throne, chair of state or the seat of a high dignitary. The throne was at first a stool or bench and later became an ornate armchair, usually raised on a dais and surmounted by a canopy. Often lavishly decorated, thrones have been made of a variety of materials, including wood, stone, ivory, and precious metals. Ancient Greek thrones were simple in form, with rectangular or curving legs and rosette adornments; they were adapted by the Etruscans, who made them more comfortable, and also by the Romans, who made them more ornate. The thrones of the East were usually more elaborate and fantastic in conception than those of Europe. In ancient times the Indian throne was a combined throne-altar, serving both a royal and a religious purpose. Thrones of the Renaissance in Europe were heavily ornamented with precious stones. Napoleon's throne was a gilded chair displaying eagles, lions, and other symbols. The throne of Great Britain is an oak chair in the House of Lords. At St. Peter's in Rome is the bronze papal throne designed by Bernini. The throne of a bishop is called a cathedra and the church in which it is maintained is thus a cathedral.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.