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Royal Coronation of Maximilian I (April 9, 1486)

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After the blessing, they raised the king up on his knees and bared his shoulders, breast, and elbows, as he sat in prayer with folded hands. The archbishop of Cologne anointed him with the oil of catechumens on the head, on the breast, between the shoulder blades, and on the shoulders; then he also anointed the palms of his hands, praying as he did so. [ . . . ] Meanwhile, the clergy sang "The Lord has Anointed You." Then the archbishops led the king into the sacristy, where the senior cathedral canon wiped the anointed places of his body with the purest wool. The canons then put shoes and an alb on him, along with a stole crossed over his breast.* The king returned before the altar, where he prostrated himself and held his arms out in the form of a cross, while the archbishop of Cologne spoke a blessing [ . . . ].

After these blessings, the Roman king was dressed in a mantle by the archbishops of Mainz, Trier, and Cologne. At the same time, they handed him the sword of St. Charles**, and the archbishop of Cologne said a prayer [ . . . ]. Then they placed the sword in its scabbard and girded the king with it. Then the archbishop of Cologne gave him the bracelets, the pallium,*** and the royal ring [ . . . ], also the Imperial scepter and orb [ . . . ]. When this was done, all three archbishops – Mainz, Trier, and Cologne – placed the crown of Charlemagne on his head, saying prayers all the while [ . . . ]. The archbishops of Mainz and Trier then led him to the altar; he laid both hands upon it and said the following verse in German: "I confess before God and his angels, that I shall preserve the laws, justice, and peace of the holy Church, serve the welfare of my subjects and exercise justice, and, taking divine mercy into consideration, preserve the laws of the Empire as best I can with the advice of the princes and the loyalty of the subjects of the Empire and of my friends. To the most holy Roman pope, the Roman Church, and the other bishops and churches of God, I shall render them the honor which, by church law, they are due. Whatever the emperors and kings have given over to the churches and clergy, I will preserve and maintain undiminished. To the abbots and orders as Imperial vassals, I will render the proper respect, insofar as the Lord Jesus Christ grants me help, strength, and worth."

Following this oath, the archbishops of Mainz and Trier led the king to his royal throne, which is located above the altar of the apostles Simon and Judas [ . . . ]. The archbishop of Cologne, along with his entourage and the other princes, followed the king. They seated him on the stone throne of St. Charles, while the archbishop prayed
[ . . . ]. When the king was seated on the throne, he was approached by all those who wanted to be knighted. The king drew the sword of St. Charles from its scabbard and held it in his hand. The first who stepped up was Elector Palatine Philip, then Elector Ernest of Saxony, the Duke of Jülich, Duke Caspar of Bavaria, Duke Charles of Gelderland, Margrave Christoph of Baden, Landgrave William of Hesse-Kassel, William of Egmont, and many others, a total of 200 or more were knighted to the sound of trumpets. Then, while the Te Deum was being sung
[ . . . ] they all descended [the altar] and took their former places in the choir.****

The Roman king now took the scepter in his hand at the Offertory and produced several gold coins [ . . . ]. Next, the canons of Aachen Cathedral came and invested him as a fellow canon, and after he had sworn an oath for the benefice attached to this office, they brought him to his place in the choir. He handed over the statutes and the gift of wine, according to the custom of this church. The king supports two vicars here; they hold the entire benefice and perform his duties in the church. Thus the royal coronation ended.

* The king was anointed and dressed as a deacon of the church, the office just below that of priest – trans.
** Charlemagne, whom some revered as a saint – trans.
*** The pallium is a white woolen sash, a symbol of office normally conferred on a new archbishop by the pope – trans.
**** “O God, We Praise Thee” (Te Deum laudamus), an early Christian hymn of praise – trans.

Source of German translation of original Latin document: Inge Wiesflecker-Friedhuber, ed., Quellen zur Geschichte Maximilians I. und seiner Zeit. Darmstadt: WBG, 1996, pp. 43-47.

Translation from German into English: Thomas A. Brady Jr.

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