Medieval Identity: A Sign and a Concept

by Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak
Citation
Title:
Medieval Identity: A Sign and a Concept
Author:
Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak
Year: 
2000
Publication: 
The American Historical Review
Volume: 
105
Issue: 
5
Start Page: 
1489
End Page: 
1533
Publisher: 
Language: 
English
URL: 
Select license: 
Select License
DOI: 
PMID: 
ISSN: 
Abstract:

Medieval Identity: A Sign and a Concept

BRIGITTE MIRIAM BEDOS-REZAK

INTHE TWO CENTURIES following the turn of the first millennium, literate individuals in Western Europe rarely if ever resorted to mediated expression, to indirect communication by means of the written word, without expressing some sense of the absence of immediacy, that is, of personal presence. When Bishop Arnulf of Lisieux

(d. 1181) could not attend a council in London, he sent a letter "so that the page might take the place of his person and the letter might faithfully bring his voice to life."l Slightly earlier, Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153) sought to reassure his correspondents about the authenticity and representativeness of two letters to which he was unable to affix his seal. In one letter, he wrote: "I do not have my seal handy, but the reader will recognize the style because I myself have dictatid the letter."2 The other letter states: "May the discursive structure stand for the seal, which I do not have handy."3 Bernard expects readers to notice his personal presence, however immaterial, within the fabric of the text, through its style and diction. His secretary and biographer, Geoffrey of Clairvaux (or of Auxerre, d. after 1188), emphasized this conflation of person and text by entitling Chapter 8 of his biography: "On St. Bernard's writings and the image of his soul expressed in them."4

Bernard's and Arnulf's letters reveal two closely related assumptions, that there

Earlier versions of this essay were presented at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (December 1996), at Princeton University (March 1997), at Johns Hopkins University (December 1997), and at the Stanford Meeting of the Medieval Academy (March 1998). I wish to thank these institutions' audiences for their informative comments and challenging queries. All who read the manuscript at different stages of its elaborations, Professors Caroline Walker Bynum and Gabrielle M. Spiegel, my colleague at the University of Maryland Jeannie Rutenburg, Dr. Ira Rezak, Robert and Dimitri Milch, and the reviewers of the AHR, generously offered critical comments and rich suggestions that were crucial in helping this essay reach its mature version. Without the timely and generous assistance of Dr. Harry Fritts, this essay would have lacked the medium that enabled its appearance. Finally, it gives me pleasure to acknowledge my debt to the Institute for Advanced Study for the opportunity to carry fonvard my research for a year (1996-1997) under favorable circumstances, during which, benefiting from the learned guidance of Professor Giles Constable, I was able to advance my work on the medieval practice and theory of signs.

Quoted and translated in John Van Engen, "Letters, Schools, and Written Culture in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries," Dialektik ~tnd Rhetoric irn friiheren z~nd hohen Mittelalter, Johannes Fried, ed. (Munich, 1997), 114. The London council was gathered following the schism of 1160, to judge between the claims of rival popes.

2 Ep. 330; Bernard's letters are quoted and discussed in Auguste Dumas, "La diplomatique et la forme des actes," Le moyen 8ge 42 (1932): 21 n. 1.

"p. 339, Dumas, "La diplomatique et la forme des actes," 21 n. 1. My admittedly free translation of rnateries locutionis as "discursive structure" privileges the meaning of locutio as style or manner of speech, and of ~nnteriesas constituent substance.

On Bernard's relationship to writing and his ability to function through personal charisma, see C.

Agreement to share revenues between Hugh, abbot of St. Denis, and Matthew, count of Beaumont. Sealed with Matthew's seal (the equestrian figure) and the seal of the abbey (St. Denis enthroned). Archives Nationales, J 168 no. 6-AD 1189 (Latin, Ile-de-France, immediately north of Paris).

is a symbiotic relationship between human presence and representation, one in which representation matches real presence, and second that the written text is an embodiment of its author and articulates a notion of authenticity revolving around authority and identity. Additionally, Bernard indicates that there was equivalence between his discourse and his seal, in that both had the capacity to signify his personality. Written texts, to be sure, were major instruments of the literate elite's effectiveness as personalities and public figures,5 but so too was the aura of their physical presence. Bernard and Arnulf lived at a time when it was still possible for them to deploy both media-body and text-equally in matters of authority, even though an irreversible movement had already commenced during the eleventh century that was to shift preeminence from personal to textual presence. Bernard, being literate, could both compose and write in Latin; his authorial identity might thus be vested just as well in his discursive style as in his seal. However, what became of such a form of personal identity if it had to be projected through texts that, produced by others in the names of non-literate individuals, necessarily lacked the authoritative imprint of authorial style and presence? The phenomenon I wish to consider in this essay involves the novel recourse to the written and sealed word by the lay aristocracy of northern France during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. At this time, French nobles were not yet literate; they lacked Latin beyond the modest requirements of liturgy, and as yet neither participated in modes of textual and iconic representation nor controlled the spheres of scribal and iconographic practice. I believe that the process of the French nobility's acculturation to such modes of representation as the sealed charter commenced in writing bureaus staffed by prescholastic clerics, who were actively involved in discussion on

semiotics even as they wrestled with questions in sacramental theology.

Eleventh and twelfth-century lay elites came to be the subjects of representation in the explicit sense that, in situations requiring authority and commitment, they evolved from immediately present agents to represented actors. Persons absent in time or place were substituted by seals, which operated as alternates for those who were absent, acting in their place. It is intriguing that personal identity came to be signified just as people began to project their authority and accountability beyond their own actual, empirical presence. It is as if absence were required for the question of identity even to become conceivable.6 Since seals are evidence, in my opinion, of a more general and unprecedented shift toward mediation, represen- tation, and the formulation of personal identity in the medieval West, questions arise about the conceptual origin, form, signifying modes, and agency of this new medium, the sealed charter.

My own method in exploring this matter has been to follow not the principles but the analytical agenda of Peirceian semiotic anthropology, which is critically

Stephen Jaeger, The Envy ofAngels: Cathedral Schools and Social Ideals in Medieval Europe, 950-1200 (Philadelphia, 1994), 272-77.

Van Engen, "Letters, Schools, and Written Culture," 107-09, 113-14, discusses as the key characteristic of letters the intention to represent one self to another, to write as if two personae were speaking face to face.

Tor a complex analysis of the circumstances that permit the conceptualization of identity as a political agent, see Pierre Legendre, Le de'sirpolitique de Dieu: Etudes sur le montage de I'Etat et du droit (Paris, 1988), 88 and following.

presented below.7 By focusing on seals and on the institutions that produced them, I probe the effect of contemporary medieval theory on this sign's agency, assuming that seals' semiotic codes were dependent on a theology and an ontology that fostered their diffusion and interpretation. In this analysis, I do not seek to establish an absolute symmetry between semiotic theory and seal praxis. Rather, I examine how the seal was enabled by and how it encoded a specific set of ideas about signs and semiosis, and show how seal usage and metaphor contributed to contemporary reflection on and development of semiotic thinking.$ I ask what idea of semiosis must have been operative and what the place of ideas within semiosis was that enabled ideas about sign efficacy to create and shape material signs. Lastly, wishing to elucidate the social effects of seals as agents that performed and produced cultural works, I examine the action of seals as an innovative semiotic trope that, both in theory and in social practice, re-figured the categories of person, presence, identity, and authority.

I will argue that, in projecting personal distinction, seals acted through a system of identification, designation, and recognition in which representational identity rested on an ontological principle of likeness. The medieval seal was a serial object: seal iconography utilized a limited range of distinctive types, themselves established on the basis of a limited range of stereotyped personae, and the engraved seal-die (matrix) itself repeatedly projected its owner's identity by reproducing identical impressions. This technology of replication appears to have served as a model for the formation of medieval identity. Seal users thus came to develop an awareness of themselves in relation to an object whose operational principles as a sign were categorization, replication, and verification. As the elites who used seals came to depend on representation by signs, the concepts of both social and personal identity came also to be formulated in relation to such signs. This is not to say that such representation and such concepts were completely congruous with any definition of the self-as-an-individual as might then have existed, or that the notions of individuality and subjectivity were primarily generated by, or a construct subject to, cultural codes.9 I am not addressing here the entire postmillennial experience of

7 Charles Sanders Peirce's (1839-1914) philosophical analysis of language and cognition constitutes the theoretical foundation of semiotic anthropology, an interpretive methodology developed at the University of Chicago in the mid-1970s. See below pp. 1516-32 for a full discussion of Peirce's semiotics and its applicability to the analysis of cultural processes.

8 In his recent article, "John Duns Scotus, Charles Sanders Peirce, and Chaucer's Portrayal of the

Canterbury Pilgrims," Speculum 71 (1996): 633-45, James I. Wimsatt argues that Chaucer's rendering

of his pilgrims both as types and as individuals implies that Chaucer's art conformed to Scholastic

realism. My own method is to look not for conformity but for interaction between semiotic systems and

semiotic processes.

9 The term "individual" is used throughout this essay in the neutral sense of a "single entity which is the subject of cognition in various modes"; Catherine McCall, Concepts of Person: An Analysis of Concepts ofPerson, Self and Human Being (Aldershot, 1990), 12. My argument concerning notions of individuality reopens, on a minor key, a topic eloquently discussed by Colin M. Morris in his classic Tlze Discovery ofthe Individual, 1050-1200 (London, 1972), and ably pursued by John Benton, "Conscious- ness of Self and Perceptions of Individuality," in Robert L. Benson and Giles Constable, eds., Renaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Century (Cambridge, Mass., 1982), 263-95. For a challenge to some of Morris's claims, see Caroline Walker Bynum, "Did the Twelfth Century Discover the Individual," in Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spiritualitj of the High Middle Ages (Berkeley, Calif., 1982), 82-109, who also gives a full review of the question and of its bibliography; and Timothy J. Reiss, Tlze Discourse of Modernism (Ithaca, N.Y., 1982), 86-89. See John Martin, "Inventing Sincerity, Refash- ioning Prudence: The Discovery of the Individual in Renaissance Europe," AHR 102 (December 1997):

selfhood or personhood, but I am exploring a new experiment in signing and signifying both person and personal identity within northern French culture and society.

In modern Western societies, while the term "identity" refers generally to those characteristics used to identify, define, and distinguish persons so that they can be individually recognized, it is also acknowledged that these characteristics as well as the very notions of identity and individuality may vary with time, place, and culture. In the medieval lexicon, the concept of identity did not address individual personality. Rather, identity in the eleventh and twelfth centuries centered on a logic of sameness and operated by assuming a model of similarity, referring to human beings as members of an identical species, or to the person as a psychoso- matic whole, a social agent identical to itself with respect to number, essence, or properties. Since that particular sign, the seal, which accompanied, indeed articu- lated, the assertion of personal identity, participated in this same logic, conceptions of the sign and the human subject appear to be closely related. Indeed, they both operated on the basis of a newly elaborated premise of a dialogic connection between semiotics, theology, ontology, and anthropology.

CONCERNABOUT MEDIATION, AND REPRESENTATION pervaded the

SIGNIFICATION, eleventh century. The whole of Western Europe was then agitated by the Investiture Controversy, a dramatic conflict between church and state in which the pope struggled with the German emperor to establish absolute ecclesiastical control over the appointment of church officials. Less emphasized in traditional historiog- raphy but central to this conflict were questions surrounding the effectiveness of certain signs, particularly material objects. The papal party believed that the symbols of ecclesiastical office, the ring and the crozier, possessed no intrinsic capacity to cause any effect but that the valid possession and application of them effectively and irrevocably established an ecclesiastic's right to both office and its associated power. The underlying sign theory thus held that material symbols were ordinary objects whose significance derived from a value ascribed to them by common agreement, by their recognized use in a particular ceremony. At stake here was the very nature of the operation of signs, the belief that their efficacy might be based on a contract or covenant and need not depend on any value inhering in the sign-object used. After a century of heated discussions about this semiotic issue, Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) was to propose a reversal of this position, arguing that signs were effective on the basis of inherent or infused virtue.1°

In eleventh-century northern France, however, the semiotic debate extended

1309-42, for a new reading of Renaissance individualism. Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research, Lawrence A. Pervin, ed. (New York, 1990), 143-45, gives anthropological and psychological approaches to the formation of social and personal identity that are intriguing even if not directly relevant for medieval society.

lo See a lucid discussion of this controversy in William J. Courtenay, "Sacrament, Symbol, and Causality in Bernard of Clairvaux," Bernard of Claiwaux: Studies Presented to Dom Jean Leclercq (Kalamazoo, Mich., 1973), 111-22; and "The King and the Leaden Coin: The Economic Background of 'Sine qua non' Causality," Traditio 28 (1972): 185-209; both rpt. in Covenant and Ca~lsality in Medieval Thought: Studies in Philosophy, Theology, and Econonzic Practice (London, 1984).

beyond a consideration of the efficacy of the signs of ecclesiastical investiture. The signifying modes at work in language, in writing, and in such fundamental signs of divine revelation as the sacraments, the Incarnation, and the Trinity came under intense scrutiny.ll The literate elites involved in this inquiry were prescholastic

l1 The shift from transcendence toward immanence that characterized the understanding of sign operation between the Investiture Controversy and Thomas Aquinas seems also to have animated a broader semiotic reflection, which, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, focused particularly on linguistics, sacramental theology, and authority and authenticity in scriptural and documentary writings. The bibliography on each of these areas is abundant and is here cited only selectively; see below at n. 42 for references on image and representation in prescholastic thought. On medieval signs in general, see Marie-Dominique Chenu, O.P., "The Symbolist Mentality," in Chenu, ~Voture,Man, and Society in the Twelfth Century: Essays on New Theological Perspectives in the Latin West (Chicago, 1968), 99-161; Umberto Eco, Semiotics and the Philosophy of Larzg~lage (Bloomington, Ind., 1984); Alfonso Maierh, "'Signum' dans la culture mediCvale," Miscellarzea Medinevalia 13 (1981): 51-72; Eugene Vance, ~Mervelous Signals: Poetics and Sign Theory in the Middle Ages (Lincoln, Neb., 1986).

On theories of verbal signification between Augustine and Dante, see Marcia L. Colish, The Mirror of Language: A Study in the Medieval Theory of Knowledge (Lincoln, 1983). On medieval semiotics, see 012 the medieval Theory of Sigrzs, Umberto Eco and Costantino Marmo, eds. (Amsterdam, 1989). On the postmillennial questioning of intellectual attitudes forged in Late Antiquity, see Constant J. Mews, "Philosophy and Theology 1100-1150: The Search for Harmony," in Le XIIe siicle: Mutations et renouveau en France duns la premi2r.e moitie du XIIe sickle, Francoise Gasparri, ed. (Paris, 1994), 159-203.

On the growing centrality of written language, the rise of empiricism, and the transformation of symbolic agency, see Brian Stock, Tlze Implicatiorzs of Literacy: Written Language and Models of Interpretation in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Princeton, N.J., 1983). For an alternate view, see Rosamund McKitterick, The Carolingians and the Written Word (Cambridge, 1987) (see below, n. 54). Closer to Stock in approaching the issue of literacy from the viewpoint of textuality is Martin Irvine, The Making of Textual Culture: "Grammatica" and Literary Theory, 350-1100 (Cambridge, 1994). Both Stock and Irvine show the extent to which, in a given society, the performance of literacy is bound up with theories of authority, knowledge, and signification. Brian V. Street, Literacy in Theo~y and Practice (Cambridge, 1984), 19-125, gives an overview of various theories on the interpretation of literacy, including Jack Goody's.

No study explores systematically the dialectics of scriptural authority and documentary authenticity, although I discuss some aspects in Brigitte Bedos-Rezak, "Les juifs et l'ecrit dans la mentalit6 eschatologique du Moyen Age chr6tien occidental (France 1000-1200)," Annales: Histoire, Sciences Sociales 5 (1994): 1049-63. Michael T. Clanchy's From memory to Written Record, England 1066-1307, 2d edn. (Oxford, 1993), esp. 253-317, though primarily based on English records, provides an insightful analysis of the growth of literate practice that has helped reconceptualize the study of continental practical literacy. Synthetic treatments of authority and authenticity, particularly with respect to legal and documentary practices, include B. Bedos-Rezak, "Diplomatic Sources and Medieval Documentary Practices: A11 Essay in Interpretive Methodology," Tlze Past and Futu1.e of Medieval Studies, John Van Engen, ed. (Notre Dame, Ind., 1994), 327-28; Marie-Dominique Chenu, "Auctor, Actor, Autor," Bulletin ~ L Cange 3 (1927): 81-86; and "Authentica et magistralia," Divz~s Thomas 28 (1925): 257-85;

L

Frederic Cheyette, "The Invention of the State," Essays in Medieval Civilization: The Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures, Bede Karl Lackner and Kenneth Roy Phillip, eds. (Austin, Tex., 1979); Auguste Dumas, "La diplomatique et la forme des actes," Le moyen rige 42 (1932): 5-31; and "Etude sur le classement des formes des actes," Le moyen rige 43 (1933): 81-264, and 44 (1934): 17-41; Bernard Guenee, "Authentique et approuvk: Recherches sur les principes de la critique historique au Moyen Age," La lexicographic du latirz m7zddibval et ses rapports avec les recherches actuelles sur la civilisation du Moyen Age: Colloques interlzationaux dl1 C.N.R.S., 589 (Paris, 1981), 215-29, rpt. in Politique et histoire au moyen rige (Paris, 1981), 265-78; Jean Philippe Levy, "Coup d'ceil d'ensemble sur l'histoire de la preuve litterale," Homnzages a GCrard Boulvert: Index; Quaderni camerti di studi romanistici, Interna- tional S~lrvey of Roman Law 15 (1987): 473-501; La Preuve, Recueil de la SocidtC Jean Bodin, vol. 17 (Brussels, 1965).

On postmillennial debates surrounding sacramental theology, I am indebted to Courtenay, Covenarlt amzd Causality, essays 2 and 7; H. de Lubac, Corpus mnysticum: L'euclzaristie et I'iglise au ~Moyen Age, Ctude historique (Paris, 1949); Gaiy Macy, The Tlzeologies of the Eucharist in the Early Scholastic Age (Oxford, 1984); Irene Rosier, "Signe et Sacrement," Revue des sciences philosophiques et thiologiques 74 (1990): 392-436; Stock, Social Inzplicntions of Literacy, 241-325; Damien van den Eynde, Les definitions des sacrements pendant la premi2m.e ptriode de la thCologie scholastique (1050-1240) (Rome, 1950).

Christian churchmen who were active both in ecclesiastical schools, where they taught and directed doctrinal debates,12 and in chanceries, where they supervised the production of written documents.l3 School and chancery shared not only the

12 Prescholastics were theologians whose intellectual efforts at unfolding problenls in patristic thought were still traditionally inspired by faith and embedded within a comprehensive philosophy of man's physical and spiritual power. They, however, treated a universal range of subjects in a detailed, abstract, and systematic way, which contributed to the newer scholastic understanding of faith, an understanding that had lost its previous broader psychological setting. Studies on the activities of various types of ecclesiastical schools include Emile Lesne, Les &coles de la fir1 dl1 VIZIe sibcle a la fin du XIIe sibcle, Vol. 5, Lesne, Histoi1.e de la propriete eccltsiastique en France (Lille, 1940);Pierre Riche, Les &coles et l'eizseigizenzent dans l'occideizt chritien de la fin du Vesibcle nu inilieu drr XIe sibcle (Paris, 1979);Jacques Verger, "Une etape dans le renouveau scolaire du XIIe siecle," Le XIIe siscle: ikfutntiorzs et reaouvenu en France daizs la preinibre inoitid du XIIe siscle, 123-45; Jean Leclercq, The Love of Learning nrzd tlze Desire of God: A Study of Monastic Culture (New York, 1962); Louis Carolus-Barre, "Les Ccoles capitulaires et les collkges de Soissons au Moyen Age et au XVIe siecle," Actes du 95' Coizgrbs des socittts savaiztes (Reims, 1970), Vol. 1: Eizseignei?lerzt et vie ir~tellect~lelle (IXe-XVI' sibcles) (Paris, 1975), 123-26; Marcia Colish, "Another Look at the School of Laon," Archives d'histoire docti.irzale et litttraire du rnoyeiz dge 53 (1986): 7-22; Valerie Flint, "The 'School of Laon': A Reconsideration," Recherclzes de tlztologie arzcienne et rntditvale 43 (1976): 89-110, rpt. in Flint, Ideas in the Medieval West: Texts aizd Their Coiztexts (London, 1988), no. 1, pp. 89-110; Nikolaus M. Haring, Life and Works of Clnrenzbald of Arras, a Twelfth-Ceiztuiy ikfastei. of the Sclzool of Clzartres (Toronto, 1965); Jaeger, Envy of Angels; and "Cathedral Schools and Humanist Learning, 950-1150," Deutsches Vierteljnhrsscrift fiir Litelnt~~rwissenschaftuizd Geistesgesclzichte 61 (1987): 569-616; Odon Lottin, Psychologie et morale arrx XIIe-XIIIe sibcles (Louvain-Gembloux, 1942-1960), Vol. 5: Problkmes d'lzistoire litttrnire, I'tcole dXnselr?ze de Laoiz et de Guilla~~me

de Clzanzpeaux (Gembloux, 1959); Leon

A. Maitre, Les &coles 4piscopales et inoiznstiq~les en occiderlt avaizt les uiliversit&s, 2d edn. (Liguge, 1924);

B. Merlette, "Ecoles et bibliotheques a Laon, du declin de l'antiquite au dkveloppement de I'universitC," Actes du 95' Congr3s des sociitts snvantes (Reims, 1970), Vol. 1: Erzseigize~?zent et vie intellect~lelle(IXe-XVIe sibcles) (Paris, 1975), 21-54; E. Michaud, Grrilla~l17lede Clzanzpeaux et les icoles de Pnris nu XIIe sibcle (Paris, 1867);Richard W. Southern, Sclzolastic H~rnzaizisnz aizd the Unification of Europe (Oxford, 1995);and "The Schools of Paris and Chartres," in Benson and Constable, Rerzaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Centuiy, 113-37; John Van Engen, Rupert of Deutz (Berkeley, Calif., 1983); John R. Williams, "The Cathedral School of Rheims in the Eleventh Century," Specul~lm29 (1954): 661-77; and "The Cathedral School of Rheims in the Time of Master Alberic, 1118-1136," Trnditio 20 (1964): 93-114.

Much work has been devoted to the School of St. Victor, of which the most relevant publications for this study are Fourier Bonnard, Histoire de I'nbbaye royale et de l'ordre des charzoirzes rtguliers de St.-Victor de Paris, 2 vols. (Paris, 1904-07); Jean Chitillon, "Les Ccoles de Chartres et de Saint-Victor," La Scuola, 2: 795-840; and "De Guillaume de Champeaux 2 Thomas Gallus: Chronique d'histoire litteraire et doctrinale de 1'Ecole de Saint-Victor," Revue du rnoyen dge Iatin 8 (1952): 139-62 and 247-72; Jaeger,Envy ofArzgels, 244-68. Jean Longere, ed., L'abbaye parisieizrze de Saint-Victor nu Moyen Age (Paris-Turnhout, 1991); Beryl Smalley, The Study of the Bible irz the Middle Ages, 2d edn. (Notre Dame, 1970); P. Sicard, Hughes de Saint-Victor et soil kcole (Turnhout, 1991).

'"he world of postmillennial chanceries, particularly as it intersects with prescholasticism, has so far received scant attention, see Robert-Henri Bautier, "Chancellerie et culture au Moyen Age,"

Carzcellerin e cultura rzel Medio Evo: Conznzunicaziorzi presentate izelle giouzate di studio della Conzmis- sioize iizternnzionale di diploi?znticn, Stoccarda, 1985, Germano Gualdo, ed. (Citta del Vaticano, 1990), 1-75, esp. 8-9 for the French situation, rpt. in R.-H. Bautier, Chartes, scenux et chaizcelleries: Etudes de diplonzatique et de sigillograplzie mbdi&vnles, 2 vols. (Paris, 1990), 1: 47-121, esp. 54-55; Ghislain Brunel, "Chartes et chancelleries Cpiscopales du Nord de la France au XIe siecle," Apropos des actes dJdv&ques: Hoinnznge a Lltcie Fossier, Michel Parisse, ed. (Nancy, 1991), 227-44, esp. 238-42; Fran~oise Gasparri, "Scriptorium et bureau d'ecriture de l'abbaye de Saint-Victor de Paris," in Longere, L'nbbaye parisienne de Snint-Victor, 119-39; Gasparri, "La chancellerie du roi Louis VII et ses rapports avec le scriptorium de l'abbaye de Saint-Victor de Paris," Palaeographica diylornntica et arclzivistica: Studi in onore di Giulio Bntelli (Rome, 1979), 151-58. In his "Letters, Schools, and Written Culture," Van Engen stresses the relationships between theory acquired in school and practice employed in administrative courts (p. 105), and between instruction in rhetoric and work in chanceries (pp. 109, 123-24, 126-27, 131), concluding that, after 1200, the sites and institutions of schooling became further removed from administrative loci (p. 131). Bernard Guenee focuses on the historiographical role of chanceries in "Chancelleries et monasteres," in Les lieux de la rntnzoire, Vol. 2: La rzatiorz, Pierre Nora, ed. (Paris, 1986), 5-30. Monographs bearing on specific chanceries tend to address the method and

same location but, significantly, the same staff, which I have come to term chancery-scholars,14 In many cases, the theologically engaged scholars were them- selves chancellors specifically in charge of the writing bureaus that produced charters, or else they were bishops or abbots responsible for the written output produced in their names.15 A complex skein of filiation, apprenticeships and training, associations, preferments, and marginalizations bound such scholars together over time and considerable distances. Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury

(d. 1089), for example, was closely associated with Berengar of Tours (d. 1088) in the Loire Valley before settling in Normandy as master of the cathedral school at Avranches, founding master of the school at the abbey of Bec, and abbot of St. Etienne de Caen.l6 At Bec, Lanfranc trained both his successor, Anselm of Canterbury (d. 1109), and Ivo of Chartres (d. 1115), who became abbot of a community of Augustinian canons near Beauvais before receiving the bishopric of Chartres.17 Anselm of Laon (d. 1117), who had been Anselm of Canterbury's

scope of documentary production. See Benoit-Michel Tock, Uize chancellerie t;niscopale au XII' sitcle: Le cas d'Arras (Louvain, 1991); and Tock, Les chartes des CvCques d'Arras (1093-1203) (Paris, 1991).

14 Studies devoted to the chancellors and staffs of postmillennial chanceries indicate that the chancellor was often the head of the school as well: Fasti ecclesiae gallicanae: R6pertoir.e proso- pographique des tv&ques, dignitaires et chanoines de France de 1200 a 1500, Vol. 1: Dioctse dJAmiens, by Pierre Desportes and Helene Millet (Turnhout, 1996); Dom Nicolas Huyghebaert, "Recherches sur les chanceliers des Cv&ques de Noyon-Tournai," Annales de la fdddmtion historique et archdologique de Belgique 35e congres, jriillet 1953, fasc. 5 (Courtrai, 1955): 665-80; John R. Williams, "Godfrey of Rheims: A Humanist of the Eleventh Century," Speculum 22 (1947): 29-45. On the careers of eleventh-century northern French chancellors, see the pioneering contribution by Brunel, "Chartes et chancelleries Cpiscopales du Nord de la France," 238-42; Patrick Demouy, Actes des archev&ques de Reims d'Arnoul a Renaud 11, 957-1139 (These pour le doctorat de IIIe cycle en histoire, Universite de Nancy 11, 1982), 210-12; Georges Lacombe, La vie et les muvres de Prdvostin (Le Saulchoir, 1927), 36-46; William Mendel Newman, Le personnel de la cathtdrale d'Amiens, 1066-1306 (Paris, 1972), 5-13; Jacques Pycke, Le chapitre cathddml Notre-Dame de Tournai de la fin du XIe a la fin du XIIIe siecle (Louvain-la-Neuve, 1986), 169. On the career of Berengar of Tours at the cathedral chapter of Saint-Martin of Tours, where he served as grammaticus, scholasticus, and chancellor, see A. J. Macdonald, Berengar and the Reform of Sacramental Doctrine (1930; rpt. edn., Merrick, N.Y., 1977), 38. Berengar also performed scribal functions for Count Fulk Nerra of Anjou: Margaret Gibson, "Letters and Charters Relating to Berengar of Tours," Auctoritas und Ratio: Studien zu Berengar von Tours, P. Ganz, et al., eds. (Wiesbaden, 1990), 5-23, rpt. in 'Xrtes"and Bible in the Medieval West (London, 1993), no. 18, pp. 5-23, esp. 8. The comital document in which Berengar had a hand is catalogued and discussed in Olivier Guillot, Le comte d'Anjou et son entourage arL XIe sidcle, 2 vols. (Paris, 1972), 2: 65-66, no. C 77 (1039). Concerned with a period slightly after that under consideration here, John Baldwin shows that those who were employed as regent masters at Paris often achieved high positions in the church including that of chancellor: "Masters at Paris from 1179 to 1215, A Social Perspective," in Benson and Constable, Renaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Century, 138-72.

I am still constructing the network of chancery-scholars tentatively sketched here. This will require the reading of numerous charters so as to establish the itineraries of highly mobile scholars whose intellectual journeys have been abundantly researched but whose services to writing bureaus have remained virtually unexplored. Also, not surprisingly, little is known of the staff of early chanceries: Brunel's essay on the subject, "Chartes et chancelleries episcopales du Nord de la France," and Demouy's research on the Actes des archev&ques de Reims show the symbiosis between eleventh- century schools and chanceries and that scribes were recruited from the schools. Scholarly contacts and schools of thought are sketched in studies quoted above at nn. 12 and 14, and also in Robert Javelet, Image et ressemblance au 12e siecle, de saint Ansel~ne a Alain de Lille, 2 vols. (Paris, 1967), 1: m-miii. A current bibliography on the masters discussed below is available in Dictionnaire des lettres fran~aises: Le moyen kge (Paris, 1992).

16 J, de Montclos, Lanfranc et Btranger: La controverse eucharistique du XIe sitcle (Louvain, 1971).

17 With Ivo of Chartres's episcopacy (1090-1115), the golden age of intellectual activity at Chartres commenced, particularly enhanced by three chancellors: Bernard of Chartres, Gilbert (later bishop of Poitiers), and Thierry of Chartres.

student at Bec, became chancellor to the bishop of Laon, while gathering around him, in turn, such students as his brother Ralph (later to succeed him as chancellor,

d. 1133), Peter Abelard (d. 1142), William of Champeaux (d. 1121), Alberic of Rheims (later archbishop of Bourges, d. 1141), and Gilbert of Poitiers (head of the Porretain school, chancellor at Chartres, and later bishop of Poitiers, d. 1154). William of Champeaux, at the time of his death in 1121 the bishop of ChAlons, had been master in the cathedral school of Paris before founding the abbey of St. Victor in Paris.18 At the beginning of its existence, this abbey functioned as a virtual chancery for the production of royal diplomas while also evolving as a major doctrinal and spiritual center under the aegis of Hugh of St. Victor (d. 1141).19 A great admirer of the Victorines, the theologian Praepositinus of Cremona, who in his later years (1206-1210) became chancellor of the cathedral and university of Paris, is worth mention in this context, since homiletic materials he derived from his documentary and sealing functions on behalf of the bishop of Paris are the earliest of this genre to survive.20 Gilbert of Poitiers (d. 1154) became chancellor of Chartres, succeeding Bernard of Chartres, whose student he had also been.21 There was a break in scholarly activity after Gerbert d'Aurillac's tenure (later Pope Sylvester 11, d. 1003) at Rheims, but the school reemerged from obscurity with master Herimann (d. ca. 1075) and his disciple Bruno (d. 1101), ultimately producing the controversial logician Roscelin of Compikgne (d. ca. 1125). Bruno also served as chancellor to the archbishop of Rheims, before himself founding the Grande Chartreuse, the mother house of the monastic Carthusian Order. Following the chancellorship of the learned humanist Godfrey (d. 1094), Alberic (d. 1141), who had trained under Anselm at Laon, became head of the cathedral school at Rheims in 1094.22 Boulogne, Arras, Cambrai, Amiens, Beauvais, Soissons, Senlis, and Rouen all had chancellors and bishops who were scholars, although many schools and their masters remain to be studied in The map thus established

l8 William had also been the student of Roscelin; J. Jolivet, "DonnCes sur Guillaume de Champeaux dialecticien et thkologien," in Longere, L'abbaye parisienne de Saint-Victor, 235-52. l9 Gasparri, "La chancellerie du roi Louis VII." See additional bibliography on the School of St. Victor above at n. 12.

I wish to thank Professor John Baldwin and Jean-Baptiste Lebigue for bringing to my attention this extraordinary sermon in which Praepositanus weaves together theology and sigillography. I am particularly grateful that Lebigue, who recently (1999) defended his dissertation at the Ecole Nationale des Chartes (Paris) on Praepositanus's sermons, which he has edited for this purpose, kindly sent me the sermon's two extant versions, respectively in Munich (Clm. 14126, f02 roa), and Paris (Bibliothbque Nationale de France, Lat. 14,804, f0 108vob). There is a brief comment on the sermon by Lacombe in La vie et les oeuvres de Prkvostin, 38-39, who also gives the sermon's incipit (p. 186, no. 21) and textual variations between the two versions (p. 191). In addition to such explicit application of seal usages to theology, Praepositinus made ample use of the seal metaphor when discussing the creation of man in God's image in Sumn~asuper Psalterium and Summa Theologica: Javelet, Image et ressernblance, 1: 164, 178, 218, 221, 224-25, 260; 2: 134, 142, 150, 189, 192, 195, 197, 221; Lacombe, La vie et les oeuvres, 109.

John of Salisbury was Gilbert's student. Gilbert was challenged for his teaching on the Trinity, though not condemned despite Bernard of Clairvaux's efforts toward this end.

22 Herimann rejected the position of Berengar of Tours on the Eucharist: Williams, "Cathedral School of Rheims in the Eleventh Century," 664-65; Williams, "Cathedral School of Reims in the Time of Master Alberic, 1118-36"; Williams, "Godfrey of Rheims, a Humanist of the Eleventh Century"; Lanbertus M. De Rijk, "Some New Evidence on Twelfth-Century Logic: Alberic and the School of Mont Ste Genevieve (Montani)," Vivarium 6 (1966): 1-57. Alberic, and another student of Anselm of Laon who was master with him at Rheims, Lotulf of Novara, fiercely opposed Abelard's teachings on the Trinity.

23 Lesne, Les Ccoles; Southern, Scholastic Humanism; Brunel, "Chartes et chancelleries Cpiscopales Seal of William, count of Nevers, 1140. Archives Nationales, Paris, D 859

of cathedral schools should be extended to include monastic establishments, for there was a fluid exchange of individuals and ideas between these two institutional worlds. Reform-minded bishops or their chancellors often founded or reorganized local abbeys; masters of schools not infrequently returned to cloisters (Bruno, William of Champeaux); indeed, some scholars produced most of their work in a monastic environment (Lanfranc and Anselm of Bec).

What was novel about these chancery-scholars and deserves our attention is the heightened semiotic sensitivity of their theological debates, their pronounced tendency to ponder the issue of presence and representation. Two of their constructs were unprecedented in the medieval West. First, they came to recognize presence and representation as essential to the structure governing the generation of identity, conceiving identity as dependent on sameness (that is, identicality) but necessarily involving interactions between the similar and the dissimilar. The identity they contemplated concerned both divine and human persons and sparked discussions on the very nature of personhood. Second, they objectified identity by using a new material sign: the seal. Thus the definition of identity that emerged in the eleventh century derived from specific concerns initially directed, later redi- rected, by the articulation of this definition within a theory of signs. In order to understand both the concept and the sign of identity, and their agency, it will be

du Nord de la France," insisting on the actual participation of both chancellors and bishops in documentary production (pp. 240-41), discusses the chancery-scholars of Soissons and Cambrai. In Cambrai, the Schoolman Werimboldus explicitly recorded his role in the composition of episcopal charters: "Werimboldus scolasticus scripsit et recognovit" (1057), "S. Werinboldi arciscoli . . . qui hanc kartam composuit" (1089), quoted by Brunel, 242. On Arras, see Haring, Life and Works of Clarembald of Arras; Tock, Une clzancellerie 6piscopale au XIIe si?cle, 189-91.

necessary to examine the domains that concerned chancery-scholars and led them to innovations in thought and social praxis. These domains included the relation- ships between language and reality, between the Eucharist and real presence, between the Trinity and the related subjects of person, image, and resemblance, and between writing and authority. Such issues were hardly new in the Christian culture of the West, but in their treatment as a set of related concerns they indicate a crisis in the dominant signifying system.

Discussions of linguistics pursued by prescholastics in wrestling with questions of sacramental theology involved a renewed study of the fundamental corpus of semio-linguistic theory that had been provided earlier by St. Augustine (d. 430).24 A resulting interpretive shift in the understanding of Augustinian theory brought an awareness of what may be termed the Augustinian paradox. Augustine's semiotics, presented in Book 2 of De Doctrina Christiana, are a confusing tangle of claims and doubts.25 Early church doctrine seems to have privileged the classical dualism between the sign and the thing referred to by the sign, whereby only the thing, though ideal and not of this world, has reality; the dualistic Augustine emphasized the lack of congruence between signifier (indicator) and signified (that which is indicated), privileging eternal ideal objects of reference over signs, and he deplored linguistic multiplicity and semantic obscurity as a condition of the Fall. Augustine recognized two classes of signs, signa naturalia, or natural signs, which he conceived as having a necessary and causal relationship with their referents (for example, "where there's smoke, there's fire"), and signa data, or given conventional signs (language, clothing, money), which signify by virtue of their givers' essentially arbitrary intentions.26 He seems never to have considered the possibility that conventional signs may function more like natural signs, because he did not believe that causal dependence or logical implications between signs and referents were possible models for language and c~lture.2~

In Augustine's dualistic and idealistic theory, human language is an external imitation of a transcendental reality, lacking its necessarily ideal referent or object and thus fundamentally unable to express

24 Of the large bibliography available on Augustinian sign theory, the following were particularly helpful: Clifford Ando, "Augustine on Language," Revue des ttudes augustiniennes 40 (1994): 45-78; Colish, Mirror of Language, 7-54; De Doctrina Clzristiana: A Classic of Western Culture, Duane W. H. Arnold and Pamela Bright, eds. (Notre Dame, Ind., 1995); J. Engels, "La doctrine du signe chez Saint Augustin," Studia Patristica 6 (1962): 366-73; B. Darrell Jackson, "The Theory of Signs in St. Augustine's De Doctrina Christiana," Revue des ttudes augustiniennes 15 (1969): 9-49; Maierd, "'Signum' dans la culture mCdiCvale," 55-57; Giovanni Manetti, Theories of the Sign in Classical AntiquitZ, (Bloomington, Ind., 1993), 157-68; R. A. Markus, "St. Augustine on Signs," Phronesis 2 (1957): 60-83; and "'Imago' and 'similitudo' in Augustine," Revue des Ctudes aug~~stiniennes

10 (1964): 125-43, both rpt, in Sacred and Secular: Studies on Augustine and Latin Christianity (Aldershot, 1994).

25 This apt expression is by Thomas S. Maloney, "Is the Doctrina the Source for Bacon's Semiotics," Reading and Wisdom: The "De Doctrina Christiana'' ofAugustine in the Middle Ages, Edward D. English, ed. (Notre Dame, Ind., 1995), 133. See a discussion of instances where Augustine's reasoning undermines his own distinction between signs and things in Eileen C. Sweeney, "Hugh of St. Victor: The Augustinian Tradition of Sacred and Secular Reading Revised," in Reading and Wisdom, 73. An edition and translation of the De Doctrina is available: Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana, R. P. H. Green, ed. and trans. (Oxford, 1995).

2h The two kinds of signs are distinguished in Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana, 2.1.2, 2.2.3, Green, 56-59; Maieru, " 'Signum' dans la culture mCdiCvale," 55-57.

27 Sweeney, "Hugh of St. Victor," 65; R. A. Markus, "Signs, Communication, and Communities in Augustine's De Doctrina Christiana," in Arnold and Bright, De Doctrina Christiana: A Classic of Western Culture, 98-99.

God's essence, God's identity as the perfection of self-reference. Understanding language as a form of alienation, since only God is Logos-the unique extra- semiotic guarantor of the adequacy of signs who resists capture by referential language-Augustine effectively deprived human knowledge of the possibility of stable notions and impeded the reification of human understanding.

Yet Augustine also wished to bridge the abyss between sign and thing that he himself had so effectively excavated, and this presented a paradox. The Augustinian solution for connecting word and thing, for circumventing the deferral and mediation inherent in text and language, is communion with pure presence, that is, incarnation. As God incarnate, the word-become-flesh, Christ bridges the gap between signifier and signified, for in Augustine's doctrine (as in the later dogma) of the Incarnation and the Eucharist, substance and its representation are one and the same. In this view, "the word of God [the Logos] suffered no change although it became flesh in order to live in us."2~acraments in this construction are different from other signs; they actualize the presence of that to which words merely point. In Augustinian theology, the incarnation of the Logos became a model that, while still limiting linguistic expression, promoted sacramental signification through presence.19

Thus, although Augustine reiterated the Platonic idea of a schism between sign and thing, he also left a semiotic legacy of reification, an escape from the mere referentiality of signs, a locus for unmediated presence. Worth noting here is the transition from signification to reification, froin sign to thing to the silence of the word, which, made flesh, transcends the entire system of Augustine's desire for a communion with pure presence undermined the older representative mediation of signs, but it also provided, in the interpretive hands of prescholastic theologians, the seed for a new theory of representation. Identicality between sign and object came to inform a novel signifying process, during the twelfth century, when the Eucharist was firmly conceived as being, in and of itself, what it represents. It has been conventional to invoke a growing acceptance of Aristotelian thought as accounting for the appearance in prescholastic culture of the idea that a symbol partakes of the reality it expresses. However, it may well be that the Augustinian semiotic corpus was itself perfectly capable of inspiring the belief that immanence was central to the operation of symbolism.31

The governing, encompassing question was, therefore, that of the relationship between signs and the world, and the implications of this question were brought to the fore in the course of the controversy provoked by the ideas of Roscelin of Compiegne. During the second half of the eleventh century, Roscelin, the most famous teacher of dialectics in the schools of northern France, initiated what came

'"ugustine, De Doctrirla, Green, 24-25. 2y Augustine, De Doctrinn, Green, 22-25. 3" Susan A. Handelman offers very insightful remarks on Augustine's semiotics and reification of

signs in The Slajers of Moses: The Elnergence of Rabbinic Irlterpretntion in Modern Literary Theory (Albany, N.Y., 1982), 89-90, 113-20.

3' Chenu, "Symbolist Mentality," 134-35, 139-40; Marie-Dominique Chenu, "The Platonisms of the Twelfth Century," in Alatur.e, Man, ancl Societ). it1 the Tvvelftl~ Cent~cly, 49-98. Maieru, " 'Signum' dans la culture medievale," 69-70, discusses the many aspects of Augustinian doctrine and their differing treatment according to situated theological cultures, and he refutes a radical opposition between Aristotle and Augustine.

to be known as nominalism and thereby launched a debate about universals. Opposing nominalists to realists, this deb& bloomed into a pivotal controversy in medieval philosophy. Universals, for instance "man" or "animal," were general categories of properties shared by many particular entities. The discussion focused on the ontological status of these universal categories: what degree of reality did they possess, from what did they derive? For the nominalist Roscelin, these categories had neither objective nor subjective reality. They existed neither in the mind nor in reality, being simply spoken sounds or verbal expressions for mental constructs derived from experience with particular entities that exist in nature alone.32 On the other hand, following the Platonic and Augustinian tradition, the realists maintained that, although universal categories did not have corporeal existence, they nevertheless did exist outside the human mind: in God's mind, where, eternal and immutable, they were the source of forms for spatio-temporal things.3~oscelin's nominalist denial of ideal realities (universals) and of any linkage between word and physical property contradicted Augustine's position on the reality of universal categories but not his distinction between words and referents. For Roscelin, however, referents were other words and not real things identical with divine ideas, as they ultimately were for the Augustinians. Supporters of Augustine's position, such as Anselm of Bec, Alberic of Rheims, and William of Champeaux, defended it by shifting from the earlier medieval accent on Augus- tine's radical dualism between word and thing to an emphasis on his theory of ontological immanence and parti~ipation.~~

This theory argued that things guided the properties of signs, that, inhering in the spatio-temporal realm, universals created similarities among objects. To be sure, participation in the transcendent was not a matter of identicality but only of resemblance; only God, uniquely, possessed true identicality.

Disagreeing with both his teacher Roscelin and with Augustine and his followers, Abelard denied the existence of anything that is not a particular. While retaining the notion that the common nature inherent in things of the same species made them similar, he argued that such similarity fell short of constituting them as universals. For Abelard, words were universals, concepts of things, not images of things. Yet words functioned by means of images deriving their meaning, not from the things themselves but from the mode of signification at work in the human mind. Abelard held that the mind creates at will images or copies for configuring

32 The entire issue of Vivariun2 30, no. 1 (1992) is devoted to nominalism. See a fuller bibliography on Roscelin and on his positions below at n. 44.

33 It is traditional in medieval historiography to contrast nominalists with realists. The term realism, however, is confusing in the context of medieval studies. Realism, also called idealism, is the medieval philosophical theory derived from Plato's formulation, which affirmed the reality of universals (that is, abstract ideas or general forms), argued that they were perceptible only by the mind, and that they existed separately from the material objects they caused. Somewhat confusingly, the term realism is also used to describe Boethius's and Pseudo-Dionysius's doctrine that material objects and imagery borrowed from sense-perceptible reality had value for sacred knowledge because of their symbolic capacity and their ability to incorporate the intelligible reality they expressed.

"Anselm expressed his opposition to Roscelin in three letters: "To John the Monk," "To Fulco, Bishop of Beauvais," and "The Incarnation of the Word," all in Anselnz of Caizterbuly, Jasper Hopkins and Herbert Richardson, ed. and trans., vol. 3 (Toronto, 1976), 3-37. William of Champeaux's Augustinianism is most recently discussed in Mews, "Philosophy and Theology," 168-69, with additional bibliography in nn. 69-76.

absent things. These images are the proper objects of thought and understanding, which thus operate on a likeness that the mind creates. This likeness has neither substantial reality nor the underpinning by transcendent universals that, for the Augustinians, accounted for the similarities between things. For Abelard, words apply the mind to the likeness of things, but words designate images, not their objects; words therefore signify an understanding of what they predicate rather than refer to the object itself. By pointing out that thoughts and understanding are not the same as their objects, Abelard displaced the Augustinian notion that divine realities are actually present in the human mind where they beget images of themselves. He located the act of understanding in the mind as the active inventor of universal concepts with its modus operandi of created images. From this initial controversy over universals, there emerged a reinforced vocabulary of "likeness," and an attendant notion of images as signs of absent things.35

Conflict over universals also permeated the argument raised by Berengar of Tours in the eleventh century, which prompted the northern French schools to reconsider the nature of the Eucharistic sign.36 For Berengar, as for Abelard, the issue was the relationship of logico-linguistic structures to the mind and to reality.37 The Eucharistic debate was couched in quasi-documentary terms: was the Eucharist "dispositive," that is, endowed with real presence and inherently potent, a belief that would equate the interpretive material supporting it (texts) with events in the real world? Or, as Berengar maintained, did the modality of the Eucharistic presence have to be consonant with a linguistic model of grammar and logic: in short, did the Eucharist have to be allegorized in order to be understood? Berengar

35 Abelard's approaches to the problem of language and reality have received much attention. This essay benefited from the studies of J. Ramsay McCallum, Abelard's Christian Theology (1948; rpt. edn., Merrick, N.Y., 1976), 40-44; John Marenbon, The Philosophy of Peter Abelard (Cambridge, 1997), 162-73; Mews, "Philosophy and Theology," 168-73; Stock, In~plications of Literacy, 362-402. See below at n. 42 for a fuller bibliography on the concept of image and representation in prescl~olastic thought.

3G In the ninth-century discussion of the Eucharist that took place in Corbie, Paschasius Radbert (d. ca. 860) asserted that the body of Christ was present in the Eucharist through the agency of consecration. This statement provoked a reaction on the part of Ratramnus (d. 868), a fellow monk who, taking Augustine's view of sacraments as visible words distinct from the thing they signify, interpreted Christ in the Eucharist as a figure, as an image of a truth that resided elsewhere. The debate continued in the next century, taken up by scholars from the bishopric of Li6ge, who were inclined to accept the Eucharistic physicalism of Paschasius. Heriger of Lobbes (d. 1007), in particular, while trying to reconcile the two positions and to harmonize patristic differences on the meaning of sacraments, was fundamentally a physicalist in his conception of the Eucharist. See a lucid summary of these earlier debates in Miri Rubin, Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture (Cambridge, 1991), 14-16; Macy, Theologies of the Eucharist, 21-25; and Stock, Implications of Literacy, 259-72. Significantly, Heriger of Lobbes was responsible for the production of the earliest sealed episcopal document in Likge, issued on June 19, 980, in the name of Bishop Notger (972-1008). This seal is actually the earliest extant non-royal medieval seal. The document is published with facsimile, French translation, diplomatic and historical commentaries, and bibliography in Autour de Gerbert d'Aurillac, lepape de I'an mil: Album de documents commentds, Olivier Guyotjeannin and Elnmanuel Poulle, eds. (Paris, 1996), no. 44, pp. 300-05.

37 Stock, Implications of Literacy, 385, 402. Berengar, in rekindling the Eucharistic controversy, also initiated an intense focus on sacramental theology, which dominated eleventh and twelfth-century prescholastic discussions. Significantly, some of these theologians extended to all sacraments the notion that the Eucharist is a sacrament because it is Christ's body. A sacrament (sacrae rei signum), thus, is properly sacramental when it self-identifies with its signified (signatum);van den Eynde, Les definitions des sacrements, 25-27, 138-40. For a theoretical as well as doctrinal assessment of the debate between Berengar and his opponents, see Colish, Mirror of Language, 65, 72-74; Macy, Theologies of the Eucharist, 35-53; Rubin, Corpus Christi, 13-25; Stock, Implications of Literacy, 252-315.

refused to admit that which is denied by the evidence of the senses or by simple logic. He therefore stated that the bread and wine remain on the altar after consecration, and that it was interpretation, a getting beneath the surface senses, that gave the Eucharist genuine meaning. Though relying, as Abelard would later, on the tool of linguistic philosophy, Berengar argued from and for the older dualistic Augustinian distinction between sensible and spiritual, between symbol and reality.38 The rejection of physical symbolism that Berengar and his followers advocated was opposed both by monks (for instance, John of Fecamp) and by prescholastics like Lanfran~,~~

Herimann of Rheims, and his student, the chancellor Bruno, whose scriptural exegesis and theories of the Eucharist exerted great influence on another chancellor, Anselm of Laon, whose teachings in turn influenced William of Champeaux and Hugh of St. Victor.40

Chancery-scholars were strong promoters of the notion of real presence, and it was indeed in defense of this concept that they engaged extensively in larger debates over sign theory, representation, and the authority and authenticity of the written word, both scripture and script. The earlier Augustinian semiotics buttress- ing Berengar's position had stressed the radical duality of signs as involving a negative dissimilitude: on the one hand, a mental, eternal signified, on the other, a physical, transitory signifier that refers to its object but is otherwise inessential to it. As they had done in their discussions of universals and of the referentiality of language, prescholastic theologians probed such dualism in developing their Eucharistic theology. In so doing, they scrutinized the economy by which an iconic sign might be similar to that which it denotes, and the mode involved and the extent to which it might itself partake of the object represented. As in the discussion about language and universals, attention was redirected away from Augustine's dualism toward Augustine's appreciation of a sign's tangible aspect.41 The incarnation of

38 I follow here Stock's analysis of Berengar's position in Implications of Literacy, 273-87. On the Augustinian nature of Berengar's Eucharistic doctrine, see Macdonald, Berengar and the Reform o,f Sacramental Doctrine: although the purpose of this study was to authorize the Eucharistic doctrine of the Reformed Church by showing that, like Berengar's, it was faithful to Augustinian theology, the information presented on Berengar, and the debate he fostered over the meaning of the Eucharist, is abundant and useful. Macy, Theologies of the Eucharist, 35-43. Van den Eynde, Les d~jinitions des sacrernents, 4-7, discusses Berengar's Augustinianism with respect to sacraments in general, and on 24-25 with respect to his theology of the Eucharist.

3 Lanfranc of Bec believed he had witnessed the miraculous transformation of bread and wine into those of the flesh and blood, as his student and fellow monk Guitmund (d. ca. 1090-95) recounted in De Corporis et Sang~iinis Christi Veritate, in J.-P. Migne, ed., Patrologia Latina (hereafter,PL), 221 vols., 149, 1449D-1450D; see Macy, Theologies of the Eucharist, 87.

40 On the leaders of the opposition to and tracts directed against Berengar, see Macy, Tlzeologies of the Eucharist, 44-53; van den Eynde, Les dkfifinition des sacrernents, 25-27. Anselm of Laon's theological treatment of the Eucharist was diversely followed by the Victorines, William of Champeaux and Hugh of St. Victor: Macy, Tlzeologies of the Eucharist, 74-75, 78-86, 103-05. This Laon-Victorine Eucharistic theology described the res of the Eucharist as the true body and blood of Christ, and insisted on the substantial (real) presence of Christ in the sacrament. It considered this physical presence of Christ to be itself a sign of another reality, the mystical union between Christ and the believer. Gilbert de la PorrCe and Abelard retained this interpretation, only substituting the church for the believer in the mystical union: Macy, Theologies of the Eucharist, 105, 108, 110, 115, 131. As the sensual reality of the sacrament is held to signify a spiritual reality, symbolism is maintained. This conception bypasses the conflation of signifier and signified implied in the physicalist theology of the Eucharist, but its recuperation of the dualism in Augustine's sign theory occurs through acceptance of a sign (the Eucharistic host), which is itself the embodiment of its object.

41 Maieru, "'Signum' dans la culture mi.diCvale," 69-70, discusses early theologians' tendency to rely

God was no longer to be elucidated by an image, as had happened when the notion of God as the original and of Christ as living image made it possible to see them as one and the same God, though not the same person. Rather, the image was now held to be the realization of form in matter and came to be understood as an actual incarnation. Images were promoted to quasi-personal beings.42 The language of analogy seeped into the language of ontology: "to be like" became "to be part of." The cultural content of the analogy, that is, the relationship between the object and its image, was altered so that an iconic representation might be seen as more real than the empirical experience. This is what occurs according to the doctrine of transubstantiation, where the consecrated bread and wine are the true body and blood of Christ. The Eucharistic debate produced the idea that reality was capable of being perceived through an iconic convention. In such a cultural crucible, the sign became representative less because of its relationship to a conceptual ideal than for its capacity to embody its referent's ontological characteristics. In semiotic terms, the represented object (the signified) became a constitutive part of the sign (the signifier), because for the sign to stand for its object, the sign had to incorporate a representation of that object; it was the expression of that incorpo- rated representation that came to be seen as the sign's meaning. This newly elaborated semiotic doctrine-though it maintained a distinction between objects, the signifying functions of iconic signs, and their representative capacity-in fact sanctioned a conflation of signifier and signified so that immanence rather than transcendence came to govern the rapport between signifier and signified.

The discussion of the identity, whether divine, historical, or allegorical, of the Christic person present in the Eucharist had broached the question of the nature of personhood. This question received growing consideration as the relationship between universals and individuals, destabilized in the above-described debate over universals, was explored in a quest to understand, first, the persons comprising the

on Augustine's depreciation of the signifier vis-a-vis the signified and to avoid his own attention to the sign's sensuous character. 42 Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A Histoly of the Image before the Era ofArt (Chicago, 1994),

153. Helpful in guiding me through the concept of image and representation in prescholastic thought were D. N. Bell, The Image and Likeness: The Augustinian Spirituality of William of Saint-Tlzierry (Kalamazoo, Mich., 1984);Belting, Likeness and Presence; Franqois Boespflug and Nicolas Lossky, eds., NicCe 11, 787-1987: Douze sikcles d'images religieuses (Paris, 1987); Giles Constable, Three Studies in Medieval Religious and Social Thought (Cambridge, 1995), esp. 179-217; Carlo Ginzburg, "Represen- tation: Le mot, I'idCe, la chose," Annales: E.S.C. 46 (1991): 1219-34; Iconicity: Essays on the Nature of Culture; Festschrift for Thomas A. Sebeok on his 65th Birthday, Paul Bouissac, Michael Herzfeld, and Roland Posner, eds. (Tubingen, 1986); L'image: Fonctions et usages des images dam I'Occident mddie'val; Actes du 6e "International Workshop on Medieval Societies," Centre Ettore Manorana (Erice, Sicile, 17-23 octobre 1992), JCrBme Baschet and Jean-Claude Schmitt, eds. (Paris, 1996), particularly J. Baschet, "Introduction: L'image objet," 7-26, J.-C1. Schmitt, "Imago: de l'image a l'imaginaire," 29-37, Jean Wirth, "Structure et fonctions de l'image chez saint Thomas d'Aquin," 39-57, and Georges Didi- Huberman, "Imitation, reprksentation, function, remarques sur un mythe CpistCmologique," 59-86; Images of Memory: On Remembering and Representation, Susanne Kuchler and Walter Melion, eds. (Washington, D.C., 1991);Javelet, Image et ressemblance; Gerhart B. Ladner, Ad Imaginem Dei: The Image of Man in Medieval Art (Latrobe, 1965); and Images and Ideas in the Middle Ages (Rome, 1983); Legendre, Le dCsirpolitique de Dieu; Louis Marin, Portrait of the King (Minneapolis, 1988); W. J. T. Mitchell, Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology (Chicago, 1986); Stephen G. Nichols, Romanesque Signs: Early Medieval Narrative and Iconography (New Haven, Conn., 1983); Jean-Claude Schmitt, "Les images classificatrices," Bibliothkque de 1'Ecole des chartes 147 (1989): 311-41; John E. Sullivan, The Image of God: The Doctrine of St. Augustine and Its Influence (Dubuque, Iowa, 1963).

Trinity and later the human person. Nominalism, by insisting on individuality, tended to fracture the divine unity of the Trinity into three separate entities. The nominalist Roscelin, wanting to address the problem of how the three Trinitarian persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit might be of one substance yet not all incarnate in Christ, analyzed the terms Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in a logical sense, as names humanly imposed. Although nowhere did Roscelin actually state that these names signified separate things, his theology of the Trinity provoked attacks by Anselm of Bec, who accused Roscelin of being a dialectical heretic, one who thought universal substances to be nothing but the puff of an utterance. In The Incarnation of the Word, Anselm asserts that proper names designate different persons, indicating that, while persons bearing such names share a common nature, they are irreducibly distinct one from the other with respect to distinguishing properties: in his person, the Son assumed two natures so that the person of God and the person of man was the same, and that made the person of the Son different from that of the Father and of the Spirit, since different persons cannot be the same man.43 Roscelin was forced to defend his views on the Trinity at a council held in Soissons in 1092, where he evaded the accusation that he preached division in divine essence by affirming that his argument related only to names and nomen- clature, not to God himself.44

Abelard pursued this debate in a treatise on the Unity and Trinity of God, and he argued that divine attributes were not fixed things but names predicated of God to signify certain properties of his being. The relationships between Son and Father, or Holy Spirit and Father, could be understood in terms of the relationships between these properties.45 Thus Abelard introduced the notion that members of a same species, such as men, may yet differ in their properties, or even by definition, when such properties remain intermixed. The example repeatedly used by Abelard to clarify this instance is that of the seal's waxen image. Both the waxen image made from the material and the material (wax) from which it is made are the same in essence and number, but they differ, not only by definition but by property, because the waxen image must be wax, and it comes from the wax and not from itself (the waxen image was not generated by the waxen image), but the wax may be joined as an image or as anything else, in the same way that if a man is a man, he must be an

43 "The Incarnation of the Word" (Epistola de Incarnatione Verbi), in Hopkins and Richardson, Anselm of Caizterbuly, 3: 9-37, esp. 27-31.

44 On the debate, see J. Jolivet, "Trois variations mCdiCvales sur l'universel et l'individu: Roscelin, AbClard, Gilbert de la PorrCe," Revue de mitaphysique et de morale 97 (1992): 111-55; Mews, "Philosophy and Theology," 164-68; and Constant J. Mews, "Nominalism and Theology before Abaelard: New Light on Roscelin of Compiegne," Vivarium 30 (1992): 4-33; F. Picavet, Roscelin philosoplze et thtologien d'aplds la ligende et l'histoire (Paris, 1911), 50-52.

45 Mews, "Philosophy and Theology," 168-73: Abelard's treatise "On the Unity and Trinity of God" is also known as the Theologia "Summi Boni" (first composed c. 1120), revised as the Tlzeologia Christiana c. 1122-1126, and again as the Theologia (or Theologia "Scholarum"). The Theologia "Summi Boni" and Theologia "Scholarum" are edited by E. M. Buytaert and C. J. Mews, Petri Abaelardi Opera Theologica 111, Corpus Clzristianorum Continuatio Medievalis (hereafter, CCCM) 13 (Brepols-Turnhout, 1987); the Tlzeologia Christiana is edited by E. M. Buytaert, CCCM 12 (Brepols-Turnhout, 1969). Roscelin taught Abelard, who came to oppose him vigorously even though Abelard may have learned from Roscelin the method of interpreting ancient logical texts as discussions about words rather than things; see Marenbon, Philosophy of Peter Abelard, 9.

animal, but the species animal can be a man or any other Abelard's reasoning illustrates how contemporary discussions of the persons of the Trinity were never far removed from inquiry into human personhood. Indeed, such debates fostered the creation and dissemination of the very term "person" (persona).47 Richard of St. Victor (d. 1173), a twelfth-century theologian who himself contrib- uted greatly to the definition and acceptance of the term "persona" in the course of his work on the Trinity, commented that the noun "person" is regularly found "in the mouths of all, even of peasants."48

The prescholastic milieu of schools and chanceries had to consider human personhood in yet another context, the establishment of documentary authority. The authority of written documents, in a fundamental shift, moved away from immediate dependency on God and the supernatural, coming increasingly to derive from and depend on human persons.49 At issue in this shift was a need to project the authority and accountability of human beings beyond their actual, empirical presence, so as to impart to charters a level of permanence previously expected only of God. The solution achieved centered on the seal, a sign-object standing in, substituting, for its owner or user, and conceived and created so as to produce a duplicate presence, a presence not actual but nonetheless real.

In the decades following the year 1000, the number of charters produced and preserved in northern France increased by several orders of magnitude, setting off a trend toward written documentation that was never reversed.50 These charters

46 The full text of Abelard's seal metaphor is given and further discussed below, at pp. 1522-24 and nn. 89-90, where the seal metaphor in general receives a systematic examination.

47 M. Bergeron, O.P., "La structure du concept latin de personne," Etudes d'lzistoire litte'raire et doctrinale du XIIIe sikcle 2 (1952): 121-61; Marie-Dominique Chenu, "Tradition and Progress," in Nature, Man, and Society," 325-26, makes a strict connection between twelfth-century work in the field of trinitarian theology and the creation of new terms such as persona; Mary L. O'Hara, The Logic of Human Personality: An Onto-Logical Account (Atlantic Highlands, N.J., 1997), 54-56, discusses Richard of St. Victor's (d. 1173) analysis of the notion of the human person to establish the doctrine of the Trinity. Richard of St. Victor's trinitarian theology receives full treatment in Nico den Bok,

Communicating the Most High: A Systematic Study of Person and Trinity in the Theology of Richard of St. Victor ([dl. 1173) (Paris, 1996), where an entire chapter (9) is devoted to "Human Person and the Trinity." Marcel Mauss, "A Category of the Human Mind: The Notion of Person; The Notion of Self," in The Categoly of the Person: Anthropology, Philosoplzy, Histoly, Michael Carrithers, et al., eds. (Cambridge, 1985), 1-25, analyzes the notion of person beyond its connection with trinitarian doctrine.

48 Richard of St. Victor, De Trinitate, PL, 196: col. 933, quoted in Chenu, "Tradition and Progress," 326; and in O'Hara, Logic of Human Personality, 54, with further comments on Richard's theological, ontological, and logical approaches to "person."

49 GuenCe, "Authentique et approuvk," reviews a sample of excerpts from charters and canon law that testify to the semantic overlap between authority and authenticity: in order to be authentic, a seal or a written document had to be accredited by or to emanate from an authority such as the pope, a bishop, or a lay magnate. As, from a practical viewpoint, this worldly accrediting authority was in the process of replacing divine authority, the reasoning of canonists in dealing with documentary authenticity became circular, thus revealing their difficulty in conceptualizing the nature of the authority to be invested in human signs; see further remarks on documentary authority and authenticity above at n. 11 and below at n. 69. In his elegant and pithy essay Sincerity artdiluthenticity (Cambridge, Mass., 1972), Lionel Trilling remarked on the connection between sincerity, taken as an element of personal autonomy, and "the intensified sense of personal identity that developed along with the growth of the idea of society." Placed within the context of Hegel's historical anthropology, sincerity thus becomes a negative virtue "standing between the self and the disintegration which is essential if it is to develop its true, its entire, freedom" (p. 47). It is an argument of the present article that new and related concerns for identity, authority, and authenticity seem linked to an evolution toward social regimentation.

A recent issue of the Bibliothbque de I'Ecole des chartes 155 (1997), contains the proceedings of Seal of Raoul, count of Vermandois, circa 1146. Archives Nationales, Paris, D 1010.

a roundtable held on Pratiques de I'e'crit documentaire au XIe si2cle. See below at n. 54 an annotated bibliography on the documentary decline that may or may not have followed the Carolingian reliance on the written word.

In reviewing lay charters in Flanders, Ponthieu, Picardie, Ile-de-France, Normandy, and Champagne between 900 and 1050, I found that 10 percent are of the tenth century, while 90 percent are of the first half of the eleventh century. Sources consulted for this project include: cartularies and archival holdings cited in my dissertation, La chdtellenie de Montmorency des origines a 1368: Aspects fe'odaux, sociaw et Cconomiques (Pontoise, 1980), 349-60, which bear principally on the Ile-de-France; the electronic database of the ARTEM in Nancy, which gathers all original French charters prior to 1121 (see a partial publication by Michkle Courtois, Chartes originales ante'rieures a 1121 consewe'es duns le de'partement du Nord [Nancy, 19811); the northern French charters catalogued in the "Nouveau Wauters," the electronic database managed by the CETEDOC of the Catholic University of Louvain-La-Neuve, which includes all published and unpublished charters produced in historical Belgium prior to 1200; the cartularies of religious establishments located in the bishoprics of Paris, Senlis, Laon, Beauvais, Amiens, Soissons, Arras, Cambrai, Reims, and Rouen, which are catalogued, critically described, and available for consultation on microfilms at the I.R.H.T. (Paris); episcopal acts from Amiens, Arras, Beauvais, Cambrai, Laon, Noyon, Reims, and Soissons. (See, on the availability of these episcopal materials, Michel Parisse, "Importance et richesse des chartes episcopales: Les exemples de Metz et de Toul, des origines a 1200," in Parisse, Apropos des actes dJtvCques, 19-43, esp. 41-43; and Parisse, "La recherche fran~aise sur les actes des ev&ques: Les travaux d'un groupe de recherche," Die Diplomatik der Bischofsurkunde vor 1250 1 La diplonzatique e'piscopale avant 1250: Referate zum VIII. Internatioizaleiz Kongress fur Diplomatik, Innsbruck, I993 [Innsbruck, 19951, 203-08); princely acts, which have in only a few cases been published under the heading of their princely authors: Actes des comtes de FlandreIOorkonden der graven van Haanderen: 1071-1128 by Fernand Vercauteren (Brussels, 1938), 1128-1168 by ThCrkse de Hemptinne (Brussels, 1989), 1191-1206 by Walter Prevenier (3 vols., Brussels, 1964); Clovis Brunel, Recueil des actes des comtes de Pontieu, 1026-1279 (Paris, 1930) (hereafter, Pontieu); Marie Fauroux, Recueil des actes des dues de Normandie, 911-1066 (Caen, 1961);

E. de Lepinois, Recherclzes historiques et critiques sur I'ancien comtt et les comtes de Clermont en Beauvaisis du XIe au XIIIe siicle (Beauvais, 1877); William Mendel Newman, Les seigneurs de Nesles en Picardie (XIIe-XIIIe siicle): Leurs chartes et leur histoire, 2 vols. (Paris, 1971), 2: 27-161. In France in the Making, 843-1180 (Oxford, 1985), Jean Dunbabin gives an insightful account of princely charters produced between 987 and 1108 (pp. 130-32) and between 1108 and 1180 (253-55).

were issued in the names of the aristocrats responsible for the transactions being recorded in writing, such transactions typically involving gifts of land made to religious houses and to their saints for the salvation of the donors' souls. However, the actual production and subsequent control of such written records remained a monopoly of the ecclesiastical beneficiaries who drafted them and maintained them archivally.

Both donors and benefactors were interested in ensuring textual and transac- tional permanence; the most reliable traditional agency for this purpose was God. Documentary writing derived much of its power from a visible affinity with Holy Scripture, an affinity established both by graphic logic and by liturgical inanipula- tion. Graphic logic involved such methods as the inscription of a Chrismon, a trinitarian invocation, the use of Latin, biblical preambles (arenga), and divine maledictions and threats of excommunication against anyone who might challenge the gift being recorded.51 Liturgical manipulations included the charters' produc- tion by priestly scribes and their placement on altars or in gospel^.^' A manuscript charter was kindred to Scripture and, as such, was a space of sacred and secure inscription.

The charter's text, however, was formulated in the first-person voice of the individual who was making the donation, and it conveyed the will, the intention, of an individual donor. The religiously designed charter located the ego, the "I" of diplomatic discourse, within the rationale of Christian ethics and salvific eschatol- ogy. Therefore, with respect to those charters given in his own name, and to which he was entrusting the fate of his soul and of his kin, the donor remained a problematic author. First, he had not himself created the manuscript document,

5l The best analysis, with current bibliography, of the textual, graphic, and linguistic components of diplomatic discourse is provided by Olivier Guyotjeannin, Jacques Pycke, and Benoit-Michel Tock, Diplornatique nzddidvale (Turnhout, 1993), 71-102. On the use of spiritual maledictions in charters, see Jeffrey Bowman, "Do Neo-Romans Curse," Viator 28 (1997): 1-32; and Lester K. Little, Benedictine ~Maledictions: Lit~irgical Cursing in Rornartesq~ie France (Ithaca, N.Y., 1993), who, however, tends to focus on English and southern European charters; Emily Zack Tabuteau, Trartsfers of Property in Elevertth-Century Norman Law (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1988), 219-22, with a questionable discussion of the role of signatures in charters.

Fauroux, Recueil des actes des dues de Nori~zarzdie, p. 148, no. 43 (1015-1026), donation of Duke Richard I1 to the abbey of St. Ouen: "per signum crucis cum excolnlnunicatione hanc cartam firmavit." See further examples of maledictions and threats of excommunication in C. Brunel, Poi~tieu,p. 23 (charter no. 11), 1100: sealed act of Gui, count of Ponthieu, in favor of the monastery of St. Sauveur of Montreuil-sur-Mer, "infractores auteln hujus traditionis, nisi diglla satisfactione resipuerint, a Deo et omnibus sanctis ejus anathernatizati, eterne dampnationi subjaceant. Amen." Similar formulas are in use in charters no. 4 (1067) at p. 6, no. 8 (1100) at p. 14, no. 10 (1100) at p. 21, no. 12 (1100) at p. 25, no. 25 (1136-37) at p. 42, no. 27 (1143) at p. 46, and no. 62 (1159-60) at p. 95.

Two dictionary entries provide the best discussion of chrismon and trinitarian invocation: Alfred Gawlik in the Lexicon des Mitfelalters, 2: col. 1905; and the Dictioiinaire d'arche'ologie chrCtie1111e et de liturgie, 3-1: cols. 1481-1534. On the use of the cross within charters, see a state of the question by Michel Parisse, "Croix autographes de souscription dans I'Ouest de la France au XIe sikcle," in Graphische Synzbole in mittelalterlichen Urk~inden, Peter Riick, ed. (Sigmaringen, 1996), 143-55. The standard work on preambles (nrertgae) in which is given a catalogue and a survey of thematic evolution is by Heinrich Fichtenau, Arenga: Spatarztike ~~rtd mitt el alter inz Spiegel voli Urkundenfor7nelrt (Graz-Cologne, 1957).

52 Fauroux, Recueil des actes des dues de Normandie, for instance, p. 334, no. 149 (1040-50): confirmation by Duke William of a donation in favor of the abbey of St. Leger, "pro sua suorurnque salute, donationem supra altare posuit, de his omnibus que Hunfridus dederat." See further examples in C. Brunel, Pontieu, 21, 30, 120, 129, 225. See also a discussion of placing charters on altars in A. de Boiiard, Manuel de diplonzatique fiarz~aise et porttificnle, Vol. 2: L'acte privd (Paris, 1948), 112-14.

which was rendered in Latin, a language he hardly knew. Second, the written text itself was fundamentally impersonal because its actual scribe, who remained anonymous, wrote in an official or a technical capacity, as a fictive person, persona fictiva, in the name of someone else. Writing in the name of a donor, representing him as author, the scribe introduced motivations, decisions, and gifts, repeatedly using the word ego. Utilizing this first-person form, the scribe, though semiotically entering the subjectivity of the donor, in fact maintained the reference of third person. Hence the locus of subjectivity transcended the individual, and what presented itself as individual subjective discourse was actually suffused with multiple voices.53

Diplomatic discourse thus incorporated a cultural "self" that was quite distinct from an individual body. Yet the postmillennial charter required a first-person- singular pronominal category, an ego to function as index, to indicate the originator of the utterance. It may be helpful to point out here that this method of written documentation developed in mid-eleventh-century northern France at the end of a period of a century and a half (900-1050) during which transactions had normally been accomplished by the oral statements of principals and witnesses, usually made under oath and publicized by symbolic gestures and rit~als.5~

Set within such oral

and visual modes, the empirical presence of the subject, of ego, had of course been

immediate and undoubted.

With the growing importance of writing in the ceremony that sanctioned land transactions, the ego of written diplomatic discourse-a linguistic category differing from the person uttering the words-could not provide referentiality through actual contiguity with the charter's author. The issue became how to reconcile ego, the linguistic category, and ego, the physical individual, the actual subject of the enunciation. It is because the postmillennial charter long remained part of a

SVeiniotics, Se& and Society, Benjamin Lee and Greg Urban, eds. (Berlin, N.Y., 1989), esp. intro.,

p. 4, and Greg Urban, "The 'I' of Discourse," 27-51.

54 On the spoken word as the foundation of social and economic relations between the tenth and the early twelfth century, see Stock, I~nplicntiorts of Litergcy, 17; L. Stouff, "Etude sur la formation des contrats par 1'Ccriture dans le droit des formules du VeIne au XIIeIne sikcle," Nouvelle revue historique de droit finizcais et e'tranger 11 (1887): 274-75. On Norman transactions between lay persons being executed without charters during the eleventh century, see Tabuteau's remarks in Transfers of Propert),, 7-8; 213-14, 218-19. Current scholarship on the Carolingian period (ca. 750-950) emphasizes the centrality of the written word during that period: McKitterick, Carolingians aizd the Writteiz Word; Janet

L. Nelson, "Dispute Settlement in Carolingian West Francia," in The Settlement of Disputes in Early Medieval Europe, Wendy Davies and Paul Fouracre, eds. (Cambridge, 1986), 45-64; Nelson, "Literacy in Carolingian Government," in The Uses of Literacy in Early mediaeval Europe, Rosamond McKitter- ick, ed. (Cambridge, 1990), 258-96. See also Karl Ferdinand Werner, " 'Missus, marchio, comes: Entre l'administration centrale et l'administration locale de l'empire carolingien," in Werner Paravicini and Karl Ferdinand Werner, eds., Histoire compnre'e de l'administration (IVe-XVIII" siecles) (Munich, 1980), 191-239. On the assumption that the written word would not have been aimed at officials unable to handle it, a case has been made for the practical literacy of Carolingian lay elites and for presenting the development of literacy during the eleventh and twelfth centuries as a continuation of the Carolingian achievement (McKitterick, Caroliizgiaizs and the Written Word). Yet Nelson, "Dispute Settlement in Carolingian West Francia," 55, concludes that disputes between laymen were settled through feud, mediation, or arbitration, and went unrecorded. Whatever the level of Carolingian literate skills and the prescriptive power of the Carolingian written word, it seems that their legacy, if any, did not affect the realm of landed transactions, for even during the Carolingian period property matters between lay elites were settled without recourse to the written word. In post-Carolingian northern France, legal and administrative dependency on the written word was not maintained, and only ecclesiastical establishments have left traces of documentary practices.

ceremonial format, in which the charter's operations hinged less on its legibility (as text) than on its visibility (as scripture), that the charter's contextual apparatus long continued to derive from and to parallel the ambient oral modes. The oral and the written did not stand in opposition, then, but operated jointly within a single framework of intelligibility.

This framework rested on the primacy of empirical presence in the assertion of authority; it construed power to emanate from character, to be the effluence of personality. Thus, when gifts of land were contested and resolved by charter, as often happened, such disputes were not settled by considering the parties as donors and recipients, and by applying legal rules appropriate to these categories, but rather by an agreement through which the status and self-esteem of both parties as particular individuals might be saved and a social relationship between them created or renewed. Behavior was remembered and inscribed in the form of statements about particular persons and their action~.~5 to

The attention was individual will and responsibility, to a personal examination of the implications of one's actions, which were understood as involving, beside terrestrial and social consequences, merits capable of saving (or losing) one's soul in the afterlife. In short, the legal realm conjured up by the charters was equated with the realms of ethics and theology. The "subjective" and "personal" in the law, far from diminishing legal authority, in fact constituted it.56

The individual person encountered in prescholastic charters is, pace Jacob Bur~khardt,~7

an autonomous, voluntary, and empirically present agent, situated within a set of social relationships arising out of consent and contract. The sources of empirical presence within the charter were, necessarily, the event recorded and its author. Thus the focus on the individual coalesced around two related requirements-the need to anchor the written charter within the concrete cere- mony of gift giving, and the need to embody the determinant elements of this context: the transaction itself and the actual speakers (empirical, physical persons who had performed and witnessed the transaction). How to achieve this incarna- tion? The answer was a system of signs. Thus the evolution of the charter's format from sacred inscription to sealed deed occurred as an attempt to incorporate within

"Cheyette, "Invention of the State," 161-62, 167-69. A good treatment of the mechanisms for the settlement of disputes is Stephen D. White, "Feuding and Peace-Making in the Touraine around the Year 1100," Traditio 42 (1986): 195-263. In Bedos-Rezak, "Diplomatic Sources and Medieval Documentary Practices," 318, 323-24, I show that, in the case of contested land gifts, churchmen rarely referred to the relevant granting charters in trying to prove their rights, and that these were in any case often too vague about the property transferred to be of use. Rather, expert memory was assembled continuously in numerous settings where the working intelligence of daily life-possession and use of land, social relations-was repeatedly reshaped and maintained through such recurrent negotiations concerning titles to land. This argument, that charters were not invoked even when land transfers were challenged, has been taken up by Laurent Morelle, who further examined the role of the written word in the settlement of land disputes: "Les chartes dans la gestion des conflits (France du Nord, XIe-d6but XIIe sikcle)," in A,ntiq~~es

de l'e'crit docunzentaire au XIe sidcle, 267-98.

56 Jaeger, Envy of Aizgels, 274.

57 Martin, "Inventing Sincerity, Refashioning Prudence," 1309-11, quotes and discusses Jacob

Burckhardt, Die Cultur dei Reizaissalzce in Italien: Eii~ Versuch (Basel, 1860), analyzing the influence of

Burckhardt's elegantly argued notion that humanistic and individualistic ideals originated in Renais-

sance Italy, while in the Middle Ages, a veil "of faith, illusion and childish prepossession" made man

"conscious of himself only as member of a race, people, party, family, or corporation-only through

some general category" (p. 1309).

the charter the actual nature of personal authority rooted in being, soon to be obsolescent.

At first, transactions and their authors loomed equally large. Evidence of the transaction, such as a symbolic rod or knife, was initially either manipulated together with or even affixed to the charter.58 By the late eleventh century, however, only donors' and witnesses' names appear in the charters, preceded by an inscribed cross, a sign not necessarily autograph, although it might be.59 The signatory who marked a cross on a charter, or had it inscribed, would also have made a ceremonial sign of the cross across his or her body, an act usually described in the charter's te~t.6~ manual and manuscript crosses were signs both of identity and

The commitment, typically accompanied only by the name received at baptism. Such crosses indicated individual filiation as son, or daughter, of God, and hence individual commitment as God's child; they recorded Christian filiation and the subscription of a solemn oath made in the presence and in the name of Christ crucified. Thus the person engaged by the charter was responsible both for the content of the charter, the gift of land, and for his or her soul, since the land had been given, on oath, to enter the economy of salvation.

The initially tangible symbols of rod and knife gave way to the scripted cross on charters. From signs of conveyance to signs of the authors and the witnesses to conveyance, the focus moved from the action and its object to the actors. This shift occurred in conjunction with the increased concern for salvation characteristic of postmillennial aristocratic spirituality.G1 The nascent hermeneutics of personal identity tended to merge with the theology of the soul, but this fusion did not last long. For all its potentially powerful symbolism, the cross functioning as a

For an excellent discussion, with current bibliography, of the symbols and ceremonials deployed to foster and memorialize transactions, see Guyotjeannin, Diplornatique mtdie'vale, 86-88, which does not, however, entirely supersede Boiiard, Manuel de diplomatique, 2: 112-19. In 1069, William of Normandy, king of England, pretended to jab the syn~bolic knife of the transaction into the beneficiary abbot's hand as an "obvious sign" (evidenti sigrzo) of the perpetual rooting of his donation within the abbey's inalienable patrimony: A. Deville, Cart~ilaire de l'abbaye de la Sainte-Triizitt-du-Mont de Rouen, appendice B Benjamin Guerard, Cartulaire de l'abbaye de Saint-Bertin (Paris, 1840), no. 67, p. 455. In some cases, the charter was evidently only symbolic of the transaction, because the parchment itself remained entirely blank, an unequivocal case of the medium being the message: on the cartae sine litteris (blank charters), see Aaron Gurevic, "Representations et attitudes B 1'Cgard de la proprikte pendant le Haut-Moyen Age," Annales: E.S.C. 27 (1972): 533 n. 43; Paul Zumthor, La lettre et la voix de la litte'mture me'die'vale (Paris, 1987), 97.

59 Parisse, "Croix autographes de souscription." It gives me pleasure to acknowledge here how much I was inspired by Beatrice Fraenkel, La signatz~re: Genese d'un signe (Paris, 1992); see her analysis of the cross on documents at 63-65, 176-77 (Fr, signer and se sigrter, a parallelism, "to sign" and "to cross oneself," not rendered in English).

60 Clanchy, From ~Mernory to Written Record, 295, and 313, where he quotes an Anglo-Norman charter given in 1109 by Hugh of Chester for Chester Abbey in the presence of Anselm of Bec, archbishop of Canterbury: "Earl Hugh and my barons have confirmed all these things by the seal of Almighty God, that is the sign of the holy cross, so that each of us makes a sign of the cross with his own hand as evidence for posterity." Similar formulas are in use in C. Brunel, Pontieu, charter no. 14 (1053) at p. 27, charter no. 22bis (1119-29) at pp. 661-62, charter no. 21 (1103-29) at p. 36.

61 On the centrality of salvation in eleventh and twelfth-century French aristocratic spirituality as evidenced in charters, see the works by Constance Brittain Bouchard, Sword, Miter, and Cloister: Nobili@ and the Chlirch, 980-1198 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1987); Barbara H. Rosenwein, To Be the Neighbor of Saint-Peter: Tlze Social Meaning of Cluny's Property, 909-1049 (Ithaca, 1989); Linda Seidel, Sortgs of Glo~y:The Rornanesque Fa~ades ofAquitaine (Chicago, 1981); Tabuteau, Transfers of Property; Stephen

D. White, Custom, Kinship> and Gifts to Saints: The "La~idatio Parentunl" i~z Western France, 1050-1150 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1988).

sign-signature on a charter marked identity only in the broadest possible terms: membership in a Christian society. Although the cross might emanate directly from the author of the charter, from the "I" of diplomatic discourse, it more often was actually traced by the scribe. In either case, the cross denoted that the authority for the enforcement of the charter, its ultimate warrantor, was God; indeed, the cross both signed and signified God.

When seals began to be affixed to documents during the course of the eleventh century, the manuscript textual cross was still a standard appurtenance of charters. The charter by which Robert, son of the count of Flanders, made a donation for the salvation of his soul to the abbey of Wheaten in 1093 reads: "In order that these dispositions may remain firm and untouched through eternity, I have had this charter confirmed and signed with the victorious symbol of the holy cross, and with the sign of my authority and the seal of my highness."62 While both cross and seal signified a sacred undertaking, and both have rhetorical presence within the charter, there are two major distinctions between them as documentary signs. First, the cross remains a written sign, and in this case non-autograph, whereas the seal is both a material object and a figural presence that emanated directly from the author of the charter. Second, as the fairly standard clause within the document makes clear, the cross symbolizes Christ victorious, while the seal signifies the authority, as it is the image, of its owner. The cross signaled Christian kinship and invoked God's authority; the seal marked and invoked personal identity and authority.

SEALSHAVE A LONG HI STORY.^^ Originating alongside if not actually preceding the invention of writing, sealing remained, in most civilizations, a valuable mechanism for marking and protecting ownership, signing commitment, designating identity, representing authority, and authenticating documents. In parallel to their roles in the sphere of practice, seals also served as a metaphoric focus. Mesopotamian and biblical texts, Platonic and Aristotelian treatises, patristic and early medieval commentaries all incorporate the imagery of seals as a conceptual tool." Such historical longevity, however, does not necessarily imply congruence between the cultural and modal significance of the seals. Most historian-sigillographers have simply assumed continuity of seal usage between very different societies as a category of historical explanation, thereby promoting interpretation of the seal as a single "historical," and thus ahistorical, object. In addressing the new appearance of seals on charters issued in the name of French non-royal elites between 1000 and 1200, my earlier work grounds this diffusion laterally, within the very circumstances of its occurrence, rather than approaching it vertically, as an event somehow predicated or determined by historical c~ntinuity.~s

62 Vercauteren, Actes des comtes de Flandres, 40-41. 6The comprehensive history of seals, from its beginning in 3000 BCE Mesopotamia to the modern period, is given in Erich Kittel, Siege1 (Braunschweig, 1970). 64 On ancient and biblical seal metaphors, see below at n. 87. Brigitte Bedos-Rezak, Form and Order in Medieval fiance: Studies in Social and Quantitative Sigillograplzy (London, 1993).

Seals were not entirely novel in eleventh-century France." From the seventh century onward, seal impressions had been affixed to royal documents exclusively, by a chancellor who had custody of the royal seal and was responsible for the production and validation of royal diplomas. In early Frankish times, under the Merovingian kings (sixth to mid-eighth centuries), the royal seal affixed to diplomas did not function as a means of documentary validation. Its use imitated the usage of the Byzantine imperial chancery; to seal a document was, for the Merovingian kings, to behave as a ruler. The seal was a sign of the king, the only person who could issue documents thus marked. This linkage between documentary seal usage and royal status was maintained upon the ascension of the Carolingians (751); royal seals came to operate as an apparatus of the office of kingship. They spread in parallel to the Carolingian multiplication of kingships. Each Carolingian offspring used a seal upon his assumption of a royal office, but as soon as a king was functionally replaced by a non-royal official, such as a duke, the use of seals disappeared, although the political entity might still be called a kingdom (Lat. regnum), and the overall administrative structure remained otherwise intact. Seal usage thus related to kingship and not to the territoriality of power, a characteristic further emphasized on Carolingian seal legends, that is, the inscriptions surround- ing the images, which included only the name and title of the ruler; territorial designation was absent. The same seal might be, and was, affixed if and when a ruler changed kingdoms, as happened during the tumultuous partitions of Charle- magne's empire from the mid-ninth century onward. A particular seal might and often did serve for different rulers so long as the names and titles matched. The accent was on the function and on the nature and degree of ruling authority (king, emperor) as defined by the title. It was specifically along titular lines that seal matrices were systematically engraved afresh, such as when a king became emperor. More official than personal, Carolingian royal seals projected an order of reality grounded in permanence, obscuring the contingency inherent in any individual rules by reference to the continuing symbolic activity of statehood. By early Capetian times (early eleventh century), however, the royal seal was used only sporadically and had lost some of its standing as a formula and prerogative of kingship.67 During the second half of the eleventh century, the royal chancery resumed the systematic sealing of diplomas, while French non-royal elites began, for the first time in the medieval West, to seal charters issued in their own names. Non-royal sealing demonstrated and articulated the loss of a royal prerogative. This may indicate the establishment of competing comital, episcopal claims to authority,

66 Factual accounts of seal diffusion are given by R.-H. Bautier, "Le cheminement de la bulle et du sceau et de la bulle des origines mCsopotamiennes au XIIe siecle occidental," Revue fran~aise d'lztraldique et de sigillographie 54-59 (1984-1989): 41-84, rpt. in Bautier, Chartes, sceam et chanceller.ies, 1: 123-66; Bautier, "Apparition, diffusion et evolution typologique du sceau Cpiscopal au Moyen Age," Die Diplornatik der Bischofsurkunde vor 1250 1 La diplomatique kpiscopale avant 1250, 225-41; Jean-Luc Chassel, "L'essor du sceau au XIe siecle" [deals with a few seals from Burgundy], in Pratiques de l'kcrz't docrlnzentaire au XIe sidcle, 221-34; and Chassel, "L'usage du sceau au XIIe siecle," in Gasparri, Le XII" sidcle, 61-102. In both For172 and Order and "Diplomatic Sources," 327-32, I have considered the social in~plications of seal diffusion and sealing practices.

67 B. Bedos-Rezak, "Ritual in the Royal Chancery: Text, Image, and the Representation of Kingship in Medieval French Diplomas (700-1200)," in Europearz Monarclzy: Its Evolution and Practice fram Roman Antiquity to Modern Tinzes, Heinz Duchhardt, Richard A. Jackson, and David Sturdy, eds. (Stuttgart, 1992), 27-40.

Seal of Pierre de Courtenai, count of Nevers, 1184. Archives Nationales, Paris, D 863.

a desire to share the aura of royal status by the emulation of royal chancery practices, or both. However, since the appearance of non-royal sealing and the revival of royal sealing are contemporaneous, it is worth considering the possibility that eleventh-century usage of royal seals was a part of, rather than the model for, the new spread of sealing to non-royal elites.

In analyzing the diffusion of seals along the axes of regionalism, politics, and gender, I have come to rethink four previous assumptions that have long, almost axiomatically, dominated the field of medieval sigillography, or sphragistics, that is, the study of seals,68 and have in my view obscured the actual historical significance of medieval seals, relegating them to the world of antiquarianism and connoisseur- ship.

The first assumption is that the seal's function, between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries, was to authenticate documents. This notion, which was first articulated at the end of the twelfth century and received its prescriptive formulation in the thirteenth, cannot account for the early pattern of non-royal seal usage. In fact, when late twelfth-century canon lawyers began to reflect on documentary valida-

G8 The best general treatises on medieval seals include Wilhelm Ewald, Siegelkunde (1914; rpt. edn., Munich, 1969); Michel Pastoureau, Les sceaux (Turnhout, 1981); and Paul D. A. Harvey and Andrew McGuiness, A Guide to British Medieval Seals (London, 1996). The method of these excellent volumes is to introduce seals by describing their features, their users, and their value as sources for modern medievalists. In all three works, however, seal function is axiomatically assumed to be documentary validation. For a series of essays charting the nature of seal agency within the very social processes seals exposed as media for discourse on rulership, authority, authenticity, kindred, and gender, see Bedos-Rezak, Fo1.n~ and Order in Medieval France.

tion, they assigned the power of authentication only to the sigillum authenticum, the authentic seal. The meaning of authentic here does not derive from a concern about counterfeits but from the hesire to establish the capacity for authentic seals to confer full validity on documents devoid of witnesses. However, if from its very inception the concept of the authentic seal involved a precise understanding of the seal's effect, this effect was specifically understood to emanate from the public authority of popes and rulers. Thus the authenticating power of seals was conditional on the status, conceived as public, of their owners. By the late thirteenth century, when jurists attempted to provide the authentic seal with a broader sociopolitical conception, they insisted that for a seal to function as an authenti- cating device it must be well known. Even when finally producing such imprecise and relative definitions, jurists did not conceal the fact that viewpoints in the matter of seal validation differed widely; they recognized that the meanings and agency of seals depended on local custom.69 In short, medieval legal discussions of seals, not to mention actual sealing practices, far from displaying consensus about the seal as a validating device, testify to the difficulty legal scholars had in articulating the values and beliefs implied both by the authenticating and by the sealing processes. The question for these scholars was the very nature of the authority underlying the seal's efficacy, since non-royal seals did not base their owners' authority on royal grant and affiliation, nor did seals invoke the political hierarchy as party to the act they witnessed.

A second hypothesis holds that seals spread because of the concurrent revival, in the twelfth century, of trade and urbanization, the growth of bureaucracies, the reintroduction of Roman Law, and the spread of literacy. Enabling conditions should not be mistaken for explanations, nor do the circumstances lend themselves readily to a chronology indicating the precedence of one phenomenon over the others. There had been a moderate continuum of unsealed charters given in the name of lay authors since early medieval times, but only when they came to be sealed did such texts lead to that generalized and irreversible social dependence on the written word that has continued up to the present day. Thus it seems that seals furthered rather than resulted from literate modes. This suggests that seals played a unique role in fostering, to borrow M. T. Clanchy's expression, medieval trust in writing. Basing his argument on English records (1066-1307), Clanchy gives the most satisfactory account to date of the seal's ability both to encompass and to translate the meanings of the symbolic objects and gestures that had previously validated written deeds, or indeed had entirely substituted for them.70 This scenario elegantly situates the seal as a bridge between the literate and the non-literate, deftly bypassing a polarized historiography that had either associated seals with the growth of literacy or labeled them a technique for illiterates. However, these

6' The best discussions of the medieval concept of authentic seals and documentary validation are found in A. Dumas, "Etude sur le classement des formes des actes," Le moyen dge 43 (1934): 146-66; and Mariano Welber, Sigillograjia: I1 sigillo nella diplomatica, nel diritto, nella storia, nell'arte, Vol. 3: I sigilli nella storia del diritto medievale italiano (Milan, 1934), 181-228; see also studies quoted above at nn. 11 and 49. "A charter's full credibility depends upon an authentic seal, that is, a seal which is well known and famous." Conrad of Mure, Summa de arte prosandi, cited in Dumas, "Etude sur le classement des formes des actes," Le moyen dge 43 (1934): 155, who gives additional citations of and references to relevant medieval texts on 156.

70 Clanchy, From Menzory to Written Record, 308-17.

theories did not adequately confront the fact that there is no systematic or even necessary relationship between seals and the growth of literacy. Charlemagne (d. 814), for example, reinforced the dependence of his administration on the written word by turning to a system of notaries to impart authority to non-royal documents even though his own chancery was sealing the royal diplomas.71 Then, too, areas of Southern Europe that had retained a higher rate of documentary practice through- out the early Middle Ages also used the notariate, adopting sealed charters comparatively late.72 Thus there clearly were successful medieval literate practices independent of sealing.

A third presumption maintains that seals were icons of power. Interpretations of seals as evidence both for and of social and political processes assume a causal relation between the function and meaning of seals and the status and authority of their owners. I have reconsidered this putative causal relationship in the light of the documentary practices discussed above. To repeat: there is no extant evidence of literate intercourse between lay individuals for the purpose of transacting land in eleventh and twelfth-century France. Such operations of lay society not involving churchmen appear to have been accomplished primarily by means of oral and gestural modes. In this period, as before, churchmen held a scribal monopoly and were responsible for both the production and the conservation of charters. The ecclesiastically scripted but lay-sealed charter thus indicates secular participation in and acculturation to documentary modes, which were fostered as much by the preexisting churchmen's scribal and scriptural culture as by sealing. The new category of sealed charters must therefore be analyzed within the contextual framework of their originating scriptoria. The sealed charter, heretofore inter- preted solely as an act of individual or familial will, must now be reconsidered as a text and artifact articulating cultural and ideological models ambient in specific scriptoria.

A fourth prejudice, indeed a paramount force that has focused seal scholarship on artistic considerations and legal functionality, and has, more generally, shaped traditional sigillography as an antiquarian discipline, is its heuristics, based on casts. Archival collections usually consist of casts made from molds directly taken from single originals, the best impression of a given seal type. Seal catalogs typically describe such casts, thus discounting information inherent in original seal impres- sions and subsuming such variants into a single archetype. The use of casts as standard objects of study tends to transform the seal into a fixed type, undermining its most fundamental signifying and operative principle, reiteration, by which medieval seals produced identity through identical devices. Aftercasting denatures seals by altering their locus (from documents) and their status (as signs), abstractly recasting them as separate objects of knowledge, removed from their original cultural sphere of discourse and practice.

71 See a discussion of Carolingian literacy above at n, 54. For a discussion of the Carolingian notariate, see R.-H. Bautier, "L'authentification des actes privks dans la France medievale: Notariat public et juridiction gracieuse," in Notariado pliblico y docunzento privado, de 10s origines a1 srglo XIK Actas del VII Congreso internaciolzal de dlplornatica, Valencia, 1986 (Valencia, 1989), 2: 707-09, rpt. in Clznrtes, sceaux et chancelleries, 1: 275-77.

72 Bautier, "L'authentification des actes prives," 713-36, and 281-304 in Chartes, scealrx et chancelleries.

Restoring seals to their historicity, as agents within the culture that produced and used them, extends our understanding of the instrumentality of seals well beyond their long-recognized documentary function. A semiotic approach to seals enables them to be reexamined as signs and symbols, and redirects the analysis toward their modes and areas of signification (rhetoric, sign theory, authority, personification, identity), toward the assumptions encoded by seals about the nature of their operation, and toward the effect of seals in and on the society that manipulated them.

It is noteworthy that medieval authors themselves explicitly defined seals as signs. This might earlier have suggested a semiotically informed study of them to historian-sigillographers, yet it was not the sigillographic literature that first proposed a semiotic analysis of seals.73 Rather, broader works on modern semiotics and anthropology have helped bring to my attention both the nature and implica- tions of seals as semiotic agents and processes and the extreme sensitivity to semioticity during the period in which seal usage spread. Of particular relevance for the conceptualization of such an approach is semiotic anthropology, and it is at this point useful to review the extent and limits of this discipline, which arose at the University of Chicago in the mid-1970~.~~

Building on insights of Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) and Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), semiotic anthro- pology encourages considerable attention to language without confining culture to the single reductionist model of a linguistic code. This approach holds that cultures are particularized by semiotic processes and semiotic systems specific to them. Semiotic processes involve mediation, reification, naturalization, metaphorization, and emblematization; these are the means by which material features of the sensible world (color, stone, bone, blood, flesh) are made to perform as vehicles of signification. Semiotic systems incorporate the various ideologies that organize these processes and enable their signification by providing interpretive codes and principles (interpretants). Encased both in social action and in theoretical dis- course, the ideologies of semiosis are themselves cultural phenomena subject to textual forms, pragmatic rules, and semiotic processes. Stipulating ways to inter- pret, such ideologies also suggest how the signs themselves signal the way they are to be interpreted. Thus signification is always dialogic, at once representative and interpretive of the practices and conventions of a culture. Semiotic anthropology insists that signs are historical, since both their actualization and their performance are matters of contextual appropriatene~s.~~

73 The traditional discipline of diplomatics, devoted to the study of documentary format and discourse, is beginning to incorporate semiotic theory and analysis according to Peter Ruck, "Beitrage zur diplomatischen Semiotik," in Ruck, Graphische Syrnbole in rnittelalterlichen Urkunden, 13-47; and Hermann Jung, "Zeichen und Symbol: Bestandsaufnahme und interdisziplinare Perspektiven," in Graphische Syrnbole, 49-66.

74 The term "semiotic anthropology" was coined by Milton Singer at the University of Chicago in the mid-1970s, and became a methodological program actively taught and pursued there by Michael Silverstein.

75 Semiotic anthropology, as advocated by Milton Singer, Michael Silverstein, and more recently Richard Parmentier, offers, in Singer's words, a "theory of how systems of signs are related to their meanings, as well as to the objects designated and to the experience and behavior of the sign users"; cited in Parmentier, "The Pragmatic Semiotics of Culture," Senziotica 116 (1997): 14. Parmentier, trained at Chicago by Silverstein, and himself a leading practitioner and eloquent theoretician of semiotic anthropology, has recently presented a remarkably thorough and colnprehensive analysis of

Current trends in semiotic anthropology are more indebted to Feirce than to Saussure. Saussure's structuralist theory of language assumed fixed abstract codes that underlie the utterances of a language. Such codes, shared by the members of a given culture, depend on a correspondence between the word (the signifier), not so much with the existence of its object in the real world but with its constructed cultural equivalent (the signified). Meaning is seen as intentional and definite, independent both of the presence of a "real object" and from any particular interpretive human subject. Saussure posited an equal exchange between the univocally corresponding signifier and the signified, which bracketed both the external world and the interpreting self. His approach has little interest in the historical causes behind meaning.'"

Peirce, on the other hand, proposed the necessity of an equivalence between representation and reality, which was suggested to him by the workings of scientific rationality. Far from assuming the preeminence, abstraction, arbitrariness, and permanence of a linguistic code at any given point, Peirce argued that signification occurs through a sign's real relation with its object. A sign exists as vehicle (or representamen) in relation to another sign that acts as interpretant (or meaning), so that both signs represent the same object (or referent). Peirce thus posited a triadic relation between sign, object, and meaning. These three elements may pertain equally to such diverse classes of phenomena as single objects, human actions, or natural laws. A sign relation, that is, the unique semiotic bond linking a particular triad together, is made of two reciprocal vectors: determination, which points from the object toward both the sign and the interpretant, and representa- tion, which points from the sign and the interpretant toward the object. The dynamic between determination and representation implies that each element in the sign relation modifies its roles as further determinations and representations are accomplished. While semiosis is a limitless process of interpretation, represen- tation remains guided by determination, for "the object of a sign must resist in some measure any tendency it may have to be as the thinker thinks it is."77 This real relation between sign, object, and meaning is itself predicated on Peirce's meta- physical notion that the signs used to represent mental and external realities also share substantial identity with these realities, and on his ontological view that all knowledge at a given historical moment must to some degree relate to something

this discipline in "The Pragmatic Semiotics of Culture." This essay, with its historiographical and theoretical concerns, and its specific examples illustrating the applications of semiotics as a method- ological tool for sociocultural research, holds a special interest for historians in general. It is of particular value for medievalists, as Parmentier assesses critically attempts at a semiotic typology of cultures by considering the work of three prominent semiotic typologists (Ernst Cassirer, Yuri Lotman, and Jean Baudrillard), and by testing this typology against the case of the European Middle Ages.

See an elaborate denunciation of Saussure's linguistics as "semiotics of identification or of equal exchange" by Augusto Ponzio, Signs, Dialogues, and Ideology, Susan Petrilli, ed. and trans. (Amsterdam, 1993), xii-xiii, 11-18. Clear exposition and concise criticism of Saussurean linguistics with additional bibliography are given in Richard J. Parmentier, Signs in Society: Studies in Senziotic At~thropology (Bloomington, Ind., 1994), xiii-xv; and Parmentier, "Pragmatic Semiotics of Culture," 14.

77 Peirce manuscripts in the collection of Harvard University, 499, quoted in Parmentier, Sigt~s it1 Society, 26. Among the abundant studies devoted to Peirce's semiotics, Parmentier's two chapters in Signs in Society were particularly illuminating and provide the material with which I construe the brief synthesis presented here: "Peirce Divested for Non Intimates" (3-22), and "Peirce's Concept of Semiotic Mediation" (23-44).

with which the knower is already acquainted. Peirce thus produced a relationship of dialogic adequacy between signs and objects, between meaning and experience, and between thought and reality.78

This insight is not popular with social scientists, most of whom dismiss it as a vestigial Western attachment to the Renaissance theory of signatures,7Y but it is precisely what recommended Peirceian semiotics to semiotic anthropologists, and what should make such semiotics valuable to historians, for it locates meaning within history by suggesting that it is only in social practice that the sign is used and its sense determined: semiosis as enacted social practice. Meaning, therefore, is not disembodied but acts and is enacted within sign systems (linguistic and nonlinguistic alike), which, embedded in context-specific purposive behavior, are at once socially grounded and socially creative. Contextual parameters are concrete realities-time, space, matter, and sign operations all require physically manifested sign vehicles, experienceable over time. Complementary to this concrete contextualization is the tracking of a given culture's meta-semiotic understanding through theoretical discourses, ideological assumptions, and social actions. The material aspect of semiosis does not deprive contextually grounded signs of meta-level correlates regulating a further range of acceptable meanings. Thus semiosis, as a multidimen- sional process sensitive alike to the formal properties of signs, the material circumstances of context, and the influence of meta-semiotic anchors, opens up ways to study social action seen both as emergent in real time and projected from meta-semiotic representati~n.~~

The European Middle Ages, the twelfth century in particular, have recently been examined through the lenses of semiotic anthropology by Richard Parmentier, a distinguished practitioner of this methodology. Parmentier considers the twelfth century to have been primarily governed by Platonic Realism, which affirmed the reality and transcendent referentiality of abstract ideas or ~niversals.~~

However, he also comments on the diversity of twelfth-century symbolic discourses, though without specifically identifying such discourses, as earlier in this essay where I

78 Discussion of the relationship between sign, object, and thinking subject may be found in Eco, Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language, 45; Ponzio, Signs, Dialogues, and Ideology, 3, 12, 39, 42-44; James Hoopes, "Objectivity and Relativism Affirmed: Historical Knowledge and the Philosophy of Charles S. Peirce," AHR 98 (December 1993): 1548.

79 In Renaissance hermeneutics, to search for meaning is to identify resemblance. In this approach, the world offers itself to human cognition through signs (signatures) indicating invisible analogies that must be deciphered. On the Renaissance theory of signs, see Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archeology of the Hunzan Sciences (New York, 1973), 17-45; Reiss, Discourse of Modernism, 32. Parmentier, "Pragmatic Semiotics of Cultures," 31-32, reports that contemporary semiotic approaches to cultural analysis are attacked as "a Western holdover from the Renaissance belief in correspon- dences or signatures," and dismisses such attacks as reductionist logics that seek to locate the "mechanisms of semiosis in the hard-wiring of the brain or in the universal constraints of communi- cative competence."

Good discussions of the methodological orientation provided by Peirce's semiotics, together with an analytical review of their applicability to the humanities and to the social sciences, are offered by Parmentier, Signs in Society, esp. xiii-xvii and 125-28; Parmentier, "Pragmatic Semiotics of Culture," 7-8. 15-17.

81 Parmentier, "Pragmatic Semiotics of Culture," 78-89. Parmentier's discussion of the Middle Ages aims in part at testing a novel offshoot of semiotic anthropology-the construction of an evolutionary and comparative typology of cultures diachronically based on fundamental semiotic processes. See "Pragmatic Semiotics of Culture," 63-65, 78-79. Also see above at n. 33 for further discussion of the term realism in medieval philosophy.

analyzed the conflicts that erupted over the reality of universals, about the Christic presence in the Eucharist, over the nature of the persons in the triune God, and over the expression of authorial presence in script. Based on his perception that twelfth-century semiosis had multiple, often contrasting, operative mechanisms, Parmentier draws the general conclusion that specific semiotic structural elements, such as Realism, do not necessarily correspond to particular types of societies but are widespread phenomena acting cross-culturally. For instance, since universals are conceived as templates of the spatio-temporal realm, social regimentation and political permanence can be ascribed to any society that proclaims the transcendent immutability of universal^.^^ Realism, in this conclusion, has been essentialized, that is, assumed to have systematic effects independent of context.

Parmentier's conclusion involves a radical epistemological shift, as several aspects of semiosis are decontextualized and universalized, while the explanatory power of semiotic anthropology is directed away from categories of cultural order and toward types of cross-cultural experience. Such an approach raises several problems. First, it denies a particular semiotic theory, in this case Realism, its own power as sign and as engine rather than as mere determinant of semiosis. Second, although synchronic but conflicting semiotic systems are recognized, those medieval sign operations not accounted for by contemporaneous theoretical discourses are subordinated, identified by reference to anachronistic modern interpretive norms, or conceived as having been so pervasive and axiomatic as not to have been recorded in texts. Third, medieval semiotic processes themselves are translated directly into analytical tools of modern research, when, in fact, such processes were constitutive of twelfth-century culture and operated in a vastly different interpretive context than the tools of current social studies. Consequently, actual medieval semiotic processes, though initially contextually anchored andlor meta-semiotically correlated, become, once reinscribed (and reified) within modern epistemologies, nonfunctional, since the ways in which they originally enabled specific and new signifying forms, new meanings, new forms of meaning, and new chains of interpretations remain unretrieved. When semiotic practices are seen simply as presupposed habits, objective discourses, or analytical tools, the interpretive creativity of signs within historical societies cannot become a proper subject of historical inquiry. Parmentier's comprehensive review of semiotically informed studies on the twelfth century reports interactions between different media (imagesltexts, heraldic emblemslagnatic discourse), different discourses (monastic1 prescholastic), and different esthetics (romanesquelgothic). All of these media, discourses, and esthetics, however, are analyzed only from the viewpoint of their engagement with explicit medieval semiotic systems. Such analyses tend to impute a meta-semiotic, superstructural dimension to those medieval systems, whereby they are conceived to be external to the very reality they constitute. The actual semiotic nature of the heraldic emblem or the gothic cathedral, both new forms in the twelfth century, their signifying modes and locations within processual chains of interpretation, and their force in producing specific cognitive and external realities

82 Parmentier, "Pragmatic Semiotics of Culture," 86.

remain unaddressed in this treatment. Semiotics of this sort, from the viewpoint of the historian, merely serves to reinforce the well-known chronicle of innovations.

Thus charting the zones left in shadow as the spotlight of semiotic anthropology sweeps across the field of medieval history reveals the paradox at the very heart of semiotic anthropology. On the one hand, Peirce insists on the necessity of context for semiosis to take shape and to make sense, and semiotic anthropologists advocate careful examination of the particular sociohistorical setting within which signs, as contextually informed material instances, operate. On the other hand, the anthropologists have abstracted Peirce's sign theory into an analytical tool held to be applicable to any sign system, on the explicit assumption that his theory is, like calculus, "the indispensable mathematical tool for modern scientific research, [which] makes no claims in itself about the laws which govern the physical universe."s3 It is somewhat inconsistent for semiotic anthropology to claim contex- tualization for semiosis even while essentializing its working definition of the sign. Implicit in the projection of Peirceian sign theory onto all times and cultures is a universalization, a hard-wiring, of signification. Do signs signify independently? Is semiotics a new form of historical determinism, on a par with, say, materialism? Such theoretical essentialism is especially problematic for medievalists who, at least in some cases, feel prompted by Peirce's own knowledge of and reliance on medieval sign theory to make medieval systems "fit" Perceian semiotic trichoto- mie~.~~

In my view, the systematic application of Peirce's theory runs contrary to his own notion of the contingency of signification on context, and to his own implication that all knowledge is relative; for, while knowledge is tested by objective reality (and thus is not merely subjective), reality itself remains dependent on thought (that is, on signs and representation, in other words, on culture) in order to acquire knowable meanings and qualities. Peirce's semiotics ought to inspire historians with a sense of the historicity of both sign theory and sign agency, and of their dialogic ability to encode and articulate specific ontological and metaphysical views.

The tendency of semiotic anthropology to universalize Peirceian sign theory only partially undermines the utility of its insights for historians. Semiotic anthropology is particularly valuable in exploring material objects as signs because it eschews the systematic application of a logocentric model of meaning, and thus does not reduce culture to the single model of a linguistic code. It calls for the study of material culture beyond technical reductionism or linguistic symbolism and for an under- standing of material culture's functions beyond the instrumental or the practical, providing, among other things, a useful agenda for research by which to explore the nature of the signifying material, the agents and purposes of its interpretation, and

83 Parmentier, Signs in Society, xiv.

84 See parallels drawn between Peirce's semiotics and medieval logic in John F. Boler, Charles Peirce and Scholastic Realism (Seattle, 1963); Susan Petrilli and Augusto Ponzio, "Peirce and Medieval Semiotics," in Peirce's Doctrine of Signs: Theory, Applications, and Connections, Vincent M. Colapietro and Thomas M. Olshewsky, eds. (Berlin, 1996), 351-64; Ponzio, Signs, Dialogue, and Ideology, 70-82. Arguing for the coincidence between Augustine and Peirce's sign theories is Markus, "St. Augustine on Signs," 60-83.

the status of the relationship between this material and surrounding cultural traditions, social organizations, and cosmological powers.85

ITIS BECAUSE I HAVE FOUND politics, law, orality, and literacy inadequate as contexts to account for the diffusion of seals and the newer formulation of personal identity in the eleventh and twelfth centuries that, inspired by semiotic anthropology and its programmatic directions, I have come to consider sealed charters from the viewpoint of the writing bureaus that originated them, situating the conception and production of these charters within the scholarly world described at the beginning of this essay as being in the throes of a semiotic ~risis.~6

The scriptoria and writing bureaus that initiated the sustained production of sealed charters appear to have been located in abbeys or cathedrals that either currently had in residence or had trained those Schoolmen who were active participants in debates about signs and signification in relation to three theological concerns. To reiterate, these were the Eucharist and the related subjects of presence and representation; the Trinity and the related issues of person, identity, image, and resemblance; and the authority of script(ure) and the issue of the referentiality of language. Since the maps tracing seal diffusion and prescholastic theological reflections on sign theory are largely coterminous, it may be the case that the seal derived its new means of signification, especially its capacity to present and represent, from the discourses of semiotics and theology. I propose to interpret the extension of sealing as a manifestation of a new semiotics in which, as already discussed, immanence rather than transcendence governed the rapport between signifier and signified, thereby making possible new forms for the representation of reality. This new semiotics emerged from the context of an increasing, though initially contested, acceptance of God's incarnation as a hermeneutic axial point. The Eucharistic motif had now become the foundation of a representational model articulated around the theme of "real presence." While the extent to which seals became effective in representing their owners owed much to this Eucharistic debate, the principles and modes of their operation as a sign of identity may also be situated in prescholastic ideas about the nature of personhood, since it was part of the new semiotic conception that a sign be representative through its capacity to embody the ontological characteristics of its referent.

Among the conceptual tools chancery scholars used to address the issue of personhood was the seal as metaphor. I find it suggestive that the same prescho-

8Varmentier, "Pragmatic Semiotics of Culture," 43-63; the agenda of questions is set up on 51.

86 See above at pp. 1498-1505 for a full discussion of prescholastic debates on sign theory in relation to language, the Eucharist, the Trinity, and sacramental theology in general. A review of the corpus of eleventh and twelfth-century aristocratic charters permits three striking conclusions: these charters, produced by ecclesiastical beneficiaries, originated from a variety of chanceries and scriptoria; they were not systematically sealed; and the diversity of practice seems to correlate with the differing cultures of the specific issuing writing bureaus. Thus, for example, 61 charters issued in the name of Ivo of Nesles, count of Soissons (d. 1178) are still extant and have been published by Newman, Les seigneurs de Nesles en Picardie, 2: 27-161. In the early phases of this documentary production, Count Ivo sealed sporadically (see unsealed charters, no. 7, p. 34, ca. 1141; no. 15, p. 44, 1146), but he began to seal regularly in charters involving Joscelin, bishop of Soissons (no. 12, p. 40, 1145; no. 13, p. 42, 1145). Prior to becoming a bishop, Joscelin (d. 1152) had taught theology in Paris; LCon Maitre, Les Ccoles 4piscopales et rnonastiques de l'occident depuis Charlemagne jusqu'a Philippe Auguste, 768-1180 (Paris, 1866), 153.

lastic milieus that promoted changes in semiotic thinking, that entertained concerns about representation, authority, and personal identity, and that produced the novel medium of the sealed charter as a solution to these concerns are the very ones that resorted to the seal metaphor to clarify these concerns. There apparently was no precedence of the metaphorical seal over the documentary seal, and there may be little advantage in trying to explicate one by reference to the other, but it is undeniable that both cover the same semantic territory, organizing and thereby elucidating contemporary views of identity. In the spheres of both discourse and practice, the seal, linking the divine and the human, was centered precisely on persons, their agency and representation, and their personal relationships to others, to God, and to script.

The seal metaphor was not new in Christian discourse and liturgy of the eleventh and twelfth centuries,87 but its semantic range was now extended. Seal metaphors facilitated discussions on the relational presence of the divine persons-Father, Son, Holy Spirit-within the Trinity, of the Son in Man, and of the Son in God the Father. Such metaphors were used particularly in discussing image and resem- blance, first between the Creator and his Son, who was engendered and not created, and second between the Creator and his creature, the human being. As the body of seal metaphors is vast, I will present and discuss here only a few representative examples.88

87 The seal metaphor precedes Christian discourse. On its occurrence in late ancient philosophy, see Stephen Gersh, From Iarnblichus to Eriugena: An Investigation of the Prehistory and Evolution of the Pseudo-Dionysian Tradition (Leiden, 1978), 236; Manetti, Theories of the Sign, 6, gives the example of the seal as a Mesopotamian divinatory sign: "If a man dreams that someone gives him a seal-he will have a son." The seal metaphor is also found in Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero, serving as model for the process of making and storing the memorial phantasm; see Mary Carruthers, The Book of Memory: A Study of Memoly in Medieval Culture (Cambridge, 1990), esp. 16-32, 33, 49, 62, 72, and 291 n. 5; and Manetti, Theories of the Sign, 54. Another ancient use of the sealing metaphor is in the field of anatomy to explain the physiological mechanism of conception; it articulated the Aristotelian contrast between form and matter; see Danielle Jacquart and Claude Thomasset, Sexuality and Medicine in the Middle Ages (Princeton, N.J., 1988), 37. The seal metaphor appears in both the Old and the New Testaments (the Apocalypse comes preeminently to mind), and in patristic texts, where it principally concerns the baptismal rite: Jean Danielou, The Bible and the Liturgy (Notre Dame, 1956), chap. 3, is entirely devoted to "Sphragis" (Greek: seal); G. W. H. Lampe, The Seal of the Spirit: A Study in the Doctrine of Baptism and Confirmation in the New Testament and the Fathers, 2d edn. (London, 1967). The seal metaphor was also used in Byzantine theology, by Theodore the Studite (or of Studion, ninth century) for instance, to explain that an icon derives power from its representational identity with its archetype, but is otherwise an unsubstantial image "existing between, and independent of, the sealing die and malleable medium into which the die is pressed." Gary Vikan, "Ruminations on Edible Icons: Originals and Copies in the Art of Byzantium," Retaining the Original: Multiple Originals, Copies, and Reproductions (Washington, D.C., 1989), 50-52. I wish to thank Dr. James Trilling for bringing Vikan's article to my attention. See below n. 92 for a discussion of the relationship between seal and coin metaphors.

In order to establish a typology of the seal metaphor in prescholastic texts, I began with the numerous instances gathered and analyzed by Javelet in his monumental Image et ressemblance. I also searched the CD-ROM of the CETEDOC Library of Christian Latin Texts (CLCLT-2, Paul Tombeur, ed., Universite Catholique de Louvain-la-Neuve), and the Patrologia Latina Database (PLD, Chadwick-Healy), a CD-ROM containing the electronic version of the entire contents of the 221 volumes of J.-P. Migne's Patrologia Latina. Several articles in the Bulletin dephilosophie m&didvale (34 [1992]: 39-53; 35 [1993]: 220-28; 36 [1994]: 206-14) address the advantages and disadvantages of PLD. There is as yet no general synthesis of the medieval use of the seal metaphor, although this usage has been noted by several scholars: Bynum, Jesus as Mother, 16, 17, 97-98, 194, 210; Carruthers, Book of Memory, 55-57, 71,180, 304 n. 49, 307 n. 119; Giles Constable, "Renewal and Reform in Religious Life," in Renaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Century, 46; and Constable, Three Studies, 189, 192, 214-15, 217; Michael Goodich, From Birth to Old Age: The Human Life Cycle in Medieval Thought (Lanham, Md., 1989),

When Abelard wished to demonstrate that the Trinity can be discussed in logical terms, he identified as a principal conundrum the question of unity (the Godhead) in diversity (the three persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and in proceeding to address this question articulated the main thrust of his theological argument through a seal metaphor:

Identity and diversity may be described in five, and perhaps more, ways. There is identity if a thing exists entirely with another thing, that is, by essence and number. There is identity secondly, in property; thirdly, by definition; fourthly, by likeness; and fifthly, by incommu- nicability, when a thing never changes into anything else. We can say things are identical in these five ways, and by contrary we can say that they are diverse in these five ways; that is, if the conditions of identity are not fulfilled then the things are diverse . . . Things may be identical in essence and number, but not identical in property or proper character. This may be the case even when their substance is the same, their proper functions alone making a fundamental distinction between them. A wax image, for instance, may be identical in essence and number with the wax of which it is made. But there is no interrelation between the proper character of wax which is one thing, and the proper character of an image, which is another thing.sg

Building on his demonstration that the wax and the waxen image are essentially the same but not the same by property and definition, and reusing the same metaphor, Abelard demonstrates the simultaneity of the identity of the triune God and of the difference between the persons of the Father and his begotten Son.

Look at a waxen image. Consider that in it is the mixture of wax: that is, the wax itself as substance. From this wax, the image becomes, in philosophical language, materialized out of material. The same essence is both the wax itself and the wax image. We can predicate of the wax that it is the image, and of the image that it is the wax. Nonetheless, it is also true to say that the waxen image is from the wax. But the wax is not from the waxen image. The wax itself is, however, the material of the image. The waxen image is not the material either of the wax or of itself. Again, we can assert that the image was realized out of the wax of which it is composed. Yet neither the wax itself nor the image itself were composed simply out of the image. Now if we take these names of wax and waxen image absolutely, not relatively to one another, we can assert anything of them that will be true of both because the substance is identical. I mean, for instance, if the wax is yellow and the image an upright figure, then the thing is yellow and upright throughout. If, however, we take the names relatively, in respect, that is, of the generation or composition of the waxen image, thinking of them as the material and the thing materialized from this material, as cause and effect, or the begetter and the begotten, then we cannot link them in respect of their particular functions by a predicating adjective. We cannot say that the material is the same as the thing materialized from it. Apply this comparison to the divine generation and my position is clear. God, the

93-94; Jean Jolivet, "Sur quelques critiques de la thkologie d'Abelard," Ar.c/zi~~es

dlhistoir.e doctr.inale et littdraire du moyen bge 38 (1963): 29-31; Marenbon, Philosophy of Peter. Abelard, 152, 178-79. Seal imagery was first extended to the obligation of keeping secret that which has been revealed in sacramental confession by Nicolas of Clairvaux, a pupil and contemporary of St. Bernard, in Sermo II de Beato Andrea (PL, 144, 833 C, signaculum confessionis). Peter the Chanter introduced the term sigillum: munitissimum est sigillum confessionis (De sacr.amentis, fol. 200r: BNF, Ms. Lat. 14,445). Leon Honore, Le secret de la confession: Etude Izistorico-canonique (Bruges, 1924), 45-47; Bertrand Kurtscheid, A History of the Seal of Confession (St. Louis, Mo., 1927), 111.

89 English translation from McCallum, Abelar.dls Christian Theology, 75 (Latin text is in PL, 178: col.

1247 D and 1248 B).

Father, is the divine Power; God, the son, is divine Wisdom. Now divine Wisdom is a kind of power, since it is the ability to discern and foresee and deliberate aright against anything that may deceive God. Hence divine Wisdom coming from divine Power is a sort of waxen image out of wax. Philosophically, it is a species of genus. The species is the same as the genus, as a man is the same as an "animal," or a waxen image the same as wax. Tlle wax image is from wax as man is from animal. I mean that, in so far as it is a wax image it must be wax, just as in so far as a man is a man, he must be an animal. But the contrary is not true. Power, therefore of discernment and doing all kinds of things may be considered like wax which has potentially either to be a wax image or anything else: or, as the animal species, which may be a man or any other animal. This is my illustration to show that, when the son is begotten of the Father, I mean that divine Wisdom is from divine Power as I have e~plained.~u

Both these passages clearly articulate a concept of identity as a principle of sameness and also a product of the polarization between similar and dissimilar, a concept of property (that is, definition, or proper character) as that which both characterizes and distinguishes the person. The seal metaphor in these passages specifically addresses two points. First, there is priority of the material (or substance or essence) over the image. Second, there may be diversity by virtue of definition (or property) when things are identical in essence and number. The prescholastic semiotic of mimetism afforded not only an economy of signification but also a differential principle of being. It defined a human person as existing by virtue of relationships of origin, as identical in the sense of its similarity to humanity (species) but distinct with respect to properties in relationship to others. Yet it was neither perfect identicality nor absolute distinctiveness but rather comparative likeness-difference in essence, number, and properties-that was emphasized. Human personhood and identity were thus formulated both in relation to God (essence) and to other human beings (number and properties). As such, the concept of the person that developed in the twelfth century, modulating likeness to reveal heterogeneity, was of a unique psychosomatic unit expressing a distinct identity as both flesh and spirit, capable of representation for the purpose of activity in the world.91

Prescholastics, in their ontological exploration, privileged an exegetical approach that, borrowing from Neo-Platonic readings of Genesis, presented the human being as created in the image of God so as ultimately to be transformed into his resemblance." In this sense, identity consisted of a God-like image within the

English translation from McCallum, Abelard's Christian Theology, 85-86 (Latin text is in PL, 178: col. 1288 C, D, 1289 A). I am indebted to Marenbon, Philosophy of Peter Abelard, 151-52, for a lucid discussion of Abelard's use of the seal metaphor. Also useful were Javelet, Irxage et ressemblance, 1: 142; 2: 115; McCallum, Abelard's Christian Tlzeology, 75-77.

91 While in the early twelfth century, such theologians as Hugh of St. Victor and Robert of Melun held that the person is a soul using a body, Hugh actually treated the human being as an entity composed of body and soul, and by the middle of the century Schoolmen understood a person to be a psychosomatic entity; Caroline Walker Bynum, The Resurrection of the Body in Westem Christianity, 200-1336 (New York, 1995), pt. 2, esp. 127-28, 135, 166, 225, and 256; this study systematically tracks the medieval ideas of person, self, and individual by analyzing the theological arguments about bodily resurrection. On the changing connotations of the term and concept of "person" from antiquity to the modern period, see the recent survey by O'Hara, Logic of Human Personality. See above nn. 1-5 for letters expected by their authors to represent, and to act in place of, theirpersoraa. See below n. 101 for studies on the relationship between the concept of person and personal intention.

92 The classical study, based on a wide array of theological texts, many of which contain seal

human fabric. Here, the metaphor of sealing was recurrently used to evoke the imprint of the divine archetype on the human raw material. Commentaries on Genesis 1:26 (God made man in his image and likeness) from the School of Laon, from Abelard, and from the canons of St. Victor contemplated just how humail beings might be said to be "in the image and likeness of God" when they have no common property with God. Using the seal metaphor, the commentators deter- mined that the human soul in God's image is different from the Son who is in God's image, in proportion to the difference between the king's image on a seal and the king's generated image in his son." Only the engendered image (the Son), which shares properties and is consubstantial with its model, may be equal to it: only the Son is the image of God. The created image (Man), on the other hand, bears only an analogy to its model: the human being is in the image of God. Abelard and the School of Laon were concerned, however, to reconcile transcendence and imma- nence, and so insisted on the presence of God within the begotten Son and, through the Son, within the created human being as well. Here again, Abelard and the Laon scholars resorted to another seal metaphor, this time involving the die, its image, and its imprint. God is the seal's inherent material (the substance of its die or matrix); the Son is the figure of God's substance, the image of God engraved in the matrix, which in turn imprints itself on the human soul (reason, heart, memory),g4 enabling that soul to be configured as the Son. In this sense, the human being is created as an image, imprinted through the medium of divine substance but sharing no substantial affinity with it, unlike the Son, whose image is consubstantially figured of divine substance. The human creature, conceived as sealed and therefore as replicated image, is ontologically constituted to participate in its informing

metaphors, is Javelet, Irnnge et ressemblnrzce. When discussing man's likeness to God, Augustine used the metaphor of the coin; Jean Wirth, "Structure et fonctions de I'image chez saint Thomas d'Aquin," in Baschet and Schmitt, L'irnage, 41. In the writings of eleventh and twelfth-century chancery-scholars, the metaphor of the seal governs discussions of resemblance, generation, and creation. Thirteenth- century theologians, such as Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, seem to reintroduce the numismatic metaphor in handling these questions; Courtenay, "Icing and the Leaden Coin." See a demonstration of the assimilation of medieval economics to a general theory of signs in R. Howard Bloch, Etymologies and Genealogies: A Literary Alztlaropology of the French Middle Ages (Chicago, 1983),

164-74.

93 In the words of the Victorine Robert of Melun: "quae tamen distat ab imagine Dei quae Deus est quantum imago regis quae in sigillo ejus est ab imagine quae in ejus filio est," who adds: "thus, although the human soul shares no common property with God, it is not inappropriate to say that the human soul has been created in the image and resemblance of God." Bruges, Bibliotheque de la Ville (City Library), Cod. lat. 191, 186 vO-187 ro; see Javelet, Inzage et ressernblance, 2: 41. I wish to thank the anonymous reader who provided the superb English translation used here as part of his or her review of this essay.

"The text of the School of Laon is given by Javelet, Irnnge et r~essemblnllce, 2: 46-47 n. 61. Abelard's text is discussed in Javelet, In~age et r~esseinblance, 1: 82-83, and given in 2: 46-47 (from Itzt~.od~~ctio

ad Theologiam 11, 13 in PL, 178, col. 1068 D). Peter Lombard (d. 1160), who attended the School of St. Victor before becoming chancellor and master at Notre-Dame of Paris, and ultimately bishop of Paris, wrote in his commentaries on the Psalms (In Psnlrnis 4, PL, 191: col. 88 A): "The radiance of your face, that is, the radiance of your grace through which your image is formed in us, thanks to which we are similar to you, this radiance is signed upon us, it is impressed on our reason, which animates the soul with a superior force by which we resemble God, upon reason this radiance is imprinted, like a seal to wax." Quoted in Javelet, Image et resse~~zhlarace,

2: 142-43 11. 32, and discussed in 1: 173, together with texts from Anselm's School of Laon, which also emphasize the imprint of God's image within human fabric. See also the commentaries by Gerhoh of Reichersberg (d. 1169) on the Psalms in In Psalnlis 11, 30 (PL. 193, col. 1306 D-1307 A).

prototype, capable of tending toward the prototype's realization. In terms of seal metaphors, human identity is about creation, impression, oppression, and reforma- tion. Creation is the process by which Man is made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). Impression, that is, the soul formed and signed by the seal of God, expresses the human capacity for good. Oppression, that is, an opposition to or the breaking of God's seal through Man's sinfulness, involves dissimilarity and alien- ation." Reformation presents the hope that likeness to God is an end capable of human accomplishment. Personal formation and reformation are fundamental processes of human identity that Hugh of St. Victor, among others, discussed, resorting frequently to the seal metaphor, as in this striking passage from the De

institutione :

In good men the form of the likeness of God is engraved, and when through the process of imitation we are pressed against that likeness: we too are molded according to the image of that likeness. But you must know that unless the wax is first softened, it cannot receive the form, and this also, a man can not be kneaded to the form of virtue through the hand of another's actions, unless he is softened and all pride and stiff-necked contrariness removed . . . Why do you think we are enjoined to imitate the life and conduct of good men, unless it be that by imitating them we are reformed to the likeness of a new life? For in them the form of the likeness of God is expressed, and when we impress ourselves on them through imitation, then we too are reshaped according to the image of that same likeness.96

Paralleling their seal metaphors, the prescholastics who were fostering the new semiotics displayed in their own chanceries a predilection for visibility centered on the concept of an imprinted image at once generated by the principles of likeness and linked to a model. In non-royal charters, the motif of visibility had previously engaged only a single modality of representation, the symbolic, constructed by linguistic signs arranged as a discourse. With seals, a second, iconic modality was introduced, where representation was achieved by lines and figures arranged as images. In fact, the linguistic and iconic modes were both present on the seal itself-the legend (text) and the type (image)-but the essence of their represen- tative power came from their being produced as imprints. That a seal represents by being an object whose marked matter has become graven form is crucial in terms of prescholastic semiotics. The seal metaphors previously discussed suggest that an

s5 On the image of the broken seal used by Abelard, Achard of St. Victor, Thomas of Citeaux, and Bernard of Clairvaux to signify alienation and dissimilarity from God, see Javelet, Inzage et ressenzbla~zce,1: 249, 259, 300-01, 312-13; 2: 214, 218, 220, 256. Abelard framed his discussion of the destruction and reformation of God's image in Man in terms of the seal metaphor: Theologia Sclzolarium 11, 14, PL, 178: col. 1073 CD; and in Corpus christianorum [continuatio mediaeualis], 11-13: Petri Abaelardi opera theologia (Turnhout, 1969-87).

9"aeger's translation in En~yof Arzgels, 258-59; De institutiorze rzovitiorlrm, prol. and chap. 7, PL,

176: col. 925B-C, 932D-933A. See Bynum's pioneering analysis of Hugh's seal metaphor addressing the education of novices in Jesus as Mother, 97-98; the remarks by Carruthers, Book of Menzoly, 71 and 307 n. 119; and Constable, "Renewal and Reform," 46. According to his biographer Eadmer, Anselm of Bec also used the seal metaphor for moral education; Eadmer, Life of Saint Anselm, R. Southern, ed. and trans. (London, 1962), 20-21. In De similitudinibus, PL, 159: col. 695, Anselm stated that youth is like a piece of wax, which must be the right consistency, between hardness and softness, in order to receive a perfect impression; see Goodich, From Birth to OldAge, 93. Anselm also resorted to this trope for the expression of passionate friendship in addressing one of his correspondents: "He who is imprinted in my heart like a seal on wax, how could he be removed from my memory?" Epistoln 1.4, PL, 158: col. 1068-69, quoted by John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, aizd Homosexuality (Chicago, 1980), 218.

imprint, by virtue of containing the trace of an origin in its very matter, is a sign forever indicating a radical presence, for instance, that of God in human beings. The very act of seal imprinting both articulated and dramatized these principles of marking origin and materializing presence. Sealers sometimes went so far as to impress parts of their own bodies on the waxen seal: toothmarks, fingerprints, bits of hair or beard.97 In the very act of impressing die on wax, the seal blended with its referent (the sealer), the written text with its enunciating subject (again, the sealer). In terms of prescholastic ontology, both seals and sealers were imprints carrying within their very matter the mark of an original. The seal, thereby participating in an existential relation with the sealer it represented, became an efficacious sign, a power. Thus was the seal enabled to confer on the document its own authority, transforming the document into a monument, which is the name by which sealed charters came to be known during the twelfth century.98 In a manner analogous to Hosts imprinted with a cross, the letters IHS, and, from the twelfth century onward, a crucifixion scene or the lamb of God, seals not only mediated but embodied the real presence of the individuals who affixed them. Seals allowed simultaneous presence and representation. Their mode of signification was through incarnation. The ritual process of sealing also involved a transformation of substance: it fused two quite different spaces, the locus on the parchment where the affixed seal affirms that ego was there and the physical location where the documentary sealing took place in the presence of witnesses. Above all, sealing changed a written leaf of parchment into a monument. This occurred by authorizing writing, that is, by incorporating the author into the text. Seals were the incarnation of the ego of diplomatic discourse, marking the charter so that it acquired substance and body. However, although seals and the Eucharist participated in a common semiotic logic, seals fell short of sacrality. Their relationship to script occurred at the lower margin of the page: the ego of the author-donor-sealer and his mark are

not so much within the text but in consubstantial relationship to it.

'7 There are no extant sources describing the eleventh and twelfth-century ceremonials of seal imprinting. The only evidence of such imprinting comes from the seal impressions themselves and from clauses within the texts of the charters that announce the affixation of seals, as for instance in a charter by Guy of Garlande confirming the sale of a wood to the abbey of St. Victor in 1170: "Quod ut ratum atque firmissimuln habeatur, ego Guido presens scriptum sigilli mei impressione corroborari feci"; Archives Nationales, Paris, S 2142 no. 16, published in Robert de Lasteyrie, Cnrtulnire gdndral de Paris, Vol. 1: 528-1180 (Paris, 1887), no. 478, pp. 402-03. The corpus of charters given in the name of the counts of Ponthieu between 1026 and 1279 indicates a preference in early charters for announcing the application of the seal by the formula sigilli impressione, which insists on the imprinting process. This formula came to be replaced in later charters by such expressions as sigilli nppensione or sigilli nppositione, which focus 011 the affixation of the seal to the charter; C. Brunel, Pontieu, LI 11. 13, where Brunel gives a typology of the various documentary clauses announcing the seal. Few seals still retain traces of fingerprints, teeth, and beard; see examples in Alph. Chassant and P.-J. Delbarre, Dictionnuire de sigillographie pratique (Paris, 1860), 19-20, 147-49, esp. 20, where is given the final clause of a charter of 1121 that reads: ''111 order for this [agreement] to remain ratified, I have affixed the force of my seal with three hairs from my beard."

9x Documents came to be seen as monument and as "ammunition:" Fraenkel, La signature, 17-18,

specifically discusses the semantic kinship and ultimate fusion between monimentumlmonumentum

(monument or memorial) and mz~nimentum/munitio(ammunition, fortification), which I noted in B.

Bedos-Rezak, "Secular Administration," Medieval Latin Studies: An Introduction and Bibliographical

Guide, Frank Mantello and A. G. Rigg, eds. (Washington, D.C., 1997), 201; and see 0.Guyotjeannin,

"Le vocabulaire de la diplomatique en latin m&di&val," Vocabulaire dz~ livre et de l'dcnture au nzoyen iige

(Turnhout, 1989), 123.

Seals represented individuals and, by personifying their owners, personalized the written word. From a graphic viewpoint, however, there is a tension in seals between individualization and categorization. The text of a seal's legend contains the individual's baptismal name but also both a title (king, count, bishop) and the entity or group ruled, underscoring the fact that identity was articulated primarily around function and its territorial or ethnic circumscription. The legend is obviously the part of the seal that individualized its owner. The image of the sealer placed on seals was anthropomorphic, though not a realistic portrait. I described earlier how the ritual of sealing, of imprinting, was itself significant in achieving presence and representation and was often enhanced by bodily marks as part of the imprinting process. Yet it was also true that a donor might utilize another person's seal to seal a charter given in his own name; the text in such cases would duly record the act of borrowing the seal, whereupon the document produced was considered properly sealed and auth~rized.~~

This specific manipulation indicates, in my opinion, that the generic gesture of sealing was also effective in committing and representing an individual, as might be expected of a bodily participation within a ceremonial culture. It also points to the importance of the spirit, that is, of the intention to seal, the animus signandi; for intention was the seal's intellectual and spiritual element, an important part of both seal and sealing. Intention was made explicit in a clause within the document's text announcing the affixation of the seal, as well as through the personal gesture of sealing.100 The referential category engaged by seals and sealing is, therefore, a physical person who is ethical and accountable, and endowed with personal intentionality.101

Depictions of the body on seals are, as I have noted, nonrealistic, which is not to say that they did not function as a form of portrait within the medieval rules of figuration. Realism is, after all, simply a convention, and one that the Middle Ages did not equate or associate with physiognomic likeness.102 In the charters them- selves, authors refer to their seals as their own image, imago noster, which reveals

See, for instance, this Norman charter of 1215: "Let it be known to all that I, William of Bruyeres, gave as eternal alms four setiers of wheat to be received annually on my land of Bruykres to God and to Notre-Dame de L'EtrCe . . . And since I did not have a seal I strengthened the present writing with the seal of John, then vice-dean." Archives Dkpartementales, Eure, fonds de I'EtrCe, quoted in Chassant and Delbarre, Dictiorzrzaire de sigillographie, 177-78.

100 Guillaume, count of Ponthieu (d. 1129), sealed an agreement with the prior of St. Peter of Abbeville, pointing out that he had committed himself by speech as he had signed with his seal, and with his name and the names of his wife and children. The crosses accompanying the names were probably autograph, although the fact cannot be established with certainty since the charter is extant only as a fifteenth-century copy; C. Brunel, Pontieu, no. 21, pp. 35-37.

lo' For different though complementary approaches to the relationship between person, personal intention, and concrete worldview, see LCopold GCnicot, "Valeur de la personne ou sens du concret," in Miscellariea Mediaevcrlia in memoricrm Jan Frederik Niermeyer (Groningen, 1967), 1-8; and 0. Guillot, "La IibertC des nobles et des roturiers dans la France du XIe sibcle: L'exemple de leur soumission a la justice," in La riotion de liberti ULL Moyen Age: Islam, Byzance, Occident (Paris, 1985), 155-67. See above

n. 91 for the changing connotations of the term and concept of "person."

lo2 Medieval art is traditionally associated with the devaluation of individual likeness, a product of nature, and with a preference for symbolizing an individual being in terms of the "truth" of a general type of image; Belting, Likeness and Presence, 132. The realism or naturalism associated with classical art has, however, been questioned by Erich S. Gruen, "The Roman Oligarchy: Image and Perception," Imperium sine fine: T. Robert S. Broughton and the Roman Republic, Jerzy Linderski, ed. (Stuttgart, 1996), 215-34, who proposes (220-22) that while Roman portraits are veristic, their purpose was not to reproduce a particular face but to convey a stylistic image. I wish to thank my friend and colleague Arthur Eckstein for acquainting me with this essay.

that seals and their depictions incorporated elements meaningful to self-represen- tation.lo3 Realistic physiognomy was not privileged; emblems of function and symbols of kinship were. Kings were shown in royal garb and posture, nobles as warriors, and bishops in episcopal array. Heraldry, from the mid-twelfth century onward, served as an iconographic rhetoric that expressed the identity of a kindred in relation to other groups, to its own land, and to its separate sub-branches. From an iconographic viewpoint, seals may be said to display abstracted figures and iconic types. Abstracted figures on seals refer to a conception of the individual as exoteric, someone who must be seen and decoded. As iconic types, seals display a severely limited, barely differentiated repertoire. Seal iconography thus affected the formu- lation of personal identity in that, through modulated differences of posture, costume, and emblems, it established and published a lexicon of images that classified and limited the contingencies of individual identity. By linking each individual to a formulaic icon, seals tended less to designate singularity than generic conformity to a group; indeed, they functioned as an index of shared membership in specific groups.

Formulaic icons thus suspended individual referentiality, conferring on seals the status of a system. The text of the legend particularized a given seal, giving it the status of instance. Thus seal graphism generated personal identity through a grammar that articulated the organizing principles of society. In this way, personal identity was defined and produced as an instance of social order, and thus produced itself as the verifier of the system it substantiated. The medieval sense of identity was about resemblance: the person as sign signaled that signs of representation were in conformity with social reality. This sense of identity parallels what is conveyed by the seal metaphor: the self as seal impression. The seal was the form, and the resultant personalized individual was a likeness.

Seal metaphors and seal graphism were not alone in projecting this concept of identity. The element of likeness was intensified by the technique of sealing, which involves duplication. Every seal impression in wax from a specific matrix was identical. The seal's competence and significance was, indeed, predicated on replication. Seals, bearing conventional images and acting through replication, did not emphasize distinction so much as likeness. The element of likeness was also heightened through the very modes by which seals presented themselves as

10' Many examples may be cited from the episcopal charters of Rheims, Cambrai, and Laon, and from royal and aristocratic charters produced in episcopal chanceries; see Jean Dufour, Recueil des actes de Louis VI,roi de France (1108-1137), 4 vols. (Paris, 1992), 1: no. 180, pp. 373-75: Laon, 1121, King Louis VI confirms an exchange of properties between Barthelemy, bishop of Laon, and the Cistercian abbey of Foigny, and ordered that his confirmation be strengthened with the impression of his royal image ("nostre regie imaginis impressione confirmari precepimus"). This diploma was most probably composed and written in the episcopal chancery of Laon. Annie Dufour-Malbezin, Catalogue des actes des &v&ques de Laon antdrieurs a 1151 (these Ecole Nationale des Chartes, Archives Nationales, Paris, AB 28 133), 101, 103, 114, 121, 131, 132, 135, 145, 271, 264, 406; and especially charter no. 45, p. 74 (1103), produced by the episcopal chancery in the name of the bishop of Laon while Anselm was chancellor: "We have ordered that this arrangement be confirmed by this charter affixed with our image" ("hoc privilegio nostre imagine munito"): C. Brunel, Pontieu, 165, 187-88, 194, 200, 204, 229; see, for instance, charter no. 56, p. 85 (1155): Jean, count of Ponthieu, and his brother Gui confirm the gifts made to the church of St. John at Amiens by various local lords and begged Thierry, bishop of Amiens, that he deign to attach the image of his seal ("imaginem sui sigilli") to their charter. J. F. Niermeyer, Mediae Latinitatis Lexicorz Minus (Leiden, 1976), 510, lists "seal" as a primary meaning of imago in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

King Louis VI confirms an exchange of slaves between the abbeys of St. Genevikve and Notre Dame cathedral of Paris, 1118. Archives Nationales, Paris, AN I< 21 no 13 4 -I1 132.~ ~

representative of their owners: the seal bore and was his owner's image, his imago. And the seal owner, as the object of representation, himself became an image of sameness, a warranted replica.

The identities of the individual and his seal depended on their capacity to resemble a model. In its operating and metaphoric principles, the seal was associated with transcendency (God) and at the same time also partook of the properties of its referent, an individual. The seal-operating through the medium of its progeny (the impressions), through its creative capacity, through its power of becoming (the impression), as well as simply of being (the matrix)-was experienced in analogy to the life process. On the mechanism of seal operation, the individual could project the autonomy of his conscience (we have seen the importance of intention), his ability to control the idea of his person. Mechaniza- tion and personalization are not contradictory. Individuals and seals became reciprocal models. Seals, conforming to and informing the logic of prescholastic semiotics, derived their capacity for signifying from their perceived affinity to, and agency within, human biography. Thus seals were successful as objects denoting both identity and authority. They produced identity as a foundation for documen- tary authorship, authority, and, ultimately, authentication. The notion of identity as likeness and replicable resemblance, as it came to be conceptualized and realized through seals, was to affect more generally the fabric of social life.

WITHTHE DIFFUSION OF SEALED CHARTERS in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, human beings bounded by flesh and consciousness were now engaging in strategies of deferred representation so that, where they had previously operated as their own empirical self-representing agents, they now came to coexist with, indeed relate to, a "double," their representative image (imago).This double, which functioned as if the other (the human absentee) were both present and identical, was an object, the seal; reciprocally, the seal signified the individual, who thus came to be newly mobilized as a locus for imparting permanence and authority to the written word. Such mobilization was therefore achieved by means of representation conceived both as replicate presence and as objectification. These two processes had radical effects on the notion of the individual.lo4

In the course of embodying the linguistic ego of a charter together with the physical presence of its individual referent, seal and imago veered away from personal expression and toward stylization. Seals empowered not the individual as particular being but the person as category, the person as representative. The graphic logic of seals established a crucial distinction between the individual of flesh and character and the individual as an impersonation of social roles specified by codes. The particular living individual of earlier oral ceremonies came to be increasingly abstracted as an incarnation of a particular social group. Formulas of identity on seals predicate the notion of individuals as archetypes. The socialization of signs of recognition prompted a consideration, and an allocation, of emblematic qualities that came to substitute for individual character. Sigillographic represen- tation, constituting its subject by exhibiting qualifications and titles, produced personal legitimacy as a functional effect of the social framework. Through seals, therefore, the power of authorization passed from the individual to the represen- tational framework of titles and qualifications that enabled, permitted, and authorized his or her authority. The emergence of the person as a category repositioned authority itself as an impersonal and atemporal structure capable of generating itself as state, and duties as law. In producing impersonal identity as the foundation for authority and authenticity, seals assume an epiphanic concept of authority that lays claim to function in its own name, that is, in the name of . . . nobody.105

Individual empowerment by means of seals implied that, as a represented subject, the medieval human being was reinvented as an object, becoming a symbolic form wherein the immediate particulars of personal presence were synthesized and

See above n. 9 the definition of "individual" used in this essay and the debate surrounding the "discovery of the individual" in the twelfth century. "Is I11 the Odyssey (9, 1, verse 366), Ulysses introduced himself to Cyclops in those terms: "C'est personne; c'est Inon nom"; quoted, translated, and discussed in Legendre, Le rldsi~yolitique de Dieu, 20.

vested in tangible objects, seals. To be recognized and to be functional as a person, the individual had to become something else, a sign. Through signs, the individual acquired definition and was constituted as an effective site for the production of symbolic activity. Ultimately, individual identity was subordinated to signs because, in terms of the prescholastic dialectics, which were used to consider the very possibility of a personal identity, signs had greater and more stable powers of representation, their modes of representation involving less personality than typology. What arose in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, therefore, was less "the individual" than a semiotic system, a practice of sign interpretation, that fostered representation of the person as a category. The individual was a representational device, a point of reference. The individual consequently appears to have been a casualty of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, reduced to rule-referential roles, and retreating behind representation and representational signs whose operational principles lay not in individualization but classification, not in differentiation but replication, not in identification but verification.

Seals did not construct social relationships, but they did catalog them as a hierarchical set, serving as a formal system for the indication of social status. The aristocracy, for the period under consideration, came to recognize itself in terms of its sign-objects, and it was in terms of these objects that the morality and the standards of the group-eschatological concerns, warfare, penitential needs, spir- itual intentions, accountability, kindred-came to be expressed. Seals, by establish- ing social and moral roles as intrinsic constituents of each person's identity, fostered an integration of the medieval ethical order. Sealing practices were developed within the polemical world of prescholastic schools and chanceries, where debates on senliotics were also doctrinal and fueled by an awareness that alternative modes of theological interpretation might well lead to the characteriza- tion of opponents as alien, if not heretical. Seen in this light, the objective formulation of identity through signs may be situated within a larger strategy concerned with identifying, controlling, and ultimately destroying otherness. Cer- tainly, the diffusion of sealing and the preoccupation with heresy and doctrinal deviance were contemp~raneous.~~Way

not the formulation of a sign of identity have been stimulated by the struggle for dogmatic authority and by the related need to oppose those perceived as "other" and threatening? Such speculative consider- ations stimulate interest in the actual role of identity and of its signs in the regimentation of social life, though for the moment we must leave this unresolved.

Prescholastic sign theory informed and enabled the representational capacity of seals, so that seals could embody the identity and operate as the imago of their owners through their very modes of signification. These modes included semantic

111 the refornling council held at Rheims in 1049, its convener, Pope Leo IX, denounced many heresies and illicit practices, probably targeting Berengar's followers among others (Stock, Itnplications of Literacy, 146-47; Mncdonald, Bereizgar. nizd the Reforr?z of Sircrnr7zerztnl Doctrilze, 56-57). In Cambrai, the anti-Berengar position of Bishop Gerard (d. 1051) was recorded in the Actn Syrzodi Atrebatensis, a much revised and expanded version of his confrontation with a group of dissenters at the synod of Arras in 1025 (Stock, Irrzplicatiorzs of Literacy, 120-39). Roscelin had to defend his views on the Trinity at a Council held in Soissons in 1092 (Picavet, Roscelir~,50-52). Abelard's work was condemilecl by the Council of Soissons in 1121, the proceedings of which had been instigated by two pupils of Anselm of Laon, Alberic of Rheims and Lotulf of Novara, and at the Council of Sens in 1140 (Marenbon, Plzilosoplzy of Peter Abelaxl, 17, 31-32).

components (text and image), semiotic operations (stereotypy, resemblance, repli- cation, and mechanization), and a metaphorical dimension. Seals were signs that encoded the concept of medieval identity as replicable resemblance. The mode of identification that seals promoted in the eleventh and twelfth centuries favored distinction by category. The greater their ability to classify, the less the seals' capacity to particularize identity. But of course, in prescholastic culture, true identity, that is, a perfect correspondence between an original and its image, as conceived for the Trinity or the Eucharist, could only be a divine attribute.

Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak is a professor of history at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her training at the Ecole Nationale des Chartes (Paris) under Robert-Henri Bautier fostered an interest in medieval diplomat- ics and sigillography. Her dissertation, La clztitellenie de Montnzorency des origines a 1368: Aspects fioda~uc, socia~ix, et dcoizomiq~ies (1980), gathered evidence from charters about the political and socioeconomic processes at work within the Capetian royal domain. A subsequent book on Anne de Montmorency (1990) explored and charted the modes of engagement between kingship and nobility over six centuries in such areas as policy, the manipula- tion and domination of bureaucratic structures, and the orchestration of ideologies. Moving from a consideration of the lay elites to the medieval modes and practices of their representation, she has analyzed the meaning of seals in

Form and Older in Medieval France: Studies in Social and Quantitative Sigillog- raphy (1993), and in a forthcoming book will explore further the roles of identity and of its signs in the regimentation of social life. For her next project, Bedos-Rezak will look at medieval culture as a culture of the replica.

Comments
  • Recommend Us