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5 May 2023

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Discover the tradition behind The Coronation ceremony with St Hugh’s Tutorial Fellow in History, Professor George Garnett

Dr George Garnett

There is a long tradition of ‘kings’, but as St Hugh’s Tutorial Fellow in History, Professor George Garnett who is a leading expert on coronation traditions explains, the coronation ceremony we know today can in one sense be traced to 7th century Visigothic Spain. It was modelled, however, on Old Testament traditions from some 1,600 years earlier, but reinterpreted in terms of Christian sacraments grounded in the New Testament. In a profile featured on the University’s website, Professor Garnett said, ‘‘The coronation which developed in Europe [after the Christianisation of the Roman Empire] was clearly based on the Old Testament, and the prophet Samuel’s successive anointings of Saul and David as kings, a type of rulership reportedly imitating that of neighbouring peoples.

‘It’s not really clear who invented the European tradition,’ he says. ‘But there is a lot of evidence it appeared in the 7th century and seems to have started in Visigothic Spain…Then it is taken up, or copied, in Francia [present day Germany and France, the precursor of the Holy Roman Empire] in 751, and then in Northumbria in 787.’

To read the profile feature in full please click here.

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