Friday, September 9, 2016

Of Mitres and Crowns...Many Crowns... if you like crowns... :)

A cameleucum was originally a cap made of camel-leather, hence its name. It was the headgear worn by the Byzantine Emperors that to this day, in various other forms, is still current.  Here's the extant crown from Palermo, which is very much of the original type:

The Goths too used this jeweled cameleucum for its thiudans from the sixth century both in Italy, and then Spain from the reign of Leovigild.

The Tsars of Bulgaria, as those in Constantinople, continued to use this modality right until just before the Renaissance.


The camaleucum, as a crown in its glorious bejeweled version, was used by the Caesars-Kaisars-Czars-Tsars-Thiudans-Basileus but without jewels, was granted to be used by other members of the court, and for ordinary days.  Below you can see a lay man and a cleric (notice tonsure) from spanish manuscripts, and in the next image, two princes (seated) with these simpler caps, as the group of noble courtiers next to them.

The northern peoples who took over Europe with the fall of Rome, incorporated the camaleucum into their court-dress too, but for the most part, it became lined with ermine with a velvet exterior.  Similarly, the robes of state became transformed from unlined silk (as worn in the warm climes of the southern extension of the Roman Empire) into velvet lined in ermine of the "dark ages" until today.

In Russia, instead of ermine, these caps were furred with mink until the times of Peter the Great when in imitation of western Europe, the white fur became the universal symbol of royalty:

In the realms, ruled by Normans, Goths, Germans, Burgundians and all the other northern royal tribes that descended on Europe, the camaleucum eventually took the form described above - as a velvet and ermine "cap of state".  This is what the Kings of England still wear on their way to their coronation:

Also it was what the Electors of the Holy Roman Empire (Kurfursts) wore as part of their official costume.  In essence, it symbolises that you are a member of the "peers of the realm" or the equivalent dignity depending on country and language.

It was also used in conjunction with the archducal crowns:

Indeed, the coronets of the peers, in England, as the royal crown itself, all also contain such a cap of state (within the coronet):

coronet of a duke

coronet of an earl

coronet of a baron

Or without a coronet in the case of Scottish Baron's heraldic Chapeau or "Cap of Maintenance":

Every year at the State Opening of Parliament, in front of the Queen, such a cap is still borne on a pole by an officer who walks in front of Her Majesty to the right of the Sword of State.

In Rome, the velvet cap furred with ermine was called a camauro (word also derived from "camel") as in the eastern church it is called a skuffia, whether it is furred or not.

Popes wore these indoors to prevent the chill in winter, and occasionally, an unlined version out of satin in the summer months. 
It was the head-gear, along with the appropriate matching mozzetta of state, worn to receive individuals and corporations in audience.  They wore the camauro for these indoor, fairly private occasions, instead of the heavier and more ceremonious set: the tiara and heavy mantum used for canonizations, coronations and such.

It must be noted that the cameleucum-camauro is NOT related the pileus-zuchetto-skullcap also worn by the clergy, which has a different history, provenance, purpose and use. In the pope's case, that skull-cap is white, and would be worn beneath the camauro or tiara.

Originally, the papal tiara was just one crown with a cap-of state inside.  The fact that it accrued two more open crowns on what became a towering stiff cap doesn't mean the cap isn't a cap-of-state. However ovoid the original cameleucum became after its hemispherical and pointed iterations, because it had that first crown, it meant that it was an insignia of earthly dominion. Only with the addition of the second crown (by the 13c) to further indicate the pope's spiritual power over the church after the schism between East and West, and the third crown (by the 14c) as the power of the papacy increased to the point of asserting primacy and jurisdiction over all princes of Christendom during the Avignon period, did it become the familiar shape we now know as the "triregno".   With time, these three crown became associated with all sorts of other symbolic meanings: as history is often left in the dust by the hooves and chariots of the triumphant chronicles of officialdom.

As presented above, though, the triregno descends from the cameleucum worn in the court of Constantinople that later spread across Europe and developed into a) the velvet caps-of-state, b) remained unchanged as in Bulgaria, and c) became the two particular head-dresses of the popes of Rome known as camauro and tiara.  In the eastern rites, the stiff court-cap became the episcopal mitre of the Greek bishops which in origin was not as bulbous as it has become with time.

Though the headgear of the Greek and Russian episopate is called a "mitre" this can be confusing, because they, like the papal tiara, descend from the camaleucum, and not the hood, like the "western mitres" do (more on this genesis on yet another's a long topic.)

The orthodox bishops began wearing these caps, as part of their court costume, as a concession from the Roman Emperor (of the east) just as the Pope, ad personam, is supposed to have received similar concession from Constantine himself.  This is the scene depicted in the fresco just below.

No other western bishop is on record as having received this court-cap from a Roman Emperor, and hence why for Roman Catholics, it is the exclusive headgear of the Roman Pontiff.

It must be stressed that this was an element of court dress and not a vestment used within the mass. This is analogous to the use of mitres in the west, which are used for liturgical functions, but not within the context of the mass itself -  just in the rites preceding it such as the Liturgy of the Word, Blessing of Candles or Palms, and the rites and processions after the Eucharist.  In the Latin Church it wasn't until the second millennium that the pope began using, and granting the right to use, a mitre to certain abbots, cathedral canons, and members of his household who were not bishops. All this, a few hundred years after it was well established that mitres were exclusively worn by bishops - at least since the 7th century, in Spain.  There, it was already called a "mitra" or "citharim" (see our post here where Saint Isidore of Seville already attests to it).

So... whenever you read the papal tiara descends form the phrygian cap... which has a different meaning, and nature... mitre or the pileus, which themselves are completely distinct from the phrygian cap and cameleucum also in nature and use... now, you know better.

Saint John XXIII, at right,  knew :)  

Now... whoever invented Santa Claus... pretty sure they had no clue! As it happens.

More on the mitre, birreta, kamilauvkion and skuffia, etc. on future posts... suscribe! And like our page on Facebook!  We make some pretty neat embroideries too, so browse the galleries.  Thanks! :)  

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