Sorrow, masculinity, and papal authority in the writing of Pope Innocent III (1198–1216) and his curia

Kirsty Day*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article examines how Pope Innocent III (1198–1216) and his curia used emotions to communicate the supreme authority of the pope through a gendered order of knowledge and feeling in letters. Innocent and his curia worked codes of masculinity into an emotional regime of excellence and spiritual possibility, one that excluded women and femininity and enabled the derogation of feminised forms of spiritual authority. Focusing on Innocent and his curia's use of sorrowful emotions, it traces how Innocent interpreted emotions evoked by earthly frustrations as feminine, and a threat to papal primacy and the authority of the exclusively male, clerical hierarchy on which it stood. Understanding how the pope did so helps us to make sense of how he guarded the papal office as the exclusive preserve of men, as well as how the practice of emotion shaped the communication of hegemonic masculine power in the Middle Ages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-226
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Medieval History
Issue number2
Early online date15 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Pope Innocent III (1198-1216)
  • papal authority
  • history of emotions
  • masculinity
  • gender
  • sorrow
  • papal letters


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