Friday, January 1, 2021

the celebrated coronation that occurred 216 years ago ~ and the arrest of Pontiff

This day, 216 years ago … occurred that celebrated coronation.

A curule seat is a design of chair noted for its uses in Ancient Rome and Europe through to the 20th century. Its status in early Rome as a symbol of political or military power carried over to other civilizations, as it was also used in this regard by kings in Europe, Napoleon, and others.


Sure, in our history books at school, we read about another Coronation – the Delhi Durbar.  On 22 March 1911, a royal proclamation announced that the Durbar would be held in December to commemorate the coronation in Britain a few months earlier of George V and Mary of Teck and allow their proclamation as Emperor and Empress of India. Practically every ruling prince and nobleman in India, plus thousands of landed gentry and other persons of note, attended to pay obeisance to their sovereigns.  The official ceremonies lasted from 7 to 16 December, with the Durbar itself occurring on Tuesday, 12 December. The royal couple arrived at Coronation Park in their Coronation robes, the King-Emperor wearing the Imperial Crown of India with eight arches, containing 6170 exquisitely cut diamonds, and covered with sapphires, emeralds and rubies, with a velvet and miniver cap all weighing 34 ounces (965 g). They received homage from the native princes – including one woman, the Begum of Bhopal – at the shamiana (ceremonial tent); controversy ensued when the Gaekwar of Baroda, Maharajah (Emperor) Sayajirao III, approached the royal couple without his jewellery on, and after a simple bow turned his back to them when leaving. His action was interpreted at the time as a sign of dissent to British rule.

The Delhi Durbar (meaning "Court of Delhi") was an Indian imperial-style mass assembly organized by the British at Coronation Park, Delhi, India, to mark the succession of an Emperor or Empress of India. Also known as the Imperial Durbar, it was held three times, in 1877, 1903, and 1911, at the height of the British Empire. The 1911 Durbar was the only one that a sovereign, George V, attended.

The one – subject matter of today is the coronation of Napoleon as Emperor of the French that  took place on Sunday, December 2, 1804   at Notre-Dame de Paris in Paris. It marked "the instantiation of modern empire" and was a "transparently masterminded piece of modern propaganda".

The curule seat that was part of a set made for the reception of Napoleon by the corps legislatif after his coronation as emperor.  Napoleon wanted to establish the legitimacy of his imperial reign, with its new dynasty and new nobility. To this end, he designed a new coronation ceremony unlike that for the kings of France, which had emphasized the king's consecration (sacre) and anointment.   The ceremony was held in the great cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris in the presence of Pope Pius VII. Napoleon brought together various rites and customs, incorporating ceremonies of Carolingian tradition, the Ancien Régime and the French Revolution, all presented in sumptuous luxury. 

On May 18, 1804, the Sénat conservateur vested the Republican government of the French First Republic in an emperor, and preparations for a coronation followed. Napoleon's elevation to emperor was overwhelmingly approved by the French citizens in the French constitutional referendum of 1804. Among Napoleon's motivations for being crowned were to gain prestige in international royalist and Catholic circles and to lay the foundation for a future dynasty. 



When Pope Pius VII agreed to come to Paris to officiate at Napoleon's coronation, it was initially established that it would follow the coronation liturgy in the Roman Pontifical. However, after the Pope's arrival, Napoleon persuaded the papal delegation to allow the introduction of several French elements in the rite.  Not wanting to be an Old Regime monarch, Napoleon explained: "To be a king is to inherit old ideas and genealogy. I don't want to descend from anyone”. It is written that   Napoleon awoke at 8:00 a.m. to the sound of a cannonade and left the Tuileries at 11:00 a.m. in a white velvet vest with gold embroidery and diamond buttons, a crimson velvet tunic and a short crimson coat with satin lining, a wreath of laurel on his brow. The number of onlookers, as estimated by Wairy, was between four and five thousand, many of whom had held their places all night through intermittent showers that cleared in the morning.  Napoleon's and Joséphine's carriage was drawn by eight bay horses and escorted by grenadiers à cheval and gendarmes d'élite.

There were two orchestras with four choruses, numerous military bands playing heroic marches, and over three hundred musicians. The Emperor and Empress were both anointed on their heads and on both hands with chrism–the Emperor with the prayers. The coronation of Napoleon and Josephine also differed in this respect from the pattern observed in other Western coronation rites.

After the coronation the Emperor presented the imperial standards to each of his regiments. According to government tallies, the entire cost was over 8.5 million francs.. .. .. Pope Pius VII who officiated the coronation was placed under arrest in Italy in 1809  under Napoleon's orders,  and in 1812 the prisoner Pontiff was transferred to France, being held in the Palace of Fontainebleau.  In January 1813, Napoleon personally forced the Pope to sign a humiliating "Concordat of Fontainebleau" which was later repudiated by the Pontiff. The Pope was not released until 1814, when the Coalition invaded France.

 
With regards – S. Sampathkumar
2.12.2020. 

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