The Imperial Regalia, insignia, or crown jewels (in German Reichskleinodien, Reichsinsignien, or Reichsschatz) are the regalia of the Emperors and Kings of the Holy Roman Empire. The most important parts are the Imperial Crown, the Holy Lance and the Imperial Sword. Today they are kept at the Schatzkammer Treasury in the Hofburg palace in Vienna, Austria.
The Imperial Regalia are the only completely preserved regalia from the Middle Ages. During the late Middle Ages, the word Imperial Regalia (Reichskleinodien) had many variations in the Latin language. The regalia were either named in Latin: insignia imperialia, regalia insignia, insignia imperalis capellae quae regalia dicuntur and other similar words.
The regalia is composed of two different parts. The greater group are the so-called Nürnberger Kleinodien (roughly translated Nuremberg jewels), named after the town of Nuremberg where the regalia were kept from 1424 to 1796. This part comprised the Imperial Crown, parts of the coronation vestments, the Imperial Orb (a globus cruciger), the Imperial Sceptre, the Imperial Sword, the Ceremonial Sword, the Imperial Cross, the Holy Lance, and all other reliquiaries except St. Stephen's Purse.
St. Stephen's Purse, the Imperial Bible, and the so-called Saber of Charlemagne were kept in Aachen until 1794. That is why the lesser part is called Aachener Kleinodien (Aachen jewels). It is not known since when this part has been included among the Imperial Regalia, nor how long these regalia were kept in Aachen.
|Present inventory in Vienna:|
|Aachen regalia (Aachener Kleinodien)||Probable place of origin, and date of production|
|Imperial Bible (Reichsevangeliar or Krönungsevangeliar)||Aachen, end of 8th century|
|St. Stephen's Purse (Stephansbursa)||Carolingian, 1st third of 9th century|
|Sabre of Charlemagne (Säbel Karl des Großen)||Eastern Europe, 2nd half of 9th century|
|Nuremberg regalia (Nürnberger Kleinodien)||Probable place of origin, and date of production|
|Imperial Crown (Reichskrone)||Western Germany, 2nd half of 10th century|
|Imperial Cross (Reichskreuz)||Western Germany, around 1024/1025|
|Holy Lance (Heilige Lanze)||Langobardian, 8th/9th century|
|Relics of the True Cross (Kreuzpartikel)|
|Imperial Sword (Reichsschwert)||Sheath from Germany, 2nd third-part of 11th century|
|Imperial Orb (Reichsapfel)||Western Germany, around end of 12th century|
|Coronation Mantle (Krönungsmantel) (Pluviale)||Palermo, 1133/34|
|Dalmatic (Dalmatica or Tunicella)||Palermo, around 1140|
|Stockings||Palermo, around 1170|
|Shoes||Palermo, around 1130 or around 1220|
|Ceremonial Sword (Zeremonienschwert)||Palermo, 1220|
|Stole (Stola)||Central Italy, before 1338|
|Eagle-dalmatic (Adlerdalmatica)||Upper Germany, before 1350|
|Imperial Sceptre (Zepter)||Germany, 1st half of 14th century|
|Aspergille||Germany, 1st. half of 14th century|
|Reliquary with chains||Rome or Prague, around 1368|
|Reliquary with a piece of vestment of the John the Evangelist||Rome or Prague, around 1368|
|Reliquary with a shaving of the Crib of Christ||Rome or Prague, around 1368|
|Reliquary with an arm-bone of St. Anne||probably Prague after 1350|
|Reliquary with a tooth of John the Baptist||Bohemia, after 1350|
|Case (Futteral) of the Imperial Crown||Prague, after 1350|
|Reliquary with a piece of the tablecloth used during the Last Supper|
The inventory of the regalia during the late Middle Ages normally consisted only of five to six items. Goffredo da Viterbo counted following items: the Imperial Cross, the Holy Lance, the crown, the sceptre, the orb, and the sword. On other lists, however, the sword is not mentioned.
Whether the medieval chronicles really do refer to the same regalia which are kept in Vienna today depends on a variety of factors. Descriptions of the emperors only spoke of them being “clothed in imperial regalia” without exactly describing which items they were.
The crown can only be dated back to the 13th century, when it is described in a medieval poem. The poem speaks of the Waise (i.e., The Orphan) stone, which was a big and prominent jewel on the front of the crown, probably a white opal with an exceptionally brilliant red fire and has since been replaced by a triangular blue sapphire. The first definite pictorial image of the crown can only be found later in a mural in the Karlstein Castle close to Prague.
It is also difficult to define for how long the Imperial and Ceremonial Swords have belonged to the regalia.
- Weltliche und Geistliche Schatzkammer. Bildführer. Kunsthistorischen Museum, Vienna. 1987. ISBN 3-7017-0499-6
- Fillitz, Hermann. Die Schatzkammer in Wien: Symbole abendländischen Kaisertums. Vienna, 1986. ISBN 3-7017-0443-0
- Fillitz, Hermann. Die Insignien und Kleinodien des Heiligen Römischen Reiches, 1954.
- Heigl, Peter. The Imperial Regalia in the Nazi Bunker/ Der Reichsschatz im Nazibunker. Nuremberg 2005. ISBN 3-9810269-1-8
Media related to Imperial Regalia of the Holy Roman Empire at Wikimedia Commons