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Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire: Wikis


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Front view of the Imperial Crown
Side view of the crown
Closeup of one of the plates

The Imperial Crown (German: Reichskrone), is the crown of the King of the Romans, the rulers of the German Kingdom, since the High Middle Ages. Most of the kings were crowned with it. It was made probably somewhere in Western Germany, either under Conrad I or by Otto I (with additions by Conrad II), under Conrad II, or under Conrad III during the late 10th century. The first preserved mention of it is from the 12th century — assuming it is the same crown, which seems very probable.

Along with the Imperial Cross (Reichskreuz), the Imperial Sword (Reichsschwert), and the Holy Lance (Heilige Lanze), the crown was the most important part of the Imperial Regalia (Reichskleinodien). During the coronation, it was given to the new king along with the sceptre (Zepter) and the Imperial Orb (Reichsapfel). The Imperial Regalia of the Holy Roman Empire, especially the Imperial Crown, were all kept 1424–1796 in Nuremberg (Nürnberg), located in the historical Franconia, the midland of the kingdom and the origin of Frankish state in Germany — and could only leave the city for the coronation.

Currently, the crown and the rest of the Imperial Regalia are exhibited at the Hofburg in Vienna — officially "until there is again a Holy Roman Emperor of the German Nation".

An identical copy is in Aachen in Germany in the Krönungssaal of Charlemagne's former palace, now town hall. There are also copies of the crown and regalia in the historic museum of Frankfurt, as most of the late Emperors where crowned in the cathedral of the city, as well in the fortress of Trifels in the Rhenish Palatinate, where the Imperial Crown was stored in Medieval times.



The Imperial Crown does not look like most more modern crowns. The crown does not have a round shape, but an octagonal one. Instead of a ring, it has eight hinged plates which are rounded off at the top. Two strips of iron, riveted with golden rivets to the plates, hold the crown together and give it its octagonal shape. At what point these iron strips were installed is unknown.

Each plate of the crown is made out of a high carat gold, around 22 carats, which gives the crown a "buttery" colour, and is studded with pearls and precious stones. The stones are not cut into facets (a technique still unknown when the crown was made), but rather polished into rounded shapes. This technique is an ancient one and gemstones like this are described as being "en cabochon", which are still made to this day. The pearls and the stones were put into openings that were cut into the metal, and fastened with thin wires. The effect was that when the light shone in, the stones looked as if they would shine from within.

The crown is decorated with 144 precious stones (including sapphires, emeralds and amethysts) and about the same number of pearls.

Four smaller plates bear pictorial representations from the Bible in cloisonné enamel, in the Byzantine style. The four plates, called Bildplatten, show three representations from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. The three from the Old Testament show the kings David, Solomon, and Hezekiah with the prophet Isaiah. The plate from the New Testament shows Jesus with two angels. The other four plates, called stone-plates (Steinplatten), are of differing sizes and are decorated solely by precious stone and pearls in raised settings.

Commemorative coin

The Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire was recently selected as the main motif for a high value commemorative coin, the €100 Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire commemorative coin, minted in 2008. The obverse shows the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire. The reverse shows the Emperor Otto I with old St. Peter's Basilica in Rome in the background, where his coronation took place.

See also




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