Mural crown

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Mural crown on Cybele (silver tetradrachm issued by Smyrna, 160-150 BC) Tetradrachm Smyrna 160-150 obverse CdM Paris.jpg
Mural crown on Cybele (silver tetradrachm issued by Smyrna, 160–150 BC)

A mural crown (Latin : corona muralis) is a crown or headpiece representing city walls or towers. In classical antiquity, it was an emblem of tutelary deities who watched over a city, and among the Romans a military decoration. Later the mural crown developed into a symbol of European heraldry, mostly for cities and towns, and in the 19th and 20th centuries was used in some republican heraldry.

Crown (headgear) precious item of headwear, symbolizing the power of a ruler

A crown is a traditional symbolic form of headwear, not hat, worn by a monarch or by a deity, for whom the crown traditionally represents power, legitimacy, victory, triumph, honor, and glory, as well as immortality, righteousness, and resurrection. In art, the crown may be shown being offered to those on Earth by angels. Apart from the traditional form, crowns also may be in the form of a wreath and be made of flowers, oak leaves, or thorns and be worn by others, representing what the coronation part aims to symbolize with the specific crown. In religious art, a crown of stars is used similarly to a halo. Crowns worn by rulers often contain jewels.

Fortified tower defensive structure used in fortifications

A fortified tower is one of the defensive structures used in fortifications, such as castles, along with curtain walls. Castle towers can have a variety of different shapes and fulfil different functions.

Classical antiquity Age of the ancient Greeks and Romans

Classical antiquity is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 5th or 6th century AD centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome known as the Greco-Roman world. It is the period in which Greek and Roman society flourished and wielded great influence throughout Europe, North Africa and Western Asia.


Usage in ancient times

In Hellenistic culture, a mural crown identified tutelary deities such as the goddess Tyche (the embodiment of the fortune of a city, familiar to Romans as Fortuna), and Hestia (the embodiment of the protection of a city, familiar to Romans as Vesta). The high cylindrical polos of Cybele too could be rendered as a mural crown in Hellenistic times, specifically designating the mother goddess as patron of a city. [1]

A tutelary is a deity or spirit who is a guardian, patron, or protector of a particular place, geographic feature, person, lineage, nation, culture, or occupation. The etymology of "tutelary" expresses the concept of safety, and thus of guardianship.

Tyche Oceanid of Greek mythology

Tyche was the presiding tutelary deity who governed the fortune and prosperity of a city, its destiny. In Classical Greek mythology, she is the daughter of Aphrodite and Zeus or Hermes.

Fortuna Ancient Roman goddess of fortune and luck

Fortuna was the goddess of fortune and the personification of luck in Roman religion. Fortuna is often depicted with a gubernaculum, a ball or Rota Fortunae and a cornucopia. She might bring good or bad luck: she could be represented as veiled and blind, as in modern depictions of Lady Justice, except that Fortuna does not hold a balance. Fortuna came to represent life's capriciousness. She was also a goddess of fate: as Atrox Fortuna, she claimed the young lives of the princeps Augustus' grandsons Gaius and Lucius, prospective heirs to the Empire.

The Tyche of Antioch, Roman version of a 3rd-century BC bronze by Eutychides Tyche Antioch Vatican Inv2672.jpg
The Tyche of Antioch, Roman version of a 3rd-century BC bronze by Eutychides

The mural crown became an ancient Roman military decoration. The corona muralis (Latin for "walled crown") was a golden crown, or a circle of gold intended to resemble a battlement, bestowed upon the soldier who first climbed the wall of a besieged city or fortress to successfully place the standard of the attacking army upon it. [2] [3] The Roman mural crown was made of gold, and decorated with turrets, [4] as is the heraldic version. As it was among the highest order of military decorations, it was not awarded to a claimant until after a strict investigation. [5] The rostrata mural crown, composed of the rostra indicative of captured ships, was assigned as naval prize to the first in a boarding party, similar to the naval crown.

As with most other military forces the Roman military adopted an extensive list of decorations for military gallantry and likewise a range of punishments for military transgressions.

Gold Chemical element with atomic number 79

Gold is a chemical element with symbol Au and atomic number 79, making it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally. In its purest form, it is a bright, slightly reddish yellow, dense, soft, malleable, and ductile metal. Chemically, gold is a transition metal and a group 11 element. It is one of the least reactive chemical elements and is solid under standard conditions. Gold often occurs in free elemental (native) form, as nuggets or grains, in rocks, in veins, and in alluvial deposits. It occurs in a solid solution series with the native element silver and also naturally alloyed with copper and palladium. Less commonly, it occurs in minerals as gold compounds, often with tellurium.

Battlement part of defensive architecture

A battlement in defensive architecture, such as that of city walls or castles, comprises a parapet, in which gaps or indentations, which are often rectangular, occur at intervals to allow for the launch of arrows or other projectiles from within the defences. These gaps are termed "crenels", and the act of adding crenels to a previously unbroken parapet is termed crenellation. A defensive building might be designed and built with battlements, or a manor house might be fortified by adding battlements, where no parapet previously existed, or cutting crenellations into its existing parapet wall. The solid widths between the crenels are called merlons. A wall with battlements is said to be crenelated or embattled. Battlements on walls have protected walkways behind them. On tower or building tops, the roof is used as the protected fighting platform.

The Graeco-Roman goddess Roma's attributes on Greek coinage usually include her mural crown, signifying Rome's status as a loyal protector of Hellenic city-states. [6]

Roma (mythology) female deity in ancient Roman religion

In ancient Roman religion, Roma was a female deity who personified the city of Rome and more broadly, the Roman state. Her image appears on the base of the column of Antoninus Pius.

Heraldic use

A heraldic mural crown Corona muralis.svg
A heraldic mural crown

The Roman military decoration was subsequently employed in European heraldry, where the term denoted a crown modeled after the walls of a castle, which may be tinctured or (gold), argent (silver), gules (red), or proper (i.e. stone-coloured). In 19th-century Germany, mural crowns (Mauerkronen) came to be adopted for the arms of cities, with increasingly specific details: "Residential (i.e. having a royal residence) cities and capital towns usually bear a Mauerkrone with five towers, large towns one with four towers, smaller towns one with three", observed Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, in A Complete Guide to Heraldry, adding "Strict regulations in the matter do not yet exist" and warning that the usage was not British. [7]

Heraldry profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol

Heraldry is a broad term, encompassing the design, display, and study of armorial bearings, as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, rank, and pedigree. Armory, the best-known branch of heraldry, concerns the design and transmission of the heraldic achievement. The achievement, or armorial bearings usually includes a coat of arms on an shield, helmet, and crest, together with any accompanying devices, such as supporters, badges, heraldic banners, and mottoes.

Castle Fortified residential structure of medieval Europe

A castle is a type of fortified structure built during the Middle Ages by predominantly the nobility or royalty and by military orders. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble. This is distinct from a palace, which is not fortified; from a fortress, which was not always a residence for royalty or nobility; and from a fortified settlement, which was a public defence – though there are many similarities among these types of construction. Usage of the term has varied over time and has been applied to structures as diverse as hill forts and country houses. Over the approximately 900 years that castles were built, they took on a great many forms with many different features, although some, such as curtain walls and arrowslits, were commonplace.

In heraldry, or is the tincture of gold and, together with argent (silver), belongs to the class of light tinctures called "metals", or light colours. In engravings and line drawings, it is hatched using a field of evenly spaced dots. It is very frequently depicted as yellow, though gold leaf was used in many illuminated manuscripts and more extravagant rolls of arms.

In recent times,[ when? ] mural crowns were used, rather than royal crowns, for medieval and modern Italian comuni . A mural-crowned lady, Italia Turrita, personifies Italy. In Italy, comuni and some provinces and military corps have mural crowns on their coats of arms: gold with five towers for cities, and silver with nine-towered for others. The coat of arms of the Second Spanish Republic had a mural crown.

Medieval commune

Medieval communes in the European Middle Ages had sworn allegiances of mutual defense among the citizens of a town or city. These took many forms and varied widely in organization and makeup.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City, as well as a maritime border with Croatia. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe.

<i>Comune</i> third-level administrative divisions of the Italian Republic

The comune is a basic administrative division in Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality.

In the early 20th century Portugal established strict rules for its municipal heraldry, in which each coat of arms contains a mural crown, with three silver towers signifying a village or an urban parish, four silver towers representing a town, five silver towers standing for a city and five gold towers for a capital city. The Portuguese rules are also applied to most municipal coats of arms of Brazil and some other members of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.

Romanian municipal coats of arms contain a mural crown, with one or three towers for villages and communes, five and seven towers for towns and municipalities.

The eagle on the coat of arms of Austria wears a mural crown to signify its status as a republic. This is in contrast to the royal crowns that adorned the double-headed eagle (and the imperial crown positioned above it) in the coat of arms of Austria-Hungary until their defeat in World War I. The mural-crowned eagle was abandoned under the clerico-fascist Federal State of Austria from 1934, but was reinstated in Allied-occupied Austria following World War II and remains in place to this day.

Mural Crowns - France.svg
Mural Crowns - Portugal.svg
Mural Crowns - Romania.svg
Mural crowns of French heraldry:
1. Capital 2. Department Capital 3. Commune
Mural crowns of Portuguese heraldry:
1. Village or urban parish 2. Town 3. City 4. Capital
Mural crowns of Romanian heraldry:
1. Village 2. Town 3. City 4. Capital
Mural Crowns - Brazil.svg
Mural crowns.svg
Mural Crown of Italian City.svg
Mural Crown of Italian Comune.svg
Mural crowns of Brazil:
1. Village 2. Town 3. City 4. Capital
Modern elaborations of mural crowns of Catalan heraldry, without historic usageMural crown of an Italian CityMural crown of an Italian Comune

Examples from heraldry

See also

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  1. The mural crown as an indicator of the personification of a city was thoroughly explored by: Allègre, Fernand (1889). Étude sur la déesse grecque Tyché (in French). Paris. pp. 187–92.
  2. Aulus Gellius, Noctes Attici, V.6.4; Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, XXVI.48
  3. Valerie A. Maxfield (1 January 1981). The Military Decorations of the Roman Army. University of California Press. pp. 77–. ISBN   978-0-520-04499-9.
  4. muri pinnis according to Aulus Gellius
  5. Livy. l.c.; cf. Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars , Augustus 25.
  6. Mellor, R., "The Goddess Roma" in Haase, W., Temporini, H., (eds), Aufstieg und Niedergang der romischen Welt, de Gruyter, 1991, pp 60-63.
  7. William Newton, Display of Heraldry (1846, p. 307) however, instances the crest of Viscount Beresford, and notes examples supporting the crest "to be seen over the arms of many of the British officers who distinguished themselves in the late war".