Holy Roman Emperor! Time for a Carolingian renaissance

Bust of Charlemagne at Aachen Cathedral

It is 1200 years since the death of Charlemagne,  the Frankish King who had the boldness to claim the title Holy Roman Emperor. The German city of Aachen is marking the anniversary of its most famous son with a trio of exhibitions.

The three exhibitions opened mid- June by one of their patrons, German President, Joachim Gauck. (The others are the Presidents of France and Italy, the Council of Europe, and the European Parliament.)

They will run in the Coronation Hall in Aachen’s Town Hall, the new Charlemagne Centre in the Katschhof and the Cathedral Treasury, until September and present the art and culture of Charlemagne and his era. An abundance of first-rate loan exhibits from international and private collections have been brought to Aachen for the occasion.

The largest exhibition, Places of Power, is in the Coronation Hall. In Charlemagne’s time this was the site of the original palace’s King’s Hall and thus the seat of imperial power.

Charlemagne’s Art is a special exhibition at the new Charlemagne Centre located at the heart of the original Aachen palace. It focusses on the art history of the Carolingian period.

Lost Treasures is the title of the third exhibition in Aachen’s Cathedral Treasury, the most important church treasury north of the Alps. Works of sacral art that once belonged to Aachen Cathedral have been brought back to Aachen for the duration of the exhibition and some of the most prominent treasures date back to Charlemagne’s times.

Austria has loaned the famous Tassilo Chalice from around 780 AD, made by Northumbrian craftsmen and decorated with Hiberno-Saxon ornament. The chalice belongs to the Benedictine Abbey of Kremsmünster in Upper Austria and has not left the Abbey for 70 years.

Read article: Charlemagne era celebrated with triad of exhibitions (The Tablet)

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