All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Heather McPherson

Advisory Committee Members

Jessica Dallow

Tanja Jones

Mindy Nancarrow

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


During its nearly eighty year sojourn in Avignon during the fourteenth century, the papacy experienced many threats to its legitimacy, both religious and secular. In an effort to maintain a powerful and dominant visual presence, the papacies in Avignon created magnificent funerary monuments that communicated claims of legitimacy. In contrast with the goals of previous popes to exemplify temperance and piety in their tombs, popes of the fourteenth century displayed power. The history of papal tomb sculpture is defined by a gradual, yet inevitable, trend towards propaganda and the pursuit of secular authority. The tomb of Pope John XXII represents the political goals of the papacy during the fourteenth century. Through the synthesis of foreign and secular elements, the papacy sought to greatly magnify its secular influence and authority. By appropriating elements common in royal French and English tombs, John XXII created a new visual language that embodied his vision for the Church and influenced papal tomb sculpture for centuries. The Avignon Period has been ignored and reviled by scholars and historians of this period in Catholic history for its perceived emphasis on materialism and secularism, as well as accusations of heresy. Despite this past dismissal the tombs of Avignon were highly influential to papal funerary monuments that came after. These once-forgotten works not only embody the new secular emphasis that would characterize the papacy during the Renaissance and Baroque periods, but are aesthetically unique. The papal tombs of Avignon merit attention both for their artistic and historical significance.



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