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1911 engraving of Werner

Friedrich Ludwig Zacharias Werner (November 18, 1768 ‚Äď January 17, 1823) was a German poet, dramatist, and preacher.

Werner was born at Königsberg in East Prussia. His mother died a religious maniac, and Werner inherited her weak and unbalanced nature. At the University of Königsberg, he studied law; but Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Rousseau's German disciples were the influences that shaped his view of life. For years he oscillated violently between aspirations towards the state of nature, which betrayed him into a series of rash and unhappy marriages, and a sentimental admiration, common to so many of the Romanticists, for the Roman Catholic Church, which ended in 1811 in his conversion. Werner's talent was soon recognized and obtained for him, despite his personal character, a small government post at Warsaw, which he exchanged later for one at Berlin.

In the course of his travels, and by correspondence, Werner became acquainted with many eminent literary figures of the time; and succeeded in having his plays put on the stage, where they met with much success. His Attila is the source for Verdi's opera of the same name. In 1814 he was ordained a priest, and, exchanging the pen for the pulpit, became a popular preacher at Vienna, where, during the famous congress of 1814, his eloquent but fanatical sermons were listened to by crowded congregations. Werner died in Vienna.



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