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This article is about royal thrones; for the order of angels by the same name see thrones.

A throne is the official chair or seat upon which a monarch is seated on state or ceremonial occasions. "Throne" in an abstract sense can also refer to the monarchy or the Crown itself, an instance of metonymy, and is also used in many terms such as "the power behind the throne."

Image:Canada senate chairs.jpg
The thrones for The Queen of Canada, and the Duke of Edinburgh (back) in the Canadian Senate, Ottawa are usually occupied by the Governor General and his/her spouse at the annual State Opening of Parliament. The chair in the forground is for the speaker of the senate.


[edit] Thrones in ancient cultures

Thrones have been the symbol of monarchs and gods since ancient times. The throne was used for coronation ceremonies and to lift the king up above all others present. Thrones were since then directly associated with royal power.

Image:Inside the Forbidden City.jpg
The throne of the Emperor of China, from the 'Middle Kingdom', was seen as the center of the Forbidden City which was the centre of the world; the series of gates and passages a visitor needed to pass before reaching the emperor was intended to awe.

The Greeks (according to Homer) were known to place additional, empty thrones in the royal palaces and temples so that the gods could be present when they wished to be. The most famous of these thrones was the throne of Apollo in Amyclae.

The Romans also had two thrones- one for the Emperor and one for the goddess Roma whose statues were seated upon thrones, which became centers of worship.

The Hittites considered thrones to be gods themselves.

[edit] Thrones and the Bible

The Bible mentions many thrones. God was seated upon a throne and so was King Solomon (as God's representative on earth): "Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold" (Kings 10:18).

In Medieval times the throne of Solomon was associated with Mary. The ivory of the throne represented purity, the gold represented divinity and the six steps of the throne stood for the six virtues.

In the New Testament, Jesus promised his Apostles that they would sit upon "twelve thrones", judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28). John's Revelations states: "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away"

The Angel Gabriel also refers to this throne in Gospel of Luke (1:32-33): "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."

In the Old Testament Isaiah mentions the same throne: Isaiah (9:6-7): "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the Throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."

[edit] Ecclesiastical thrones

main article: cathedra

The very term Holy See, officially used in diplomacy for the Vatican, clearly presents the papal position as a throne; indeed the Holy Father is an elected monarch, both under canon law as supreme head of the church and under international law as head of state -styled sovereign pontiff- of the Vatican City State (symbolic remnant within Rome, for convenience, of the Papal State, that was for centuries one of the largest political powers on the divided Italian peninsula). The throne upon which the Pope is traditionally seated is located in the apse of the St. John Lateran, his cathedral.

The pope was also carried on occasions in a portable throne, the sedia gestatoria, originally part of the elaborate, ostentatious pomp believed to be the most direct heir of pharaonic splendour including fans made from ostrich feathers, but it was abandoned by pope John Paul II. Even Saint Peter, the first pope, sat on an armchair, the cathedra Sancti Petri, the relic of which is kept in Saint Peter's Basilica.

However, an ecclesiastical throne is not at all unique to the pope: every bishop of the Roman Catholic Church and most bishops of churches where episcopal offices exist (mainly Orthodox and Anglican) also largely maintain a tradition stretching back to Antiquity) to sit on a throne, called cathedra, traditionally in the apside, which symbolizes his power to teach the faith (hence the expression "ex cathedra", from the explicative authority, notably the extremely rarely used procedure required for a papal declaration to be 'infallible' under Canon law; in several language the word deriving from cathedra is commonly used for an academic teaching mandate, the professorial chair).

After this cathedra (throne), which can be as elaborate and precious as fits a secular prince (even if the prelate is not a prince of the church in the secular sense), his main church is called a cathedral; the word basilica -from the Greek basilikos 'royal'-, though in Roman Antiquity a secular public hall, now refers to the presence there of a papal canopy, part of his regalia, and applies mainly to many cathedrals and Catholic churches of similar importance and/or splendor.

[edit] Thrones in feudal times

In European feudal countries, monarchs often were seated on thrones.

On the Indian subcontinent, the term gadi was reserved for the throne of a Hindu princely state's ruler, while their Muslim colleagues throned on a musnaid, even though both were in the shape of a divan.

In the 'regency' (nominally an Ottoman province, de facto an independent realm) of the Bey of Tunis, the throne was called kursi.

[edit] Thrones in modern times

In some countries today which retain a monarchy, thrones are still used and have important symbolic and ceremonial meaning. However many modern day monarchies have dispensed with the usage of such symbolism as crowns, thrones and coronations.

Image:Mary robinson.jpg
The President of Ireland on the Irish Viceregal throne
President Robinson at her inauguration in 1990.

Among the most famous thrones still in usage are St Edward's Chair, on which the British monarch is crowned, and the thrones used by monarchs during the state opening of parliaments in the United Kingdom, Denmark, The Netherlands, Canada, and Japan (see above) among others.

Some republics use distinctive throne-like chairs in some state ceremonial. The President of the United States sits on a distinctive high-backed white-clothed chair in the Oval Office in the White House when meeting distinguished visitors in front of the media.(The visitor sits in a matching chair.) The President of Ireland sits on a former viceregal throne during his or her inauguration ceremony while Lords Mayor of many British and Irish cities often preside over local councils from throne-like chairs.

[edit] List of named thrones

[edit] Europe

[edit] Africa

[edit] Asia

[edit] Other uses

  • In slang, a common sit-down toilet is also called a throne.
  • One of the Angel choirs is an order called Ophanim or 'Thrones', said to carry God's heavenly throne - other choir names expressing power in secular terms include Powers, Principalities, Dominions

[edit] See also

[edit] Sources and references

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