publisher colophon

28. Seal of Josce: The Jew

bS’ : IOSCE : IVDEI

Dimensions: 24 mm. Matrix.

Location: French National Library, Paris, Medal Room, Schlumberger Legacy, No. 1082.

Bibliography: Societé des archives historiques, 1890. Schlumberger and Blanchet, 1914, Item 682; Blumenkranz, 1965–66, No. 2, 24 (2); Bedos, 1980b, No. 2, 24 (2).

This rather small bronze seal shows as device an animal, described as a bull, facing left in the center of the field (thus right in the matrix), with the Latin letters round the rim. The seal was found in 1887 near Saint-Jean d’Angély, a town directly north of Bordeaux and close to La Rochelle. This area was the ancient province of Saintonge. The question of its authenticity was answered in the affirmative by Leopold Delisle of the French National Library on the grounds that Josce was a Jewish name* and, since the records indicated that a Jewish moneylender of the same name from La Rochelle gave a quittance in 1288 for a sum of money which had been due from the lord of Faye, perhaps this was his seal. The unidentifiable letter or figure before S on the seal was also used as a proof of this being a Jewish seal on the basis that it was a deliberately distorted cross, a theory which this writer rejects. Though Jews did distort figures in the medieval period to conform to religious precepts, there were other symbols, such as stars or rosettes, which could have been and often were substituted for the cross. It has also been suggested that this unidentifiable letter might be a worn C, standing for “Counter,” that is a counterseal. This too does not seem feasible. Bernhard Blumenkranz and Brigitte Bedos accept the seal as described ignoring the cryptic letter, as does this writer.

The seal, which has no Hebrew in the inscription, in some ways more closely resembles English Jewish seals of the period than French ones, a distinct possibility since Saintonge was strongly influenced by the English at that time. The figure of the bull, standing for the name Joseph (of which Josce is a variant), adds strength to the thesis that this is an authentic Jewish seal. The seal on the basis of style was judged to be from the thirteenth century. Brigitte Bedos, however, considers it fourteenth century.


*Josce, and its variant spellings, is also a Jewish woman’s name.

*Josce, and its variant spellings, is also a Jewish woman’s name.

This rather small bronze seal shows as device an animal, described as a bull, facing left in the center of the field (thus right in the matrix), with the Latin letters round the rim. The seal was found in 1887 near Saint-Jean d’Angély, a town directly north of Bordeaux and close to La Rochelle. This area was the ancient province of Saintonge. The question of its authenticity was answered in the affirmative by Leopold Delisle of the French National Library on the grounds that Josce was a Jewish name* and, since the records indicated that a Jewish moneylender of the same name from La Rochelle gave a quittance in 1288 for a sum of money which had been due from the lord of Faye, perhaps this was his seal. The unidentifiable letter or figure before S on the seal was also used as a proof of this being a Jewish seal on the basis that it was a deliberately distorted cross, a theory which this writer rejects. Though Jews did distort figures in the medieval period to conform to religious precepts, there were other symbols, such as stars or rosettes, which could have been and often were substituted for the cross. It has also been suggested that this unidentifiable letter might be a worn C, standing for “Counter,” that is a counterseal. This too does not seem feasible. Bernhard Blumenkranz and Brigitte Bedos accept the seal as described ignoring the cryptic letter, as does this writer.

Additional Information

ISBN
9780814344859
MARC Record
OCLC
1055142843
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-02
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC-SA
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