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Les Regalia
Regalia in English
Les Joyaux de la Couronne

History of the Regalia of the Crown of France

The Regalia are an ensemble of objects symbolizing Royalty. Each monarch had his own Regalia, often, with a legendary history. These Regalia are preciously kept like treasures and they have been added to in a successive way. They can be sorted into three categories:

  - Liturgical instruments
  - Royal clothes
  - Coronation instruments

Up to the French Revolution, the Regalia of the kings ofFrance were kept in the Treasury of the Abbey of Saint-Denis. The faithful engravings by Andre Felibien constitute an important testimony. Several kings have deposited their crowns there.

The ancient Regalia consisted of:

The Saint Louis Crown (in fact, The Holy Crown of France, dated back to the Abbott Suger),as well as the Hand of Justice,

Dagobert’s Sceptre, the coronation Spurs,

and the Sword, referred to as Charlemagne’s Sword,

Charles V’s Sceptre, Guillaume de Roquemont’s staff,

Queen Jeanne of Evreux’s Crown,

Henri IV’s two Crowns, Sceptre and Hand of Justice, 

Louis XIII’s two Crowns, and Anne d’Autriche’s Crown, the large Clasp,

Louis XIV’s two Crowns, the Holy Phial,

Louis XIV’s coronation attire (coat),

Louis XV’s two Crowns,

the Chalice used for the coronation of kings,

the Goblet of Ptolemees used as a chalice for the coronation of queens, and its serpentine Paten,

the Book of coronation, and the Books of gospels used for the coronation.

During the French Revolution, most of the Regalia objects were melted down. Some rare pieces, as follows, remained:
- The Sword, referred to as Charlemagne’s (Louvre Museum).

- The Spurs used at the coronation (Louvre), Charles V’s Sceptre (Louvre Museum).

- Guillaume de Roquemont’s staff (Louvre Museum).

- Louis XV’s Crown in silver-gilt (Louvre Museum).

- The Chalice of the Kings (Reims - Palais du Tau).

- The Goblet of Ptolemees (Paris, Cabinet des Medailles), and its serpentine Paten (Louvre Museum).

For his coronation at Notre-Dame-de-Paris, on December 2, 1804, Napoleon the First had two sets of Regalia reconstituted. They are:

- The Honors of Charlemagne:
Marechal Lefevre was carrying  the Sword (“Joyous”, referred to as “Charlemagne’s” – Louvre Museum).

Marechal Kellerman was carrying the Crown (referred to as “Charlemagne’s, executed by Biennais -
Louvre Museum). 

Marechal de Perignon was carrying Charles V’s Sceptre, which topped the “G. De Roquemont’s Staff” (Charles V’s – Louvre Museum).
Hand of Justice (absent in David’s painting - executed by Biennais) (Louvre Museum).

- The Honors of Napoleon:
The Crown with the laurel leaves, all in gold (one leaf remains, at the Chateau de Fontainebleau)
The Sword worn by Napoleon (chateau de Fontainebleau)
The second consul, the Archtreasurer Lebrun, was carrying the Sceptre (topped with an eagle).
Chancellor Cambaceres was carrying the Hand of Justice.

Marechal Berthier was holding the imperial Globe.
Marechal Bernadotte was wearing the Great Necklace of the Legion of Honor.
The Vice-King of Italy, Eugene de Beauharnais was holding the imperial Ring (emerald)
The Grand Chamberlain Talleyrand was holding the container that would be used for the Emperor’s Coat.
Marechal Moncey was holding the container that would be used for the Empress’ Coat.
The “honorary” marechal Serurier was carrying the cushion that was to receive the Empress’ Ring (ruby – Chateau de Malmaison)
Marechal Murat was carrying the cushion for the Empress’ Crown.

Deposited at Notre-Dame Cathedral where the public could easily come admire them, the Honors of the Emperor (crown with the laurel leaves, sceptre, globe, hand of justice) were later removed in 1815, and melted down in 1819 (during the Restauration) at the Monnaie de Paris. They resulted in a gold bar! It is a sad end for the famous crown with the laurel leaves, blessed by the Pope, and with which Napoleon crowned himself in Notre-Dame’s choir.
The coronation coat was kept in Notre-Dame, but the canons tore it off in 1814, during the first Restauration, in order to sell the pieces.

For his coronation, on May 29, 1825, in Reims, King Charles X used the Honors of Charlemagne and also commissioned a set of important liturgic objects.

A crown was made by the jewelers Meniere and Bapst, for Louis XVIII, even though he was never crowned, and was later re-designed for Charles X. (The crown was destroyed through negligence in 1827)

The coronation instruments are being kept in Reims, in the Palais du Tau. They consist of:
The royal Coat for the coronation, commissioned by Louis XVIII, used at the coronation of Charles X.  The large royal coat, made of purple velvet is ornated with flowers of lily, and lined with ermine fur.

The liturgical instruments used for the coronation of Charles X are located in Reims, in the Palais du Tau. Most of the gilted objects were executed by Jean-Charles Cahier (a student of Biennais) and consist of:
- a Mace of the Chancellor of France, and its box - a monstrance - the Epistles - 2 trays with bread  for offering, one made of gold and the other of silver - 2 processional crosses - the reliquary of the Holy Phial (topped with a dove) - 2 trays for the offertory - a book of gospels - a larger ewer - a box for the crown of the dauphin - a smaller ewer - 2 censers - an altar cross - two thuribles - 2 acolyte candelabras - a container for the Holy oils - a pyx for hosts - a basin - two sets of altar cruets and tray - an Instrument of peace - 2 handbells - the staff of the Grand Master of Ceremonies - the necklace of the Order of the Holy Spirit (deposited by Monsignor the Count of Paris) - 3 framed altar canons - a vial of Holy water with its bottle brush - 2 chalices and patens, and an archiepiscopal cross.

Thanks : This textbook has been translated into English by Mrs Maryvonne Mavroukakis (Library of Congress, Washington DC)

© 2009 Jean-Louis Gautreau