Couple playacting as Charles IV and Queen Blanche 1347 - 2016 Honza Keokotah

Invitation to the Coronation of Charles IV 2016

The re-enactment of the Coronation of Charles IV in Prague is a recurrent event. This year, however, the professionals have fully taken over. They promise not just a re-enactment, but a faithful and scientifically based recreation

Bohemian Crown May 2016. Source: Wikipedia
Bohemian Crown May 2016. Source: Wikipedia

This year is the 700th anniversary of the birth of Emperor Charles IV, and one of the highlights is a faithful recreation of his coronation, celebrating the event, which took place on the 2nd of September 1347. The coronation itself takes place on the 4th of September at 1 pm at St Vitus’ Cathedral, but only for invited guests due to space limitations. It will be projected on a screen in nearby Hradčanské náměstí. – – Other parts of the re-creation such as processions and medieval markets will be open to the “burghers” and “peasants”.

The clothes and crowns for Charles IV and his wife, Blanche of Valois, have been faithfully copied, although some guesswork was involved on the part of historians from the Academy of Sciences and other institutions, which have collaborated on the project. Some is of course based on guesswork. For instance, the sceptre and orb, which survive are from the 16th century, so what they used like in the 14th century is a matter of conjecture. In the same way, the church where the coronation took place no longer exists, and the more modern cathedral now has to stand in its place.

Nevertheless, there exists a rather detailed description of the events as Charles personally wrote the manual: Ordo at coronandum regem Boemorum 1347. The recreation is based on this plus information gathered from chronicles and other sources.


Reconstruction of the coronation of Charles Iv in 2007
Reconstruction of the coronation of Charles IV in 2007

The festivities start on the 3rd of September with a medieval market from 10 am to 6 pm at the Karolinum, at Ovocný trh 3, across from the Estates Theatre. There will be juggling, music and dancing, and workshops for kids. In the evening, there will be a mass at Vyšehrad, a visit to the St Martin Rotunda and a penitential procession to the Karolinum and further on to the Old Town Square and Prague Castle. Festivities at Vyšehrad begins at 3:30 pm, and the procession starts at 6 pm. The day will end with prayers at St Vitus Cathedral at 9 pm. The king will at this event wear bast sandals. In the 14th century, we may believe, he walked barefooted.

The next day, Sept. 4, sees another medieval market at the Karolinum for 10 am to 6 pm. Festivities at St Vitus Cathedral begin at 12:50 for the invited, others are directed to go to Hradčanské náměstí. A procession will leave from Hradčanské náměstí at 3 pm, arriving at Old Town Square at 4 pm for fanfare, music, dancing and other festivities. A knight’s tournament with horses will take place at 6 pm, and events will end at 8:30 pm.
Performers in the pilgrimage and the coronation event have been chosen from local re-enactors, who have been instructed to wear precise period-close outfits. Suitable liturgical vestments have been borrowed from the depositories of the Royal Collegiate Chapter of Vyšehrad and the Roman Catholic parish at the Church of Our Lady before Tyn, while liturgical objects have been lent by the Archbishopric of Prague and the Chapter of St. Vitus. The actual crown will be the excat replica which is usually exhibited in the castle, but new sceptres and orbs have been created. Another huge effort has been invested in recrating the presumable outfits which were worn by the king and queenas well as some of the other major actors. Other work has been invested in the reproduction of a canopy, silk brocade banners, a reconstructed throne etc.

Cathedral of St. Vitus

At an early point a controversy existed about where to “perform” the actual coronation. Suggestions were to have it either performed in the other church in the Castle, St. George’s. Or, alternatively the Church of St. Mary and St. Jerome, which was founded by Charles in 1347. However, after long negotiations an agreement was finally reached to have the coronation recreated in St. Vitus.


The quality of the event has been carefully secured by engaging the official support of the Ministry for Culture, the University and the Catholic Church in Prague as well as numerous other institutions.

The scientific panel, which guarantees the faithful recreation consist of

National Czech television will broadcast the event, which – of course – will make it impossible for anyone outside Czechia to see the recreation as it takes place. Once again, copyright rules prevents the European broadcasting of the event.

A full program for the coronation can be found at Korunovační slavnosti v Praze 3. – 4. 9. 2016  (CZ)


Ed. and translated by Jiří Kuthan, Miroslav Šmied, Joseph Cibulka and Jaromír Homolka
Nakladatelské údaje: Praha : Filozofická fakulta Univerzity Karlovy, 2009





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