Constance’s Crown

The Constance of Aragon’s crown, found in the tomb of Frederick II’s first wife, was made in the workshop of the Royal Palace in Palermo. Dating from before 1222, the date of the queen’s death, the work can be traced back to Norman production due to the refined gold filigree on the cap, the rough gems gathered in baskets and the strings of beads elegantly surrounding the enamels. The same decoration, with enamels and beads, can be found on the cloak of Roger II, now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. It can also be found on some of Constance’s rings. The goldsmiths of the Norman age preferred filigree work to the typically Byzantine gold leaf. In the sarcophagus of Constance, kept in Palermo Cathedral, an endotaffio was also found on a circular silver plate, now on display in the Treasury rooms of the Cathedral. It has an inscription, engraved on 9 lines and reads as follows: Hoc est corpus d(omi)ne / Co(n)sta(n)cie, illustris Roma/no(rum) imperatricis se(m)p(er) augu/ste et regine Sicil(ie), uxoris / d(omi)ni i(m)p(er)atoris Frederici (et) filie / regis Aragonu(m). Obiit aut(em) anno / d(omi)nice Incarnacio(n)is mill(esim)o CC / XX II, XXIII iunii, X indic(ionis) / in civitate Catanie. The endotaffio was a small plate, usually made of lead or silver that was placed inside the burial.