Susan M. Johns

in Noblewomen, Aristocracy and Power in the Twelfth-Century Anglo-Norman Realm

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780719063046
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700280 | DOI:

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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The secular women's seals present the historian with unique opportunities to study the portrayal of female identity in twelfth-century England. Seals were visual representations of power, and they conveyed notions of authority and legitimacy. Women's seals have been particularly poorly served. They also identified women's power in the context of land tenure, lordship, social status and the female life cycle. Additionally, they signified both gender and status in different ways. The representational forms of noblewomen's seals symbolised noblewomen's cultural identities and served to endorse gendered norms of women's role in lordship. The use of seals by twelfth-century noblewomen reinforces the argument that noblewomen had important roles to play within the construct of lordship in the specific context of land transfers.

Keywords: seals; noblewomen; female identity; twelfth-century England; power; authority; legitimacy; land tenure; lordship; social status

Chapter.  14512 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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