Hungarian Coronation Mantle

The Hungarian Coronation Mantle, 11th century. The Hungarian Coronation Mantle, 11th century. Copyright Hungarian National Museum, Budapest.

The Hungarian Coronation Mantle is a semicircular cloak densely embroidered with gold and silk. It dates to the eleventh century. The mantle is part of the coronation regalia of Hungary since at least the thirteenth century. The mantle was last worn at the coronation of Charles IV in 1916. After the Second World War (1939-1945), the coronation regalia, including the mantle, were sent to the USA for safe keeping. They were returned in 1978.

The mantle and other regalia are now kept in the Hungarian National Museum, Budapest. The mantle was originally a bell-shaped cope that was converted into a mantle in the late twelfth century. The garment is sometimes called the coronation mantle of King Stephan I (King István I; King St. Stephan; r. c. 1001-1038). However, a Latin inscription embroidered onto the garment states that it was made on the orders of King Stephen and his wife Gisela and was donated in 1031 to the Church of the Virgin Mary in Székesfehérvár (now known as the Székesfehérvár Basilica, part of the Hungarian royal palace complex). As 1031 is long after Stephan’s coronation (c. 1001), it is possible that the cope was made to celebrate the 30th anniversary of this event. However, it should also be noted that Prince Eneric, their second son, died in 1031 aged 24. So it is equally feasible that this is a memorial garment.

The next written reference to the mantle dates to the late thirteenth century and can be found in a description of the coronation ceremony of Andrew III in 1290: “The king wore a robe already worn by Saint Stephen.” It is possible that the cope was altered into a mantle for Andrew’s coronation, but this is not certain. It is possible that the large collar of the mantle, which is decorated with pearls, was added at this point.

The ground cloth of the cope/mantle is a blue (possibly originally green) twill weave silk cloth with a woven design of purple rosettes. In its present form the mantle is about 2.5 m x 1.3 m in size and is decorated with scenes from the Life of Christ as well as that of the Apostles and Prophets. In total there are 61 smaller and larger figures, 52 smaller half length portraits as well as animals, birds, floral patterns and architectural features organised into a series of horizontal bands.

There is also a Y-shaped cross at the axis of the main composition. The figure of Christ, for example, is situated in the oval frame above the upraised arms of the cross. He is depicted standing on a dragon and a lion, which symbolised victory over evil. On one side of the cross is the Saviour surrounded by angels and on the other side there is the image of the Virgin Mary. Below are images of the prophets of the Old Testament and the twelve Apostles. In the centre there is a Christ in Judgement (Pantocrator).

The round medallions along the bottom of the mantle contain images of martyred saints. On either side of the Pantocrator are the royal couple, with the embroidered inscriptions “S(t)EPHANUS REX,” “GISLA REGINA.” Between the king and queen there is a small figure of a young man, possibly their son, Prince Emeric (1007-1031).

The embroidery was carried out in gold thread and floss silk thread in various colours. The various scenes on the mantle were worked in stem stitch using silk thread. Details were worked in multi-coloured silks, using chain stitch, feather stitch and stem stitch. The gold thread was couched down onto the ground with coloured silk threads, which were also used to create further details.

See also: The Sternenmantel of Heinrich II; the Great Mantle of St. Kunigunde; the Cope of St. Kunigunde


  • KOVACS, Eva and Zsuzsa LOVAG (1988). The Hungarian Crown and Other Regalia, Budapest: Corvina.
  • (retrieved 12 June 2016).

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 10 August 2016).


Last modified on Wednesday, 10 August 2016 20:32