In western Europe, from the twelfth century at the latest, many urban communities designed and used corporate seals to prove that they functioned as institutions with full legal and executive capacities. In contrast, Byzantine cities never developed into similarly independent self-governing communities or city states and, consequently, never used city seals. There are indications, however, that, from the tenth century on, Byzantine cities developed a distinctive civic culture and, to some extent, a civic consciousness based upon growing economic and military power and the existence of local cults. The article presents various seals used by individuals, which express a feeling of belonging to one’s city—clues that have gone unnoticed in previous research. It is concluded that seals, with their rich iconographic, historical, and philological information, deserve to be considered more carefully as invaluable witnesses to the ways in which cities and collective urban identity were understood in Byzantine culture.
"The Formulation of Urban Identity on Byzantine Seals,"
The Medieval Globe: Vol. 4:
1, Article 7.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/tmg/vol4/iss1/7