Where is Charlemagne's crown


The bought emperor
The coronation of Charles Vand the changing world

October 23, 2020 - early May 2021

October 23, 1520: Charles V is crowned king in Aachen Cathedral - like more than 30 other German-Roman kings from 931 to 1531. The “Autumn of the Middle Ages” shines here in pomp and splendor. But Charles V, on his way to becoming the most powerful ruler in the world, as the grandson and successor of the “last knight” Maximilian I, already stands for an era of upheaval, for the crumbling facade of a previously unshakable building of the world.

Even his choice is anything but smooth on the stage. Only through a hitherto unprecedented bribery campaign was Karl able to secure the crown - and the election as emperor at the same time. (The coronation as emperor will not take place in Bologna until 1530.)

In its exhibition “The Bought Emperor - The Coronation of Charles V and Change of the World”, the Center Charlemagne focuses on Charles V's coronation in Aachen as German-Roman King - and also deals with the fall of the first global empire.

Karl, eldest son of Philip I and Joanna of Castile, inherits the Burgundian throne of his father, who died young, in 1506. Later, the united kingdoms of Castile, Aragon and Granada as well as the kingdoms of Naples, Sicily and Sardinia also fall to him. But that's not all: In South and Central America, Charles rules over the huge Spanish colonial empire. During his reign, the destruction of ancient American cultures and the exploitation and enslavement of the indigenous peoples by the conquistadors reached a sad climax.

Ruler of an empire "in which the sun never sets"

Charles V rules a global empire that will later be called an empire "in which the sun never sets". But at the same time he always struggles with the claim to a universal empire and the problem of enforcing this claim in the different parts of his world empire, especially in a time of diverse upheavals: the military and media revolution lead to a paradigm shift. The old worldview collapses in the course of the first globalization. The advance of the Turks represents an external threat. The break of religious unity in Christian Europe through the Reformation does the rest.

Charles' global empire becomes ungovernable. In 1556, at the age of 55, the most powerful man in the world laid down his crown and office. A monastery west of Madrid is the last refuge of the emperor. He died there on September 21, 1558.


The exhibition in the Center Charlemagne will occupy 600 square meters on two floors. In addition to the Aachen coronation, Charles V's childhood, youth and upbringing in the Netherlands form a further thematic section. The third focus is on the European expansion to America and the imported goods and achievements from the "New World".


Prof. Dr. Frank Pohle

Curatorial assistance

Dilara Uygun


An accompanying volume will be presented, which bundles the research work of the last decades in many ways and reliably presents the findings, especially of the most recent times, which are often only available in remote specialist publications. The catalog for the exhibition can also be purchased by email against invoice: [email protected]

You can download the audio guide app for the exhibition from the Google Playstore:


or in the Apple Store:



In addition to the exhibition in the Center Charlemagne, original locations can be viewed in Aachen with the throne in the cathedral (place of the coronation) and the ballroom in the town hall (place of the coronation meal). Please note the opening times there!

Duration: 23.10.2020 - 02.05.2021

Center Charlemagne
New Aachen City Museum
Katschhof 1 | 52062 Aachen
Tel. +49 241 432-4994