Napoleon Tiara

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The Napoleon Tiara was a papal tiara given to Pope Pius VII by Emperor Napoleon I in 1805 following the pope's coronation of Napoleon as Emperor of the French.Cavendish, Richard, History Today, Volume 52 Issue 12, 2004.
accessed July 20, 2009.


The tiara, which was of traditional papal tiara design, was designed and manufactured by Henry August and Marie-Etienne Nitot of the House of Chaumet in Paris. Some of the jewel and decoration for this tiara came from earlier tiaras smashed and stolen by the troops of the French Directory in 1798. The great emerald stolen by Napoleon's troops, which had once been on the Tiara of Pope Julius II, was placed on the tiara in the monde.

Tiaras were traditionally in the region of 2 to 5 lb (0.9 to 2.3 kg) in weight. The Napoleon Tiara, however, was made a massive 18 lb (8 kg). In addition it was made too small to fit comfortably on a pope's head. It was speculated that both its weight and size were chosen to humiliate the pope, who could not wear such a tiara, or if he did, would risk serious neck injury.

In any case, neither Pius VII nor his successor wore it for reasons unconnected with its size and weight. They saw it as the product of Napoleon's theft as it was made from past tiaras French troops had stolen, and Napoleon who had driven Pius's predecessor into exile, had stolen the Vatican Archives and forced Pius against his will to preside over Napoleon's coronation. The tiara originally contained three inscriptions...
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