‘Globus cruciger’ in the Hands of Monarchs

From Latin ‘cross-bearing orb’ or ‘the orb and cross” is an orb (globus) surmounted by a cross. Together with a sceptre, the globe-shaped insignia with the cross on top constitute royal regalia; “[the cross represents Christ’s dominion over the orb of the world, literally held in the hand of an earthly ruler” (“Globus cruciger” 2021).

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, c.1500. Reproduction of the painting after restoration by Dianne Dwyer Modestini, a research professor at New York University. Getty Images. Public domain. Colours intensified. Photo source: “Salvator Mundi (Leonardo)” (2021) In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

As a matter of fact, the globe as the insignia first appears in ancient Rome on the coins of Augustus the Second (first century AD.), where the top of the globe was crowned with a statue of the goddess of victory, Nike. From Rome, the custom of using the ‘globus’ spread to Byzantium, and then it was adopted in all royal monarchies of Europe. In Christianity, the goddess of victory was gradually replaced with a cross, usually the Greek one with equal arms. Nevertheless, the pagan symbol is still present after the Edict of Milan in 313. In Poland, the royal apple was probably known from the beginning of the thirteenth century.

It has been a Christian symbol of authority since the Middle Ages, used on coins and in Christian iconography as a symbol of royal power; it is held in the left hand of Jesus Christ the King or Mary the Queen of Heaven. One of the most famous images of Christ as the King of the World wielding the royal apple was painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the Renaissance; it is widely known as Salvator Mundi (circa 1500) and depicts the royal apple as the ‘celestial sphere’ of the heavens.

Featured image: The globus cruciger was used in the Byzantine Empire, as shown in this coin of Emperor Leontius (d. 705). Photo by Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. (2005). CC BY-SA 3.0. Colours intensified. Image enlarged. Photo source: “Globus cruciger” (2021) In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.


Globus cruciger” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3q9FePm>. [Accessed on 9th February, 2021].

Salvator Mundi (Leonardo)” (2021) In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <https://bit.ly/3rCADWh>. [Accessed on 9th February, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 164. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.