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Imperial Mantle of Otto IV (1175-1218)

Imperial mantle of Otto IV, c. 1210. Imperial mantle of Otto IV, c. 1210. Copyright Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Kunstmuseum des Landes Niedersachsen, Museumstra├če 1, 38100 Braunschweig.

Otto IV (1175-1218) was the son of the German ruler, Henry the Lion and Matilda, an English princess. He was also one of two rival kings of Germany between 1198 and 1208/9 (the other king was eventually murdered, probably at the instigation of Otto).

In 1209 he was crowned as the Holy Roman Emperor, but Otto IV was soon excommunicated on various religious and political pretexts by Pope Innocent III in 1210, while remaining as Emperor. However, he was finally forced to abdicate in 1215, and died a few years later.

The imperial mantle (Paludamentum Imperiale) associated with Otto IV probably dates from between 1209-1214. It has a red silk ground that is embroidered in opus anglicanum, an embroidery technique that uses underside couching of gold and silver thread. The mantle is decorated with embroidered medallions of Christ and the Virgin, as well as individual figures and motifs, such as angels with incense holders, crescents, suns and lions (passant guardant).

Based on medieval symbolism, the red ground represents armed authority; the sun represents the empire, the crescent represents the state, while the lion is the emblem of a duke. In addition, on the back of the mantle there are three imperial eagles, also worked in gold and silver thread. The eagle is the emblem of the Holy Roman Empire.

When Otto died in 1218 his imperial mantle was donated to the Benedictine monastery of St. Aegidien (St. Giles) in Braunschweig (Brunswick), which had been founded in the early twelfth century. Later the mantle became part of the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum’s collection.

Address: Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Kunstmuseum des Landes Niedersachsen, Museumstraße 1, 38100 Braunschweig , Germany. Website.  

Source: WILCKENS, Leonie von (1997). 'The imperial mantle of Otto IV in Brunswick,' Bulletin d’Information de Groupe Broderie de CIETA, no. 6 (available here; retrieved 26 March 2016)

Digital sources

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 26 June 2016).


Last modified on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 17:38