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Did Roman Emperors Wear Crowns?

Did Roman Emperors Wear Crowns?

The ancient Roman Empire was one of the most powerful and influential civilizations in history. As with many other ancient societies, Roman rulers were often denoted by elaborate headpieces known as crowns. But did Roman Emperors wear crowns? 

Yes, Roman Emperors did wear crowns.

However in order to fully answer this question, it is important to understand the context of how power was represented in ancient Rome. In this article, we will explore the role of crowns in ancient Rome and whether or not Roman Emperors wore them. 

Role of Crowns in Ancient Rome

The use of crowns as symbols of power dates back to the beginnings of civilization, but they were particularly prominent in Ancient Rome. 

Crowns were a symbol of authority, wealth, and status – qualities that all Roman emperors sought to embody. They were often crafted from precious metals and decorated with jewels, symbols of power, or insignia that signified the ruler’s status. 

Example of higher class Roman men, artwork.
Example of higher class Roman men
by Albert Kretschmer, painters and costumer to the Royal Court Theatre, Berlin, and Dr. Carl Rohrbach., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

However, crowns were not exclusive to emperors, and other members of the aristocracy could also wear them. For example, in Roman battles, generals would don a crown to signify their victory. As such, crowns and other regalia were not exclusively the domain of emperors. (1)

Did Roman Emperors Wear Crowns?

Yes, Roman Emperors did wear crowns. In fact, their use of crowns was so extensive that the Latin word for ‘crown,’ ‘corona,’ is still used today to refer to regal headgear. 

Roman emperors wore crowns both as symbols of power and status and as practical items to protect their heads from the elements. 

The most common type of crown worn by Roman Emperors was the ‘diadem,’ a simple band of gold or jewelry that encircled the head. However, they could also wear more elaborate headpieces such as tiaras and circlets. Some emperors even wore their crowns to bed as a sign of their authority and power. 

The Emperor, or Augustus, was the supreme ruler of the Roman Empire and had ultimate authority over all matters of state. As a result, the Emperor’s title was marked with great power and prestige, and he was often depicted wearing a crown in artwork representing his status. (2)

Purpose of Roman Crowns 

Crowns were worn on many occasions in Ancient Rome, from battles to coronations. 

  • In battle, generals wore a crown as a symbol of their victory and authority. 
  • Upon coronation, emperors would don an elaborate crown to signify their status and power. 
  • Crowns were commonly worn by members of the aristocracy during ceremonies such as weddings and funerals. 
  • They were often worn by emperors and other rulers during important public gatherings and ceremonies such as triumphs and processions. 
  • Crowns were also occasionally worn by other members of society to signify their wealth and status, but they were almost always reserved exclusively for the emperor himself.  

Roman Emperors wore crowns for both practical and ceremonial purposes. The use of crowns was an important part of ancient Rome’s culture and symbolism and was a powerful reminder of the power and authority held by Roman emperors. 

The most common type of crown was known as the diadem, and it is still used today as an important symbol of power and authority. (3)

Imperial Crown- Crown of the Holy Roman Emperor

The Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire was a unique, elaborately crafted crown that symbolized the power and authority of the Emperor and was selected as a high-value commemorative coin. It was made from gold, jewels, and other precious stones

The crown of the Holy Roman Empire.
The crown of the Holy Roman Empire
MyName (Gryffindor) CSvBibra, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It had multiple bands with religious symbols such as Jesus Christ’s cross or Mohammed’s crescent moon– each signifying the unity of East and West under one ruler. The crown was only worn by the reigning Emperor and was never seen again after its last wearer, Charles V, abdicated in 1556. It has eight hinged plates arched at the top.

It was then dismantled, with its pieces scattered among different sites throughout Austria and Germany. Today, only a few fragments of the Imperial Crown remain in the form of paintings, tapestries, coins, and sculptures. 

Some replicas have been created over the years, but none can compare to the original crown that once adorned the head of the Holy Roman Emperor. 

The Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire remains a powerful symbol of imperial style and power even today.

Its ornate design and lavish decorations, such as its stars of diamonds, pearls, and sapphires, signify the wealth and influence associated with rule over the Empire’s vast lands. 

Although the original crown is no longer in existence, its legacy still lives on as a reminder of the grandiosity once associated with this unique and extraordinary symbol. (4)

Different Types of Crowns

Different Types of Crowns in the Roman Empire. Infographic.

The ancient Romans wore many different types of crowns, some of which were associated with religious or imperial authority. 

  • Imperial Crown – This was one of the most famous crowns, also known as the Crown of the Holy Roman Emperor. It was worn by emperors during ceremonies to signify their status as rulers over the Roman Empire. 
  • The Civic Crown – This was worn by Roman citizens to signify bravery and merit.
  • The Mural Crown – This was a simple wreath of olive leaves worn by victorious generals.
  • The Campanian Crown – This crown was made from garlands of flowers and awarded to poets for their excellence. 
  • The Priestly Tiara – This was a type of crown worn by Roman priests when they officiated at religious ceremonies. 
  • Triumphal Crown – This crown was awarded to victorious generals or emperors who had won a great victory over their enemies. 

Each of these crowns had special significance and was the symbol of power and honour within the ancient Roman Empire. (5)


Roman Emperors did indeed wear crowns. They used these regal headpieces both as symbols of power and status and to protect their heads from the elements. 

Crowns have long been associated with rulership in many societies, and ancient Rome was no exception.