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The Throne of Charlemagne (German : Karlsthron or Aachener Königsthron, "Royal Throne of Aachen") is a throne erected in the 790s by Charlemagne, as one of the fittings of his palatine chapel in Aachen (today's Aachen Cathedral) and placed in the Octagon of the church. Until 1531, it served as the coronation throne of the King of the Romans, being used at a total of thirty-one coronations. As a result, especially in the eleventh century, it was referred to as the totius regni archisolium ("Archstool of the Whole Realm"). Charlemagne himself was not crowned on this throne, but instead in the Old St. Peter's Basilica in Rome by Pope Leo III in 800 AD.
The throne is very plain and simple and entirely free of ornamentation. Six steps lead up to the seat, which is on a podium. The seat itself consists of four marble plates held together with bronze clamps. According to one modern theory, the marble and the steps were taken from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem around 800. Another (unverified) interpretation claims they are the steps of Pilate's palace, which Jesus climbed up after he was whipped.There are fine, incised lines on one of the two side-plates, which served as the board for an ancient game of nine men's morris. The back plate shows an early depiction of the crucifixion. Based on the surface treatment and the presence of etchings from several eras of pagan and Christian themes, it can be concluded that when the plates were installed here, they had belonged to at least two contexts already.
The wooden interior structure, which is now in the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn, supported a now-lost marble seating plate. Under that is a shelf, on which part of the Imperial Regalia were kept, particularly St. Stephen's Purse, according to modern research. Radiocarbon dating shows that this oakwood panel dates to c.800.
The throne rests on four stone pillars. This made it possible for visitors in later times to crawl under the throne, simultaneously a demonstration of humility to the newly anointed ruler and an act of veneration for Jesus Christ, who was related to the throne by the depiction on the rear marble plaque (see under Symbolism). The polished appearance of the inner surfaces of the four pillars indicates that countless visitors must have observed this ritual over the centuries.The area is now roped off.
The Throne has survived all renovations and demolitions in the chapel through the centuries. However, in the course of measures taken by the Cathedral chapter for the protection of the precious artefacts of the cathedral and its treasury against the bombing and fire-fighting water in the Second World War, it was covered with tar paper and buried in sand. Today there are dirty yellow stains on the throne from the tar paper, which have not been removed for fear of damaging the ancient graffiti on the throne.
In the passage underneath the throne and in the immediate vicinity, the original Carolingian flooring is preserved. The types of stone incorporated into this are from ancient ruins and were laid in the Italian representational style. Specifically, the original flooring is of white marble, spinach-green porphyry and red porphyry from Egypt. The material might derive from the Palace of Theoderic in Ravenna, where many similar floor tiles have been found.
The throne, whose symbolic connections qualify it as an outstanding document of the Carolingian Renaissance, is found in the west gallery of the upper level (called the high church) of the Carolingian octagon.
The placement of the throne is in a tight structural context within the Palatine chapel, whose proportional ratios create a symbolic image of the Heavenly Jerusalem, expressed in numbers. Probably following the biblical model of the throne of Solomon, which also placed the ruler in a separate sphere by means of a gallery, the throne was assigned the highest place and thereby unmistakably symbolised the Emperor's claim to temporal and spiritual rulership over the realm and his function as mediator between heaven and earth. In this respect the number of steps could be of symbolic relevance, since according to I Kings 10.19 Solomon's throne also had six steps and stood in a hall which was opposite a cube-shaped (i.e. six-faced) templeː the Holy of Holies (I Kings 7.6f.). Deliberate reference to the model of Solomon's throne was fitting for Charlemagne's claim to an unconditional universal rule as regent of a Christian world empire, ruling over a new chosen people – so to speak as a new Solomon. This meaning is strengthened by Charlemagne's documented admiration as King for the equally prestigious father and predecessor of Solomon, King David, whose role as God's governor on earth Charlemagne always sought. In 801 it is said, "We referred to Charles at court by the name 'David'."This message was underlined by the use of marble from the Holy Land, which as spolia from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is connected to Jesus Christ and therefore also to the idea of the Divine right of kings. Furthermore, according to Medieval thought, through contact with Christ the marble plaques would be turned into holy relics.
The throne is in the western part of the chapel, which has an east–west orientation. The view of the enthroned ruler falls to the east in the expectation that the Last Judgement would come from this direction and along with it the end of all temporal rule.
The four columns of the stone podium could represent the world ruled by the temporal sovereign with its four elements (fire, water, air, and earth), its four seasons, and its four cardinal directions. A reference to the four rivers of the Garden of Eden, which brought prosperity to the earth, could also be seen.
Most likely an altar consecrated to the Archangel Michael stood in the room behind the throne. Accordingly, the crowned king taking his place on the royal throne could be assured that the Archangel literally "had his back".
Aachen is, with around 249,000 inhabitants, the 13th-largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia, and the 28th-largest city of Germany.
Aachen Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church in Aachen, Germany and the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Aachen.
The Palatine Chapel in Aachen is an early medieval chapel and remaining component of Charlemagne's Palace of Aachen in what is now Germany. Although the palace itself no longer exists, the chapel was preserved and now forms the central part of Aachen Cathedral. It is Aachen's major landmark and a central monument of the Carolingian Renaissance. The chapel held the remains of Charlemagne. Later it was appropriated by the Ottonians and coronations were held there from 936 to 1531.
The Vienna Coronation Gospels, also known simply as the Coronation Gospels, is a late 8th century illuminated Gospel Book produced at the court of Charlemagne in Aachen. It was used by the future emperor at his coronation on Christmas Day 800, when he placed three fingers of his right hand on the first page of the Gospel of Saint John and took his oath. Traditionally, it is considered to be the same manuscript that was found in the tomb of Charlemagne when it was opened in the year 1000 by Emperor Otto III. The Coronation Evangeliar cover was created by Hans von Reutlingen, c. 1500. The Coronation Evangeliar is part of the Imperial Treasury (Schatzkammer) in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria.
Carolingian architecture is the style of north European Pre-Romanesque architecture belonging to the period of the Carolingian Renaissance of the late 8th and 9th centuries, when the Carolingian dynasty dominated west European politics. It was a conscious attempt to emulate Roman architecture and to that end it borrowed heavily from Early Christian and Byzantine architecture, though there are nonetheless innovations of its own, resulting in a unique character.
The Palace of Aachen was a group of buildings with residential, political, and religious purposes chosen by Charlemagne to be the center of power of the Carolingian Empire. The palace was located north of the current city of Aachen, today in the German Land of North Rhine-Westphalia. Most of the Carolingian palace was built in the 790s but the works went on until Charlemagne's death in 814. The plans, drawn by Odo of Metz, were part of the program of renovation of the kingdom decided by the ruler. Today much of the palace is destroyed, but the Palatine Chapel has been preserved and is considered a masterpiece of Carolingian architecture and a characteristic example of architecture from the Carolingian Renaissance.
The Karolus magnus et Leo papa, sometimes called the Paderborn Epic or the Aachen Epic, is a Carolingian Latin epic poem of which only the third of four books is extant. It recounts the meeting of Charlemagne, king of the Franks, with Pope Leo III, in AD 799.
The Throne of Solomon is the throne of King Solomon in the Hebrew Bible, and is a motif in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Aachen Town Hall is a landmark of cultural significance located in the Altstadt of Aachen, Germany. It was built in the Gothic architecture style in the first half of the 14th century.
The Proserpina sarcophagus is a Roman marble sarcophagus from the first quarter of the third century AD, in which Charlemagne was probably interred on 28 January 814 in Aachen cathedral. It is displayed today in the Aachen Cathedral Treasury.
The Karlsschrein is located in Aachen Cathedral and contains the remains of Charlemagne. It was completed in 1215 in Aachen at the command of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. Previously, Charlemagne's remains had been in the Palatine Chapel part of the cathedral until 1165, when Frederick Barbarossa placed the remains in a sarcophagus beneath the floor of the cathedral.
The Barbarossa Chandelier was made on the order of Emperor Frederick I, nicknamed Barbarossa, and his wife Beatrice sometime between 1165 and 1170 and was installed under the cupola of the Palatine Chapel in Aachen Cathedral. The chandelier was a donation in honour of Mary, Mother of God, the patroness of Aachen Cathedral and simultaneously represented a tribute to the builder of the cathedral, Charlemagne.
The Aachen penny of Charlemagne, a Carolingian silver coin, was found on 22 February 2008 in the foundations of the Palatine Chapel in Aachen, during archaeological work in the northeastern bay of the hexadecagon. This is the first discovery of coinage from the time of Charlemagne at Aachen.
The Liuthar Gospels are a work of Ottonian illumination which are counted among the masterpieces of the period known as the Ottonian Renaissance. The manuscript, named after a monk called Liuthar, was probably created around the year 1000 at the order of Otto III at the Abbey of Reichenau and lends its name to the Liuthar Group of Reichenau illuminated manuscripts. The backgrounds of all the images are illuminated in gold leaf, a seminal innovation in western illumination.
The Aachen Cathedral Treasury is a museum of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Aachen under the control of the cathedral chapter, which houses one of the most important collections of medieval church artworks in Europe. In 1978, the Aachen Cathedral Treasury, along with Aachen Cathedral, was the first monument on German soil to be entered in the List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The treasury contains works from Late Antique, Carolingian, Ottonian, Staufen, and Gothic times. The exhibits are displayed in premises connected to the cathedral cloisters.
The Aachen Gospels are a Carolingian illuminated manuscript which was created at the beginning of the ninth century by a member of the Ada School. The Evangeliary belongs to a manuscript group which is referred to as the Ada Group or Group of the Vienna Coronation Gospels. It is part of the church treasury of Charlemagne's Palatine Chapel, now Aachen Cathedral, and is today kept in the Aachen Cathedral Treasury. The Treasury Gospels and the more recent Ottonian Liuthar Gospels are the two most significant medieval manuscripts on display there.
Aachener Domchor is the oldest boys' choir in Germany and one of the oldest in the world. It is based at the Aachen Cathedral in Aachen, a former capital of the Carolingian Empire. The year 782 is given for its founding by Charlemagne and Alcuin of York. Under a succession of directors, the choir gained an international reputation, benefiting from an associated school. Since 2000, the Domchor has been directed by Berthold Botzet.
The Talisman of Charlemagne is a 9th-century Carolingian reliquary encolpion that may once have belonged to Charlemagne and is purported to contain a fragment of the True Cross. It is the only surviving piece of goldwork which can be connected with Charlemagne himself with some degree of probability, but the connection has been seriously questioned. The talisman is now kept in Rheims in the Palace of Tau.
Rudolf Pohl was a German Catholic prelate, musician, and choral conductor based at the Aachen Cathedral, where he led the Aachener Domchor to international recognition and revived a school for its boys' choir. He edited sacred music by Johannes Mangon, who had worked at the Cathedral in the 16th century.