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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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a royal, viceregal, or episcopal chair of state standing upon a dais or platform. Formerly the platform, with the steps leading up to it, was comprised in the significance of the word - hence the familiar expression to "mount the throne." The ceremonial induction of a sovereign into his throne is one of the usual solemnities of a coronation, while enthronization of the bishop in his cathedral is the final observance in the making of a diocesan. The throne, which is of immemorial antiquity, is the universal ancestor of all chairs, which were for long symbols of authority and rule. In early days and in Oriental countries thrones were of barbaric magnificence. Solomon's was of ivory "overlaid with the best gold." There were two figures of lions at the sides, with two other lions on each of the six steps. The remains of a throne in rock-crystal were found in the ruins of Sennacherib's palace. The Persian throne made for Abbas the Great was of white marble. This monarch appears to have had a nice taste in thrones, for in 1605 he presented one to the Russian tsar Boris which is covered with sheets of gold and decorated with precious stones and pearls. Tsar Michael Feodorovitch, grandfather of Peter the Great, outdid even this magnificence, for his "golden throne" is set with eight thousand turquoises, fifteen hundred rubies, four great amethysts and two large topazes. One of the glories of Delhi, until it was sacked by Nadir Shah, was the "peacock throne," the value of which was estimated, perhaps with some Eastern exuberance, at twelve millions sterling. It was ascended by silver steps and stood on golden feet set with jewels. It obtained its name from the two open peacocks' tails composed of magnificent diamonds, rubies, and other stones which formed part of its appurtenances. Apparently it was made for Shah Jahan by the French designer of the Taj Mahal. According to that veracious chronicler, Sir John Mandeville, the seven steps of the throne of Prester John were respectively of onyx, crystal, green jasper, amethyst, sardonyx, cornelian and chrysolite. They were bordered with gold and set with pearls. The throne itself was of gold enriched with jewels. Ranjit Singh's golden throne - it is of wood covered with plates of gold - is in the possession of the British Crown. European thrones were usually more modest in conception and less barbaric in execution than those, real or legendary, of the East. The medieval emperors of Byzantium had, however, imbibed a good deal of the Orient, and their famous throne, which is supposed to have been imitated from, as well as named after, that of Solomon, was guarded by golden lions, which rose to their feet and roared when some artful mechanism was set in motion. An exceedingly ancient chair of state is the so-called throne of Dagobert (see Chair). The most recent writers on this remarkable relic suggest that it is a bronze copy of Dagobert's golden throne. However that may be, there can be no doubt that it possesses at least one illustrious modern association, for Napoleon sat in it when he _distributed the first decorations of the Legion of Honour in his camp at Boulogne in 1804. The throne which Napoleon had made for himself was a heavy gilded chair with an abundance of Egyptian ornament, lions' heads and imperial eagles. One of the many curiosities of a conclave for the electing of a Pope is that every cardinal present occupies a throne, since, during the vacancy of the Holy See, each member of the Sacred College is a potential sovereign. When the election has taken place the canopy of every throne is lowered, with the exception of that occupied by the new pontiff. The palaces of the great Roman nobles contained - and still in some cases contain - a throne for use in the event of a visit from the pope. The papal throne itself is an antique bronze chair which stands in St Peter's., Embassies frequently contain a throne for the use of the sovereign in whose territory the building technically stands. No ancient thronechair pertains to the British monarchy; the coronation chair is not, properly speaking,, a throne, since it is used. only during a portion of the coronation ceremonies. The actual throne of Great Britain is the oaken Gothic chair in the House of Lords occupied by the sovereign at the opening and prorogation of parliament.

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Throne'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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