Clerical Clothing and Priestly Authority in Medieval Rome, 800-1200


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project traces the emergence of a strict new code of clerical dress in eleventh-century Rome and links this development to new models of authority in Western Europe based on the renunciation of violence. The new ideas and practices about clerical attire clearly demarcated clergy from laity, and constructed a sharp contrast between the plain black gown that clerics wore outside the sanctuary and the increasingly ornate liturgical vestments they donned in church. The study utilizes surviving textiles, images of the clergy in art, ecclesiastical architecture, legislation, theological tracts, and liturgical sources to chart the emergence of new visual models of priestly authority and to assess the broader influence of this clerical “look” on the representation of power in western society.