Charles V RCharles V|R is a virtual reality reconstruction of the coronation of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in Bologna, Italy, in February of 1530. The details of his coronation reflect the social and political turmoil of the times. Charles V|R is a recreation of the sights and sounds of this religious and political ceremony using contemporaneous accounts, artwork, and music as source material. Complete with direct access to the scholarly and archival sources that informed our choices, Charles V|R offers enthusiasts of art, architecture, history, music, religion, and virtual reality as well as students and scholars of those disciplines a multi-modal window into an event of world-historical importance.

Experience the event from multiple perspectives — that of member of the imperial/papal court, a basilica official, or a Bolognese citizen. Hear music performed during the ceremony as recorded by Ensemble Origo. Call up scholarly annotations to explore the layers of meaning embedded in the art, architecture, and various ceremonial objects present in the scene.

The event itself was very significant. This was the last time an emperor was crowned by a sitting pope in the manner of Charlemagne’s coronation by Leo III in the year 800 — a ritual that had been emulated for 730 years. Amid increasing power of the Ottoman Empire to the east, the subjugation of the New World to the west, and the rise of Protestantism within Europe itself, the political situation was delicate: Charles could not be crowned in Rome, because Protestant German mercenaries he employed in a conflict with France had sacked the Eternal City three years earlier. This context informed the planning and execution of the ceremony, which had to conform to tradition but also reflect the political realities of the day. First and foremost among the scholarly research that underpins the project is the work of Dr. Eric Rice, who reconstructed the music performed at the coronation, allowing it to be recorded and performed by Ensemble Origo, a group which Dr. Rice conducts. The result is a product that conveys for the user much more than reading a prose narrative: a visual, aural, and spatial experience of the event itself with the aim of conveying the complex historical moment of the coronation of Charles V.

Project Team: 

  • Jonathan Ampiaw / Graduate Research Assistant, Digital Media & Design Department
  • Shawn Chen / Undergraduate Research Assistant, Digital Media & Design Department
  • Lauren Ciulla / Design Intern, Digital Media & Design Department
  • Brooke Foti Gemmell / Design Technologist, Greenhouse Studios
  • Ryan Freeland / Graduate Research Assistant, Digital Media & Design Department
  • Eri Lauer / Undergraduate Research Assistant, Digital Media & Design Department
  • Tom Lee / Design Technologist, Greenhouse Studios
  • Tim Miller / Greenhouse Studios Mellon Design Fellow
  • Alex Mueller / Undergraduate Research Assistant, Digital Media & Design Department
  • Lily Pashapour / Design Intern, Digital Media & Design Department
  • Dan Pejril / Assistant Professor in Residence, Digital Media & Design Department
  • Eric Rice / Department Head, Music Department
  • Tom Scheinfeldt / Director, Greenhouse Studios
  • Michael Young / Humanities Librarian and Adjunct Lecturer in Art History

Current Phase in the Design Process