Crowning of the french kings
From Clovis in the Abbey of Saint-Remi to Charles VII or Joan of Arc... Since the mists of time, the Marne department has often seen its history be merged with the History of France!
The baptism of Clovis by Saint Remi on Christmas night in 498 within the Abbey of Saint-Remi was the first in a long line of coronations: a tradition that saw 30 kings crowned in Reims, most importantly King Charles VII, thanks to the actions of Joan of Arc.
First king crowned
The first king crowned in Reims was Louis the Pious, the son of Charlemagne.
He was declared emperor on 5 October 816 by Pope Stephen IV in the first cathedral, which was built by Saint Nicaise. The prestigious Holy Ampulla and the political weight of the archbishops in Reims, in particular of Archbishop Hincmar, led King Henry I (1027) to appoint Reims as the official place for coronations.
An unchanging ritual
From Charles the Simple in 893 to Charles X in 1825, no less than 33 pretenders to the throne were elevated to the heights of royal dignity by an unchanging ritual that lasted... five hours!
But five hours were more than enough to safely escort the Holy Ampulla, recite the prayers, take the coronation oath, receive the unction of chrism and oil, put on the silk hose, satin tunic and velour cloak decorated in fleur-de-lys, be crowned and return the two-edged sword, spurs, sceptre and royal baton... The ceremony took place three times in the Abbey of Saint-Remi, then in Reims Cathedral from 1027. It ended with a feast held in the main hall of the present-day Palais du Tau.
REIMS: AN INSULT TO HENRY IV
Since 1027, only two kings were not crowned in Reims: Louis VI was crowned in Orleans by Archbishop Sens in 1108, and Henri IV’s coronation took place in Chartres on 27 February 1594.
This long tradition of coronations experienced a few defections, including an historical one...
In 1594, Reims rejected Henry IV, poor Catholic to its eyes.
The latter, ultimately crowned in Chartres, found a way to get his revenge: he chose Châlons-en-Champagne as the official head office of the Généralité of Champagne.