Nobiles Officinae

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The royal workshops of the Norman rulers in Palermo in Sicily in the 12th and 13th centuries are called Nobiles Officinae . The then King Roger II of Sicily, from the Norman Hauteville dynasty , was a patron of the arts and literature. He gathered Arab and Byzantine scholars, poets and artisans at his court in Palermo .

The workshops formed a unique production facility for works of treasure art. The works in this workshop show a wealth of materials and an astonishing variety of motifs from a wide variety of cultures. These are, among others, with gold woven and embroidered with pearls silk fabrics that have been processed into rulers vestments, altar cloths and gloves, goldsmith and ivory, cameos from onyx with mythological and biblical themes.

This diversity resulted from the ethnic composition of the population of Sicily at the time, from Latins , Greeks and Arabs, as well as from the coexistence of Roman Catholic , Greek Orthodox , Muslim and Jewish believers. All of these ethnic and religious groups were represented in the royal workshops. The Greek-Byzantine craftsmen created goldsmiths and textiles . The work with ivory , the bronze casting and the embroidery were the domain of the Saracen artists .

The Nobiles Officinae are one of the few workshops of the Middle Ages whose products can be clearly assigned and some of them still exist. The most famous pieces from these workshops are the magnificent coronation cloak and other items of clothing from the coronation regalia of the Roman-German emperors .

The name of the Nobiles Officinae is first mentioned in the Epistola by Hugo Falcandus from 1190.


  • Wilfried Seipel (Ed.): Nobiles Officinae. The royal court workshops at Palermo during the Normans and Staufers in the 12th and 13th centuries. Skira, Milan 2004, ISBN 3-85497-076-5 .