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.
"This is undeniably a significant book...a thought-provoking and impressive study which goes far to explain the overall shape and internal dynamics of the church constructed in the aftermath of Lateran IV"~R.N. Swanson, English Historical Review
"In this exhaustive and superbly researched monograph, Steven Schoenig shows how the history of a seemingly humble liturgical garment can be used to document the evolution of the papal-monarchic ecclesiology of medieval western Christendom… There is much to commend in Schoenig's work. His study is firmly grounded in a rich archive of canonical texts, papal registers, Ordines Romani and pontificals. Schoenig moves with ease across a wide range of documentary sources that demonstrate his expert grasp of complex materials...Schoenig has provided a great service to students of medieval liturgy who might be new to the field or who lack facility with the original Latin language... because of the impeccable scholarship and exhaustive treatment of the history and symbolism of the pallium, Schoneig's work will long be considered the definitive source for this subject."~Timothy M. Thibodeau, Nazareth College of Rochester, New York, Journal of Ecclesiastical History
"He convincingly argues that successive popes employed these gifts to cement bonds of obedience and expand the influence and authority of Rome over the Latin Church in the West, while simultaneously enhancing the prestige of their recipients…Schoenig justly finds pallium grants paradoxical… A broadly and thoroughly researched study, Bonds of Wool would be welcome in libraries collecting in medieval history."~Hans Rasmussen, Catholic Library World
"In this exhaustive and superbly researched monograph, Steven Schoenig shows how the history of a seemingly humble liturgical garment can be used to document the evolution of the papal-monarchic ecclesiology of medieval western Christendom…There is much to commend in Schoenig’s work. His study is firmly grounded in a rich archive of canonical texts, papal registers, Ordines romani and pontifical Schoenig moves with ease across a wide range of documentary sources that demonstrate his expert grasp of complex materials, be they canonical texts or allegorical liturgical expositions. A great strength of his analysis is an abundance of primary source quotations from sometimes cryptic or obtuse Latin texts that are rendered in clear and accessible English translations. Here Schoenig has provided a great service to students of medieval liturgy who might be new to the field or who lack facility with the original Latin language."~Timothy M. Thibodeau, Nazareth College of Rochester, New York, The Journal of Ecclesiastical History
"This book explores the astonishing extent of the influence of a vestment which came to embody considerable power…This is a monumental work, of immense learning and interest, into which are skilfully woven together both the threads of significant change and development in the history of the medieval papacy, and innumerable lively details of the forces shaping the lives and endeavours of the Metropolitans and other bishops of Western Europe. There is an extensive bibliography and index of papal letters and an index of canonical works, all adding to the value of the book as a definitive work of reference."~G.R. Evans, Provincial Council of the English Province of the Order of Preachers
" 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
"An outstanding and stimulating monograph. The small size and humble material of the object that is its focus belies the historical significance Schoenig reveals through his erudite analysis and exposition of the development of papal power across the early and central Middle Ages."~Church History
"Concentrating on the eighth to twelfth centuries, Bonds of Wool is engaging reading for students of church history and for others interested in the exercise of power."~First Things
"In this exhaustive and superbly researched monograph, Steven Schoenig shows how the history of a seemingly humble liturgical garment can be used to document the evolution of the papal-monarchic ecclesiology of medieval western Christendom...will long be considered the definitive source for this subject."~Journal of Ecclesiastical History
"This is a monumental work, of immense learning and interest, into which are skilfully woven together both the threads of significant change and development in the history of the medieval papacy, and innumerable lively details of the forces shaping the lives and endeavours of the Metropolitans and other bishops of Western Europe."~New Blackfriars
"Scholars and liturgical buffs will find much to learn and ponder in Bonds of Wool. This scholarly study gives a thorough history of the band of white wool — worn around the collar of residential archbishops even to the present day — and its ties to medieval culture and the era's papal influence."~Our Sunday Visitor
"Schoenig’s mastery of the source documents and insights into the archival habits of the papal chancery make Bonds of Wool of great value to historians, especially those focused on the history of the institutional church. Students of medieval gift exchange will also find this a rich source of inspiration."~Speculum