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Symbols of Power and Authority: The Iconography of Late Thirteenth-Century Chapter Houses

Symbols of Power and Authority: The Iconography of Late Thirteenth-Century Chapter Houses

Tyler, Michael

York Medieval Yearbook, ISSUE No. 1, (2002)

Abstract

In the context of his major study of Westminster Abbey, Paul Binski draws attention to the ways in which imagery, particularly Royal hagiography, may have served to help formulate and stabilise thirteenth century concepts of authority. To complement his analysis of the Abbey, he summarises the wider historical processes which led to the creation of separate meeting spaces for chapter assembly, how these spaces came to take over from the choir any practices which were not specifically liturgical, and how their iconographic schemes are notably diverse. Constructed in the second half of the thirteenth century, the Chapter House at Westminster was the first of a series which includes similar structures at Salisbury and York. If Binski’s analysis of the function of imagery during this period is correct, this series offers scope for a comparative study of one aspect of the iconography of power and authority within a common setting.

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