Crown of Charlemagne

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The Crown of Charlemagne from 1271, used as French coronation crown.

The Crown of Charlemagne was a name given to the ancient coronation crown of Kings of the Franks, and later Kings of France after 1237.

It was probably originally made as a simple circlet of four curved rectangular jewelled plates for Charles the Bald, the grandson of Charlemagne, but later, four large jewelled fleur-de-lis were added to these four original plates, probably by Philip Augustus around 1180 and surmounted by a cap decorated with precious stones. At this time a similar but open crown, the one of the queen, existed too. One of them was melted down in 1590 by the Catholic League during the siege of Paris. The remaining crown was used up to the reign of King Louis XVI, who was crowned in 1775 in the Cathedral in Reims.

French kings had also their personal crowns, worn after the coronation, during the banquet, like Saint Louis, Henry IV or Louis XIV.[1][2][3] which were later donated to the treasury of the Abbey of Saint Denis near Paris,[4][5] the traditional burial place of the Capetian dynasty.

Only one of the personal crowns remains, manufactured for the coronation of Louis XV in 1722, the Crown of Louis XV. But the coronation crown, the Crown of Charlemagne, was destroyed in the French Revolution, like some of the mediaeval regalia.[6] From the Ancien Régime, except for Louis XV's crown, only the medieval Joyeuse, the coronation sword of the French kings, the spurs, the brooch of Saint Louis, the sceptre, called Hand of Justice, and the sceptre of Charles V, as well as the antique cup of the Ptolemies with its paten and the coronation chalice survived.

The Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire or Reichskrone, probably made for the coronation of Otto the Great in 962 at the workshops of the imperial monastery of Reichenau, was also later identified as the Crown of Charlemagne and as such appeared on the escutcheon of the Arch-Treasurer of the Holy Roman Empire and at the top of the coat of arms of the Habsburg emperors at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna.

When Napoleon proclaimed himself Emperor of France, he also called his own imperial crown the "Crown of Charlemagne".


  1. ^ [1] The main cupboard of the treasure of Saint Denis with four crowns including the ones of Charlemagne down right and of the Queens down left.
  2. ^ [2] One of the seven cupboards of the treasure of Saint Denis with four crowns including the one of Saint Louis down right
  3. ^ [3] Crown of Saint Louis.
  4. ^ [4] The royal crowns in the treasure of Saint Denis in 1706, from Dom Michel Félibien, Histoire de L'Abbaye Royale de Saint-Denys en France
  5. ^ [5] Plates of the treasure from Dom Michel Félibien, Histoire de L'Abbaye Royale de Saint-Denys en France, 1706
  6. ^ Three medieval crowns which were preserved at Saint Denis were destroyed during the French Revolution. One of these is shown being worn by the king in the painting “The Mass of St. Giles”. Some believe that this may represents the French coronation crown even if it looks like more likely the one of Saint Louis.[6]