Iron Crown of Lombardy

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The Iron Crown of Lombardy (Corona Ferrea) is both a reliquary and one of the most ancient royal insignia of Europe. It is kept in the Cathedral at Monza near Milan, the capital of Lombardy.


[edit] Antiquity

Image:Corona ferrea.png
Iron Crown of Lombardy, kept in the Cathedral of Monza.

The Iron Crown is so called from a narrow band of iron about one centimeter (three-eighths of an inch) within it, said to be beaten out of one of the nails used at the crucifixion. According to tradition, the nail was first given to Emperor Constantine I by his mother Helena, who discovered the cross.

How it fell into the hands of the Lombard kings, Germanic conquerors of northern Italy, is not well explained.

The outer circlet of the crown is of six gold and enamel segments of beaten gold, joined together by hinges and set with precious stones that stand out in relief, in the form of crosses and flowers.

Its small size and hinged construction have suggested to some that it was originally an armlet or perhaps a votive crown that was presented to the Cathedral of Monza, where it is preserved as a holy relic.

[edit] Modern uses

On March 1, 1026, Heribert, the archbishop of Milan, crowned Emperor Conrad II at Milan with the Iron Crown of Lombardy.

From the 9th to the 12th century the Kings of Italy received the Iron Crown of Lombardy at Pavia.

On the May 26, 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte had himself crowned King of Italy at Milan, with suitable splendor and magnificence. Seated upon a superb throne, he was invested with the usual insignia of royalty by the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, and ascending the altar, he took the iron crown, and placing it on his head, exclaimed, being part of the ceremony used at the enthronement of the Lombard kings, Dieu me la donne, gare à qui la touche – "God gives it to me, beware those who touch it".

On the occasion, Napoleon founded the Order of the Iron Crown, on June 15, 1805. After Napoleon's fall and the annexation of Lombardy to Austria, the order was re-instituted by the Austrian Emperor Francis I, on January 1, 1816.

Emperor Ferdinand I was crowned King of Lombardy and Venetia in Milan on September 6, 1838, using the Iron Crown.

After the war between Austria and Italy, when the Austrians had to withdraw from Italy in 1859, the Iron Crown was delivered to Victor Emmanuel, the Savoy king of Piedmont-Sardinia and soon after of re-united modern Italy.

A surprising image of the Iron Crown figures in Chaper 37 "Sunset" of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. The brief chapter is devoted to Captain Ahab's soliloquy. Among his delusions of persecution and of grandeur, he imagines himself crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy.

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de:Eiserne Krone et:Lombardia raudne kroon it:Corona Ferrea ru:Железная корона

Iron Crown of Lombardy

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