The St. Wenceslas Crown

The St. Wenceslas Crown is considered to be the most valuable item of the entire coronation set. It was Charles IV, our most prominent ruler, who collected the splendid precious stones, created the concept of the crown, had it made and was the first king to be crowned with it on 2 September 1347. The crown was mentioned for the first time in Pope Climent VI’s bull from 1346 that prohibited its stealing, pawning or selling under the penalty of excommunication.

The liturgical and political symbolism of the crown is important – the crown is consecrated to St. Wenceslas, whom Charles IV considered the cardinal Czech saint as well as the symbol of the Czech kingdom; since the epoch of Charles IV, St. Wenceslas has been regarded as the patron of the Czech Lands. The Chapter of the Cathedral of St. Vitus was to take care of the crown; a future Czech king had to be crowned with it and had to borrow it for the coronation from the cathedral and chapter for 300 three-scores groschen.

The crown is 19 centimeters high and wide, weighs 2,358.3 grams and is made of 21-22-carat gold. Its headband consists of four parts with four vertical heraldic lilies and is set with many precious stones with a well-balanced color composition and beauty that is enhanced by a very effective, chalice-type setting. The precious stones seem to be suspended in the air around the crown and their shine is amplified by the reflection on the surface of the crown.

This noble and monumental goldsmith masterpiece contains many elements that are considerably much older than the crown itself. For example, the gold cross on the top of the crown contains an invaluable sapphire cameo of a Byzantine origin with an engraving of Crucified Christ from the 7th century. The sapphires from Ceylon that are cut and drilled in an archaic fashion are even older. Some of them are among the largest in the world and were probably around for a long time before they were placed on the St. Wenceslas Crown; many thousands of years ago, they were stringed and most likely were also a part of other jewelry.

The adornment of the cross-forming arches above the crown is also remarkable. Parts of the gold belt of Blanche of Valois that she had received from her cousin, French king Charles the Fair, for her wedding with Charles IV in 1323 were used for them.

At the same time, a leather case with engraved decoration and polychromy was made for the crown. The crown is still kept in the case and is taken out only for the mentioned special occasions.

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