One of the most powerful tools of a king used to be his crown; it represented power, authority, entitlement, relation with the gods, resurrection, immortality and many other things. It was also a representation of wealth, being made from rich materials that, similarly with church tainted glass windows, were meant to impress common folk, making them believe the true spirit of god lied in there. A true kings crown had to be impressive, it also showed how much power he wielded and how wealthy his kingdom was; the same goes for queens of course, but in this article we are going to focus on one of the most beautiful and representative king’s crown, the Crown of Scotland.
We say that the Crown of Scotland is a true king crown because even in its design, it is very close to what we see in representations of the time where design is concerned. This crown was used for the coronations of the kings of Scotland up until it became part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. We cannot know how old it really is, but we do know that when King James V of Scotland ordered its remaking in 1540, it was already very deteriorated and one fleur-de-lis had fallen. It is believed that the crown had been created possibly in 1503, because there are known representations of it from the time, like in the Portrait of King James IV.
Four decades later, when James V was on the throne, he asked John Mosman, who was the royal goldsmith, to refashion this crown; an inventory from 1539 shows it had already been damaged, and it had been repaired twice since then. Mosman completely dismantled this crown, removing all its stones, and melted the gold in it, adding 41 ounces more. He then refashioned it as we see today, with a solid gold base with four fleur-de-lis and four strawberry leaves; it also features four arches adorned with oak leaves made from yellow and rose gold, and they meet at a golden monde which has been painted blue. A large gold cross rests on the monde, representing religion’s reign over earth and its people, and it is decorated with white and black pearls.
As for other jewels and gems, this kings crown features 22 gemstones, garnets, amethysts, 68 Scottish freshwater pearls and 20 precious stones. The purple and ermine bonnet inside was tailored, at James V’s instructions, by Thomas Arthur of Edinburgh; the bonnet was, however, changed several times, either to fit the heads of new rulers, or because it was worn off. We also know that James VII had the bonnet changed to red, and that the one we can see today on this king crown was made only in 1993.