Chardonnens (2013 Congress)

László Sándor Chardonnens
(Radboud University Nijmegen)
“Inscribed in Lead and Concealed in Stone:  The History of a Hitherto Unknown, Late Medieval Sigillum Dei

Abstract of Paper at the 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo, 2013)

Session on The Material Culture of Magic
Co-sponsored by the Societas Magica and the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence
Organizer:  László Sándor Chardonnens
2013 Congress

[First published on our first website on 16 May 2013, with updates]

This paper traces the history of a late medieval artefact of learned magic, a lead disc on which is inscribed a Sigillum Dei.  The disc was found after the brick that concealed it was discovered in 1964 during the restoration of a medieval castle in the Netherlands.  Ever since its discovery, the artefact has been kept in the attic of the castle, only to be rediscovered in 2011 by Maeyke Kok, an intern supervised by the presenter of this paper.  Thought to have been used as a building sacrifice, the lead disc has been identified instead, upon further investigation, as a Sigillum Dei.

The nature of this object, a powerful magical artefact, calls its use as a protective building sacrifice into question.  Research has enabled us to date the brick to the early sixteenth century, which forms a likely terminus ante quem for the lead Sigillum Dei as well.  Radically different in design from the later, revised wax Sigillum Dei owned by John Dee, the Dutch lead disc is the oldest extant Sigillum Dei artefact so far identified, which makes it significant to examine in the light of late medieval and early modern instructions for the construction of a Sigillum Dei as found in the various versions of the Liber iuratus and Berengario Ganell’s Summa sacra magicae.  This paper draws on recent research into these written traditions by Jan Veenstra, and original historical and demographic research in order to interpret and contextualise the construction and existence of such a rare and unusual object of learned magic.


Website Editor’s Note:  The paper on “Carved in Lead and Concealed in Stone:  A Late Medieval Sigillum Dei at Doorenburg Castle” by László Sándor Chardonnens and Jan R. Veenstra was published in Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, 9:2 (Winter 2014), 117–156, with illustrations.  The preliminary note includes the observation that “the essay benefited from feedback on a paper the first author delivered at a Societas Magica session at the 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, in 2013.”


Website Editor’s Note:

The other Abstracts of Papers presented by Dr. Chardonnens for our sponsored and co-sponsored Sessions at the Congress are posted here:
Chardonnens (2016 Congress)
Chardonnens (2015 Congress).
Chardonnens (2013 Congress)
Chardonnens (2012 Congress).

We thank him for his expert and enthusiastic contributions to our sponsored or co-sponsored Sessions.


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  1. […] László Sándor Chardonnens (Radboud University Nijmegen), “Inscribed in Lead and Concealed in Stone:  The History of a Hitherto Unknown Late-Medieval Sigillum Dei”  Abstract of Paper / Chardonnens (2013 Congress) […]