Champagne and Clairvaux abbey seals online. Charters too.

Sigillography enthusiasts will find this online resource both fun and useful. The French archives of the Aube department propose an online flash-based tool for showcasing the most famous medieval seals of the historical region of Champagne currently preserved in the departmental archives.

Under the name “Sceaux et usages de sceaux” (Seals and the usage of seals), this tool allows you to look for seals based on a series of criteria, such as geographical location (using an interactive high-quality map of historical Champagne) or keywords contained in the seal description.

More than a searching tool, this instrument also works as a great illustrated introduction to sigillography. Enough to give you a taste of the realm, it explains a great deal of elements that define a seal and scrutinizes most types of medieval sigilla.

The “Sceaux et usages de sceaux” is entirely in French and does not supply an English translation. This might dissuade some non French-speakers from using the website. I believe however that a dictionary and some very basic French skills are all it takes to enjoy this great tool.

For something more localized, the archives also feature a searching tool for 3672 seals from the famous abbey of Clairvaux currently indexed on their website. The files are greatly detailed and most have high-quality photos of the seals. It is a valuable tool for the historian.

But as my interest lies primarily in the manuscript area, I was happy to find out that most of the digitized seals come with the charters they were attached to. This is really something.

You can access the “Sceaux et usages de sceaux” online resource here

For the Clairvaux abbey seals, please click here . You will need to look for those files that contain an “eye” icon indicating there is a photo attached, most likely with the original document.

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