Z legendarnej historii Karola Wielkiego: akwizgrański Żywot Św. Karola Wielkiego (Biblioteka Narodowa II 12 511) na tle recepcji 'Iter Hierosolimitanum Karoli Magni' w XII wieku
FROM THE LEGENDARY HISTORY OF CHARLEMAGNE: THE AACHEN LIFE OF ST. CHARLEMAGNE (NATIONAL LIBRARY II 12 511) ON THE BACKGROUND OF THE RECEPTION OF THE ITER HIEROSOLIMITANUM KAROLI MAGNI IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY
The Life of St. Charlemagne De sanctitate meritorum et gloria miraculorum beati Karoli Magni ad honorem et laudem nominis Dei - preserved in one of the oldest known manuscripts in the National Library (II 12 511) in Warsaw - was commissioned by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, on whose request the antipope Paschal III canonized Charles in Aachen in 1165. Although the author of the biography is unknown, he probably used of the scriptorium and the library of Saint-Denis Abbey. Aside from the twelfth-century stained glass windows in the Saint-Denis choir, probably originating from abbot Suger foundation, or the chansons de geste created in the same period (Pelerinage de Charlemagne and Fierabras), Book II of the De sanctitate Karoli Magni is one of the earliest and yet most faithful examples of apocryphal narrative concerning supposed Charlemagne's expedition to the Holy Land and Constantinople (the Descriptio qualiter or the Iter Hierosolimitanum) that appeared in the eleventh century at the Saint-Denis Abbey. Undoubtedly, it is also the oldest example of such a reception outside France. Originated within the circle of Barbarossa's patronage and aimed at the sanctification and glorification of the imperial dignity of Frederick (who considered himself to be Charlemagne's descendant and successor), the Life presents Charlemagne as the king of Gaul, whose capitals are Paris, Reims and Saint-Denis. This image can only be partially counterbalanced with the major role of Aachen, where Charlemagne transferred the Passion relics from Constantinople, and where he established the first Indictum where the relics were exposed to the public for the adoration of the faithful. The key difference between the French prototype and Book II of the De sanctitate is that the last part of the Descriptio, describing how Charles the Bald allegedly transferred the Crown of Thorns, the nail from the Holy Cross, and the Indictum from Aachen to St. Denis, is missing in the Aachen Charlemagne's Life. In January 1166 Frederick Barbarossa issued a diploma, in which he confirmed the spurious privilege of Charlemagne for the city of Aachen (the so-called Pragmatica sanctio); the forgery was fragmentarily inserted in Chapter XVI of Book I of the De sanctitate. The spurious diploma mentions the relics offered by Charlemagne to the Palatine Chapel of St. Mary at Aachen, however it lists them vaguely: relics of the apostles, martyrs, confessors and virgins, gathered by the saint Emperor in different countries, particularly in the Greek empire. Not a word of the Crown of Thorns, nor the nail from the Holy Cross, nor the Shroud of Christ is mentioned; Frederick, therefore, likely accepted that these relics were in France. Equally, the relief decoration of the Charlemagne's reliquary in Aachen, most likely executed on Frederick II request (ca. 1215), stands as testimony to the authority which the Carolingian legend from Saint-Denis had gained at the imperial court. Two relief scenes illustrate episodes known from Descriptio qualiter and repeated in De sanctitate Karoli Magni. One of them demonstrates the presentation of the relics to Charlemagne by the Emperor Constantine, and the other Charlemagne's return to France (recalling the levitation of the Emperor's glove, in which miraculous flowers grown on the Crown of Thorns were preserved). The presence of these iconographical topics on Charlemagne's shrine in Aachen proves that the Iter Hierosolimitanum obviously became an evident part of the historical memory of Charlemagne in the twelfth-century Holy Empire. However, that is also an apparent evidence of a dispute between Aachen and the imperial milieu and Capetian France about the historical and spiritual legacy of Charlemagne. The relief scenes decorating the Aachen reliquary inspired by Iter Hierosolimitanum are obviously similar to some of the panneau of the Charlemagne Window at the Cathedral of Chartres, created in the same years. The controversy could have been related to the translation of the sancta camisia, the tunic of the Virgin Mary, considered for long as the most important relic of the Cathedral of Chartres and the most precious Marian relic in France. It is also known that a greater part of the relics quoted in the oldest Aachen inventory, and exposed to the public no later than from 1238 (ostensio reliquiarum) - are mentioned in the Iter Hierosolimitanum, including the velum B. Marie Virginis. The Book II of the imperial Life of St. Charlemagne- not only pass over the presumed translation of the Crown of Thorns to Saint-Denis, but also it does ignore the alleged offering of the sancta camisia by Charles the Bald to Chartres. The stained glass window of Charlemagne in Chartres may therefore constitute a visual confirmation of the Cathedral's ownership of the relics, over which Aachen claimed the rights.
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