By the early 13th century the use of seals in Northern Europe was a generalized phenomenon which involved society as a whole, crossing boundaries of gender, age, religion, and social and professional status. The function traditionally ascribed to seals is the validation of the documents to which they were affixed, but the phenomenon has far wider implications, as is brought out in this collection of studies by Brigitte Bedos-Rezak. In itself a seal could serve as a quasi-amuletic object or a personal adornment, the image impressed from it functioned as a sign conveying identity and power, and the ritual of sealing provided an occasion for the affirmation of status. In her work the author has aimed to use the approaches of statistics, cultural and women’s history and semiotics, as well as the ’traditional’ skills of art history, law and diplomatics, to show the numerous surviving seals can be used to reach into the history of the Middle Ages, and at the same time to explore and test the interpretative models suggested by semiotics and postmodern theories on symbols, representation and meaning.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Signes et insignes du pouvoir royal et seigneurial au Moyen Age: le témoignage des sceaux; Les sceaux au temps de Philippe Auguste; Idéologie royale, ambitions princières et rivalités politiques d’après le témoignage des sceaux (France, 1380-1461); The King enthroned, a new theme an Anglo-Saxon royal iconography: the seal of Edward the Confessor and its political implications; Suger and the symbolism of royal power: the seal of Louis VII; The social implications of the art of chivalry: the sigillographic evidence (France, 1050-1250); L’apparition des armoiries sur les sceaux en Ile-de-France et en Picardie (1130-1230); Sceaux seigneuriaux et structures sociales en Dauphiné de 1170 Ã 1349; Women, seals and power in medieval France, 1150-1350; Medieval women in French sigillographic sources; Les sceaux juifs franÃ§ais; Towns and seals: representation and signification in medieval France; Index to seal illustrations; general Index.