4. Look at this seal from around 1250. It is attached to a document in which a woman named Desiree, who was the daughter of Ernulf son of Alulf, gave up her rights to a house in London near St Paul’s Cathedral which was owned by her mother, Denise. The house had originally been owned by Ernulf, and so these documents probably represent a shifting around of property after his death. London was an important commercial and manufacturing centre and so this house was very valuable. Catalogue ref: DL 25/127.
- How would you describe Desiree’s seal?
- Do you think this is a seal designed specifically for her?
- Why might she need or want a seal of her own?
- Why do you think some people had seals which showed objects rather than people?
- Houses could be used as workshops and shops as well as places to live. Do you think Denise is likely to have been using the house for a business?
- What kinds of businesses do you think existed in London in the thirteenth century?
- What does this document and its seal suggest to you about women’s lives and rights?