Visualising Saint Charlemagne in Twelfth-Century Aachen: From Imperial Palace to Pilgrimage Site
Paper by Vedran Sulovsky
Given at the Center for Early Medieval Studies at Masaryk University on August 14, 2020
Abstract: Vedran Sulovsky discusses how Charlemagne’s (768–814) most important palace not only preserved the emperor’s memory, but also slowly modified it so that the entire palace complex, which was famous for being the centre of the Carolingian Empire, became the final part of the story of Charlemagne’s relic-gathering expeditions to Spain, Constantinople and the Holy Land. Sulovsky shows how twentieth-century scholars, who were deeply invested in the national ideological interpretations, created a discourse of an plan of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (1152–1190) to reshape Aachen into a symbol of imperial authority and sanctity. The presentation concludes with Sulovsky’s deconstruction of this imperial theory on the basis of newfound visual and textual evidence, demonstrating that it was the canons and burghers of Aachen who refashioned the memory of Charlemagne to suit their needs and the needs of their pilgrimage site.
Vedran Sulovsky is a graduate student at the University of Cambridge. .
Top Image: Karlsschrein. Photo by ACBahn / Wikimedia Commons