Charlemagne Themed Chess Set
Own a faithful reproduction of one of the earliest known European chess sets! This Charlemagne chess set is a genuine replica of the world famous chess pieces found in the Saint Denis Abbey. They are now displayed at Cabinet des Médailles, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
The Charlemagne dark chess pieces are in exotic Rosewood color and the light chess pieces have an antique ivory finish. The King is 3.5" tall with a 1.75" base. This set is made of hydrostone, a gypsum material, very hard, giving a natural
feel, weight and look of the original.
A Bit of History - Charlemagne
The Charlemagne pieces were at the Saint Denis Abbey since the end of the 13th century. They are dated from the end of the 11th century and were probably manufactured in Salerne, near Napoli in South Italia. This is confirmed by their Normand military equipment, which can be related to the famous Tapisserie de Bayeux (also from the 11th c.).
The forms of these pieces tell of a precious moment in chess history. In the 11th century, chess was an Arab game, new to Eruope. The traditional Islamic pieces are literally depicted in the ancient Rook (a chariot), the Bishop (an elephant), and the Knight (a horse as it still is). Only the Queen had been added, in place of the Arabian King's advisor - a European change which has lasted to this day. In subsequent centuries, the identities of the chariot and elephant were obscured and later re-invented as a castle tower and a Bishop.
Charlemagne, who reigned around 800, did not play the game of chess. Chess was introduced in West by the Arabs two centuries later. But the royal Saint Denis Abbey preserved the chess pieces as one of its treasures. The legend had it that they were offered to the emperor by the caliph of Baghdad Haroun Al Rachid to the occasion of his coronation.
Following the French Revolution, the chess pieces were confiscated and the name "Charlemagne" was entered into the collections of the national Library of France, in 1793, and is now considered among the most beautiful objects in ivory that the Middle Ages has handed down to history.
King Height: 3.25"
King Base: 1.75"
Recommended Board Square: 2.25"