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Languedoc Seals - Personal, Municipal and Ecclesiastical Seals (Fr Sceaux).

A common way to proclaim the authenticity of a document in the Middle Ages was to attach a seal to it. Medieval seals were images carved into a matrix which, when pressed into a substance like warm wax, left behind a counter image of the picture on the seal. The image, usually with a legend written around it in Latin, identified the author of the document and was intended to prevent people from forging or tampering with official correspondence.

In an age when illiterate people needed to transact business, seals allowed people to declare their consent to an agreement even when they were unable to sign their own names.

For much of the early Middle Ages the use of seals was restricted to kings and popes. Many of these seals featured a head-portrait, often in a style emulating Imperial Roman and Byzantine seals and coinage. These evolved around 1000 A.D. into portraits featuring a seated monarch bearing indicators of his power (swords, scepters, orbs).

 

In the tenth century the use of seals spread to princes and, later, to bishops, with other ecclesiastical officials adopting seals in the twelfth century, with each rank adapting its own form of dignity-portrait. Many towns and monastic houses adopted the hagiological type of seal-design, featuring the patron saint in a full-length portrait. Two other kinds of seal-design that emerged in this period were the topographical type (featuring building portraits) and the cartographical type (featuring the plan of the town). These two types were frequently used by corporate entities such as monastic houses and towns. Two final kinds of seals frequently employed in the High and Late Middle Ages are the equestrian type (which may be civilian or military) and armorial seals, generally used only by the secular

Seals provide important tools for research in the history of the Middle Ages.

Personal Seals

Along with coins, they provide the most important source of official portraits of rulers. The style and associations of such portraits and the insignia and attributes associated with the effigies are often our most important source of knowledge for how these rulers wanted to be seen by their subjects, and by their neighbors and rivals.

Personal seal of Bertrand II, Count of Forcalquier. Reverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: St4512 bis

Date: 1168
Location: Forcalquier
Size: 57 mm

Description: Figure seated on a column, facing left but looking forwards, playing a stringed viol-like musical instrument in his left hand with a bow in his right.

Transcription: s[igillum] betrand[i] comitis forchalchaniensis (The Seal of Bertrand Count of Forcalquier)

 

Personal Seal of Marguerite of Provence, wife of Saint Louis, Obverse


Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D154

Date: 1294
Location: Paris
Size: 80 mm

Description: Queen standing, viewed from the front, crowned, in robe and mantle, holding a fleur de lis in the right hand (refpresenting France), framed in a gothic niche on two columns; with an angel's head sustaining the pedastal;

Appended to a 1294 charter by which the queen gave the Ursulines of Paris a house next to their convent

Transcription: margarete dei gratia francorum reg[ine]

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Personal seal of Raimond-Bérenger, Count of Provence, Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D1106

Date: 1234
Location: Provence
Size: 87 mm

Description: Equestrian in profile to the left, holding a sword and a shield;

Appended to an April 1234 letter of the count of Provence to the king of France regarding the castle of Tarascon

Transcription: sigillum ra[im]vndi berengeri

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Personal seal of Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse, Reverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D744 bis

Date: 1218
Location: Toulouse
Size: 80 mm

Description: Count on horseback, turning toward the left, lance at ready, the cross of Toulouse on his shield and his horse's cloth; to the right of his head, a star; to the left, a crescent moon;

Appended to the April 1228 treaty of Paris between the Count and King Louis IX of France (St. Louis)

Transcription: sigillum raimundi dei gracia [c]omitis tholose (Seal of Raymond by the Grace of God Count of Toulouse)

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

Arms of the Counts of Toulouse. Click for a larger image in a new window. Click on the following link for more on Raymond VII of Toulouse

Click on the following link for more on The House of Toulouse

Click on the following link for more on The Arms of Raymond VII of Toulouse

Click on the following link for more on The Cross of Toulouse

 

Personal Seal of Roger IV of Foix, Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D664

Date: 1241
Location: Foix
Size: 60 mm

Description: Equestrian with the arms of Foix, to the left of a shield with three lozenges in in chief;

Appended to an hommage of Roger of Foix to the king of France

Transcription: sigillum rogerii de fuxo (Seal of Roger of Foix)

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

Click on the following link for more on Roger IV of Foix

Click on the following link for more on The House of Foix

Click on the following link for more on The arms of Foix

 

Personal Seal of Roger IV, Count of Foix, Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D663A

Date: 1241
Location: Foix
Size: 75 mm

Description: Knight facing left, in armor with sword raised; horse in armor, springing;

Appended to an hommage of the count to the king of France

Transcription: s[igillum] r... fuxi eguile comitis c..gri..ni

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

Click on the following link for more on Roger IV of Foix

Click on the following link for more on The House of Foix

Click on the following link for more on The arms of Foix

 

Personal First Seal of King Louis IX of France (Saint Louis), Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D41

Date: 1240
Location: Paris
Size: 80 mm

Description: Image of majesty; appended to the 1240 charter of the dower of the queen Blanche

Transcription: ludovicus d[e]i gra[cia] f[r]ancorum rex (Louis by the Grace of God King of France)

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

Click on the following link for more on King Louis IX of France

Click on the following link for more on The House of France

Click on the following link for more on The Arms of France

 

Personal Seal of Simon IV de Montfort, Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D708

Date: 1211
Location: Southwestern France
Size: mm

Description: Horseman riding to hunt, with horn raised and hound alongside, image of rose behind

Transcription: sigill[um] simonis de monteforti (Seal of Simon de Montfort)

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868

MontfortClick on the following link for more on Simon de Montfort

Click on the following link for more on The Arms of Simon de Montfort

 

Personal Seal of Raymond Trencavel II (1204-1263), Viscount of Béziers, Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D760

Date: 1247
Location: Languedoc
Size: 80 mm

Description: Equestrian in profile to the left, holding in the left hand a sword;

Appended to an act of April 1247 ceding his lordship over Béziers and Carcassonne to Louis IX, Saint Louis. A year later his seal was broken, signifying his total loss of power to the French King.

Transcription: s[igillum] sinditvelli vicecomiti[s] biterensis et d[omini carcasson]e

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

The coat of arms of the House of TrencavelClick on the following link for more on Raymond Trencavel II, Viscount of Béziers

Click on the following link for more on The House of Trencavel

Click on the following link for more on The Arms of Raymond II of Beziers

 

Personal Seal of Raymond Trencavel II (1204-1263), Viscount of Béziers, Reverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D760 bis

Date: 1247
Location: Languedoc
Size: 80 mm

Description: Equestrian in profile to the left, holding in the left hand a mace;

Appended to an act of April 1247 ceding his lordship over Béziers and Carcassonne to Louis IX, Saint Louis. A year later his seal was broken, signifying his total loss of power to the French King.

Transcription: s[igillum sinditvelli] vicecomiti[s] biterensis et domini carcas[s]one

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

The coat of arms of the House of TrencavelClick on the following link for more on Raymond Trencavel II, Viscount of Béziers

Click on the following link for more on The House of Trencavel

Click on the following link for more on The Arms of Raymond II of Beziers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Municipal Seals and other Corporate Seals

The seals of corporations (such as towns, universities, and guilds) reveal what their governing bodies saw as most important, and the changes of general design tell us about their relationship to the milieu in which they functioned. They often show the town itself, some of its important buildings, its ruler or patron saint.

Seal of the Crafts of Arles, reverse

Holding Institution: Archives Nationales (Paris), Catalog number: D5919 bis

Date: 18th C
Location: Arles
Size: 78 mm

Guild seal of the Crafts of Arles

Description: Fortified city flying two banners with the image of an eagle

Transcription: s[igillum] vrbs arelatensis est hostibvs hostis et ensis

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal seal of Alès, Obverse

Holding Institution: Archives Nationales (Paris), Catalog number: D5607

Date: 1303
Location: Languedoc
Size: 35 mm

Description: A wing;

Appended to an act of July 1303: adherence to the case of Boniface VIII

Transcription: Sigillum consvlvm de alesto

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal seal of Avignon
First Common Seal of Avignon, Obverse

Holding Institution: Archives Nationales (Paris), Catalog number: D5499

Date: 1226-1234
Location: Avignon
Size: 43 mm

Description: A bridge of five arches spanning a river; a crenellated fortress with three gates and two towers; in the center, a lantern-tower surmounted by a cupola with a cross;

Appended to several acts: May 1226, promise of the Podestas of Avignon to return to the Count of Toulouse Beaucaire and the Venaissin; March 1234, sale by the syndics of Avignon of the house of the Friars Minor (Franciscans) situated in the parish of Saint-Pierre

Transcription: sigillum comunis avinionensis

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal seal of Béziers
First Seal of Béziers, Obverse

Holding Institution: Archives Nationales (Paris), Catalog number: D5614

Date: 1226
Location: Béziers
Size: 74 mm

Description: Knight on horseback wearing a conical hemlet, a mail coat, a sword in its scabbard, a lance with pennant in its rest, his shield and the horse's covering bearing arms;

Apended to an act of April 1226: promise of the inhabitants of Béziers to obey the king and the legate in the matter of the Albigenses

Transcription: [...] comune civi[tatis biterr]icensiu[m...]

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal seal of Castres
First Seal of Castres, Obverse

Holding Institution: Archives Nationales (Paris), Catalog number: D5628

Date: 13th C
Location: Languedoc
Size: 55 mm

Description: Fortified city; a defensive wall with two closed gates; behind, a triangular belfry and a square tower with two bays, on either side of a dome with a cross;

Appended to an act of the 13th century, year unspecified: promise of the city of Castres to obey the king and the pope in the case of the Albigenses.

Transcription: [...c]omunie ville castre[n]sis

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal seal of Castres
First Seal of Castres, reverse

Holding Institution: Archives Nationales (Paris), Catalog number: D5628 bis

Date: 13th C
Location: Languedoc
Size: 55 mm

Description: Saint Vincent, haloed, seated, viewed from the front, in chasuble, right hand raised in benediction and left hand holding a Greek cross; between the moon and the sun (or stars ?);

Appended to an act of the 13th century, year unspecified: promise of the city of Castres to obey the king and the pope in the case of the Albigenses

Transcription: s[igillum] beati vincencii d[e] cast[ris]

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal seal of Castres
Second Seal of Castres, reverse

Holding Institution: Archives Nationales (Paris), Catalog number: D5629 bis

Date: 1303
Location: Languedoc
Size: 61 mm

Description: Saint Vincent, half-length, coming out of a shrine decorated with nine arches, wearing a toque, dressed in a close-fitting tunic, a rod with a crucifix in the left hand, the right hand raised; appended to an act of July 1303: adherence to the case of Boniface VIII

Transcription: ymago corporis..... [vin]centii

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal seal of Castres
Second Seal of Castres, Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris), Catalog number: D5629

Date: 1303
Location: Languedoc
Size: 61 mm

Description: Church viewed in profile, with a belfry at the end and a lantern tower of three storeys at the center; appended to an act of July 1303: adherence to the case of Boniface VIII

Transcription: sigillum un[iversitati]s burgi castren[sis]

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal seal of Marseille
Grand Seal of Marseille, Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: St4503

Date: 1243
Location: Marseille
Size: 81 mm

Description: Saint Victor on his horse, haloed, holding a sword and a shield with a cross, crushing the Tarasque; appended to an act of June 1243: oath prepared by the people of Marseille to observe the peace treaty between themselves and Raymond Beranger V

Transcription: massili[am] vere victor cives q[ue] tue[re]

Reference: Bedos, Brigitte. Corpus des sceaux français du moyen age. Paris : The Archives : [Diffusé par La Documentation Française], 1980-.

 

Municipal seal of Marseille
Grand Seal of Marseille, reverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: St4503 bis

Date: 1243
Location: Marseille
Size: 81 mm

Description: Fortified city at the edge of the sea; crenellated fortification with three gates; in the interior, three towers, crenellated and pierced by windows;

Appended to an act of June 1243: oath prepared by the people of Marseille to observe the peace treaty between themselves and Raymond Beranger V

Transcription: actib[us] immensis urbis fvlget massiliensis

Reference: Bedos, Brigitte. Corpus des sceaux français du moyen age. Paris : The Archives : [Diffusé par La Documentation Française], 1980-.

 

MunicipalSeal of Montsalve, Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris),
Catalog number: D5466

Date: 1308
Location: Auvergne
Size: 50 mm

Description: Chevronny mountain with a tree;

Appended to an act of April 1308: nomination by the consuls of Montsalvy of their proxies to the assembly of 1308 regarding the matter of the Templars

[legend missing]

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal Seal of Narbonne
Second Seal of the City of Narbonne, Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris),
Catalog number: D5651

Date: 1231-1243
Location: Languedoc
Size: 70 mm

Description: Virgin haloed, seated and viewed from the front, holding the Infant, also haloed and holding a cross;

Appended to several acts: December 1231: transcription by a notary public of Narbonne of letters of 28 April 1222 by which the legate of the Pope, Conrad, bishop of Porto, excommunicated the inhabitants of the surrounding villages who had damaged cultivated lands of the city during the war of Jesus Christ; April 1243: oath of fidelity to the king by the consuls and inhabitants of Narbonne

Transcription: [si]gillum pacis civium narbonen[sium]

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal Seal of Narbonne
Second Seal of the City of Narbonne, reverse

Archives Nationales (Paris),
Catalog number: D5651 bis

Date: 1231-1243
Location: Narbonne
Size: 70 mm

Description: Paschal lamb, haloed, with a cross; transcription by a notary public of Narbonne of letters of 28 April 1222 by which the legate of the Pope, Conrad, bishop of Porto, excommunicated the inhabitants of the surrounding villages who had damaged cultivated lands of the city during the war of Jesus Christ; April 1243: oath of fidelity to the king by the consuls and inhabitants of Narbonne

Transcription: [...] qui tollis peccata mundi dona nobis [p]ac[em]

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal seal of Nîmes
Second Seal of the City of Nîmes, Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris),
Catalog number: D5658

Date: 1303
Location: Nîmes
Size: 62 mm

Description: Four figures standing, dressed in tunics and surcoats, with caps, three facing front and the right figure in profile;

Appended to an act of July 1303: adherence to the case of Boniface VIII

Transcription: [si]gillum consulum civitatis n[em]aus[i]

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal seal of Pamiers
First Seal of Pamiers, reverse

Archives Nationales (Paris),
Catalog number: D5554 bis

Date: 1267
Location: Southwestern France
Size: 78 mm

Description: Head and arm of a man coming out of a boat on the waves; a crossed mast without sails but flying a banner; on each tip of the boat, a bird (life of St. Antoninus);

Appended to an act of August 1267: procuration agreement of the inhabitants of Pamiers to treat for peace with the king of France

Transcription: signum passionis sancti antonini

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal seal of Penne-d'Agenais
Seal of Penne-d'Agenais, reverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D5571 bis

Date: 1754
Location: Guyenne
Size: 65 mm

Description: Toulouse cross;

Appended to an act of March 1244: promise of the consuls and inhabitants of Penne-d'Agenais to preserve the peace established between the king and the Count of Toulouse

Transcription: sigillum concilii penne ave

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal seal Puylaurens
Second Seal of Puylaurens, Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D5666

Date: 14th C
Location: Languedoc
Size: 55 mm

Description: Hill planted with a laurel; detached seal

Transcription: s[igillum] consulum castri po[dii laur]encii

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal Seal of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D5852

Date: 1303-1308
Location: Auvergne
Size: 83 mm

Description: longitudinal view of a church, a bell tower with a cross and three windows over the door of the transept and a nave with three windows and a porch; in the field, the sun and a fleur de lis; appended to several acts: a July 1303 adherence to the case of Boniface VIII; nomination by the consuls of Saint-Antonin of their deputies to the assembly of 1308 regarding the affair of the Templars

Transcription: s[igillum] comunis consilii ville nobilis vallis

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal seal Toulouse
Third Grand Seal of Toulouse, Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D5682

Date: 1243
Location: Toulouse
Size: 85 mm

Description: On the left, a crenellated castle with three towers (representing the Chateau Narbonais); on the right, a façade with two gates, an open gallery of four storeys surmounted by a cross and flanked by two small towers with crosses (representing the Jacobin church);

Appended to an act of February 1243: solemn oath of the consuls of Toulouse to observe the peace settled between Louis IX King of France and Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse

Transcription: ...consulum vi[ll]e tolos[e...]

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal seal of Toulouse
Fourth Grand Seal of Toulouse, Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D5683

Date: 1303
Location: Toulouse
Size: 85 mm

Description: On the left, a fortified castle with three crenellated towers; on the right, a façade with two gates, an open gallery of four storeys surmounted by a cross, slightly smaller than the façade in D5682;

Appended to an act of August 1303: adherence to the case of Boniface VIII

Transcription: s[igillum] c[onsu]lum urbis tolo[se...]

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

Municipal Seal of Vierzon, Obverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D5471

Date: 1308
Location: Southwestern France
Size: 45 mm

Description: Quartered shield; appended to an act of May 1308: nomination by the commune of Vierzon of their proxies at the assemblyof 1308 regarding the matter of the Templars

Transcription: [...]ni virsione[...]

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ecclesiastical seals

Ecclesiastical seals are a useful source of informaion about the ways in which abbots and bishops saw their relationship to their line managers, and how religious corporations saw their relationship to their patrons (earthly or heavenly). These patrons were represented in increasingly complex arrangements over time.

Ecclesiastical seal of the Chapter of St-Trophime of Arles, reverse

Archives Nationales (Paris)
Catalog number: D7104 bis

Date: 1214
Location: Arles
Size: 40 mm

Description: Façade of a church; appended to an act of February 1214

Transcription: ecclesia s[an]c[t]i trophimi

Reference: Douët-d'Arcq, L. Collection de sceaux. Paris : H. Plon, 1863-1868.

 

 

 

 

More about French Seals from http://nd.edu/~medvllib/seals/

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Cross of Toulouse.
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