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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Iconographica. Studies in the History of Images
Volume (Issue) 18
Page(s) 26 - 37
Title of proceedings Iconographica. Studies in the History of Images


Following Percy Ernst Schramm’s studies on Staatssymbolik, historians have in general considered medieval royal portraits as images mirroring medieval notions of power and political ideology that can legitimate power and strengthen admiration of the king. However, the research prompted in Germany on the social praxis of Memoria has opened up new perspectives, by creating an active historiographical debate about the social function and meaning of royal portraits in the liturgical context during the Middle Ages (political/propagandistic vs religious/devotional). This paper aims to foster this debate and reformulate the traditional ideas held by historiography in this regard by analysing a monarchic picture characterized by sacral figures and symbols and religious and liturgical context in the Norman kingdom of Sicily (1130-1189): the mosaic Christ crowns William II in the Cathedral of Monreale.