lunedì 22 dicembre 2014


I soci del Centro Studi San Claudio augurano a tutti i simpatizzanti e sostenitori dell'Associazione un Buon Natale ed un Felice Anno Nuovo

domenica 21 dicembre 2014



The discovery of the

TOMB and the BODY of

at San Claudio

Translation: Mr. Angelo Prati – Indianapolis - USA

Centro Studi San Claudio al Chienti – Corridonia – MC


The drawing up of this publication has two well-defined goals: to commemorate the 1,200th  anniversary of Charlemagne’s death that took place in Aquisgrana on January 28th, 814 and to inform the public of the discovery of the tomb of Charlemagne under the entrance archway of San Claudio in Corridonia, Macerata. The onsite technical readings were performed by geologist Massimiliano Mazzocca, owner of GeoPro, a company based in Perugia.
The research performed by prof Giovanni Carnevale over the past twenty years has by now ascertained that Aquisgrana and its Cappella Palatina are not in Aachen, Germany, but in the Picene region, in the Chienti Valley.

Charlemagne passed away 1200 years ago, on January 28th, 814 and the search for his tomb has always been centered in Aachen, however with no results.
All the sources available to us are in agreement in stating that the burial of the King took place in Aquisgrana, in the area of his new splendid Chapel that he had built around 790, even if someone, as reported by Einhard, had suggested to bring him elsewhere.
“Elsewhere” could not have meant anywhere but the nearby chapel of Saint Denis, present day San Ginesio , where his grandfather Charle Martel and his parents Pipin the Short and Bertrada were already resting.
The sources, as will be demonstrated, are very clear: Charlemagne’s tomb was outside the new Chapel and his son Louis the Pious built an archway over it, of which only poor remnants are left in the present archway of San Claudio.

Being born in Corridonia, where San Claudio is erected, I have always had a keen interest in the local events that took place during the early Middle Ages. I have always maintained a friendly relationship with prof. Carnevale, my own teacher during my high school years, and I have followed passionately his studies concerning the presence of Aquisgrana and the Carolingian kings in the Chienti Valley.
I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to my dear professor, whose advice and counsel, both as an archeologist and a historian, have been a huge help.
Getting back to Charlemagne, I believe that this job has a fundamental merit: the details of the sources, already well known to the scholars, take on a demonstrative strength, since they are supported by archeological data, meaning that the discovery of the tomb is in agreement with the statements in the documents consulted, particularly the Chronicon Novalicense.
Aachen no longer has the right to claim a title that it does not deserve.
Charlemagne’s tomb is located  at San Claudio. This detail supports the thesis that Aquisgrana is in the Chienti Valley, a thesis that was bravely and firmly maintained through many years of work and research by Prof. Giovanni Carnevale.
At the beginning of 2013, Morresi contacted GeoPro, a company owned by Massimiliano Mazzocca, in order to perform a search under the archway at the entrance of present day San Claudio using the georadar, with the goal of verifying the accuracy of written sources about the actual existence of Charlemagne’s tomb. The company gladly offered  their services at no cost given the historical and archeological importance of the project. The search was extended to the interior of the church. The results are detailed in the technical report which I will discuss in a future publication.
The misunderstanding that has placed Aquisgrana in Aachen has caused other major errors of historical nature, and that is to say that Charlemagne’s tomb was in Germany and that Saint Denis could only be the abbey in Paris.
Let me mention other inaccuracies that have upset the landscape and therefore the historical understanding of the early Middle Ages: the notions that Gallia was the same thing as France in the Picene region, that Urbs was synonym of ancient Rome and that the Papal Lateran was itself in Rome instead of being in the Picene region.
The georadar search performed by geologist  Mazzocca was extended to the interior of the church on the hope of finding possible signs of the burial of Otto III. It is documented that Otto III died in 1002 in Italy and was buried in the same Aquisgrana chapel where Charlemagne was already buried. The burial of the young emperor was never found in Aachen, however a very unlikely story tells that, in times after Barbarossa’s reign, the mummified corpse was placed on horseback and taken to Aachen by Saxon soldiers. This is another absurd misunderstanding that needs to be clarified.
The search with the georadar was performed on February 1st, 2013 with the permission of the new pastor, rev. Gianni Dichiara.
At first, the georadar targeted the landing area under the arch located just before the entrance of San Claudio and then proceeded  inside the abbey, scanning an area parallel to the facade that covered the first three spans of the church.
The search readings were performed by Dr. Massimiliano Mazzocca, owner of GeoPro, who has recently sent to us the full report that can be found in the appendix.


The search with the intent to locate the tomb of Charlemagne under the archway of San Claudio was given further purpose by the news divulged by ADNKRONOS (18.05.2010 : Germania-archeologi-smentiscono-leggenda-su-tomba-Carloma):
“Aachen, May 18th (Adnkronos/Dpa) – Charlemagne original tomb is not located in the atrium of Aachen cathedral as it was previously thought. The popular belief was dismantled by a group of archeologists who have spent three years looking without success for any trace of the burial of the emperor who died in 814 A.D.
Despite the meticulous research, the oldest traces found in the area under the atrium date back to the 13th century, 400 years after Charlemagne’s death. The question of the exact location of his original burial has been posed for centuries and starting in the 1980’s the prevailing theory among the experts was the atrium of the cathedral. Andreas Schaub, the archeologist who was leading the research, still maintains that "he is certain that Charlemagne was buried in Aquisgrana and certain that this took place in the area of the cathedral".
Charlemagne died in the morning of January 28th, 814 and was buried the same day. Approximately 250 years later, emperor Federico Barbarossa had the bones moved to an urn that has since been kept in the cathedral“.
On May 19th, 2010, the news were reported in major national newspapers, such as La Stampa in Turin and L’Avvenire in Rome, and that gave a major boost to prof. Carnevale’s theory. Mr. Alberto Morresi, an engineer and president of Centro Studi San Claudio al Chienti, decided to perform a search of the San Claudio area using the georadar. Once the search was completed, prof. Giovanni Carnevale was asked to participate in the compilation of this work, which is a collaboration of prof. Carnevale and Dr. Morresi.
Charlemagne died on January 28th, 814 in Aquisgrana and, according to all the sources at our disposal, the grave in which he was entombed was in the area of the Carolingian chapel in Aquisgrana.
The earliest news pertaining to the death and burial of the emperor are provided by Einhard in chapter 31 of his “VITA CAROLI IMPERATORIS”   :
The body had the ablutions and the care required in solemn rituals; with the deepest mourning of the entire population, it was brought into the church and entombed. At first, there was some uncertainty as to where it was supposed to be placed, since he never gave specific directions while he was still alive. In any case, everyone agreed that there was no more deserving place for his burial than the basilica that he himself had built at his own expense in the same village, for the love of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in honor of His holy and eternal Virgin mother. And that’s where he was buried on the same day of his death and over the burial site a golden arch was erected, with a portrait and an inscription.
The obvious error made by Andreas Schaub, was to mistake Aachen in Germany with the true Aquisgrana. Aquisgrana was located in the Chienti Valley as demonstrated in a series of publications written by prof. Giovanni Carnevale  starting in 1992  .
There were some doubts as to where the body of the deceased emperor should be buried.  Some would have liked to bury him in the new Palatine Chapel, known as sancta Maria Mater Domini, as reported by Einhard. Others were thinking of a different site, most likely the nearby primitive carolingian chapel named Saint Denis, present day San Ginesio, where his grandfather  Charles Martel and his parents king Pipin the Short and queen Bertrada were buried. Those tombs were recently discovered still in perfect state, as described in the book by prof.  Giovanni Carnevale, Giovanni Scoccianti and Marco Graziosi

The final preference, at least temporarily, was the new splendid Chapel, built by the emperor himself in the lower Chienti Valley, located in the area named Palatium  The definitive decision was probably made by his successor, his son Louis the Pious, once he returned from Aquitaine back to Aquisgrana.
After the funereal march, from the imperial Domus to the Chapel, attended by all the people, the body, lotum et curatum, and that is to say embalmed, was entombed right away, on the same day of his death.
Einhard reports that he was entombed in the basilica, so to suggest a tomb inside San Claudio as it is today. However, in 814 there used to be an atrium or xistum on the outside just before the entrance which was an integral part of the basilica itself. As confirmed by the results of the georadar search, Charlemagne was entombed in the ground at the right of the entrance, and therefore inside or in the atrium of the church, which is defined as xistum by Widukind in his book Rerum gestarum saxonicarum libri tres. So, the burial took place in the church proper.
Louis the Pious, on his return from Aquitaine, approved the existing burial, but he added a golden arch, arcus deauratus, to the facade, supra tumulum, as explained by Einhard, even if this grandiose archway is called a solium in other sources because today it is surmounted by the throne in Aachen.
Thietmar  ( 975 - 1018), in his Cronaca , book IV , chapter 29,  reports that Otto III in the year 1000, 186 years after Charlemagne’s death, started looking for his remains inside the church but ended up finding them in solio, and that is under the outside archway: “ haec in solio inventa sunt regio”
In Chronicom Novaliciense , Book III,32, is the tale that Count of the Palace Otho of Lomello, who was present at the reopening of the tomb ordered by Otto III, related to the monks of Novalesa, pertaining to the discovery of which even Thietmar reported in the year 1000 in his Cronaca IV,29.
Here’s how the tale from the Count was recorded in Chronicom Novaliciense:
 “We entered Charle’s place. He was not lying down as is customary with the bodies of other dead people, but he was seated on a throne as if he were alive. He had a golden crown on his head and held a sceptre in his hands covered by gloves which his fingernails, as they grew, had perforated.
In the upper part, the tugurium  was connected (compositum) very skillfully with (an arch) of marbles and stones. When we reached the tugurium where Charle was, right away we made an opening breaking down the wall. And when we entered we smelled a very strong odor. We honored him by promptly bending our knees to the ground. Otto III quickly put a white robe on him, cut his fingernails and cleaned up around him. His limbs had not decomposed yet, only the tip of his nose was slightly corroded which he had promptly repaired with gold, and after extracting a tooth from his mouth, he had the opening in the small tugurium (tuguriolum) closed and then left.”
It is important to point out that if Charlemagne was buried the same day of his death, the small tugurium described by the Count of the Palace Otho of Lomello must have been built on the same day as well.
As a matter of fact, the Count of the Palace Otho of Lomello certainly does not describe a regal tomb, instead he tells us about a very small setting that could be built in just a few hours, surmounted by a posh archway or solium that was added later.
Geologist Massimiliano Mazzocca gives us the dimensions provided by the georadar which lead us to envision a setting similar to a cube as described in the footnote.
The data provided by the georadar seem to match perfectly with the description in cronicon novalicense
The tiny room could have been built very easily in just one day and, considering the room at the base and the curved covering over the head, it was perfectly suited to contain the seated body of Charlemagne, just like an elegant marble coffer.
The tomb of Charlemagne, as we can see, remained untouched until the year 1000 when Otto III had it reopened.


Once Charlemagne was dead, the imperial power was transferred to his son Louis the Pious. With him the empire entered a period of crisis, since during his reign, it became increasingly difficult to face the attacks from the Arabs along the coastlines, as described in the antopodosis of Claudio from Turin. Furthermore, the local officials, known as fideles during Charlemagne’s reign, claimed their right of inheritance and caused the breaking up of Picene France into fiefdoms.
Following the inevitable weakening of the central power, which was still located in Aquisgrana,  in the territory know as Palatium, Louis the Pious reacted by strengthening the abbeys and in particular the structures of political and ecclesiastical importance in central and southern Italy. Besides Rome, the seat of the papacy, the most relevant abbeys iuris palatii were in Farfa, Montecassino and San Vincenzo al Volturno.
Louis the Pious died in 840 and the crisis deepened. The Arabs, once Sicily had been conquered, permanently occupied the towns of Taranto and Bari, and set their sights on expanding north, moving up the old Appian road. The papacy moved their seat from Rome to the Lateran in Aquisgrana, while the two abbeys iuris palatii located south of Aquisgrana were sacked by the Arabs in 881. In the same year, Picene France along with Aquisgrana was attacked and sacked.
In 898, Farfa, completely isolated, was abandoned by the Benedictine monks that had built in Picene France the fortified abbey Santa Vittoria in Matenano.
Lothair arose to power in 840 and inherited an empire in shambles, by now divided in three parts, Germany, Gallia and Italy, which still today make up the base of western Europe.
In 915 the alliance of pope John X and Alberico the Old, who was identified  in the documents of that era as Rex (king, evidently of the Romans),  brought the elimination of Arab presence on the Italian peninsula after the definitive defeat of the Arabs, in the battle at the estuary of Garigliano.
On August 7th, 936, Otto I had himself crowned king of the Romans on the tomb of Charlemagne, who had by now become a mythical figure, and marked the beginning of a new setting of the empire in the Picene region, with a Saxon dynasty.
Relating to his crowning on the solium, we have a very interesting description made by Widukind in his book: Rerum Saxonicarum libri tres . I will quote some of the most meaningful passages, from the translation given by prof. Giovanni Carnevale in his book “La scoperta di Aquisgrana in Val di Chienti”, Macerata 1999 p. 111:

“After the death of the very good Henry, father of the motherland and greatest among kings, all the Franks and the Saxons chose as their new leader his son Otto, who had already been picked as successor by his father and all those who had a right to the proclamation of the successor wanted the chosen location for the common acclamation to be the Palace of Aquisgrana…..
…..Once arrived there and once all the Greats of the kingdom and all the other chiefs had gathered, and the leaders of the army, in the gallery (in sixto) in front of the Chapel of Charlemagne, the king-elect was placed on the solium that was built there, was acclaimed as king and, - according to the Saxon ritual – they shook his hand, they swore loyalty to him, they pledged their help against all enemies.
While the Greats and all the other chiefs were doing this, the bishop with all the clergy and the people were in the basilica below waiting for the entrance of the new king…...
When the new king came down from the solium and entered the church, Bishop Ildiberto walked with him to the center of San Claudio  where everyone there could see them.
Then, facing the people who were standing all around, in the spaces (deambulatoria) of the storey below and in those of the storey above (the women’s gallery of the basilica) that is built in rotundum  (and that is to say a central floorplan with the spans covered by vaults shaped like a cross)…

From the center, after the acclamation of the Franks, they proceeded to the altar.
“… once the consecration in lawful accordance of the ritual norms was completed, the king was led on the solium by the bishops. One could gain access to it by climbing a spiral staircase, it was built between two columns of outstanding beauty and from up there the king could see everyone and could be seen by everyone”.

There is no doubt that the description of the basilica given by Widukind matches many of the features of present day San Claudio which is rotundum facta as well.
Just like in the old times, today’s coverings are still in the shape of a cross, even if they are no longer the original ones.
The modern day church is divided in two storeys, however the central cross-shaped vault, that today separates the entire building into two storeys, is completely different and more recent than the remaining vaults especially when you examine its building technique. Originally, the upper floor housed only the deambulatory for the women’s gallery, from where one could follow the celebrations taking place on the floor below. The gallery for the women could be accessed only from the outside through two towers with spiral staircases that can still be seen for the most part in their original integrity. The space of the atrium in front of the church, the xystum from which the Saxons acclaimed their king, still exists but the ancient porticos that flanked its sides are no longer there. The archway without the solium, now found in Aachen, still exists but it is not the original one.

The recent search with the georadar has revealed that underneath the archway of San Claudio there is a small space. Its dimensions and covering coincide with the description of the tomb given in Cronicon Novalicense. Even the building, described by Widukind, where in 936 Otto I was crowned king of the Romans, considering the many particular details that were provided, matches without a doubt the church of San Claudio as it is today.
Also to be considered is the fact that in the year 1000 Otto III, after attempting in vain to locate Charlemagne’s tomb inside the church, ended up finding it on the outside under the solium, just like Thietmar wrote and how revealed by the georadar.
When Otto III died, his successor Henry II moved the seat of the empire from Italy to Bamberg, and from that time on in Germany there was very little interest for Italy until the advent of Frederick I Barbarossa.
Frederick I Barbarossa was elected king in Germany on March 4th, 1152 and five days later he was in Aquisgrana to be enthroned as king of the Romans on the tomb of Charlemagne, as stated in one of his letters to Pope Eugene III.
Barbarossa’s political and military activities in the following years are well documented. As for the tomb of Charlemagne, in 1165 Barbarossa, after defeating Milan, decided to declare Charlemagne a saint.
He searched for his tomb, but found that the remains of the emperor were no longer there. Someone in the imperial party had to tell him that the remains had been hidden elsewhere, as told by Barbarossa himself, for fear that they could fall in the hands of the enemy (of the empire) at the time of the Second Council of the Lateran when the Lateran was still in the Chienti Valley.  As a matter of fact, that council was attended by Sugier, a very powerful cistercian at the court of Paris, who had arrived in the Chienti Valley with a fleet and a host of Templars and who left with the beautiful columns that had adorned the regal domus of Charlemagne, in order to bring them to Paris in the royal chapel of the new Saint Denis. During that council Pope Lucius II had asked Saint Bernard to send right away a permanent community of Cistercians to the Chienti Valley.  The enemy to whom Barbarossa is referring, could not have been anyone else but the French Cistercians who actually arrived in the Chienti Valley in 1140.
Barbarossa relays that after having found Charlemagne by divine inspiration, he had him canonized by his antipope Pasquale III at Christmas of 1165, and one year later, on December 29th, 1166, as confirmed by Annales Aquenses , the remains were moved from Italy to Germany, perhaps in Cologne awaiting for the Aachen Chapel to be built.

This chapel was completed a few decades later, as demonstrated by the oldest traces found in the underground of the atrium that date back to the 13th century.
From that time the remains of Charlemagne rest in Aachen, and the myth surrounding the emperor attracts great crowds of pilgrim tourists every year.
The destiny of the authentic Palatine Chapel in the Chienti Valley was very different. Ten years after moving Saint Charlemagne (described in the Annales Aquenses as translatio santissimi Caroli imperatori), Barbarossa decided to move the empire as well (translatio imperii).
The defeat in the battle of Legnano (1176) against the Lombard League, that was supported by Pope Alexander III, resulted in the permanent loss of control of Italy for Frederick I Barbarossa and it encouraged him to execute the move of the empire (translatio imperii) from Italy to Germany.
The desire of revenge against the Pope pushed him to destroy Fermo and its cathedral (1176).
His devastating fury was unleashed as well on the superb ancient Carolingian Chapel of Charlemagne. After all, its destruction was politically necessary in order to accomplish the translatio imperii. The columns that Charlemagne had taken from Ravenna and Rome, the bronze pinecone that adorned the fountain in the atrium, the seven bronze barriers of the presbytery and of the upper women’s gallery, the bronze door at the entrance, the bronze panels of the doors of the cylindrical towers, all of these are now found in Aachen, many of them reused to beautify the new octagonal Imperial Chapel.
The vaults of the Aquisgrana Chapel in Italy were quickly and rudely rebuilt by local bricklayers and the solarium or covering terrace was replaced with a truss-like roof. The building was meant to replace the cathedral that was destroyed in Fermo until emperor Frederick II, grandson of Barbarossa, had it rebuilt with blocks of stone from Istria that were transported to the Fermo coastline by the imperial fleet.
The new bond that was established between the chapel that had by now become San Claudio parish and the bishops of Fermo has lasted up to our days since the title of pastor of San Claudio has been held continuously by the Archbishop-Prince of Fermo until 1986, as evidence that this small countryside church had, in reality, an immense historical relevance and an extraordinary economic importance.


The first Carolingian chapel in the Chienti valley was built by Charles Martel at Saint Denis, present day  San Ginesio. In 741 maiordomus Charles Martel was buried there   and his son king Pippin the Short and his spouse queen Bertrada were buried there in 768.  When Charlemagne died in 814 it would seem logical for him to be buried at Saint Denis as well, where his grandfather and his parents were already resting. Einhard reports that the new Chapel was chosen instead; in one of his letters from England, Alcuin had called it novam cappellam inter vineta, built by Charlemagne himself in Aquisgrana in the lower Chienti valley. It was certainly more beautiful than the older chapel on the hillside and in order to build it, around 790, Charlemagne invited qualified workers from the Middle East, at the time Syria, who were left jobless since the Umayyads had lost their power and the new Abbasside caliphs had moved their residence from Damascus to Baghdad.
The nova Cappella presented an absolutely new architectural feature, already tried in the frigidarium of Khirbat al-Mafjar near Jericho, where an Umayyad, caliph of Damascus,had built one of the famous residential palaces in the desert. The frigidarium of this palace was structured with a square plan. Four pillars divided the square base into nine bays. The coverings featured the first cross-shaped vaults of Syria which the Romans had never seen and that had arrived in Syria from nearby Iran after the Arab conquest.
Nine bays, four pillars and the use of the cross-shaped vault were also the characteristics of the basilica that Charlemagne had wanted in the Chienti valley. It had however a new feature when compared to Kirbet Al Mafjar. Inside, in order to build the women’s gallery, the same basic scheme of the nine bays was reproduced. At the center of the gallery however one of the bays was missing so that the ladies could view from the gallery all the celebrations taking place in the presbytery below. The covering of the building was a balcony, also supported by cross-shaped vaults. A dome was erected at the center of the balcony; although the dome and the balcony are no longer there, the same construction style can still be seen at the Carolingian church San Vittore alle Chiuse. The women’s gallery and the balcony could be accessed via two spiral stairways that were inside two cylindrical belltowers, which are practically intact. In front of the building there used to be a  xistum  or a courtyard surrounded by columns; at its center was a fountain of lustral water. Recently, the piping of the fountain were found during the deprecated excavations done to have a more modern access to the church.
The first modification to the original aspect of the Chapel came from Louis the Pious, Charlemagne’s son, who supra tumulum of his father the emperor, built an arcus dearatus. Essentially, the archway is still there with its essential structure, but it is without the front portal that was transported to the entrance of the duomo in Fermo by Frederick II as a replacement of the portal imported from Capodistria that was destined for the cathedral of Fermo but was instead used as the portal of today’s upperi San Claudio.
All this leads us to realize the enormous prestige that this old Carolingian building must have had during the high middle Ages. The myth of Charlemagne and his tomb in the ground below the archway, the presence of the throne or solium at the top of the archway, where the Roman kings and future emperors were consecrated, must have given the church and its  entrance archway the highest meaning  in the collective imagination of the people.If in the high Middle Ages, the empire founded by Charlemagne had its center in the old Palatine Chapel in Aquisgrana, the area and the church took on additional sacred meaning when the Popes moved to Aquisgrana and transformed the Chapel of Charlemagne into the Basilica Lateranensis, so that the old imperial Chapel took on a new function.
A second modification took place in 936 when a throne or solium (now located in Aachen) was placed over the’ arcus deauratus , between two magnificent columns. On this throne, from 936 until 1152, and that is to say from Otto I up to Frederick Barbarossa, all of the successors of Charlemagne were acclaimed as kings of the Romans and future emperors.
The architecture of the building as a whole, as Charlemagne had wanted it in 790, remained unchanged in the following centuries. In1002, Otto III, the last emperor in the Chienti valley, searched for and entered the tomb of Charlemagne that was still intact under the entrance archway.

With Otto III, the situation in the Chienti valley had gone through a deep transformation. The baculari (Vergari) ,heads of the local Roman clans, had taken up arms and eliminated the young Otto III from the political scene. His successor, Henry II moved the seat of the empire to Bamberg and the old imperial Chapel lost much of its importance.
In order to safeguard the interests of the empire, even if it was absent from this area by now, Henry II conferred the title of Prince to the bishop of Fermo  and a succession of four Germanic popes took place in the Chienti valleyi: Clement II (1046-1047) , Benedict IX (1047-1048), Damasus II (1048) and Leo IX (1049-1054).
By this time, the future of Picene France resided in the upcoming power of the free rural Communes, whose development was supported by the papacy.
To the French lords who were abandoned by the local farmers, Pope Urban II proposed the crusade for the liberation of the Holy Sepulchre.
Led by Godfrey of Bouillon, lord of Camerino, in the year 1100 the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem.
It is evident that Germany had been completely excluded from Picene France, center of the empire.
In 1112 the first Lateran Council took place there, in a revitalized atmosphere due to the prospering communes and the presence of the  veteran crusaders who had conquered Jerusalem.
The second Lateran Council took place there in 1139; among the participants were  Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, founder of the Cirstencians and of the Order of the Templars, who came from Paris with the Cistercian Suger, plenipotentiary of the French dynasty.
Starting in 1152 Frederick Barbarossa attempted to bring back the prestige of the empire.
He was elected King of the Romans on March 4th, 1152, and ten years later he destroyed Milan in the spring of 1162.

After destroying Milan and with plenty of resources, even financial ones, available to him, Frederick Barbarossa attempted to bring back the old Palatine Chapel in Aquisgrana as the center of the imperial authority in Italy.
He conceived the idea of proclaiming Charlemagne beatus, that is to say saint,, founder of the Empire and then transform the Roman Empire into the Holy Roman Empire.
To that extent, on Christmas 1165, in the old Carolingian Chapel, Barbarossa’s antipope Paschal III proclaimed Charlemagne saint, whose bones had been found by Barbarossa, by divine revelation, not in the tomb but in a hiding place.
Those who witnessed the solemn celebration, as they entered the Chapel, could see that a large chandelier was attached and hanging under the small dome, in the shape of a crown with a diameter of  4,34 meters (about 14 and a half feet). In regard of the chandelier, which is now in Aachen, encyclopedia Treccani states that  Barbarossa donated the round chandelier in or about 1165. Obviously, the chandelier had a symbolic value since it had the shape of an imperial crown. Placing it inside a Basilica that once belonged to emperor Charlemagne and that was later transformed into Basilica Lateranensis by the popes that had moved from Rome to Aquisgrana, meant that  Barbarossa considered himself at the top of the “Roman Empire” and now “Holy”, however no longer politically dependent from the power of the Pope.
The conflict with the Communes and Pope Alexander III, however, had not been resolved with the destruction of Milan.
We quote from the encyclopedia Treccani:
The surrender of Milan in 1162 had led Frederick Barbarossa to think that no further threats could come from Italy and that his authority had been strengthened. But the Communes were growing bolder to the point that they helped Milan rebuild its walls In  1164 Verona, Vicenza, Padua and Venice pledged allegiance to a league for their common defense against the emperor.
The canonization of Charlemagne to sainthood was the bold reply that Barbarossa gave to the Communes as they were starting to rear their heads.
In 1166 Barbarossa was again in the Chienti valley, but as he entered the old Carolingian Basilica he was met with an appalling sight: the old small dome, of which only a minor portion used for the large external stairway by Frederick II is still visible, had not withstood the enormous weight of the chandelier and possibly a few earthquakes. It had crashed to the ground along with the chandelier itself, destroying in the process part of the balcony and the women’s gallery.  It was not possible to keep Saint Charlemagne and the Persephone sarcophagus in which he  lay in a church that was half destroyed. Barbarossa decided the removal to Germany which took place on December 29th, 1166.
Given the precarious political situation in Italy, the plan was expanded to include the translatio imperii as well, which in real terms implied the rebuilding of the imperial Sancta Maria Mater Domini not in Italy, but in Aachen. The Holy Roman Empire was no longer going to have its center in Italy, but in Germany.
Odo of Metz was ordered to start right away the new building using all the components, rich with history, that had arrived from Italy. The seven bannisters of the women’s gallery and presbytery (the eighth was cloned in Aachen), the bronze door, the eight portals of the four doors of the belltowers, the pinecone of the  fountain in the xistum, the solium or throne on which the kings of Rome were acclaimed, the papers from the archives, including the annales aquenses, the relics of the church, possibly the columns of the xistum and the very chandelier that caused the collapse of the dome and that Barbarossa had wanted to include in the new building in Aachen, all of these were transported to Germany in 1167.
Odo ofi Metz, in order to avoid the collapse of the new dome, conceived the completion of the entire building as a massive monolith sculpted in the shape of a dome that could not crumble under the weight of the chandelier. He realized however that the weight of the chandelier added to the weight of the monolith, could compromise the stability of the exterior walls. Instead of the square plan, he preferred a more stable octagonal plan and strengthened the exterior walls of the entire octagon by inserting iron hoops connected with cross bars. This was the first “reinforced” building in history.

The old glorious Palatine Chapel of Charlemagne remained in ruins for ten years, from 1166 to 1176. In that year, Barbarossa was defeated by the Lombard League in the battle of Legnano, and he took revenge on Pope Alexander III by destroying the cathedral in Fermo and the majority of the city with it.
With the Peace of Venice in 1177, the papacy and the empire were reconciled. Not having the means to rebuild their own cathedral, the Diocese of San Claudio in Fermo decided to restore as best as they could the cross-shaped vaults of the women’s gallery and covered the whole thing with a trussed roof and not a balcony.
For twelve years the Diocese of San Claudio had a temporary cathedral in the Chienti valley that ended up being named church of San Claudio.
The cathedral in Fermo will be sumptuously rebuilt with stones from Istria by Frederick II.
The last transforrnation of the church was completed by Frederick II. After rebuilding the Cathedral of Fermo for the church, he kept San Claudio for himself as his own imperial residence or personal domus. He separated with a new cross-shaped vault the storey of the women’s gallery from the one below. The access to it, after a large stairway, was through a portal in stone from Istria that was originally destined to the cathedral in Fermo (the Capoana door of Vasari). Frederick II preferred to keep it for his own domus, sending to Fermo the old Carolingian portal of Charlemagne tomb as a replacement. There were also several decorative statues (as reported in gesta romanorum) that were destroyed after the fall of Frederick II. The last reference to the pillaged domus is in the document of Pope Innocent IV (1243-1254) in which  domum quam habuit inimicus Dei et Ecclesiae Federicus is given as a present to the commune of Montolmo.