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Crowns, Coronets, Chaplets & Circlets

Royal crowns during the early medieval period were breathtaking affairs of gold and jewels. Crowns and coronets weren't particularly restricted to royalty at this time, with noble ladies wearing coronets or mini-crowns as part of their formal dress. They were sometimes set with jewels but were not as ornate as those used for coronations or of the royal household.

Crowns and coronets
The crown shown at right, is a detail from the sculpture Madonna, dated at 1420 and shows the type of crown worn by royalty and often depicted worn by the Virgin Mary in artwork of the medieval period.

In the detail at left, is a coronet of a simple design and appears to be set at regular intervals with only a few gemstones. It is dated at 1370-1372 and comes from de Liege Jeanne d'Evreux and Charles IV. This is more the kind of crown or coronet that a noble woman might wear. It was forged in one piece.

The detail of a bust at right shows a circlet, also a one-piece, being worn with a braided hairstyle. It has holes drilled where gemstones probably once were. It is of Marie de France and dated at 1327 to 1341.

Circlets, chaplets or coronets
The circlet or coronet returned to fashion among ladies of the nobility and upper classes about 1360. Those most favoured were of a slightly different style to the solid band previously worn. The new coronets were designed like miniature versions of the hinged hip belt, composed of many smaller plaques arranged together to fit the head.

Precious and semi-precious stones and enamel were widely used. Goldsmiths in France, Northern Spain and Northern Italy were considered the best jewellers, though Limoges was particularly renown for the quality of the workmanship produced.

Chaplets were often fresh flowers, but in some records, they are described as being flowers of jeweller's works wrought of silver or gold.

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