The Cross of Lothair or Lothair Cross is a crux gemmata processional cross dating from about 1000 AD, though its base dates from the 14th century. It was made in Germany, probably at Cologne, the measurements of the original portion are 50 cm height,38.5 cm width,2.3 cm depth. The cross comes from the period when Ottonian art was evolving into Romanesque art, the cross was actually made over a century after Lothair’s death for one of the Ottonian dynasty, the successors of the Carolingian dynasty, possibly for Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor. It appears to have donated to the Cathedral as soon as it was made. The Cross is still used in processions today, on high feast days it is carried into Aachen Cathedral where it is placed next to the main altar during mass. For the rest of the time it is on display in the Cathedral Treasury Museum, the oak core of the Lothair Cross is encased in gold and silver and encrusted with jewels and engraved gems – a total of 102 gems and 35 pearls. The front of the cross is made of gold and silver plate and is decorated with precious stones, pearls, gold filigree. The enamel is on the bands of the terminals that are interrupted by the points of the triangular sections, the gems in the centre rows are mounted in raised drum-like platforms, their sides decorated with arcades in filigree. The flat surface of the arms is decorated all over with filigree tendrils, at the meeting point of the arms is a first-century AD sardonyx three-layered cameo of the Roman Emperor Augustus holding an eagle sceptre, also mounted on a raised drum. Another gem portrait of the Roman Emperor Caracalla had a cross and it is now impossible to know the degrees of awareness of this iconographic recycling among the different categories of people creating and seeing these objects. The second largest gem, below Augustus, was probably Lothairs seal and has his portrait with the inscription +XPE ADIVVA HLOTARIVM REG and this served a similar function, linking the Ottonians with the Carolingian dynasty who had established the position of Holy Roman Emperor. Other gems on the cross have classical carvings on them, including an amethyst with the Three Graces and this is the earliest known appearance of the dove in this motif, which introduces the whole Trinity into a crucifixion, an iconography that was to have a long future. The Serpent, representing Satan, is twined round the bottom of the cross, in medallions at the ends of the arms are personifications of the sun and moon with heads bowed and surmounted by their symbols. Engraved backs are found in many jewelled crosses of the period, the cross is now mounted on a 14th-century Gothic stand, itself decorated with two small crucifixions and other figures. This style of gem-studded gold decoration, re-using material from antiquity, was usual for the richest objects at the time. Some examples are the crosses of Bernward of Hildesheim, Gisela of Hungary, and Mathilda of Essen, which uses a virtually identical design for the terminals of the arms to the Lothair Cross. The two sides can be taken to represent Church and state, fittingly for an Imperial donation that was carried in front of the Holy Roman Emperors as they processed into the church. The broad form of the matches that of the small cross at the front of the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire, which also has a jewelled front side
Image: Aachen Germany Domschatz Cross of Lothair 01
The front side (Kaiserseite, "imperial side") of the Cross of Lothair (left). Back of the cross, with engraved crucifixion (right).
The Augustus cameo at the center of the Cross of Lothair
The Mathilda Cross of c. 973 has many similarities, but has a sculpted Christ on the front, above a figurative enamel plaque.