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Bologna Cope

The Bologna cope, late 13th - early 14th centuries, English. The Bologna cope, late 13th - early 14th centuries, English.

The Bologna cope is a late thirteenth to early fourteenth century cope that used to be in the church of San Domenico, Bologna (Italy), but is now in the Museo Civico Medievale, Bologna. The cope proper is still intact, but the orphrey and the vestigial hood are missing. It is 323 cm at its widest point and 147 cm high. It has been linked to the Dominican Pope, Benedict XI (r. 1303-1304)

The Bologna cope is decorated with rows illuminating the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary (including the Annunciation, the Massacre of the Innocents, the Presentation in the Temple, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection), but also the journey of the Magi and the death of St. Thomas Becket (1120-1170), who was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral. The cope also shows a large number of angels playing a vast array of musical instruments.

The cope is a good example of Opus Anglicanum. A particular detal is the simple, chevronned background, while a far more intricate foliate and geometric pattern had been drawn upon the cloth.

See also the Pienza cope

The Bologna cope was on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, for the exhibition 'Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of medieval English embroidery' (1 October 2016 - 5 February 2017).


  • BROWNE, Clare, Glyn DAVIES, and M.A. MICHAEL (2016). English Medieval Embroidery: Opus Anglicanum, exhibition catalogue, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, pp. 14, 32, 53, 55, 101 (Catalogue no. 38, pp. 176-179).
  • CHRISTIE, A.G.I. (1938), English Medieval Embroidery, Oxford: Claredone Press, pp. 159-161 (no. 86); pls. CXII-CXIII; fig. 133 
  • COATSWORTH, Elizabeth (2012). 'Bologna Cope', in: Gale Owen-Crocker, Elizabeth Coatsworth and Maria Hayward (eds.), Encyclopedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles of the British Isles, c. 450-1450, Brill: Leiden, pp. 82-83.
  • JOHNSTONE, Pamela (2002). High Fashion in the Church, Leeds: Maney, pp. 41, 49; fig. 37, 38, 43-45.

Digital sources:

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 5 June 2016)


Last modified on Wednesday, 01 February 2017 09:44