Saturday 8 July 2023

The Austrian Crown Jewels

Emperor Francis I wearing the imperial mantle and regalia
The Austrian Crown Jewels (Insignien und Kleinodien) is a term denoting the regalia and vestments worn by the Holy Roman Emperor, and later by the Emperor of Austria, during the coronation ceremony and other state functions. The Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire is the highlight of the collection: Created in the second half of the 10th century, it was used to crown the empire's emperors. There are crowns, sceptres, orbs, swords, rings, crosses, holy relics, and the royal robes, as well as several other objects connected with the ceremony itself. The Imperial Crown of Austria was originally the crown of Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor of the House of Habsburg. After 1806, it became the crown of the Austrian Empire.
This crown was created for the last German Kaiser, Wilhelm II in 1888. He never had a coronation so it was never worn.
The Austrian Crown Jewels are kept at the Imperial Treasury (Schatzkammer) in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria. Imperial and royal regalia and jewels date from the 10th century to the 19th century. They are one of the biggest and most important collections of royal objects still in existence, and reflect more than a thousand years of European history. The regalia were normally kept in Nuremberg, and a smaller part in Aachen. With the advance of the French in the French Revolutionary Wars, they were taken away in 1796 and brought to Vienna for safety.

They have remained in the Schatzkammer ever since, even after the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. The regalia briefly left Vienna when Hitler had them sent to Nuremberg in 1938. After the war they were found by American troops in a bunker and eventually returned in 1946.