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Imago Auctoritatis: Visual Dialogue On Carolingian Authority

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Chapter Summary

The significance of royal iconography is not unique to the Carolingian period, since the image of the monarch has played an important role in many historical epochs, societies, and states. In the late Roman and early Byzantine empire, images of emperors?their sculptures, busts, and portraits?were always on display for public worship. In late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, the perception of the spiritual significance of rulers? imagery on coins was not limited to a small group of Christian intellectuals; coins with imperial portraits thus became a specific type of a talisman defending their owners from various dangers and threats. Among the Franks, rulers? images did not possess such an intimate connection to real monarchs, playing a more limited role in the indirect communication of Carolingian authority. The imagery of Carolingian kings and emperors showed instead the symbolic image, imago auctoritatis, bearing both evident and allegorical visual symbols of authority.

Keywords: Carolingian authority; imago auctoritatis; visual dialogue



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