A votive crown is a votive offering in the form of a crown, normally in precious metals and often adorned with jewels. Especially in the Early Middle Ages, they are of a special form, designed to be suspended by chains at an altar, shrine or image. Later examples are more often typical crowns in the style of the period, either designed to be placed on the head of a statue, or re-used in this way after donation.
A votive offering or votive deposit is one or more objects displayed or deposited, without the intention of recovery or use, in a sacred place for broadly religious purposes. Such items are a feature of modern and ancient societies and are generally made in order to gain favor with supernatural forces.
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.
Historians typically regard the Early Middle Ages or Early Medieval Period, sometimes referred to as the Dark Ages, as lasting from the 5th or 6th century to the 10th century CE. They marked the start of the Middle Ages of European history. The alternative term "Late Antiquity" emphasizes elements of continuity with the Roman Empire, while "Early Middle Ages" is used to emphasize developments characteristic of the earlier medieval period. As such the concept overlaps with Late Antiquity, following the decline of the Western Roman Empire, and precedes the High Middle Ages.
There were pagan votive crowns in the ancient world, although these are essentially known only from literary references. Vitruvius records that when Hiero II of Syracuse (died 215 BC) suspected his goldsmith of cheating him over the making of a votive crown for a statue in a temple, for which he had supplied the gold to be used, he asked Archimedes to devise a test. This led Archimedes to his famous eureka moment, after he realized he could test the crown by comparing its displacement of water to that of the same weight of pure gold; in fact the goldsmith had taken some gold and added silver instead.From other references, it seems that in classical times not just statues of the gods, but also living rulers were presented with crowns in the hope of a favourable response to a request.
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, commonly known as Vitruvius, was a Roman author, architect, civil engineer and military engineer during the 1st century BC, known for his multi-volume work entitled De architectura. His discussion of perfect proportion in architecture and the human body led to the famous Renaissance drawing by Leonardo da Vinci of Vitruvian Man.
Hiero II was the Greek Sicilian Tyrant of Syracuse from 270 to 215 BC, and the illegitimate son of a Syracusan noble, Hierocles, who claimed descent from Gelon. He was a former general of Pyrrhus of Epirus and an important figure of the First Punic War.
Archimedes of Syracuse was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Generally considered the greatest mathematician of antiquity and one of the greatest of all time, Archimedes anticipated modern calculus and analysis by applying concepts of infinitesimals and the method of exhaustion to derive and rigorously prove a range of geometrical theorems, including the area of a circle, the surface area and volume of a sphere, and the area under a parabola.
The largest number of surviving examples of the Christian Early Medieval suspended type come from 7th century Visigothic Hispania, especially the Treasure of Guarrazar, from near Toledo, which includes no fewer than twenty-six examples in gold, probably hidden as the Muslim invasion drew near. These were excavated in 1859, and are now divided between the National Archaeological Museum of Spain in Madrid and the Musée de Cluny in Paris.However the type was originally Roman or Byzantine, and adopted widely across Europe; nearly all these have been lost, as the objects were naturally extremely vulnerable to theft or looting. These could not be worn, as they were too small and also very often had pendilia, or dangling ornaments on chains hanging from the main crown, often with jewels and perhaps formed into letters which spelled a word or phrase. In the example above, the letters on the pendilia spell "RECCESVINTHVS REX OFFERET", or "King Recceswinth offered this". These royal donations signified the submission of the monarchy to God. Such objects were probably influenced by the thirty suspended gold crowns placed round the main altar of Hagia Sophia by Justinian, now lost, although the Christian practice is at least as old as the 4th century.
Hispania was the Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula and its provinces. Under the Republic, Hispania was divided into two provinces: Hispania Citerior and Hispania Ulterior. During the Principate, Hispania Ulterior was divided into two new provinces, Baetica and Lusitania, while Hispania Citerior was renamed Hispania Tarraconensis. Subsequently, the western part of Tarraconensis was split off, first as Hispania Nova, later renamed "Callaecia". From Diocletian's Tetrarchy onwards, the south of remaining Tarraconensis was again split off as Carthaginensis, and probably then too the Balearic Islands and all the resulting provinces formed one civil diocese under the vicarius for the Hispaniae. The name, Hispania, was also used in the period of Visigothic rule.
The Treasure of Guarrazar, Guadamur, Province of Toledo, Castile-La Mancha, Spain, is an archeological find composed of twenty-six votive crowns and gold crosses that had originally been offered to the Roman Catholic Church by the Kings of the Visigoths in the seventh century in Hispania, as a gesture of the orthodoxy of their faith and their submission to the ecclesiastical hierarchy. The most valuable of all is the votive crown of king Reccesuinth with its blue sapphires from Sri Lanka and pendilia. Though the treasure is now divided and much has disappeared, it represents the best surviving group of Early Medieval Christian votive offerings.
Toledo is a city and municipality located in central Spain; it is the capital of the province of Toledo and the autonomous community of Castile–La Mancha. Toledo was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive monumental and cultural heritage.
The main body of suspended crowns is usually flat around the top as well as the bottom rim; some are merely an open framework of flexibly linked metal pieces. Such crowns were probably found widely across Christian Europe in this period; the will of 572 of Aredius, a wealthy friend of Gregory of Tours in Gaul, describes a crown that sounds very similar in form to the Spanish examples.The Iron Crown of Lombardy was perhaps originally made as a votive crown, although it was later used for the coronation of monarchs including Napoleon I. Another gold crown was a source of contention in Constantinople; it was given to the Emperor Maurice (r. 582-602) by his wife Constantina and the dowager Empress Sophia for Easter 601, intended to be worn by him. Instead, he had it suspended by chains over the main altar of Hagia Sophia, upsetting the two ladies. It hung there for nearly two centuries, until Emperor Leo IV coveted it and took it for his own use. In a suspiciously neat story, the crown was richly decorated with carbuncles (jewels), and Leo, who was an iconoclast, soon after died of an outbreak of carbuncles (abscesses), allowing the church to draw the obvious conclusion; other stories said his wife had poisoned him. Another Byzantine votive crown, given by Leo VI (r. 886-912) is now in the Treasury of San Marco, Venice, and is decorated with cloisonné enamels.
Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of the area that had been previously referred to as Gaul by the Romans. He was born Georgius Florentius and later added the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather. He is the primary contemporary source for Merovingian history. His most notable work was his Decem Libri Historiarum, better known as the Historia Francorum, a title that later chroniclers gave to it, but he is also known for his accounts of the miracles of saints, especially four books of the miracles of Martin of Tours. St. Martin's tomb was a major pilgrimage destination in the 6th century, and St. Gregory's writings had the practical effect of promoting this highly organized devotion.
Gaul was a historical region of Western Europe during the Iron Age that was inhabited by Celtic tribes, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, most of Switzerland, parts of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine. It covered an area of 494,000 km2 (191,000 sq mi). According to the testimony of Julius Caesar, Gaul was divided into three parts: Gallia Celtica, Belgica, and Aquitania. Archaeologically, the Gauls were bearers of the La Tène culture, which extended across all of Gaul, as well as east to Raetia, Noricum, Pannonia, and southwestern Germania during the 5th to 1st centuries BC. During the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Gaul fell under Roman rule: Gallia Cisalpina was conquered in 203 BC and Gallia Narbonensis in 123 BC. Gaul was invaded after 120 BC by the Cimbri and the Teutons, who were in turn defeated by the Romans by 103 BC. Julius Caesar finally subdued the remaining parts of Gaul in his campaigns of 58 to 51 BC.
The Iron Crown of Lombardy is both a reliquary and one of the oldest royal insignias of Christendom. It was made in the Early Middle Ages, consisting of a circlet of gold and jewels fitted around a central silver band, which tradition holds to be made of iron beaten out of a nail of the True Cross. The crown became one of the symbols of the Kingdom of the Lombards and later of the medieval Kingdom of Italy. It is kept in the Cathedral of Monza, outside Milan.
In England, a later medieval source says that King Canute gave a, or "his", crown to be placed on or over ("super caput") the head of the rood, or large crucifix, in Winchester Cathedral (other notables decorated statues with their jewellery or a sword).The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that Hereward the Wake's men looted a solid gold crown from the head of the rood on the main altar of Peterborough Cathedral in 1070. The Romanesque period saw the height of crowned images of Christ, who is often shown wearing a crown on the cross in wood and metal figures, and manuscript illuminations, and also the introduction of crowned images of the Virgin Mary in the West, as the concept of Mary as Queen of Heaven became increasingly prominent.
A rood or rood cross, sometimes known as a triumphal cross, is a cross or crucifix, especially the large Crucifixion set above the entrance to the chancel of a medieval church. Alternatively, it is a large sculpture or painting of the crucifixion of Jesus.
A crucifix is an image of Jesus on the cross, as distinct from a bare cross. The representation of Jesus himself on the cross is referred to in English as the corpus.
Winchester Cathedral is a cathedral of the Church of England in Winchester, Hampshire, England. It is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, with the greatest overall length of any Gothic cathedral.
A very small late medieval crown now in the Treasury of Aachen Cathedral was made for the famously lavish wedding celebrations in 1468 of Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy, sister of Edward IV of England, and later placed on a statue of the Virgin Mary as a votive offering. It was designed to be worn on top of an elaborate headress and hairstyle, or perhaps on a hennin, and is much smaller than a conventional crown for wearing directly on the head.This is now a rare example of a medieval votive crown that has survived above ground. A few years later, in 1487, the crown that had been used by the pretender Lambert Simnel was given to a statue of the Virgin in Dublin.
Aachen Cathedral, traditionally called in English the Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle, is a Roman Catholic church in Aachen, western Germany, and the see of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Aachen.
Margaret of York —also by marriage known as Margaret of Burgundy—was Duchess of Burgundy as the third wife of Charles the Bold and acted as a protector of the duchy after his death. She was a daughter of Richard, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the sister of two kings of England, Edward IV and Richard III. She was born at Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire, in the Kingdom of England, and she died at Mechelen in the Low Countries.
Edward IV was the King of England from 4 March 1461 to 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist King of England. The first half of his rule was marred by the violence associated with the Wars of the Roses, but he overcame the Lancastrian challenge to the throne at Tewkesbury in 1471 to reign in peace until his sudden death. Before becoming king, he was Duke of York, Earl of March, Earl of Cambridge and Earl of Ulster.
Crowns designed solely for statues became increasingly elaborate, especially in the Baroque period, and in the Spanish world; they often have a flat radiating "sunburst" around them, in the style used for monstrances, as in the example illustrated. Statues of the Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus, of the Infant Jesus of Prague type, are among those most commonly crowned. The Crown of the Andes is a votive crown from Colombia in gold with 450 emeralds, apparently made between the late 16th and 18th centuries, perhaps originally as an offering in thanks for the city of Popayán being spared from a plague. It is now in private hands in the US.
Votive crowns have continued to be produced in Catholic countries in modern times. Often such crowns were kept in the church treasury except for special occasions such as relevant feast-days, when they are worn by the statue. Christ and the Virgin Mary are frequently conventionally shown wearing crowns in Christian art, in subjects such as the Coronation of the Virgin, and are the most common figures to be crowned, but other saints may also be given crowns, especially if the saint was royal, or a martyr, as martyrs are promised crowns in heaven by many texts.
In Greece a tama or votive offering of, or depicting, two small wedding crowns, as used locally, indicates a request for a good marriage. Actual crowns used in ceremonies were normally retained by the couple.
A Madonna is a representation of Mary, either alone or with her child Jesus. These images are central icons for both the Catholic and Orthodox churches. The word is from Italian ma donna, meaning 'my lady'. The Madonna and Child type is very prevalent in Christian iconography, divided into many traditional subtypes especially in Eastern Orthodox iconography, often known after the location of a notable icon of the type, such as the Theotokos of Vladimir, Agiosoritissa, Blachernitissa, etc., or descriptive of the depicted posture, as in Hodegetria, Eleusa, etc.
The medieval art of the Western world covers a vast scope of time and place, over 1000 years of art in Europe, and at times the Middle East and North Africa. It includes major art movements and periods, national and regional art, genres, revivals, the artists' crafts, and the artists themselves.
Gothic art was a style of medieval art that developed in Northern France out of Romanesque art in the 12th century AD, led by the concurrent development of Gothic architecture. It spread to all of Western Europe, and much of Southern and Central Europe, never quite effacing more classical styles in Italy. In the late 14th century, the sophisticated court style of International Gothic developed, which continued to evolve until the late 15th century. In many areas, especially Germany, Late Gothic art continued well into the 16th century, before being subsumed into Renaissance art. Primary media in the Gothic period included sculpture, panel painting, stained glass, fresco and illuminated manuscripts. The easily recognizable shifts in architecture from Romanesque to Gothic, and Gothic to Renaissance styles, are typically used to define the periods in art in all media, although in many ways figurative art developed at a different pace.
Maestà[maeˈsta], the Italian word for "majesty", designates an iconic formula of the enthroned Madonna with the child Jesus, whether or not accompanied with angels and saints. The Maestà is an extension of the "Seat of Wisdom" theme of the seated "Mary Theotokos", "Mary Mother of God", which is a counterpart to the earlier icon of Christ in Majesty, the enthroned Christ that is familiar in Byzantine Mosaics. Maria Regina is an art historians' synonym for the iconic image of Mary enthroned, with or without the Child.
The Tree of Jesse is a depiction in art of the ancestors of Christ, shown in a tree which rises from Jesse of Bethlehem, the father of King David and is the original use of the family tree as a schematic representation of a genealogy. It originates in a passage in the biblical Book of Isaiah which describes metaphorically the descent of the Messiah, and is accepted by Christians as referring to Jesus. The various figures depicted in the lineage of Jesus are drawn from those names listed in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke.
Anglo-Saxon art covers art produced within the Anglo-Saxon period of English history, beginning with the Migration period style that the Anglo-Saxons brought with them from the continent in the 5th century, and ending in 1066 with the Norman Conquest of a large Anglo-Saxon nation-state whose sophisticated art was influential in much of northern Europe. The two periods of outstanding achievement were the 7th and 8th centuries, with the metalwork and jewellery from Sutton Hoo and a series of magnificent illuminated manuscripts, and the final period after about 950, when there was a revival of English culture after the end of the Viking invasions. By the time of the Conquest the move to the Romanesque style is nearly complete. The important artistic centres, in so far as these can be established, were concentrated in the extremities of England, in Northumbria, especially in the early period, and Wessex and Kent near the south coast.
Carolingian art comes from the Frankish Empire in the period of roughly 120 years from about 780 to 900—during the reign of Charlemagne and his immediate heirs—popularly known as the Carolingian Renaissance. The art was produced by and for the court circle and a group of important monasteries under Imperial patronage; survivals from outside this charmed circle show a considerable drop in quality of workmanship and sophistication of design. The art was produced in several centres in what are now France, Germany, Austria, northern Italy and the Low Countries, and received considerable influence, via continental mission centres, from the Insular art of the British Isles, as well as a number of Byzantine artists who appear to have been resident in Carolingian centres.
Ottonian art is a style in pre-romanesque German art, covering also some works from the Low Countries, northern Italy and eastern France. It was named by the art historian Hubert Janitschek after the Ottonian dynasty which ruled Germany and northern Italy between 919 and 1024 under the kings Henry I, Otto I, Otto II, Otto III and Henry II. With Ottonian architecture, it is a key component of the Ottonian Renaissance. However, the style neither began nor ended to neatly coincide with the rule of the dynasty. It emerged some decades into their rule and persisted past the Ottonian emperors into the reigns of the early Salian dynasty, which lacks an artistic "style label" of its own. In the traditional scheme of art history, Ottonian art follows Carolingian art and precedes Romanesque art, though the transitions at both ends of the period are gradual rather than sudden. Like the former and unlike the latter, it was very largely a style restricted to a few of the small cities of the period, and important monasteries, as well as the court circles of the emperor and his leading vassals.
Spearhafoc was an eleventh-century Anglo-Saxon artist and Benedictine monk, whose artistic talent was apparently the cause of his rapid elevation to Abbot of Abingdon in 1047–48 and Bishop-Elect of London in 1051. After his consecration as bishop was thwarted, he vanished with the gold and jewels he had been given to make into a crown for King Edward the Confessor, and was never seen again. He was also famous for a miracle which impacted his career.
Santa Costanza is a 4th-century church in Rome, Italy, on the Via Nomentana, which runs north-east out of the city. It is a round building with well preserved original layout and mosaics. It has been built adjacent to a horseshoe-shaped church, now in ruins, which has been identified as the initial 4th-century cemeterial basilica of Saint Agnes. Santa Costanza and the old Saint Agnes were both constructed over the earlier catacombs in which Saint Agnes is believed to be buried.
The Holy Face of Lucca is a venerated wooden corpus (body) of a crucifix in Lucca, Italy. Medieval legends stated that it had been sculpted by that Nicodemus who assisted Joseph of Arimathea in depositing Christ in the tomb and specifically dated its arrival in Lucca to AD 742.
The Coronation of the Virgin or Coronation of Mary is a subject in Christian art, especially popular in Italy in the 13th to 15th centuries, but continuing in popularity until the 18th century and beyond. Christ, sometimes accompanied by God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, places a crown on the head of Mary as Queen of Heaven. In early versions the setting is a Heaven imagined as an earthly court, staffed by saints and angels; in later versions Heaven is more often seen as in the sky, with the figures seated on clouds. The subject is also notable as one where the whole Christian Trinity is often shown together, sometimes in unusual ways. Although crowned Virgins may be seen in Orthodox Christian icons, the coronation by the deity is not. Mary is sometimes shown, in both Eastern and Western Christian art, being crowned by one or two angels, but this is considered a different subject.
The Blessed Virgin Mary has been one of the major subjects of Western Art for centuries. Numerous pieces of Marian art in the Catholic Church covering a range of topics have been produced, from masters such as Michelangelo and Botticelli to works made by unknown peasant artisans.
The Virgin of Mercy is a subject in Christian Art, showing a group of people sheltering for protection under the outspread cloak, or pallium of the Virgin Mary. It was especially popular in Italy from the 13th to 16th centuries, often as a specialised form of votive portrait, and is also found in other countries and later art, especially Catalonia and Latin America.
The Bosom of Abraham Trinity, also known as the Trinity with souls, is a rare iconography apparently unique to English medieval alabaster sculpture, of which only twelve examples are known to have survived, although there were undoubtedly many more made. They adapt an earlier convention where a figure of Abraham himself held tiny figures of souls in a cloth between his hands representing the Bosom of Abraham.
In ecclesiastical architecture, a ciborium is a canopy or covering supported by columns, freestanding in the sanctuary, that stands over and covers the altar in a basilica or other church. It may also be known by the more general term of baldachin, though ciborium is often considered more correct for examples in churches. Early ciboria had curtains hanging from rods between the columns, so that the altar could be concealed from the congregation at points in the liturgy. Smaller examples may cover other objects in a church. In a very large church, a ciborium is an effective way of visually highlighting the altar, and emphasizing its importance. The altar and ciborium are often set upon a dais to raise it above the floor of the sanctuary.
Italy has the richest concentration of Late Antique and medieval mosaics in the world. Although the art style is especially associated with Byzantine art and many Italian mosaics were probably made by imported Greek-speaking artists and craftsmen, there are surprisingly few significant mosaics remaining in the core Byzantine territories. This is especially true before the Byzantine Iconoclasm of the 8th century.