed. by Joseph Becker , Monumenta Germaniae Historica , Scriptores rerum Germanicarum in usum scholarum, XLI, Hannover and Leipzig 1915, pp. 59, 71, 73, 81, 95-98.
  • Flodoardus Remensis, Historia Remensis Ecclesiae , ed. by Martina Stratmann , Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores, XXXVI, Hannover 1998, p. 416.
  • Auxilius and Vulgarius. Sources and research on the history of papacy in the beginning of the tenth century , ed. by Ernst Dümmler , Leipzig 1866, p. 146 f.
  • Le liber pontificalis , ed. by Louis Duchesne , Vol. II, Paris 1892, p. 243.
  • Vincenzo Federici : Regesto del monastero di S. Silvestro de Capite , in Archivio della Società romana di storia patria, XXII (1899), doc. 3, a. 965.
  • Gregorio di Catino , Il Chronicon Farfense…, ed. by Ugo Balzani, vol. I (= Fonti per la storia d'Italia [Medio Evo], XXXIII), Rome 1903, p. 241 (Gregorius Catinensis).
  • Destructio monasterii Farfensis edita a domno Ugone abate (= Fonti per la storia d'Italia [Medio Evo], XXXIII), Rome 1903, p. 39 f.
  • Necrologi e libri affini della provincia romana , ed. by Pietro Egidi (= Fonti per la storia d'Italia [Medio Evo], XLIV), Rome 1908, p. 42.
  • Il Chronicon di Benedetto monaco di S. Andrea del Soratte e il Libellus de imperatoria potestate in Urbe Roma , ed. by Giuseppe Zucchetti (= Fonti per la storia d'Italia [Medio Evo], LV), Rome 1920, pp. 158–160, 165 f.
  • Giulio Savio: Monumenta onomastica Romana Medii Aevi (X-XII sec.) , Vol. III, Rome 1999, pp. 977-982; Vol. IV, Rome 1999, pp. 1153-1158, 1181-1186.


  • Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri:  Marozia. In: Mario Caravale (ed.): Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (DBI). Volume 70:  Marcora – Marsilio. Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, Rome 2007.
  • Harald Zimmermann : Marozia , in: Lexikon des Mittelalters , Vol. VI, 1999, dtv, Munich 2002, Sp. 321.
  • Bruno W. Häuptli:  Marozia. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 22, Bautz, Nordhausen 2003, ISBN 3-88309-133-2 , Sp. 808-811.
  • Valeria Beolchini: Tusculum 2. Tuscolo, una roccaforte dinastica a controllo della valle Latina , Rome 2006, pp. 32, 34-37, 42, 46 f.
  • Claudia Gnocchi: Sergio III , in: Enciclopedia dei papi , II, Rome 2000, p. 62.
  • Ambrogio M. Piazzoni: Leone VI , in: Enciclopedia dei papi , II, Rome 2000, p. 68 f.
  • Ambrogio M. Piazzoni: Giovanni XI , in: Enciclopedia dei papi , II, Rome 2000, pp. 70–72.
  • Roland Pauler: Giovanni XII , in: Enciclopedia dei papi , II, Rome 2000, p. 79.
  • Cesare D'Onofrio: Mille anni di leggenda: una donna sul trono di Pietro , Rome 1978, pp. 97, 181.
  • Bernard Hamilton: The house of Theophilact and the promotion of the religious life among women in tenth century Rome , in Studia monastica, XII (1970) 195-217 (speculates without sources that Marozia was put in the monastery of S. Maria in Campo Marzio ).
  • Girolamo Arnaldi : Alberico di Roma , in: Dizionario biografico degli Italiani , I, Rome 1960, pp. 647–650.
  • Girolamo Arnaldi: Alberico di Spoleto , in: Dizionario biografico degli Italiani , I, Rome 1960, p. 659.
  • Francesco Liverani: Frammenti di storia ecclesiastica , Vol. II, 1, Rome 1859, pp. 45, 47 f., 65, 70-73, 75 f.
  • Pierluigi Galletti: Del vestarario della Santa Romana Chiesa , Rome 1758, p. 46. ( digitized version )
  • Valentin Ernst Löscher : History of the Roman whore regiment of Theodorae and Maroziae , Leipzig 1705. ( digitized version )
  • Cesare Baronio : Annales ecclesiastici , Vol. X, Antwerp 1618, pp. 650, 663, 690, 693, 695 f.

Web links


  1. ^ Pietro Fedele: Ricerche per la storia di Roma e del Papato nel secolo X , in: Archivio della Società romana di storia patria, XXXIII (1910) 177-217; XXXIV (1911) 75-115 and 393-423.
  2. Paolo Brezzi: Roma e l'Impero medievale (774-1252) , Bologna 1947, pp. 97-113.
  3. ^ Ferdinand Gregorovius : History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages , Stuttgart 1859–1872, Vol. VI, 1, pp. 262 f., 281–292.
  4. Gina Fasoli : I re d'Italia (888-962) , Florenz 1949, pp. 107–114, 120–124, 239 f., Here: p. 121.
  5. Il regesto del monastero dei Ss. Andrea e Gregorio ad Clivum Scauri , ed. by Alberto Bartola, Rome 2003, n. 68, pp. 295–305.
  6. Gina Fasoli, p. 108.
  7. For example, if in 2004 Horst Herrmann still said: Popes and their children : “These popes are still officially regarded as legitimate incumbents and are included in the papal list, even if they had nothing - and their bed companions everything to say. “An even more blatant example of the lack of understanding for the contemporary ideological disputes and the resources of their time, which flowed into the sources, is Peter de Rosa's contribution Papal Pornocracy ( Memento of October 7, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (in the Internet Archive at archive. org, as of October 7, 2007, as of November 6, 2019).
  8. For example in The Touched Maiden Honor of the Lutheran Churches, From a disgraceful allowance / quasi such / the Grose Hur supposed in holy revelation of Johannis / In several letters to a Roman Catholic religious, modestly saved / By Innocentium de Rouge , o . O., 1714, pp. 21 and 30 ( digitized version ).
  9. ^ Filippo Pistrucci: Marozia , London 1837 ( digitized ).
  10. ^ Raffaello Giovagnoli : Marozia. Dramma storico in cinque atti in versi , Milan 1875 ( digitized ).
  11. ^ Antonio Vismara: Marozia , Milan 1874 ( digitized version ).
  12. ^ AG Hales: Marozia , London 1908 ( digitized version ).
  13. Sergius becomes Pope - the beginning of "pornocracy" in the Vatican , Deutschlandfunk Nova , July 19, 2019.