The authentication of documents is one of the most important functions of seals, whose legitimating power is determined by the ius commune. Pope Alexander III (1154-1181) decreed that, in addition to sealed documents, those drafted by notaries were also legally valid. As a consequence of the particular formation of the legal culture in Italy, however, many documents were, from that point on, authenticated solely by the notary, that is, by his own signature and his hand-drawn signum. Nevertheless, documents were often doubly authenticated – by the notary as well as by a seal. Simultaneously, new types of image for seals developed in Italy, such as the notary’s sign, the image of the notary writing, or the carefully constructed genre of the doctor in cathedra. Jurists would present themselves as spiritual and earthly rulers with their own images on seals, though in a posture that is clearly distinguishable from those of bishops or kings, as one sees here in the seal of the well-known Bolognese jurist Giovanni d’Andrea. Legal standards concerning seals were also defined by local laws, such as the statutes of Italian communes. Communal seals, such as the oldest existing seal of Siena, make it clear that the right to create a seal is at the same time a claim to rulership. Such is the case with the seal of the federation of Empoli, representing the architectural emblems of the cities within the jurisdiction of Florence, whose authority they were legally bound to defend.

Seal of the notary Dono (matrix), 14th century, bronze, 27 mm (Florence, Bargello, inv. no. 574)

Seal of the notary Bonaventura (matrix), 13th century, bronze, 38x24 mm (Florence, Bargello, inv. no. 539)

Seal of Giovanni d’Andrea, doctor of canon law (impression), 1315, red wax, 60x30 mm (ASFi, Sigilli staccati, no. 62)

Seal of Giovanni d’Andrea, doctor canon law (impression), 1329, black wax, 60x30 mm (ASFi, Sigilli staccati, Nr. 83)

Seal of Giovanni Calderini, doctor of canon law (impression), 1329, red wax, 42x26 mm (ASFi, Sigilli staccati, inv. no. 84)

Seal of Filippo Formaglini, doctor of canon law (impression), 1329, red wax, 44x28 mm (ASFi, Sigilli staccati, inv. no. 86)

Seal of the Sienese commune (matrix), first half of the 13th century, bronze, 62 mm (Florence, Bargello, inv. no. 1790)

Seal of the federation of Empoli (matrix), 13th century, bronze, 66 mm (Florence, Bargello, inv. no. 1800)

© KHI in Florence | 15.05.2021 09:08:55