October 25, 2016
8.50 Inches (US)
5.50 Inches (US)
2 Pounds (US)
$75.00 USD
v2.1 Reference

Bonds of Wool

The Pallium and Papal Power in the Middle Ages

In the pallium the medieval papacy created a mechanism of control over the far-flung bishops of the Latin church, a prerogative by which the popes shared honor and power with local prelates—and simultaneously wielded power over them. Contributing to the sway and oversight of the Roman church, this vestment became part of the machinery of centralization that helped produce the high medieval papal monarchy.

The pallium was effective because it was a gift with strings attached. This band of white wool encircling the shoulders had been a papal insigne and liturgical vestment since late antiquity. It grew in prominence when the popes began to bestow it regularly on other bishops as a mark of distinction and a sign of their bond to the Roman church. Bonds of Wool analyzes how, through adroit manipulation, this gift came to function as an instrument of papal influence. It explores an abundant array of evidence from diverse genres—including chronicles and letters, saints' lives and canonical collections, polemical treatises and liturgical commentaries, and hundreds of papal privileges—stretching from the eighth century to the thirteenth and representing nearly every region of Western Europe. These sources reveal that the papal conferral of the pallium was an occasion for intervening in local churches throughout the West and a means of examining, approving, and even disciplining key bishops, who were eventually required to request the pallium from Rome.

The history of the pallium provides an enlightening window on medieval culture. Through it one can perceive how medieval society expressed beliefs and relationships through artifacts and customs, and one can retrieve the aims and attitudes underlying medieval rituals and symbols. Following the story of this simple material object sheds light on some of the ways medieval people structured their society, exercised authority, and communicated ideas and values.

About the Author

Steven A. Schoenig, SJ is assistant professor of history at Saint Louis University


"Bonds of Wool is the fascinating story of the pallium (pall) in the Latin church, a narrow band of woolen cloth worn around the neck usually by metropolitans and Y- or T-shaped in appearance. Linked to St. Peter, it was a specifically papal insigne and was originally granted by the pontiff as a sign of friendship. This pathbreaking study shows how, why, and when the pallium was transformed from an honorary liturgical adornment to the means of controlling a far-flung ecclesiastical hierarchy by the papacy. As such it will be of profound interest to anyone in the different fields of medieval history, politics, art, and liturgy. –"—Uta Renate Blumenthal, The Catholic University of America

"In this incisive and erudite book, Steven Schoenig lucidly narrates how a simple piece of wool became a badge of power and an implement of ecclesiastical authority. Readers will discover new insights into the birth of papal monarchy and the complex meanings material artifacts generate."—Maureen C. Miller, author of Clothing the Clergy: Virtue and Power in Medieval Europe, c. 800-1200

"It is a mere band of wool, but also a liturgical garment, a badge of ecclesiastical office, and a papal insigne — the pallium is all of these and more. Dr. Schoenig's book is the first modern monograph in English to treat this multi-faceted emblem and is also the most probing work on the subject in any language. From obscure origins in Antiquity, this woolen ornament became a much-desired papal gift for metropolitans in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. From the mid-eleventh century and on into the twelfth, the pallium became a formidable 'tool' of the Papal Reform movements that were sweeping through the Latin church. The story told by Dr. Schoenig is new, weaving together a history of a vestment and symbol that was infused with liturgical meaning, legal import, and religion's power. –"—Robert Somerville, Columbia University

9780813229225 : bonds-of-wool-schoenig
544 Pages
$75.00 USD

Other Titles from Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Canon Law

The Hibernensis, Book 2

Roy Flechner
Oct 2019 - The Catholic University of America Press
$45.00 USD - Paperback / softback

The Hibernensis, Book 1

Roy Flechner
Sep 2019 - The Catholic University of America Press
$85.00 USD - Hardback

The Uses of the Dead

Caroline R. Sherman
Jun 2018 - The Catholic University of America Press
$75.00 USD - Hardback

Other Titles in RELIGION / Christianity / Catholic

The Face of the Lord

Steven C. Smith
Aug 2020 - Franciscan University Press
$65.00 USD - Hardback

The Mystical Theology, by Dionysius the Areopagite

William Riordan
Aug 2020 - Sapientia Press Ave Maria Univ
$34.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Fundamental Rights and Conflict among Rights

Mary Ann Glendon
Aug 2020 - Franciscan University Press
$65.00 USD - Hardback