The Votive Crown of King Recceswinth by Mary Elizabeth Podles

A Thousand Words

The Votive Crown of King Recceswinth

by Mary Elizabeth Podles

This extraordinarily costly and elegant object is the Crown of Recceswinth, King of the Visigoths in seventh-century Spain. The main body of the piece is a circular diadem of thirty sapphires and thirty pearls from the Far East set in golden filigree; it hangs from a rock crystal finial via openwork, heart-shaped links, and from it are suspended garnet-inlaid pendants spelling out “RECCESVINTHUS REX OFFERET” (“Recceswinth the King offered [this]”). Underneath it hangs a golden cross, also inlaid and hung with jewels. In view of such a splendid object, it is clear that we need to revise our understanding of the terms “Dark Ages” and “barbaric”; there is not . . .