The Ruler

Royal Portraits

Early Portraits

Royal Portraits -1180

Royal Portraits -1870


Royal Arms

Early Emblems

The Arms

The Crowned Arms

The Achievement

Back to France





The Roman Era





For a long time it has been thought that on this coin of the Emperor Hadrian was a female  holding a lily in her hand which at the same time was thought to be the emblem of France named in the legend   being, “Restutori Galliæ”.


However, on this coin there is a scene of a warrior submitting himself to a man in senatorial dress, which could well be the Emperor, presenting him an object what may be a bill or treaty.

In any case there is no lily to be seen and therefore the theory that the lily was the symbol of France as early as roman times cannot be true.


Triumphal Arch of Orange 20-25 BC

Armoury captured, sword, standard, trumpets


This arch displays many six-cornered shields, trumpets with animal heads (carnyx), standards in the shape of wild boars and several swords with eagle hilts. As the triumphal arch is probably erected for the victory over local tribes in that part of Gallia, for example the Cavares federation, we may suppose that an early (southern) Gallic emblem was a wild boar. On the other hand these tribes had also eagles for badges of rank, very much resembling Roman eagle sword hilts. As such they fitted into a wider celtic cultural basin.

Æ Hear also for the war sound:


Denarius of Hadrian (125-128)


With the symbol of a head of state


The Gallic Empire


The Gallic Empire (Imperium Galliarum) is the modern name for a breakaway part of the Roman Empire that functioned de facto as a separate state from 260 to 274. It was established by Postumus in 260 in the wake of barbarian invasions and instability in Rome, and at its height included the territories of Germania, Gaul, Britannia, and (for a time) Hispania. After Postumus' assassination in 268 it lost much of its territory, but continued under a number of emperors and usurpers. It was retaken by Roman emperor Aurelian after the Battle of Châlons in 274.


Æ More: Wikipedia: Gallic Empire


The Tetrarchy



By Diocletian (284-305) the Roman Empire was divided in four prefectures. One of them was Gaul which was divided into four dioceses (Brittanny, Gaul, Vienna and Spain). On 1 March 293 the Tetrarchy was created by which the government of the Empire was divided between  2 “Augusti” and 2 “Caesares” the last succeeding the first and being appointed new caesares.

Four tetrarchs are represented on sculptures robbed from Constantinople in 1204 at the fourth crusade by the Venetians and now on San Marco square in Venice. The tetrarchs are in military dress with swords with hilts of eagle’s heads at their sides. Such eagle headed hilts were also on the swords of earlier Roman Emperors statues of which are preserved in the Musei Capitolini in Rome. On their heads there have been diadems, or kepi’s (pill boxes) probably decorated with badges or gems.  Gold coins with portraits of the tetrarchs represent them with a pointed sun-crown.


The Tetrarchs on San Marco Square in Venice

The one on the right Constantius I Clorus



Constantius I Chlorus (293/305-306) made Treves his residence in 293 be it that, forced by political circumstances, he temporarily resided in York (Brittanny). Treves became the capital of one of the newly created administrative territories (dioceses) comprising the then more than 100 provinces of the Empire. The diocese Galliarum as as the territory governed from Treves was called, comprised eight provinces.On an unknown moment, likely shortly before the year 400, the Prefecture was moved to Arles. Because of the retreat of the troops in 406 the country became almost defenceless so that the invasion of German tribes crossing the Rhine at the turn of the year 406-407 and later moving further west, could not be halted.


The Western Roman Empire




Ivory consular diptych of Anicius Petronius Probus. Rome, 406

Right part depicting the Roman emperor Honorius, crowned and nimbused, with commander’s staff,  sword and shield. On his breast a gorgoneion and the hilt of his sword an eagle’s head

. Museo del Tesoro della Cattedrale in Aosta, Italy.


Present France comprises the roman dioceses of Galliae and Vienennesis, parts of the larger praetorian prefecture of Gaul (praefectura praetorio Galliarum)




The Diocese of Gaul (Dioecesis Galliarum, “diocese of the Gaul [province]s”) was a diocese of the later Roman Empire, under the praetorian prefecture of Gaul. It encompassed northern and eastern Gaul, that is, modern France north and east of the Loire, including the Low Countries and modern Germany west of the Rhine.

The diocese comprised the following provinces: Gallia Lugdunensis I, Gallia Lugdunensis II, Gallia Lugdunensis III, Gallia Lugdunensis IV (Senonia), Belgica I, Belgica II, Germania I, Germania II, Alpes Poenninae et Graiae and Maxima Sequanorum.



The diocese was established after the reforms of Diocletian and Constantine I in c. 314. In the year 407, the Rhine frontier was breached, and much of Gaul temporarily lost to barbarian tribes. Roman control over most of Gaul and the Rhineland was restored until the death of Valentinian III in 455. The only territory remaining in Roman hands after the 450s was in the northwest, the so-called “Domain of Soissons”. After its fall to the Franks in 486 and the end of Roman administration in northern Gaul, the diocese can be said to have de facto ended.


In the Late Roman Empire the symbol of armed authority was the christogram. Such a christogram is on a coin of Magnentius (350-353).

Magnentius was the commander of the Herculians and Jovians, the Imperial guard units. When the army grew dissatisfied with the behavior of Roman Emperor Constans (337-350), it elevated Magnentius at Autun on 18 January 350. Constans was abandoned by all except a handful of retainers, and he was slain shortly afterwards by a troop of light cavalry near the Pyrenees.

Magnentius quickly attracted the loyalty of the provinces in Britannia, Gaul, and Hispania. His control on Italia and Africa was applied through the election of his men to the most important offices.


Coin of Magnentius

Struck in Treves [1]


Obverse: Bust of Magnentius

Reverse: Christogram

Legend:: d n magnentivs p n avg / salvs dd nn avg etc anstes


Soon Constantius, the brother of Constans, came to the offensive. Magnentius and Constantius met in the Battle of Mursa Major in 351. Magnentius' troops were defeated and forced to retreat to Gaul. Magnentius made a final stand in 353 in the Battle of Mons Seleucus (near Gap), after which he fled to Lugdunum (Lyon) where he committed suicide by falling on his sword.

The hypothesis is that Magnentius was buried in Saulieu (Sidolocus) situated on the Roman road Via Agrippa from Lyon to the Ocean. Here there was a church founded in 306, the church of  St. Andoche in which there is a tomb, called of St. Andoche.


Foto H.d.V.2016

Tomb of Saint-Andoche

Basilique St-Andoche, Saulieu


Saint Andoche was a Greek priest who evangelized the area with his companions deacon Thyrse and  merchant Felix. They suffered martyrdom in 177. Three churches succeeded each other on their relics: in 306, 747 and 1119. The latter was built in the 12th century under the influence of Cluniac architecture. The choir was burnt by the English during the Hundred Years War. The chapels built on the flanks of the nave are from the 15th century. The sculptured portal is from the 19th century.


The tomb is decorated  with the symbols of the Ruler (christogram), the Realm (Sun) and the State  (Moon) and in between the six-pointed star symbolizing a prince. On the right there is a shield decorated with an axe (securis) which is the symbol of a Lictor.


Insignia of the Magister Peditum and the shields of the Joviani and the Herculiani

In the Notitia Dignitatum, fol 65 (420 ca.)


In that time the army in Gaul was commanded by the Magister Militum per Gallias. The title of magister militum was created in the 4th century, when Emperor Constantine the Great deprived the praetorian prefects of their military functions. Initially two posts were created, one as head of the foot troops, as the magister peditum (“Master of the Foot”), and one for the more prestigious cavalry, the magister equitum (“Master of the Horse”). The latter title had existed since Republican times, as the second-in-command to a Roman dictator.

As such they were directly in command of the local mobile field army of the comitatenses, composed mostly of cavalry, which acted as a rapid reaction force. Other magistri remained at the immediate disposal of the Emperors, and were termed in praesenti (“in the presence” of the Emperor).


By the late 4th century, the regional commanders were termed simply magister militum. In Gaul there have been ten Magistri Militum by the names of


Magister Militum per Gallias


352–355: Claudius Silvanus

362–364: Flavius Iovinus, magister equitum under Julian and Jovian

 ? – 419:  Flavius Gaudentius

425–433: Flavius Aetius

437-439:  Avitus

452–456: Agrippinus

456–461: Aegidius

461/462:  Agrippinus

 ? - 472:  Bilimer

465–486: Syagrius


In the time of Flavius Gaudentius the insignia of a Magister Militum was an ivory plaque (diptych) on a table with a blue cloth. Such insignia are represented by the Notitia Dignitatum for the Magistri Peditum and – Equitum. The insignia for the Magister Militum per Gallias is not given but is supposed to have been of the kind of these two.


Consular Diptych of Flavius Aetius (425-433)

Ivory, first half of the 5th century.

Belonged until the Revolution to the library of the chapter of Bourges Cathedral.

Gift of P.A. Bourdaloue. Musée Municipal de Bourges inv. n° 860.3.2.


In the upper half the consul seated under a ciborium decorated with eagles, with a sceptre representing two imperial busts, and a staff and assisted by men of the guard. In the lower halves scenes from fights with wild animals (lions).


Eagles on the Consular Diptych


The Magister per Gallias commanded 32.000 men at Paris and the

Dux Mogontiacenses commanded 2.750

Dux Belgicae II commanded 500

Dux Germaniae I (n.a.)

Dux Sequanicae commanded 250

Comes Tractus Argentorates (n.a.)

Dux Armoricani commanded 2.500


Insignia of the Dux Mogontiacenses, Dux Belgicae II, Dux Sequanica, the Comes Argentorates and the Dux Armoricani. No insignia are given for the Dux Germaniae I. As in the Notitia Dignitatum.


Hypothetically these Duces had a griffin for badge of military rank. Reliefs of griffins were on 2nd and 3rd century Roman military cuirasses but their later development has to be studied.


The Frankish Kingdom


In 358 Julian the Apostate permitted the Franks to settle more to the south in Toxandria, present Brabant, and gave them the status of foederati.


The Treasury of Pouan

The Tomb of Theodoric is an archaeological discovery that combines weapons and jewels from a princely tomb of the 5th century. Discovered on 22 August , 1842 in Pouan-les-Vallées by the workman Baptiste Buttat at a place called Haut de Marisy now named Le Martrait. [2] It is a bed of alluvial stones covered with a layer of topsoil. These pieces were proposed to Corrard de Bréban, curator at the museum, who kept only the sword and the scramasaxe. The other objects were acquired by a jeweler at Troyes, objects which were presented to the Archaeological Congress of France of 9 June 1853 which was held in Troyes. M. Achille Peigné-Delacourt drew up a detailed description of it, and intervened with the Emperor in order that these pieces might not be disseminated. [3]. The treasure was acquired by Napoleon III in 1858 and offered to the museum on March 11, 1860.




  • a 84g gold torque with an octagonal section that narrows towards the ends with a clasp system. Three rows of ocelli decorate the torque;
  • an open bracelet of 141g of open gold and with tampons;
  • two straight barb buckles of 118g and 29g of gold;
  • a 40g gold ring with HEVA engraved on the kitten.



A sword

Of 873mm by 3mm and 68mm (maximum) made of three strips damasked and welded, the handle is formed of an olive-shaped knob with at its top four garnets, two circular and two teardrop shaped. The rocket is decorated with five perpendicular ribs on a gold leaf. The guard is a silver plate fixed under a missing element (wood?);

A scramasaxe:

Of long shape, 602 by 30 mm at the most, of rectangular section. The handle is adorned with a gold leaf with transverse grooves, the guard is made of a band of gold adorned with a grid. The pommel is in the form of a leaf decorated with garnets on a cloisonne.



  • A gold-rimmed garnet affixed to a ring attachable to leather;
  • Two clasps, belts, or chaplains, made of cloisonne garnets;
  • A piece of goldsmith's work, very damaged and having lost its garnets (?):

A garnet clasp in cloisonne but of very different invoice which makes it thought that it does not come from the treasure of Pouan but perhaps of Fontenay-le-Comte.


M. Peigne-Delacourt, attributes to Theodoric, the king of Visigoths, killed in 451 in the battle of the catalaunic fields, the skeleton and ornaments found in Pouan.

According to M. Kazanski it is the tomb of the second half of the 5th century of an aristocratic warrior.[4]


Merovingian House



Childeric I (Doornik)

*440 ca-†482



Childeric succeeded his father Merovech as king of the Salian Franks, traditionally in 457 or 458. By 457 at the latest he was the ruler of the Franks in the territory covering Tournai and the Lys valley. He may have had power over further territories to the south, but the sources are unclear on this. According to Gregory of Tours, Childeric was exiled at some point, the reason being traditionally given as Frankish unhappiness with Childeric's private life. Gregory further records that the Franks recalled Childeric after 8 years of exile.

In 463 Childeric fought in conjunction with the Roman General Aegidius, the magister militum of northern Gaul based in Soissons, to defeat the Visigoths, who had hoped to extend their dominion along the banks of the Loire River. After the death of Aegidius, Childeric assisted Comes (“count” = commander of a cohort of 500) Paul of Angers, together with a mixed band of Gallo-Romans and Franks, in defeating the Goths and taking booty. Saxon raiders under the command of Odoacer reached Angers and captured it, but Childeric and Count Paul retook the city in 469. Childeric, having delivered Angers, followed a Saxon warband to the islands on the Atlantic mouth of the Loire, and massacred them there. In the period around 476 to 481, he and Odoacer were discussing the possibility of an alliance against the Alamanni who wished to invade Italy


In 1653 a tomb was discovered in Tournai and pillaged. Its contents could be  assembled for a part by the deacon of the parish but an important part disappeared. The bones of the skeleton were dispersed. Nevertheless a signet ring was saved inscribed CHILDERICI REGIS from which it was gathered that the tomb had been of the Frankish King Childeric (†482).


The objects saved and described were:

1. A monetary treasure

a. More that a hundred gold-coins dating from Theodosius II (450) to Zeno (476-491).

b. About 200 silver roman coins  mainly deniers from the Late Empire.

2. A golden signet ring, with the portrait of the king, en face, with long hair with a parting in the middle and plaited at the ends. The king is dressed in a breastplate and a paludamentum (mantle) of a roman officer and he keeps a spear in his right hand. The inscription reads CHILDERICI REGIS.

3. A golden bracelet of 300 g. A bracelet worn at the right wrist is a royal badge.

4. Fibula in the form of a cross with bulbs at its extremities, decorated with crosses fixing the paludamentum and being the badge of a high imperial official.

5. Golden bees. They were probably sewn on the mantle. Only two remain the total number being unknown.

6. Golden bull’s head. With a closing pin and set with pearls and grenades



7. Chrystal sphere of a diametre of 5 cm and 134 g.





8. Spatha. The hilt of gold, the pommel with two animal’s heads and decorated with a cloisonné of grenades;  hilt of cloisonné. The sheath decorated and cloisonné with grenades of oriental technique

9. Sheath of a scramasaxe. Gold, decorated with cloisonné and grenades

10. Francisca (axe). Iron, weight 1 kg.


Some of these objects are preserved in the Cabinet des Médailles in Paris. [5] Of these the golden bees are famous because they were taken by Napoleon as a replacement for the fleur de lis. Also the sheath of the sword has attracted much attention because of its beauty.


The bull’s head is thought to have been a family-emblem of the Merovingians. A bull however is a military emblem of the same order as a griffin and comes between an eagle and a lion. It is the badge of rank of a prefect of a legion who commanded about 1000 soldiers at the end of the 5th century. [6] As a commander of a band of auxiliaries of about 500 he may have been entitled to wear a bull’s head as a badge of rank. A griffin was also the badge of rank of an official ruling a roman diocese (in the Middle Ages the ruler of an arch-diocese).

It is said that a bull’s head was the emblem of some Dacian armies in the time of the Roman campaigns around the beginning of our era. In the Middleages it became the emblem of Moldavia and of some other places in the Balkans. Well known is the bull’s head of Mecklenburg in Germany.


Chlodovech I ( = Clovis)



In 493 Clovis married Clotilda, daughter of the Burgundian Chilperic II. Clotilda was a Catholic and exerted a great influence over him. She is said to have inspired him to convert to Christianity at a critical moment in the Battle of Tolbiac in 496. Whatever the truth, he and 3,000 of his followers were baptized in Rheims at Christmas 496. Clovis seized the Christian banner to rally support and undermine the other Germanic kingdoms. In 507 he moved against the Visigoths. His victory at Vouillé was decisive and Clovis became ruler of most of what is now France. By now he ruled over a vast area and several peoples. The Eastern emperor Anastasius (491-518) granted him an honorary title of ‘consul’, no doubt seeing him as a counterweight to Theodoric the Great in Italy. Clovis moved his capital to Paris and laid the foundations for what was eventually to become the French nation. He died unexpectedly in 511 and his kingdom was divided up amongst his four sons.

From this time we may expect the eagle as the badge of honor of Clovis and his successors.


About the vase of Soissons:

Æ see: Cup


38.Clovis received an appointment to the consulship from the emperor Anastasius, and in the church of the blessed Martin he clad himself in the purple tunic and chlamys, and placed a diadem on his head. Then he mounted his horse, and in the most generous manner he gave gold and silver as he passed along the way which is between the gate of the entrance [of the church of St. Martin] and the church of the city, scattering it among the people who were there with his own hand, and from that day he was called consul orAugustus. Leaving Tours he went to Paris and there he established the seat of his kingdom. There also Theodoric came to him.


Chlodomer (Orleans)


Theuderic I (Reims)


Childebert I (Paris)



Signet ring of Childebert I

Royal bust with spear, inscribed  X HILDEBERTI REGIS


Chlothar I (Soissons)


Sole King 558-561


Theudebert I (Reims)


Theudebald (Reims)


Charibert (Paris)


Sigebert I (Reims, Austrasie)



Chilperic I (Soissons, Neustrie)



Rotulus said te be of Chilperic


This document contains an authenticitated transcription of 23 documents from 1222 until 1331. The first of these 22 documents retranscribed is the vidimus (viewed) of Philip the Fair of the famous diplom of Chilperic. On it is a drawing of the signum of the Merovinigian king


Immediately after the death of his father in 561, Chilperic I endeavoured to take possession of the whole kingdom, seized the treasure amassed in the royal town of Berny and entered Paris. His brothers, however, compelled him to divide the kingdom with them, and Soissons, together with Amiens, Arras, Cambrai, Thérouanne, Tournai, and Boulogne fell to Chilperic's share. His eldest brother Charibert received Paris, the second eldest brother Guntram received Burgundy with its capital at Orléans, and Sigebert received Austrasia. On the death of Charibert in 567, his estates were augmented when the brothers divided Charibert's kingdom among themselves and agreed to share Paris.

Most of what is known of Chilperic comes from The History of the Franks by Gregory of Tours. Gregory detested Chilperic, calling him “the Nero and Herod of his time” (VI.46): he had provoked Gregory's wrath by wresting Tours from Austrasia, seizing ecclesiastical property, and appointing as bishops counts of the palace who were not clerics. Gregory also objected to Chilperic's attempts to teach a new doctrine of the Trinity.

Chilperic's reign in Neustria saw the introduction of the Byzantine punishment of eye-gouging. Yet, he was also a man of culture: he was a musician of some talent, and he wrote verse (modelled on that of Sedulius); he attempted to reform the Frankish alphabet; and he worked to reduce the worst effects of Salic law upon women.

In September 584, while returning from a hunting expedition to his royal villa of Chelles (Calae, 10 km E of Paris), Chilperic was stabbed to death by an unknown assailant.


Plaster cast sarcophagus, 6th-7th cent.

Musée Carnavalet, Paris. A.P. 105. Saint-Germain cemetry, Paris.

Excavations of 1877



The program of decorations on the sarcophage is as follows:


  • On the outside is a christogram, a branch and a bird
  • On the inside is a square cross and a bird


The christogram symbolizes armed authority and the square cross administrative authority

The birds, most look like, primitively drawn,  peacocks.


This makes the two compositions incomplete achievements of a christogram and a square cross both supported by [a] peacock[s].


Such achievements are known from the Roman Empire and Byzantium (Ravenna), the peacock being the badge of rank of a prefect.


In this time Italy was ruled by an exarch (584-752). Some of the sarcophagusus of the exarchs of suberb quality are preserved in Ravenna.


Guntram (Bourgogne)


Childebert II (Austrasie, Bourgogne 593)



Chlothar II


King in Neustria 584-613

King in Paris 595-613

King of all Franks 613-629


Plaque in the shape of a christogram between A and Ѡ  (Æ 6.3 cm)

Charged with  a disc with a face on  a square cross (6th-7th cent).

Trésor de Limons (Puy de Dôme). Paris, Cab. des Médailles.[7]


Compared with the christogram and the portrait on the coins of Maxentius a square cross is added meaning administrative (christian-) authority. This would mean that the owner of the plaque had armed- as well as administrative authority.


Theudebert II




King of Burgundy 596-612

Queen of Austrasia 612-613

Regent 596-613

Theuderic II (Bourgogne, Austrasie 612)




King of Austrasia 596-612

Regent 596-612


Sigebert II ( Austrasie, Bourgogne)





Regent 613


Dagobert I

*603 ca-†639

King of Austrasia 623-634

King of all Franks 629-639

King of Neustria and Burgundy 629-639


Dagobert I was the last king of the Merovingian dynasty to wield any real royal power. He was the first of the Frankish kings to be buried in the royal tombs at Saint Denis Basilica


Dagobert was the eldest son of Chlothar II and Haldetrude (575–604). Chlothar had reigned alone over all the Franks since 613. In 623, Chlothar was forced to make Dagobert king of Austrasia by the nobility of that region, who wanted a king of their own.

When Chlothar granted Austrasia to Dagobert, he initially excluded Alsace, the Vosges, and the Ardennes, but shortly thereafter the Austrasian nobility forced him to concede these regions to Dagobert. The rule of a Frank from the Austrasian heartland tied Alsace more closely to the Austrasian court. Dagobert created a new duchy (the later Duchy of Alsace) in southwest Austrasia to guard the region from Burgundian or Alemannic encroachments and ambitions. The duchy comprised the Vosges, the Burgundian Gate, and the Transjura. Dagobert made his courtier Gundoin the first duke of this new polity that was to last until the end of the Merovingian dynasty.

Upon the death of his father in 629, Dagobert inherited the Neustrian and Burgundian kingdoms. His half-brother Charibert, son of Sichilde, claimed Neustria but Dagobert opposed him. Brodulf, brother of Sichilde, petitioned Dagobert on behalf of his young nephew, but Dagobert assassinated him and gave the Aquitaine to his own younger sibling.

Charibert and his son Chilperic were assassinated in 632. Dagobert had Burgundy and Aquitaine firmly under his rule, becoming the most powerful Merovingian king in many years and the most respected ruler in the West. In 631, Dagobert led three armies against Samo, the rulers of the Slavs, but his Austrasian forces were defeated at Wogastisburg

Also in 632, the nobles of Austrasia revolted under the mayor of the palace, Pepin of Landen. In 634, Dagobert appeased the rebellious nobles by putting his three-year-old son, Sigebert III, on the throne, thereby ceding royal power in the easternmost of his realms, just as his father had done for him eleven years earlier.

As king, Dagobert made Paris his capital. During his reign, he built the Altes Schloss in Meersburg (in modern Germany), which today is the oldest inhabited castle in that country. Devoutly religious, Dagobert was also responsible for the construction of the Saint Denis Basilica, at the site of a Benedictine monastery in Paris. He also appointed St. Arbogast bishop of Strasbourg.

Dagobert died in the abbey of Saint-Denis and was the first Frankish king to be buried in the Saint Denis Basilica, Paris.



A magnificent monument was erected for him in the beginning of the 13th century in the Basilica in St. Denis representing scenes from his life and his image.


Here we may propose that his original tomb was removed and transported elsewhere. An early 7th century tomb qualifying to be his is the socalled tomb of St. Chalan, now in the Musée Municipal of Bourges.  This tomb was originally in the chapel of Our Lady of Charenton Abbey in Charenton du Cher. This abbey had a relationship with St. Denis and is situated near the Roman Road from Paris by Orleans and Bourges (Avaricum) to Autun at about a distance of 300 km from Paris.


Photo H.d.V. 2007

So-called Tomb of St. Chalan, early 7th century

Musée municipal Bourges


The program of the decorations of the tomb is as follows:

On the lid is an achievement of a christogram supported by peacocks which is the achievement of a prefecture. On the other side are a sun and another christogram probably symbolizing the realm and the armed authority of the deceased. A third emblem, which may have been a full moon  (or a crescent) was probably on the part of the lid now disappeared.

On the remaining short side of the lid is another achievement consisting of an undefined object (chalice?) supported by two eagles. This is the achievement of a consular administration.

On the tomb itself there are an achievement of a chalice or bottle supported by two griffins which is the achievement of a ducal administration. On the other side is an achievement consisting of a standing man hands up, supported by two lions. This is an achievement of the administration of a county, the count symbolized by his imago.

Last but not least there are two shields on the short sides of the tomb.


Shield left

Shield right


These shields may have been of the marshal and the constable


Charibert II (Aquitaine)


Sigebert III (Austrasie 634)


Chlodovech II (Neustrie & Bourgogne)


Childebert (Austrasie)


Chlothar III (Neustrie & Bourgogne)


Childeric II (Austrasie, King 673)



658-675:Ébroïn († 681) (Mayor of the Palace)

Coin of Ébroin

675-676: Leudesius († 676) (Mayor of the Palace)

676-681: Ébroïn († 681), again (Mayor of the Palace)


Dagobert II (Austrasie)


Theuderik III (Neustrie & Burgundy)


King 679

Chlodovech III


Childebert III


Dagobert III


Chilperic II


Chlothar IV (Austrasie)


Theuderic IV




Childeric III



Charles Martel


Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia 715-741

Duke and Prince of the Franks 718-741

Mayor of the Palace of Neustria 718-741

King of the Franks (acting) 737–741    


Coin of Charles Martel





The Kingdom of France


Karolingian House



Pepin the Short



Coin of Pepin the Short


Augustinus: Quæstionum in Heptateuchon.

Northern-France, middle of the 8th century. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, ms. lat. 12168, frontispiece.


Augustinus Hipponensis, Quaestiones et locutiones in Heptateuchum, livres I-IV.

Latin 12168 (cote)

Saint-Germain-des-Prés N. 738, olim 226 (ancienne cote)

VIIIe s. (vers 750-770?)

Ce document est rédigé en latin.

Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des Manuscrits.

Nord de la France (Laon?).

Minuscule mérovingienne du type "az" de Laon.

Décoration de type mérovingien. Le ms. s'ouvre sur un diptyque constitué d'un portique entourant une grande croix surmontée d'un aigle (f. Cv) et d'une page d'incipit (f. 1) ; nombreuses initiales ornées et ou zoomorphes (sur imitation de l'orfèvrerie mérovingienne), titres décoratifs.

Parch., A-C+ 165 ff. à longues lignes, 305 x 220 mm (just. 240 x 155 mm).

Reliure de chagrin rouge signée Zoubre (1851).

Estampille Bibliothèque nationale (Révolution), 1792-1802, modèle identique à Josserand-Bruno, 277 et pl. type 17.


On it is a latin cross between a A and a Ѡ, the arms decorated with quadrupeds. On the cross a an eagle reguardant. On both sides of the upper arm are the initials XPI IHU (Christus Iesus).

The cross and the eagle are under a ciborium, the arch of which is also decorated with quadrupeds, the upper part with a tree between two lions respecting.

On the capitals are griffins and the pillars are supported by  lions.


The latin cross, the eagle the griffin and the lion are the symbols of the church, the king and two lower  ranks for which a duke (tribunus or (byz) turmarchai) and a count (ordinaris/augustalis or (byz) drungarios) resp. the administrators of a duchy and a county or pagus are proposed.


The latin cross and the eagle make the emblem of the Defensor of the Faith (Defensor Fidei) and in particular the defense of Pope Stephen II (752-7572) had called for the support of the Frankish King.

The tree, supported by two lions, may have been meant to be the symbol of the Frankish court headed by a major domus.

In byzantium the two lions-emblem returned as the emblem of a megas domestikos (commander of the (byzantine-) army (a translation of Major Domus)).


Historical context:

Under Pope Stephen II (752-757) the course of events led rapidly toward papal independence from Constantinople. The Lombards took over most of  the Byzantine possessions in Italy, Ravenna falling in 751. Their aim was now to make Rome the Lombard capital. Since the emperor Constantine V could do nothing to prevent them, Stephen II crossed the Alps, the first pope to do so, and prevailed upon Pepin the Short to come to his assistance in 754 (when he anointed him as king) or 755 and again in 756. Pepin, moreover, gave the territories he won from the Lombards to the pope and thus laid the foundation of the States of the Church; Stephen II was the first pope to be also a sovereign. The role of protector of the papacy had passed to the Frankish ruler. Paul I, Stephens’s brother and successor, informed Pepin of his election, as his predecessors had informed the emperor, but did not ask for authorization to be consecrated.








The Empire of Charlemagne initially comprised the dioceses Galliae and Viennensis and some territory on the right bank of the Rhine. Later the diocese of Italia Annonoria was added and Saxony in the north. In fact his empire had the size of a prefecture. His crown (not the crown of a vicar) can match with this rank (As an emperor a crown of laurel on coins)


Charlemagne in 780 ca. [8]


Around his head a halo of a patricius, in his left hand a mace resembling the mace of Hadrian on the coin showing the submission of Gaul


Signum of Charlemagne


On a diplom of Charlemagne dated Paris, 31 March 797. (Archives Nationales AE II 42).


St. Peter, Pope Leo III and Charlemagne

Triclinio Leoniano, Rome


Charlemagne in official dress with his banner. On his head a crown of the model of the crown of Honorius, the first emperor of the Western Roman Empire.


The current structure dates back to the end of the sixteenth century when Pope Sixtus V ordered the demolition of the old Lateran palace, while preserving the Triclinium Leoninum of Pope Leo III (†816) It is possible that some parts of the original mosaics have been preserved in a mosaic in three parts: in the center Christ entrusts their mission to the Apostles, on the left handing over the keys to Saint Sylvester and the Labar to Constantine, while on the right Saint Peter gives the stole to Leo III and the banner to Charlemagne. The current structure is the result of the restoration of 1743 by the architect Ferdinando Fuga that led to the affixing of the coat of arms of Benedict XIV above the niche.

As on the right side is a representation of Christ, St Sylvester and R. COSTANTINVS, the mosaics should have been made between the beginning of the rule of Leo III in 795 and the death of Constantine VI in 797, at the age of  26 (then wearing a short beard).  As such the mosaic is demonstrating the political situation a few years before the coronation of  Charlemagne in 800. (See also: Empress Irene)


Banner of Charlemagne


Charlemagne, crowned and with a lily-sceptre

Psalter of Charles the Bald, Paris B.N. ms lat 1152 fol 3 v . Between 843-869.


Louis the Pious



Lothair I

*778- † 840

Imperator Augustus 813 - 833 / 834 - 840

King of Francia 814 - 840

Co-emperor 817 - 840



Latin cross from the treasury

by Felibien, 1706

Reliquiary made in Meuse region, about 820

Fulda, Landesbibliothek. Domschatz cod. Bonif., II


The reliquiary in the shape of a triumphal arch is only known from this 17th century drawing. According to the inscription it was made by the Peccator Einhardus who is Einhard, abbot of the St Servatiuse in Maastricht and  biographer of Charlemagne (*775-†840).

On top of the arch was a latin cross, until the revolution preserved in the Royal Treasury.

The decorations on the triumphal arch are distributed over three registers:

The uppermost is decorated with the representations of Christ and his disciples and a frame between two angels inscribed AD TROPEVM AETERNAE VICTORIAE SVSTINEMNDVM EINHARDVS PECCATOR NVNC ARCUM PONERE AC DEO DEDICARE CVRAVIT. (This arch supporting the sign of eternal victory and its  dedication to God is the work of the the sinner Einhard).

The middle register is decorated with the emblems of the apostles and scenes from the bible.

The lower with the representations of four warriors with spear and shield on both sides of the arch and with four ensigns with their banners on the short sides.

On the inner sides of the arch are two riders, each spearing a snake for whom the saints Mauritius and St. George qualify.

For the cross which the arch is supposed to have supported the so-called Cross of Charles the Bald qualifies. This cross was a part of the Royal Treasury until the French revolution. [9]

Above the arches are a square cross below the representation of Christ and a christogran below the inscribed frame. Together these symbols make the christian symbols of religious-, administrative- and armed authority.

We may suppose that on this reliquiary Louis the Pious (r.814-840) is represented with his sons Lothair (*795), Pepin of Aquitaine (*797) and Louis the German (*804). He himself has a shield surrounded by a crown of laurel and charged with square crosses. One has a shield also surrounded by a crown of laurl but charged with a kind of crowns or fleurs de lis. A third has a shield surrounded by a crown of laurel and charged with four five-ointed stars. The fourth has a shield only charged with four stars. If Louis the Pious and his sons are represented indeed, the Reliquiary may be dated at the end of the 1st Civil War (831).


See also:


The reconstructed shields on the reliquiary (the red background optional):



Charles II, the Bald

*823-† 877

 King of Francia 840-843

King of West-Francia 843-877

Emperor 875 - 877


Diplomata Karolinorum, hg. von Lot/Lauer, Bd. 4, Tafel XXXIX


Kingdom of France / Royaume de France


Louis II the Stammerer


Louis III


Carloman (II)


Charles II, the Fat




Robertian House


Eudes of Neustria



Denier of Eudes



Charles III the Simple




Diplomata Karolinorum, hg. von Lot/Lauer, Bd. 6, Tafel XXIV



Robert I

Rival King 922-923


Seal of Robert II ~997

Archs. Nationales, Paris


King crowned with laurel crown, in his right a laurel staff and in his left an akakia. (pouch)



Duke of Burgundy 921-936

King of France 923-936


Diplomata Karolinorum, hg. von Lot/Lauer, Bd. 8, Tafel III


Karolingian House



Louis IV d’Outremer



Diplomata Karolinorum, hg. von Lot/Lauer, Bd. 8, Tafel X





Signum of Lothair

Diplomata Karolinorum, hg. von Lot/Lauer, Bd. 8, Tafel XIII


Louis V the Sluggard

(979) 986-987


To Part 2: The Arms


Capetian House




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© Hubert de Vries 2018-05-19. Updated  2019-03-14




[1] Berlin, Pergamonmuseum, Münzkabinett

[2] Sur le cadastre de 1829

[3] a et b « Recherches sur le lieu de la bataille d'Attila en 451- Peigné-Delacourt, Achille - Page 5 & 6 », sur (consulté le 29 mars 2016)

[4]  Kazanski, Michel: Deux riches tombes de l'époque des grandes invasions au nord de la Gaule. In: Archéologie médiévale, XII, CRAAM, Caen, 1982.

[5]  Childeric – Clovis. 1500e anniversaire 482-1982..Tournai, 1982.  pp.69-71

[6] Treadgold, Warren: Byzantium and its Army 284-1081. Stanford Univ. Press. 1995. P. 96


[8] Fresco in the Cimetero di S. Ermete, Rome

[9] Le Trésor de Saint-Denis. Paris, 1991. P. 49,.fig 5.