First Reich...800 to 1806, Notes on German Culture

Charlemagne and Cathedrals of Aachen, Worms & Speyer

This image shows Karl der Grosse (Charlemagne), as depicted by Albrecht Dürer, plus the Cathedrals of Aachen, Worms & Speyer, protected by an angel with sword.

Aachen Cathedral is known as the Kaiserdom, or Imperial Cathedral. It is a Roman Catholic church in Aachen, Germany built by Charlemagne. He began the construction of the Palatine Chapel around 792, along with the rest of the palace structures. When he died in 814, Charlemagne was buried in a vault in the cathedral. The church is the oldest cathedral in northern Europe and was known as the “Royal Church of St. Mary at Aachen” during the Middle Ages. For 600 years, from 936 to 1531, the Aachen chapel was the church of coronation for 30 German kings and 12 queens.

Aachen Cathedral
Aachen Cathedral

Worms Cathedral is a Romanesque cross basilica, built in the 11th and 12th centuries. In accordance with its status as an imperial cathedral it was consecrated in 1018 in the presence of the Emperor. Great events associated with the cathedral include the nomination of Leo IX as Pope in 1048, the Concordat of Worms which ended the Investiture controversy in 1122, the marriage of Emperor Frederick II to Isabella of England in 1235 and the Diet of Worms in 1521, during which Martin Luther was condemned as a heretic.

Worms Cathedral

The Speyer Cathedral, (German: Dom zu Unserer lieben Frau in Speyer) is located in Speyer, Germany. Commissioned in 1024 by Conrad II, the imposing triple-aisled vaulted basilica of red sandstone is the “culmination of a design which was extremely influential in the subsequent development of Romanesque architecture during the 11th and 12th centuries”. As the burial site for Salian, Staufer and Habsburg emperors and kings, the cathedral is regarded as a symbol of imperial power.

The Speyer Cathedral

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