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Monomakh’s Cap is the oldest of the Russian crowns, first used in a coronation when Ivan the Terrible crowned himself the first Tsar of Russia

David Goran

Monomakh’s Cap, also called the Golden Cap, is a crown that was worn by the Russian Kings and one of the symbols of Russian autocracy.

This chief relic of the Russian Grand Princes and Tsars is also a cultural example of the relationship between the Kazans and Russia. It was made around the late 13th or 14th century, and it is the oldest of the Russian crowns kept in the Kremlin, Moscow.

The oldest crown among the crown jewels of Russia  Photo Credit

The oldest crown among the crown jewels of Russia  Photo Credit

 

The crown is ornamented with large cabochon jewels and small pearls Photo Credit

The cap itself is a gold onion-shaped skullcap and consists of eight golden plaques, elaborately ornamented with a scrolled gold overlay, adorned with filigree, small pearls and embellished with precious stones.

It is topped by a simple gold cross with pearls at each end (added centuries after it was originally made, along with the jewels on the sides, and the characteristic broad fur border).

The golden cross at the top of the cap  Photo Credit

The golden cross at the top of the cap  Photo Credit

 

Its exact origin is still debated  Photo Credit

Its exact origin is still debated  Photo Credit

 

The cap appears to be Oriental work of the late 13th or early 14th-century  Photo Credit

The cap appears to be Oriental work of the late 13th or early 14th-century  Photo Credit

 

Monomakh’s Cap in the foreground and Kazan Cap in the background (made for Ivan the Terrible in 1553 after conquering the Kazakh khanate)   Photo Credit

 

Russian regalia used prior to the Great Imperial Crown. The crown is styled after the Monomakh Cap  Photo Credit

Russian regalia used prior to the Great Imperial Crown. The crown is styled after the Monomakh Cap  Photo Credit

In the 15th-century, there was a legend that the crown was a gift from the Byzantine emperor, Constantine Monomachus to his grandson Vladimir Vsevolodovich Monomakh, the grand prince of Kiev. Accordingly, the crown became known as “Monomakh’s Cap.” The legend was elaborated in The Tale of the Princes of Vladimir and served as a basis for the political theory of “Moscow as the Third Rome.“

Until today, experts have no common idea about from where it had been executed. According to some, the shape of the crown and the motifs of the filigree ornament give evidence of an Oriental origin.

Currently exhibited at the Kremlin Armoury, one of the oldest museums of Moscow  Photo Credit1 Photo Credit2

Currently exhibited at the Kremlin Armoury, one of the oldest museums of Moscow  Photo Credit1 Photo Credit2

The cap of Monomakh was first used in a coronation on 16th January 1547, when Ivan IV (Ivan the Terrible) crowned himself as the first Tsar of Russia at age sixteen. He was the first to be crowned as “Tsar of All the Russias.”

Read another story from us: Made in Constantinople in 1401, the Monomachus Crown is one of the only two surviving Byzantine crowns

Since 1547, the Crown of Monomakh was used in the crowning of all the Russian rulers until 1721, when Peter the Great designed a new Imperial Crown which replaced the cap of Monomakh in the coronation ceremony. Other crowns were also worn, such as the Kazan Cap, but for other occasions.