A World of Investiture

  • Stewart Gordon
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


At its most general, investiture involves re-clothing a person in special garments for an occasion before an audience that acknowledges and celebrates the new and “suitable” persona. Today, if we think of investiture at all, what comes to mind are coronations of European royalty and the ceremonial surrounding the installation of a new pope. A bit more consideration, however, brings investiture much closer to home. Judges and academics are robed, as are barristers in England. Recall that brides are dressed in a once-only gown and “shown” in it before an approving audience. Catholic clergy receive robes for their ranks and change them for various occasions. The Masonic orders use elaborate robes to designate ranks and functions. Some Jewish rabbis don robes for services. A bit further afield, robes would probably be given to the architect on completion of a building in Saudi Arabia. All of these investitures have roots that go well back into the Middle Ages where, as we shall see, robes were far more than “apparel.” The ceremony surrounding robes brought together the high art of luxury fabrics and the high-stakes politics of kingship.


Middle East Silk Road Incense Smoke Catholic Clergy Byzantine Empire 
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© Stewart Gordon 2001

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  • Stewart Gordon

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