ABBÉ JOBAL’S MEDIEVAL SEALS

A remarkable XVIII century collection of medieval seal matrices from Lorraine from the collection of François ‘l’abbé Jobal’

François Jobal was born in Metz, in the parish of Saint-Martin, on 4 September 1748.  He came from a family that rose to prominence in Lorraine in the sixteenth century, and in the tradition of such families, whose sons became soldiers, lawyers, clergymen and legislators, he became a priest.1

A man of some substance and standing, he became Canon of the Noble Chapter of the Cathedral of Metz, Vicar-General of Angers, and on 22 May 1783 was appointed Councillor Clerc of the Parliament of Metz.  He was also an antiquarian who formed a remarkable collection of seal matrices. Perhaps it was his position as canon of the Cathedral that gave him access to such a rich vein of ecclesiastical matrices, or conceivably his cousin Claude Jobal, who around 1600 had been provost and keeper of the seals in Vaucouleurs, may have been the source.2 Either way, collecting was certainly in his blood – he formed a

On te numismatic collection both of Merovingian and Carolingian coins and of the coinage and medals of Lorraine.  His collection must have had some renown as in 1865 Bouteiller & Durand described it as “autrefois célèbre”.

Sometime before the revolution and the suppression of the ecclesiastical orders, the abbé left France for Martinique in 1782 and again in 1783, and was to become Commandant of the Island of Tobago 1789-92.3 Before François left, his seals and coin collection were packed up for safekeeping and deposited in the family’s Château de Lue4 with his eldest brother Joseph-François-Louis, Comte de Jobal, a lieutenant general in the Royal Army. The abbé never returned to Lue and is said to have died in 1806.

During the revolution the Comte de Jobal left the estate in the care of his sister Marie-Agathe-Rose and went into exile to fight the Royalist cause, which may in part explain why the collection, hidden in an attic under a pile of rags, was not looted when the château was pillaged.

On the count’s return from exile the collection remained out of view for some seventy years until his grandson, the Count Pierre-Gaston de Lambertye, displayed the seal at a meeting of the Société d’archéologie et d’histoire de la Moselle on the 14 December 1865; they were subsequently published in the Society’s journal.5

 

1See: ‘La Famille de Jobal: Renseignements Généalogiques by l’abbé Ad. Barthélémy’, in Mémoires de l’Académie nationale de Metz 1911-1912

2Ibid. “prévôt et garde des sceaux-de Vaucouleurs”: a letter of 1602 was recorded in the archieves of the Château de Lue.  The archives were scattered in 1870.

3Dictionnaire de biographie française.

4Domaine de Lue, 57530 Hayes, France, some 20 kilometers from Metz.

5Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie et d’histoire de la Moselle, 1865, huitième année, pages 102-08

XIII CENTURY

Seal matrix of the causes of the Cathedral of Saint Paul of Metz

The seal’s central field displays Saint Paul, one of the patron saints of Metz, crowned with a nimbus holding a banner identifying his personage.

The legend, in Lombardic script, surrounding the image of the Saint reads: S MAIORIS ECCLE METEN AD CAUSAS (Sigillum Majoris Ecclesia Metz Ad Causas, in its unabbreviated form, which may be read as Great Seal of the Causes of the Cathedral of Metz).The addition of ‘ad causas’ to the legend indicates this seal was intended for business transactions between the church and a secular party.  Literally translated, ad causas means ‘to cause’.  This seal would have been affixed to documents pertaining to the non-ecclesiastical  business of the church.

DATE 13th century
PLACE OF CREATION Metz
MATERIAL Copper ally
SIZE 64 x 46 mm
PUBLISHED
Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie et d’histoire de la Moselle, 1865, huitième année, page 103, n° IV

XIV CENTURY

Gothic seal matrix of the fabric of the Cathedral in Metz

This vesica-shaped seal features the Virgin and Child amid a field of lilies.  The crowned Virgin stands in a contrapposto stance upon a hexagonal pedestal.  In her right hand she holds a lily while the crook of her left arm supports the infant Jesus.  The seal’s legend reads: S FABRICE ECCLESIE METENSIS (Seal of the works of the Cathedral in Metz). The majuscule gothic script dates the seal to at least the beginning of the fourteenth century, while the stylized draping of the figure’s clothes indicates a date closer to the middle of that century.

DATE Early-mid 14th century
PLACE OF CREATION Metz
MATERIAL Copper ally
SIZE 55 x 33 mm
PUBLISHED
Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie et d’histoire de la Moselle, 1865, huitième année, page 104, n° VI

XIV CENTURY

Seal matrix of the Chapter of the Church of Saint Thiébault of Metz

An enthroned Virgin and Child sit adored by two angels and a worshiper.  The Virgin holds an orb in her right hand and the Christ Child rests in the crook of her left arm.  Angels with arms extended flan the throne, their wings grazing the seal’s interior border.  Below, a trilobed arcade divides the adored from the adorer.  A single indiidual kneels in supplication.  Framing this scene, the inscription reads: S SANCTE MARIE SANCTIQUE THEOBALDI METENSIS (The seal of Saints Mary and Theobald of Metz).  The majuscule gothic script dates the seal to at least the beginning of the fourteenth century.

DATE  Early 14th century
PLACE OF CREATION Metz
MATERIAL Copper Alloy
SIZE 65 x 42 mm
PUBLISHED
Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie et d’histoire de la Moselle, 1865, huitième année, page 104, n° VIII

XV CENTURY

Seal matrix of the Abbey of Clairvaux at Metz

This circular seal displays the Virgin enthroned with the Christ Child beneath a tri-lobed, gothic architectural canopy; the Virgin holds the infant Jesus in the crook of her left arm while clutching a lily in her right hand.  Behind the figures, elaborate rinceaux patterns fill the negative space.  Outside the gothic edifice, a diapered pattern offsets the central scene through textured ornamentation.

Beginning with the cross located above the farthest right arch, the legend proclaims this item as the seal of the Abbey of Clairvaux. The inscription reads: S: CONVENTUS: MONIALUM: BE: MARIE: CLAREVALLIS: MET. (Seal of the Abbey of the Blessed Mary of Calirvaux at Metz). The cleanly incised majuscule gothic script along with the intricately engraved field indicates a date of production around the early fifteenth century.

According to the sixtenth-century chronicles of Phillipe de Vigneulles, the Abbey of Petite Clairvaux was founded by Saint Bernard in 1153 during a trip to Metz.  Petite Clairvaux was established in response to the closure of the Abbey of Saint Benoît in Woivre.  As Vigneulles relates, the nuns of Saint Benoît sought a more ‘edifying lifestyle’, similar to the teachings espoused by Saint Bernard.  As a result, a new convent was formed with the help of Bishop Etienne de Bar.

DATE Early 15th century
PLACE OF CREATION Metz
MATERIAL Brass
DIAMETER 58 mm
PUBLISHED
Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie et d’histoire de la Moselle, 1865, huitième année, page 104, n° IX

XV CENTURY

A magnificent seal matrix of the Tabellionage of Rambervillers; Châtellenie of the Bishopric of Metz

This superb, ornately engraved seal displays the hand of God reaching down from the heavens, with Saint Stephen at prayer garbed in liturgical vestments, which the artist renders with great care and attention, the sleeves and hems draping carefully around the body.  The field is incised with rinceaux motifs of flowering vines.

Directly above the saint’s nimbus, a small cross indicates the beginning legend’s text.  Flowing clockwise, the seal reads: SIGILLIUM OFFICII TABELLIONATUS OPIDI RAMBERTIVILLARI (Seal of the office of the Tabellionage of the town of Rambervilliers), incised in gothic minuscule.

The Tabellon was the senior legal official in Rambervillers of the bishop of Metz, under whose civil jurisdiction the small, but strategically important town fell.  The grandeur of the seal and the number of medieval defensive fortifications recorded around the city indicate the value the bishops placed on this township.  This seal demonstrated both the secular and liturgical roles the bishops played in the administration and the important interrelationship between town and bishop.  It acts as a relic of the unique medieval governing structure of Lorraine.

DATE 15th century
PLACE OF CREATION Metz
MATERIAL Copper alloy
DIAMETER 75 mm
PUBLISHED
Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie et d’histoire de la Moselle, 1865, huitième année, page 105, n° X

XV CENTURY

Seal matrix of Luis de Haraucourt, Bishop and Count of Verdun

Engraved with deeply incised gothis architectural motifs, this seal was the official matrix of Louis de Haraucourt, Bishop and Count of Verdun from 1430 to 1437, Bishop of Toul from 1437 to 1449, and restored to Verdun from 1449 to 1451.

The Virgin and Child sit enthroned under strong, vertical rayonette spires flanked by angels.  Below, the bishop is shown kneeling in adoration of the holy family.  His coats of arms are displayed either side of him.

Rather than bordering the entire image, the legend only occupies the middle of the pointed oval’s sides.  The legend reads: S L DE HARAT DEI GRA EPI ET COIT VIRDV (The seal of Louis de Haraucourt, by the Grace of God, Bishop and Count of Verdun).

DATE First half of the 15th century

PLACE OF CREATION Verdun

MATERIAL Copper

SIZE 70 x 40 mm

PUBLISHED
Bulletin de la Société d’archéologie et d’histoire de la Moselle, 1865, huitième année, page 107, n° III

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