Maureen Miller

Clerical Clothing in Medieval Europe, c. 800-1200
Spring 2012

Maureen C. Miller is a historian of medieval Europe with a particular interest in Italy.  She earned her Ph.D. in 1989 from Harvard University, where she studied with the distinguished social and economic historian, David Herlihy.  Her first book, The Formation of a Medieval Church:  Ecclesiastical Change in Verona, 950-1150 (Cornell University Press, 1993), won the American Catholic Historical Association's John Gilmary Shea prize for the best book on Catholic history published that year.  Her second book, The Bishop's Palace:  Architecture and Authority in Medieval Italy  (Cornell University Press, 2000), was awarded the 2001 Helen and Howard R. Marraro Prize of the Society for Italian Historical Studies for the best book in Italian history.  After teaching at Hamilton College and George Mason University, she joined the history department at the University of California, Berkeley in 2004.  

Clerical Clothing in Medieval Europe, c. 800-1200 traces the emergence of new forms of clerical dress in the late Carolingian era that were linked both to the development of a novel spirituality of priestly virtue and to the assertion of new models of authority in Western Europe during the age of the investiture conflict.  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 style of liturgical vestments they donned in church.  The book utilizes surviving textiles, images of the clergy (in frescoes, mosaics, manuscript illuminations), 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.