The Iron Crown TRK (1 Viewer)


Full House
Oct 26, 2020
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Coming soon......


Ok. The wait is over. Given the Tiger Fever, I had to do something to pique people's interests. You're warned that this is a very long post. If you're not interested in the story behind these chips and my new table, scroll down for the pr0n.


In the 4th century, Helena, the mother of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. While there, she supposedly discovered a number of Christian holy sites and holy relics. Among the relics she supposedly found were the nails used in crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

About two centuries later, a Germanic people who had gradually migrated south from Scandinavia invaded the Italian peninsula. Those people were the Lombards, and the invasion was successful. The Lombard conquest of nearly all of what is now Italy led it into conflict with the eastern remnant of the Roman Empire, now commonly referred to as the Byzantine Empire.

Stories vary, but a common thread is that Byzantine–Lombard diplomacy led to one of the nails (or a crown fashioned to include one of the nails) passing to the Lombard monarchy. The Lombards then either adopted that crown or fashioned a crown themselves, which became the coronation crown for the Lombard kings. The crown was almost too small to wear, but the small crown and Christian relic became known as the Iron Crown.

Like many Germanic peoples, succession to the Lombard throne was not a matter of blood right. Kings were chosen. And that choice was supposed to reflect the will of God. Thus, as part of the Lombard coronation ceremony, the newly crowned King would say, “Dio me l’ha data. Guài a chi la tócca!” Roughly, that means: “God gives it to me. Woe to anyone who touches it!” And the “it” the King referred to, was the Iron Crown.

The last Lombard king was a man named Desiderius. Ruling from the Lombard capital in Pavia, Desiderius was the father-in-law of Charlemagne. But regional politics ultimately led to conflict between the two, and Charlemagne and his Frankish army conquered the Lombard kingdom and deposed Desiderius. Charlemagne took the Iron Crown and the title of King of the Lombards for himself. He exiled Desiderius to a monastery in Northern France, where Desiderius died a decade later.

The Iron Crown became part of the Imperial regalia of the Holy Roman Emperors, of which Charlemagne was the first. As part of their trip to Rome for their imperial coronation by the Pope, the Emperors would stop in Pavia (or sometimes Milan) to be crowned King of Italy with the Iron Crown. Napoleon Bonaparte used the Iron Crown when he crowned himself King of Italy in 1805, and Emperor Ferdinand I did so in 1838. The Lombard tradition continued in those coronations: “Dio me l’ha data. Guài a chi la tócca!”

The actual Iron Crown still exists. It is housed at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist in Monza, Italy. Here are pictures:

Iron Crown 2.jpg
Iron Crown 3.jpg

My family has long claimed ties to the exiled King Desiderius. The exact nature of those supposed ties is unclear—it depends on who you talk to. I had always chalked those claims up as silly family legend. I mean, every white person in the Americas claims to have some ties to some noble European household somewhere. Then, in the course of doing some genealogical research, I discovered that my family’s origin in France (at least as of 1000 years ago) was barely 40 miles from the abbey to which Charlemagne exiled Desiderius — where Desiderius spent roughly the last decade of his life.

None of that makes the family legend true, but it makes for a cool story.

My family, sometimes upper-class commoners and sometimes low-level nobility, remained in France until the 17th century. One of my relations even served as treasurer to King Charles V (Charles’ successor, King Philip VI, executed him for treason in 1328). But my forebear fled religious persecution in France, ultimately coming to Virginia as an indentured servant in the 1650’s.

These chips are something of a synthesis of my chipping and my family story. There’s something appropriate about a set of TRKs that celebrate a crown that is known for being small. They also pay tribute to several other "crown" themed classic TRK sets. The bright Cali colors are appropriate for the theme. Further, a converted Catholic who lives in a city built on the iron and steel industry celebrating a Catholic holy relic known as the Iron Crown just seems to fit. I hope you enjoy the chips and the custom felt as much as I’ve enjoyed putting this all together.

Thanks to: @timinater for his assistance on chip, button, and cut-card design; @Josh Kifer for milling; @Gear for labels; and @T_Chan for the custom cloth. Also, thank you to everyone who sold me chips, let me bounce ideas of of them, or who simply kept this project under their hat until I could finish it. I'll look forward to sharing these chips with @Beakertwang @shorticus and @Samoth311 this weekend, when they make their first official appearance on the felt.

Now on to the pr0n:

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I do wonder how many people saw the initial post and headed over to the Chip Guide to search for Iron Crown.
Very cool backstory! Best of luck with them.
that is incredible all over (history, chips, & table)
how did you manage to get so many TRK?
but as for the Iron Crown, well, I already got one.
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