Book Series Art History (Outside a Series)

Medieval Coins and Seals: Constructing Identity, Signifying Power

Susan Solway (ed)

  • Pages: 547 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:269 b/w, 42 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2015

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54344-4
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-54417-5
  • E-book
  • Available

This volume collects a series of essays on the function and importance of medieval coins and seals.



«Avec cette publication, Susan Solway a donc parfaitement atteint son but: montrer comment les sceaux et les monnaies agissent comme vecteurs de sens dans les cultures médiévales, qu’ils ont contribué à façonner. Ce volume, richement illustré, a de plus l’immense intérêt d’aborder une large aire géographique, puisque les cultures islamiques et byzantines sont elles aussi évoquées. L’équilibre entre les deux disciplines est, en outre, parfaitement respecté» (Marie-Adélaïde Nielen, dans Francia-Recensio, 2, 2016)


Medieval Coins and Seals: Constructing Identity, Signifying Power showcases these objects as intrinsic and highly significant aspects of medieval visual culture, and contributes to an understanding of the many ways in which they functioned as conveyors of meaning in Western European, Islamic, and Byzantine cultures from the fifth to the fifteenth century. The essays presented here, by art historians, numismatists, sigillographers, and historians on a wide variety of coins and seals, afford fresh insight into these tantalizing relics of medieval art and the vibrant cultural roles they played at the time of their creation. Through their images and inscriptions, they conveyed complex cultural attitudes by means of sophisticated visual strategies carefully constructed to further the subjective agendas of rulers and − in the case of seals − of aristocrats, ordinary individuals, towns, corporations, and government officials. The messages conveyed by these tightly controlled objects were, above all, ones of authority, identity, and legitimacy, with goals or subtexts that included the politics of self- presentation; the construction of personal, civic, national and cultural identity; the advertisement of dynastic succession; and much more. As forceful modes of visual discourse designed to carry calculated, at times propagandistic, communications to broadly dispersed audiences, coins and seals actively served during these centuries as sociocultural agents that helped mold public opinion (as they had in antiquity), and thereby shaped the medieval world.


Introduction (Susan Solway)

Part One: Crossroads in Medieval Studies: Sigillography, Numismatics, and Art History

Medieval Identity: A Sign and a Concept (Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak)

Coins, Images, Identity, and Interpretations: Two Research Cases—a Seventh-Century Merovingian Tremissis and a Fifteenth-Century Ducat of Milan (Lucia Travaini)

Part Two: Striking Identity and Minting Politics in Medieval Europe and the Middle East

Strategies of Representation: Minting the Vandal Regnum (Guido Berndt)

Coins as Agents of Cultural Definition in Islam (David J. Wasserstein)

A Byzantine Pedigree: The Design of Coins and Seals in the Latin East (Lisa Mahoney)

Classical Revival in Twelfth-Century Jazira: Religion–Humanism on Contemporary Coins (Wayne Sayles)

Reflections of Coinage: The Imago Clipeus on the West Façade of Le Mans (Susan Leibacher Ward)

Part Three: Medieval Women: Coining Identity and Sealing Power

Displaying Identity and Power? The Coins of Byzantine Empresses between 804 and 1204 (Liz James)

Money, Power, and Women: An Inquiry into Early Anglo-Saxon Coinage (Anna Gannon)

Swords, Seals, and Coins: Female Rulers and the Instruments of Authority in Thirteenth-Century Flanders and Hainaut (Erin L. Jordan)

Bede’s Ladies: Images of Anglo-Saxon Holy Women on Thirteenth-Century Seals (Kay Slocum)

Seals, Gender, Identity, and Social Status in the Late Twelfth and Early Thirteenth Centuries in Wales (Sue Johns)

Part Four: Sealing Civic, Urban, Rural and Corporate Identity in Western Medieval Europe

Seals of Cities and Towns: Concepts of Choice? (John Cherry)

The Common Seal and Communal Identity in Medieval London (Elizabeth New)

The Formation of a Sealing Society: London in the Twelfth Century (John McEwan)

Art for New Corporations: Seal Imagery of French Urban Communities in the Thirteenth Century (Markus Späth)

Seals and the Peasant Economy in England and Marcher Wales, ca. 1300 (Phillipp Schofield)

Part Five: Miniature yet Mighty: Coins, Seals, Medieval Art and Material Culture

Medieval Seals: Image and Truth (James Robinson)

The Mystic Lamb of Ghent: Alderman's Seal, Altarpiece, and Tableau Vivant (Jesse D. Hurlbut)

Vestiary Identity in Twelfth-Century Seals (Janet E. Snyder)

Ancient Coins and their Afterlife: Numismatic Passages into Medieval Art and Material Culture (Susan Solway)

Muslim Coins of the Crusader Period in a Renaissance Collection: Premature Medievalism or Mistaken Identity (John Cunnally)