Diplomacy in the Middle Ages, including elements of chronology, sigillography and heraldry

lhist2430  2018-2019  Louvain-la-Neuve

Diplomacy in the Middle Ages, including elements of chronology, sigillography and heraldry
5 credits
22.5 h
Bertrand Paul;
Knowledge of Latin.
Main themes
The course should foster the primary objectives of the discipline. That being to class by category acts and related documents. Analyse their tradition, from the rough draft to the original and the various forms of copy. Scrutinize their constitutive parts and their arrangement. Interpret their formulae and their specific vocabulary. Explain their elaboration and, therefore, the organization of chancellories for public acts, ways of drawing up covenants for private acts and procedures for sending them. Determine, finally, the conditions for their validity and seriate the types of anomalies denouncing falsifications. It is obvious that one need progress in knowledge of sigillography, because seals authenticate so many medieval acts, and in knowledge of technical chronology, because dating techniques diverge from modern practices. Along the way, the course can widen perspectives. Study, for example, the system of evidence in medieval society. Penetrating motivations and gauging the skill of forgers. Uncover elements of ideology and factors of mentality buried in preambles, comminatory clauses and even the formulae of acts. Decode the manifold language of seals, where writing and imagery come together.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :


By the end of this course, students should be able to determine the validity of acts that seal or attest to covenants, laws or obligations; to scrutinize their constitutive parts or their arrangement; interpet their formulae and specific vocabulary and explain their elaboration.

He will be able to date acts whose dating techniques diverged from modern practices. He will have made a first approach to decoding seals and coats of arms.


The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
Teaching methods
Evaluation methods
Other information
Les étudiants sont invités à se procurer le manuel.
Manuel de cours : Olivier GUYOTJEANNIN, Jacques PYCKE et Benoît-M. TOCK, Diplomatique médiévale, Turnhout : Brépols, 3e édition revue et augmentée, 2006 (collection L'atelier du médiéviste, 2).
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Master [60] in History

Master [120] in History

Master [120] in Ancient and Modern Languages and Literatures

Master [120] in French and Romance Languages and Literatures : French as a Foreign Language