Charlemagne was crowned by Pope St. Leo III:

Coronation of Charlemagne

But who was the most recent pope to crown a king or emperor?

  • Haven't looked into it yet, but I believe the title "Emperor" is what people came to feel required a Pope to bestow.
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 16, 2018 at 23:52
  • That may be the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife Josephine de Beauharnais as Emperor Napoleon I and Empress Josephine of France at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris in 1804 or 1805. I think the ceremony was presided over by Pope Pius VII. (very limited Internet right now!) Jan 16, 2018 at 23:59
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    @sempaiscuba - didn't Napoleon I take the crown from the Pope and crown himself, then Josephine, IIRC?
    – TheHonRose
    Jan 17, 2018 at 0:13
  • @TheHonRose I believe you're right, but the ceremony was presided over by the Pope which (I think) would mean that he technically crowned the Emperor, even if he didn't actually physically place the crown onto his head. Jan 17, 2018 at 0:16
  • @sempaiscuba Hmm... nice point! Wonder what constitutional lawyers would make of that one! ;)
    – TheHonRose
    Jan 17, 2018 at 0:27

3 Answers 3


It's arguably Pius VII who crowned Napoleon I, but given the rather dodgy legality there (he put the crown on his own head) I'm going to suggest a different answer.

In 1530, Clement VII crowned Charles V the Emperor of the Germans, more correctly and misleadingly known as the Holy Roman Emperor. After that, all emperors stayed emperors-elect.


Napoleon was crowned Emperor under the auspices of the Pope (Pius VII) in 1804, about 1000 years after Charlemagne. (Actually, he placed the crown on his own head after the Pope spoke his piece.) But he wanted, and got, the legitimacy of the Catholic Church behind him.


It may be worth mentioning that the pope is himself monarch of the Vatican city / Holy See. It is one of the few remaining absolute monarchies in the world.

Paul VI was the last Pope, to date, who was crowned with the papal tiara. His successor John Paul I decided against being crowned, and so did the following ones.

Indeed, one might object that Paul VI did not place the tiara on his head himself, but it was surely under papal patronage :) (And same for Pius VII who did not place the crown on Napoleon I's head)

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