Treasures of Medieval Rome

Most people go to Rome for Cicero and the Caesars, Raphael and Michelangelo. But there is so much more. Check out some of the amazing early medieval churches and their amazing mosaic decorations. This is what would have greeted a German emperor coming down to Rome to be crowned by a reluctant pope.

Plaque from a Reliquary Shrine 1160–80

Among the most splendid objects in the great churches of Cologne are large architectural shrines containing relics associated with local as well as biblical saints. The most celebrated of these is the reliquary for the bones of the Three Kings which dates from around this period. But there were many more. These ambitious goldsmiths’ works are among the greatest artistic achievements of their time. Refined decorative fragments like the small rectangular plaques shown here are often all that remain of these monumental objects as many of these shrines were dismantled or even destroyed following the secularization of church property…


An Aquamanile was just a waterjug used both for the celebration of mass and secular settings such as grand dinners. They gave room for artistic expression that reflects a loty of the medieval soul, featuring lions, griffins, dragons, centaurs as well as knights and al kinds of menagery.


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About Me

I am Dirk, a history geek with a love for books and stories. I do this for fun and my personal self-aggrandisement.

I have been born, raised and educated in Germany but live in the UK for now over 20 years with my wife and two children. My professional background is in law, management consulting and banking. History has always been a hobby as are sailing, travelling, art, skiing and exercise (go BMF!).

My view of history is best summarised by Gregory of Tours (539-594): “A great many things keep happening, some good, some bad”. History has no beginning and no end and more importantly, it has no logic, no pattern and no purpose . But that does not mean there isn’t progress and sometimes we humans realise that doing the same thing again and again hoping for a different outcome is indeed madness. The great moments in history are those where we realise that we cannot go on as we were and things need to change. German history – as you will hopefully see – is full of these turning points, some good, some bad!

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