The Signifier of Royalty
It is hard to determine which of the various cultures around the world used the crown first. One of the first peoples to celebrate their royalty with a circle on their brow was the Persians. The Persians wore a simple band of bronze or gold on their head to designate their leader. The Persians of course brought this custom to the world at large as they expanded their empire. Other cultures saw the rules of the Persians wearing the crown and they started to adopt this look as well. But, if you want to find the person that truly brought the crown to the outside world at large and made it part of their iconography, it was Constantine.
Constantine’s crown would have been a little more ornate then just a simple diadem but it would not have been the big puffy crowns that the monarchs of England are so fond of. In statuary and in paintings, Constantine is shown with a laurel of leaves on his brow or with something resembling a band of metal that has been very intricately worked. Constantine, the ruler that brought Rome to almost all of the corners of the known world would have ruled his land with a crown sitting on his head. Once Constantine found religion and excepted the banner of the Christians as his own, it is possible that his crown changed again but there is not a lot of proof to that position.
There are two basic styles of crown that have been use din Europe. You have an open crown and you have a closed crown. The open crown would be a band of metal – however ornate or simple – that encircled the head but did not have the arches or the shell on the inside. The closed crown would have arches going from the rim of the circlet around the head connecting to each other to form an enclosed hat. In later years the closed crown would have a shell of velvet or some other luxurious material on the inside making it look even more like a hat then just a simple circlet of metal. The Imperial State Crown of the British Empire is one of the most well known closed crowns in the world. Monarchs upon monarchs have worn crowns for generations and the crown has worked its way into other parts of society as well.
The crown is used on coins around the world and in fact it has lent its name to money in various cultures. The term crown has also come to be synonymous with the term royalty as well. Even wars have been for crowns and over crowns. One of the first things that most modern revolutions have done is to remove the crown – both the person and the symbol – from the eyes of the people, thus the crown is not only an object but it is a symbol, a concept that some look to for protection but others have seen as a form of oppression.
At the Ren Faire you will attend you will see a monarch of some type. Normally their is a King or Queen or both that presides over the faire. They will have crowns of some sort. And unless you are a child, wearing a crown to the faire might get you as many jeers as it will cheers if you are wearing it to show that you are also royalty. That being said, if you are wearing a band around your brow just as part of the symbolism of your garb… go for it. Leather crowns and simple diadems aboud at the merchant booths of the faire.