Throne of Dagobert


This cast and chiseled bronze and partially gilded throne from the art collections of the National Library of France belonged to Dagobert I (circa 603–39), king of the Franks 629–34, considered the last powerful Merovingian king. Four protomes of panthers form the feet and legs; the armrests consist of two carved and perforated panels, decorated with rosettes (bottom) and plant motifs (upper register). The back, triangular in shape, is decorated with three rings and foliage. The seat, originally folding, is a work of the seventh century, or a Carolingian replica. The date of some of the elements is quite controversial. Comparable thrones, with wild cat foreparts, are found in Carolingian illuminations. The back and arm rests can be dated to the second half of the ninth century. The foliage on the armrests has similarities to the ivory decorations or illuminations made in the workshops of Charles the Bald (823–77). The throne’s presence in the Abbey of Saint Denis was attested to from the middle of the 12th century by Suger, who was abbot there circa 1122–51. In 1625, Dom Jacques Doublet, historian of the abbey, reported that the priest who celebrated the mass at the high altar sat in the throne. The throne was confiscated during the French Revolution, transported to the National Library in 1791, but was used again by Napoleon in 1804 on the occasion of the creation of the Legion of Honor.

Last updated: January 8, 2018