Peek inside sepulchre of last emperor of Holy Roman Empire reveals treasures
Both robbers and historians have always been interested in the tombs of former rulers. Only one from the 14 burial sites of late-mediaeval kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire was never looted, disturbed or altered: that of Emperor Frederick III (1415-1493) in St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.
In 2013 a tiny camera was inserted through a small opening in the outer wall of this famous sarcophagus in the Cathedral. The resulting photographs documented the most elaborate interment of a medieval European ruler ever discovered
There were rumours that the monumental tomb in St Stephen’s Cathedral was empty, and that the emperor was not actually buried there. To counter these speculations, a tiny opening was drilled into the walls of the sarcophagus in 1969 to view and document, with the help of lamps and mirrors, the interred body and a small part of the funerary goods placed in the tomb. It was, however, not possible to take photographs.
They were first produced in 2013 when the small aperture was re-opened and all the elements of a royal burial were revealed. The ruler’s funerary insignia, crown, sceptre and orb, were all there plus once opulent textiles which were used to cover the corpse. All bear witness to the extraordinary effort expended when the emperor was laid to rest. The researchers likened the sensational moment of seeing the interior of
Complete view of the mitre-crown placed over a piece of red fabric on the skull of the deceased emperor