Seals and their context in the Middle Ages

Schofield, P. (ed)

Hardback, 206 pp. Richly illustrated. Oxbow 2015.

Seals and their Context in the Middle Ages offers an extensive overview of approaches to and the potential of sigillography, as well as introducing a wider readership to the range, interest and artistry of medieval seals. Seals were used throughout medieval society in a wide range of contexts: royal, governmental, ecclesiastical, legal, in trade and commerce and on an individual and personal level. The fourteen papers presented here, which originate from a conference held in Aberystwyth in April 2012, focus primarily on British material but there is also useful reference to continental Europe. The volume is divided into three sections looking at the history and use of seals as symbols and representations of power and prestige in a variety of institutional, dynastic and individual contexts, their role in law and legal practice, and aspects of their manufacture, sources and artistic attributes. Importantly and distinctively, the volume moves beyond the study of high status seals to consider such themes as the social and economic status of seal-makers, the nature and meaning – including reflections of deliberate wit and boastfulness – of specific motifs employed at various levels of society, and the distribution of seals in relation to the location of, for instance, religious institutions and along major routeways. In so doing, it sets out ways in which sigillography can open new pathways into the study of non-elites and their cultures in medieval society.


Introduction, Phillip Schofield
1. This is a seal, P. D. Harvey

I. Seals, status and power
    2. The seals of King Henry II and his Court, Nicholas Vincent
    3. The declaration on the Norman Church (1205): a study in Norman sigillography, Daniel           Power
    4. Making an impression: seals as signifiers of individual and collective rank in the upper           aristocracy in England and the Empire in the 13th and 14th centuries, Jörg Peltzer
    5. Making a mark in medieval London: the social and economic status of seal-makers,             John McEwan

II. Seals, law and practice
    6. Seals and stars. Law, magic, and the bureaucratic process (12th–13th centuries),                 Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak
    7. Governmental seals of Richard I, Adrian Ailes
    8. Seals and the law in 13th century England, P. Brand
    9. Iustitia, notaries and lawyers: legal sealing in medieval Italy, John Cherry
   10. Family identity: the seals of the Longespées, B. Kemp

III. Seals, sources and their contexts
   11. Conformity and divergence: motifs on personal seals in medieval Wales, Elizabeth New
   12. Imaging the Glorious Past. The 13th century Common Seal of Ely Cathedral Priory and         its artistic contexts, Markus Spaeth
   13. Putting seals on the map: Francis Blomefield’s Plan of the City of Norwich, 1746, and           the construction of civic identity, T. A. Heslop and Matthew Sillence
   14. Medieval seal finds in Wales and their context, David Williams
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