Bonds of Wool
The Pallium and Papal Power in the Middle Ages
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
"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
Other Titles from Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Canon Law
Other Titles in RELIGION / Christianity / Catholic