The Hungarian Crown Jewels

The Hungarian Crown Jewels

The best-known piece of the Hungarian Crown Jewels is the Holy Crown.

History

Keywords

Holy Crown, crown, sceptre, sword, lateral surface, orb, statehood, insignia, royal, symbol, symbolic, power, decision making, vestment, Middle Ages, Christian, ritual, accessory

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Questions

  • What does the Sceptre symbolise?
  • What does the Orb symbolise?
  • Which of the crown jewels was the most important symbol of the power of medieval kings?
  • What does the coronation sword symbolise?
  • Which is the oldest piece of the regalia?
  • Which is the newest piece of the regalia?
  • What was the mantle´s original function?
  • Which is NOT one of the materials of the Sceptre?
  • Which animal is represented on the crystal globe of the Sceptre?
  • Is it true that the lower and upper parts of the Holy Crown used to be two separate objects?
  • Which Hungarian king mentions the Holy Crown for the first time in his charter?
  • What is the name of the lower part of the Holy Crown?
  • What is the name of the upper part of the Holy Crown?
  • Where was the lower part of the crown probably brought from?
  • Whose image is not found on the lower part of the Holy Crown?
  • Whose images adorn the straps of the upper part of the Holy Crown?
  • What is on the top of\nthe Holy Crown?
  • Whose image is placed on the top of the crown where the straps cross each other?
  • Who was King of Hungary when the two parts of the Holy Crown were probably assembled?
  • Which was NOT one of the criteria making the coronation of Hungarian kings valid (from he 13th century)?
  • What are depicted on the collar of the Coronation mantle?
  • Which is NOT one of the materials the mantle is made of?
  • What object does the Hungarian Royal Sceptre resemble of?
  • What is the Orb decorated with?
  • How many lions are engraved in the quartz globe of the Sceptre?
  • What kind of wood is the handle of the Sceptre made of?
  • What was the role of the beads attached to the Sceptre by chain?
  • Where was the Hungarian Orb first represented?
  • Is it true that the shape of the Orb is not a perfect sphere?
  • What is on the top of the Orb?

Scenes

The Hungarian Crown Jewels

  • Holy Crown - It is the most important item of the Crown Jewels, a symbol of Hungarian statehood. Its current name was first referred to in a charter of Béla IV.
  • Sceptre - A symbol of authority. It has its origins in the Ancient East. It was probably a gift Saint Stephen received from his cousin, Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor.
  • Orb - The symbol of the totality of royal power. Made of gold, it is decorated with a Patriarchal cross, probably made in the 14th century.
  • Coronation sword - It symbolised the duty of protecting the country. The item we can see today is the newest of the Crown Jewels. It was probably made in Italy, at the end of the 15th century.
  • Coronation mantle - Originally a bell-shaped vestment, it is the oldest among the Hungarian Crown Jewels. It was donated to the Cathedral of Our Lady in Székesfehérvár by Stephen I and Queen Gisela.

Order of the coronation ceremony and the Hungarian Crown Jewels

The most important elements of the Hungarian order of coronation ceremony have probably evolved by the Arpad era. Three of them are fundamental: the ceremony was led by the Archbishop of Esztergom, the venue was the Basilica of Székesfehérvár, and the kings were crowned (only from the 12th century) with the crown mistakenly attributed to Saint Stephen.
If any of these requirements were not met, the coronation ceremony was considered invalid (as in the case of Charles I, crowned in 1301 and 1309). Later, however, the requirements eased.
The Crown Jewels were objects used to symbolise royal authority, given to the monarch during the coronation ceremony. The list of the Crown Jewels increased over the centuries. The most important ones are the Crown, the Sceptre, the Orb, the Sword and the Mantle.


These were added to the regalia at different times.
The most important of them is the symbol of Hungarian Statehood, the Holy Crown. Its origins are still disputed. It was the main symbol of the medieval Hungarian kings´power. The oldest of the Crown Jewels is the Coronation mantle, which was originally created as a vestment. The quartz Sceptre, and the Orb were symbols of royal authority and power. The newest member of the group is the sword, symbolising the duty to protect the country. It was probably made in Venice, at the end of the 15th century.

Crown

  • Greek crown - It was was probably a gift from Byzantium to the wife of Géza I. The band is 52 mm wide, its diameter is 205 mm. It is decorated with enamel paintings, gemstones, pearls and pendants.
  • Cross - It was attached to the crown in the 16th century in a very rough manner, breaking through the picture. This element probably became awry in the 17th century, when the crown was damaged.
  • Latin crown - This item derives its name from the eight enamel paintings on the straps with Latin inscriptions. It consists of four golden straps, each 52 mm in width.
  • Holy Crown - The most important item of the Crown Jewels, a symbol of Hungarian statehood. Its two parts were probably assembled in the 12th century, during the reign of Béla III (1172-1196).
  • Michael - He was one of the seven archangels, victorious leader of the heavenly armies. His loyalty to God is unbreakable.
  • George - A Roman soldier and a Christian martyr (he died in 303). He is one of the most prominent military saints. He is usually depicted as a knight killing the dragon. He is also one of the fourteen Holy Helpers.
  • Cosmas - Like Saint Damian, he was also a Christian doctor. They were executed in 303, during the Persecution of Christians.
  • Géza I - The enamel painting probably depicts the King of Hungary between 1074-1077. The Greek inscription calls him the ´Faithful king of Turkia´. The bottom part of the Holy Crown was probably brought to Hungary during his reign.
  • Konstantinos - The son of Byzantine Emperor Michael Doukas. He reigned as co-emperor during the reign of his father and of his successor.
  • Damian - Like Saint Damian, he was also a Christian doctor. They were executed in 303, during the Persecution of Christians.
  • Demetrios - One of the most important Orthodox saints. He died in Thessaloniki in 304. He is the patron saint of Thessaloniki.
  • Gabriel - An angel according to the Bible and an archangel according to Christian traditions. He appears in the Old Testament and in the New Testament as well.
  • John - One of the first disciples of Jesus Christ. He was the youngest of the Twelve Apostles and the only one who did not become a martyr. He was the brother of St James and one of the Evangelists of the New Testament.
  • Bartholomew - One of the first disciples of Christ. He is also known as Nathaniel. He became a martyr by being skinned alive.
  • Christ Pantocrator - The top of the Greek Crown is embellished with cloisonne triangles. Among these, on the front part of the Crown, is a panel depicting Christ Pantokrator.
  • Peter - One of the first disciples of Jesus Christ. His brother Andrew was also an apostle. He is regarded as the first pope by the Catholic Church. He suffered martyrdom in Rome, during the reign of Emperor Nero.
  • Andrew - One of the first disciples of Jesus Christ. His brother Simon Peter was also an apostle. Andrew was the first to recognise Jesus as the Messiah. He was crucified in 60 AD in Patras.
  • Paul - An important figure of Early Christianity. He played a crucial role in spreading Christianity in Europe. He had been a persecutor of Christians before becoming a Christian himself and he died a martyr.
  • Philip - One of the first disciples of Jesus Christ. He was born in Galilee, like Peter and Andrew.
  • James - One of the first disciples of Jesus Christ. His brother John was also an apostle. He was the second most important of the disciples. He suffered martyrdom by beheading.
  • Thomas - One of the first disciples of Jesus Christ. He is known as Doubting Thomas, as he did not believe that Jesus had resurrected until he touched his wounds. He was stabbed to death by a Parthian high priest.
  • Michael Doukas VII - Byzantine emperor from 1071 to 1078. It was probably he who sent the lower part of the Holy Crown to the Greek wife of King Géza I.
  • Christ Pantocrator - The straps of the Latin Crown are held together by a square plate on the top, showing the image of the Christ.

The Holy Crown

The Holy Crown is one of the oldest royal crowns in Europe. It is an important symbol of the Hungarian state.
It was probably not used by Stephen I, as it only became the coronation crown of Hungarian kings in the 12th century. It was first referred to as the Holy Crown in a charter of Béla IV, dated 1256.
The crown is composed of two parts. The lower band (corona graeca: Greek crown), was probably a gift from Byzantium to the wife of Géza I. The upper part (corona latina: Latin crown) had no function on its own.
The two parts were probably assembled during the reign of Béla III. The cross was attached in the 16th century (the damage might have been done in the 17th century).
The Greek crown is decorated with enamel paintings, gemstones, pearls and pendants. The top is embellished with cloisonne triangles. The four straps of the Latin crown have 8 enamel paintings and 60 pearls. The straps are held together by a square plate on the top. The image of Christ and 12 pearls adorn this plate.

Sceptre

  • gold setting
  • ornamented wooden handle
  • quartz globe

´The wand of authority´

The Sceptre is a symbol of authority. It has its origins in the Ancient East. The Sceptre of the Hungarian Crown Jewels replaced the flag spear of Stephen I.
The Sceptre is a quartz globe (to our present knowledge, it is the third largest drilled crystal in the world) set in gold, attached to a richly decorated wooden handle.
The three lions engraved in the crystal symbolise the authority of the king.
The style of the decoration indicates that it was probably created in the 9th century. It was perhaps a gift Saint Stephen received from his cousin, Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor.

Orb

  • four-field shield (with the coats of arms of the Arpad and Anjou families)
  • a patriarchal cross
  • gold sphere

´The apple of the Kingdom´

The Orb is the symbol of the totality of royal power. It was a relatively late addition to the Crown Jewels.
The Orb was made from gold plated silver. The sphere is not solid, it is composed of two semipspheres, but its shape is not perfectly spherical. It measures 7.9 cm vertically, and 8.9 cm horizontally. Its total height is 16 cm, including the cross that was only attached later.
It is decorated with a four-field shield, with the coats of arms of the Arpad and Anjou dynasties. This implies that the Orb was created in the 14th century.

Sword

  • scabbard
  • straight blade
  • cross-guard
  • grip (red velvet)
  • pommel

The coronation sword

The sword symbolised the duty of protecting the country. It is an important element of the coronation, used twice during the ceremony. The first time is after the anointment (but before placing the crown on the head of the new king), the second time is the last act of the ceremony: the king rode on horseback to the top of the coronation mound and pointed in the four cardinal directions with the sword. Even Maria Theresa, in her spectacular gown could not avoid this.
The sword we can see today is the newest of the royal regalia. It was probably made in Venice, at the beginning of the 16th century (the sword that was perhaps owned by Saint Stephen is now on display in St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague).
It has a straight blade, a curved cross-guard and a spherical pommel. The grip is covered with red velvet reinforced with gold. It was decorated in Renaissance style.

Mantle

  • circular inscription
  • inscription
  • Christ
  • Gisela
  • Saint Stephen
  • saints and martyrs
  • apostles
  • embroidery - With silk and gold thread
  • collar - Tree of life and animal motifs
  • angels
  • the Virgin Mary
  • silk fabric
  • prophets

Vestment worn by kings

The mantle is the oldest among the Hungarian Crown Jewels. Its inscription indicates that it was originally a bell-shaped vestment. It was donated to the Cathedral of Our Lady in Székesfehérvár by Stephen I and Queen Gisela.
It was probably created in the Convent of Veszprém, around 1030. According to legend, the Queen also participated in the manufacture. It had already been in use in the age of mixed-dynasty kings.
The Byzantine silk fabric is embellished with images embroidered with silver and gold thread, and also with inscriptions in Latin. A star and a quatrefoil (or rose) pattern is woven into the fabric.
The collar (decorated with embroidered animals and a Tree of Life design embellished with pearls) was added at the end of the 12th century.

Crown Jewels

The Hungarian Crown Jewels became part of the coronation ceremony one by one at various times.

The most important of them is the symbol of Hungarian statehood, the Holy Crown, whose origin is still disputed. It was the most important symbol of authority among the medieval kings. It is one of the oldest royal crowns in Europe, but probably not the one used by Stephen I, as it only became the coronation crown of Hungarian kings in the 12th century. It was first called the Holy Crown in a charter from Béla IV dated 1256.

The Mantle is the oldest among the Crown Jewels, its inscription indicating that it was originally a bell-shaped vestment. It was donated by Stephen I and Queen Gisela to the Cathedral of Our Lady in Székesfehérvár and was already in use in the age of the mixed-dynasty kings.

The Sceptre is a symbol of authority and originates from the Ancient East. The Sceptre of the Hungarian Crown Jewels replaced the flag spear of Stephen I.

The Orb is the symbol of the totality of royal power. It was a relatively late addition to the Crown Jewels.

The sword we can see today is the newest of the Crown Jewels. It was probably made in Venice at the beginning of the 16th century. The sword symbolised the duty to protect the country.

Hungarian king

  • Holy Crown
  • Sceptre
  • coronation mantle
  • Orb
  • coronation sword

Holy Crown

The Holy Crown is the most important symbol of Hungarian statehood. It is one of the oldest coronation crowns in Europe to have remained relatively intact.
From the 12th century a coronation was only valid if this crown was used.

According to the most widely accepted theory, the crown was created from two separate objects. The lower part is older, probably created in the 11th century. The upper part, composed of gold straps was probably attached to the lower band - in a quite crude fashion - in the 12th century, during the reign of King Béla III.

The cross was attached in the 16th century; it became crooked in the 17th century, when the crown sustained other damage as well.

The lower band of the Crown is called the 'Greek Crown'. It was probably a gift from the Byzantine Emperor Michael Doukas VII to the wife of Géza I, who was of Byzantine descent. The band is 52 mm wide, its diameter is 205 mm.
It is decorated with images of angels, saints and rulers as well as gemstones, pearls and pendants. The top edge is decorated with Cloisonné triangles, with an image of Christ in the front and one of Michael Doukas on the back.

The upper part of the Crown is called the ´Latin Crown´, after the eight enamel paintings on the straps with Latin inscriptions.
It consists of four golden straps, each 52 mm in width. The straps are held together by a square plate on top, decorated with an enamel painting of Christ Pantokrator, or Christ the Almighty. There are seven further enamel paintings on the straps, representing the Apostles. There are 12 pearls on the top plate, representing the number of the Apostles, and altogether 72 pearls on the Latin Crown, representing the number of Christ's disciples.

A cross was attached to the top of the crown in a very rough manner, breaking through the enamel painting of Christ. The cross probably became crooked in the 17th century, when the crown was damaged.

The Holy Crown has had a lively history, having been stolen, hidden, lost, recovered, and taken abroad many times. It was returned from the US to Hungary in 1978. On 1 January 2000, it was moved to the Dome Hall of the Hungarian Parliament Building, where it is guarded by members of the Hungarian Army.

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