Visigoth Pearl Crown

See & learn about a pearl crown made from pearls plundered from Rome...a Visigoth pearl crown and more.

Votive Crown of Visigoth King Reccesvinthus

Toward the end of the year 1858 a French officer who lived in Spain, while making some excavations on a property he owned there, discovered fourteen small gold crowns. They were taken to the Spanish mint and are said to have been melted for bullion. New excavations on the same spot brought to light eight other crowns of considerable weight, of the finest workmanship, and encrusted with precious stone, pearls, etc.

There is no doubt that these crowns were buried in the early years of the eighth century, when the Arabs, led by Tarik, invaded Spain and forced the Gothic dynasty to take refuge in the north of Europe. The importance of this discovery is very great, since it gives us positive evidence of the development of the goldsmith's art in Spain at that early period. An inscription proves that one of the crowns was dedicated in the second half of the seventh century, and it is on of the few authentic memorials we possess of that epoch. In February, 1859, the eight crowns were purchased by the French government and placed in the Musee de Cluny. The other crowns found in the same place were added in 1860, and complete the collection. (Some of these crowns are today in Spanish museums.)

Gothic Pearl Crown Visigoth King Reccesvinthus

The largest of these crowns is that of the Gothic king, Reccesvinthus, who was King of Spain from 624 to 672. It is composed of a wide band of solid gold, ten centimeters wide and twenty-one centimeters in diameter (about four and eight inches respectively). This band, which opens by means of a hinge, is surrounded by two borders of gold set with the red stones of Caria, called "gemmae alabandenses," and the band itself is studded with thirty large oriental sapphires of the greatest beauty. Thirty fine pearls of appropriate size alternate with the sapphires on a ground encrusted with the red stones above mentioned. From twenty-three small gold chains depend large letters in cloisonne, and also encrusted, forming the sentence: RECCESVINTHUS REX OFFERET. Each letter has a gold pendant with a pearl from which hangs a pearl-shaped sapphire.

Visigoth Pearl Cross

The crown is suspended from four chains, converging to a double floral ornament of solid gold, adorned with twelve sapphire pendants. This ornament, the leaves of which are open, is surmounted by a capital of rock crystal, then comes a ball of the same material, and the whole is terminated by the gold center to which the four chains are attached.

Gothic Pearl Crowns and Crosses Treasure of Guarrazar

The cross, which is suspended underneath the crown by a gold chain, is remarkable for its elegance and its richness. It is of solid gold and is inlaid with six very find sapphires and eight large pearls, each of which is mounted in relief with claws. At the back, the cross still bears the wire by which it was attached to the royal mantle. The inside of the pearl crown is quite smooth: the outside is composed of elegant fleurettes in openwork, the leaves being filled with the same species of red carnelian mentioned above. There are thirty sapphires, all of the finest water, and a few of them show the natural faceted crystallization; the two principal ones, placed in the center of the band, are thirty millimeters in diameter. The pearls are of an exceptional size, and only a few of them have been injured by time. The total number on the crown, cross, and top ornament, is seventy, thirty of which are unusually large. The chains are each composed of five openwork ornaments with and enamel paste inlaid in the gold edge. A close examination of the crown shows that it had been worn before the king presented it to some church.

Most of the information from Kunz & Stevenson book published in 1908.

Read more about Gothic pearls after pearl crown.
Go to main natural pearls in history page after gothic pearls.
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See my photos of an ancient holy Hungarian crown.
Go to main Famous pearl page.
See photos of an ancient Native American Indian pearl necklace.


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