Medieval women's seals

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Document: Deed of Pupelina Galle, her sons and her daughters, late 12th century. Catalogue ref: DL 25/2719

Description: Medieval women’s lives were shaped by whether or not they were married. In medieval English law, an unmarried woman was under the authority of a male relative, while a married woman was usually represented by her husband. However, a widow whose husband had died could act on her own and manage her own business and lands. Many medieval widows were socially very powerful because of this.

This document from the late 12th century concerns the sale of some family land with a mill on it in Lincolnshire. Look at the four surviving seals on this document. Can you find the women’s names: Aliz (Alice), Pupelina, and Gene (Genevieve)? Why do you think the women are included in this document and have attached their seals? During this time period, seals were used similarly to signatures today.


Know all present and future, that I John and I Alan, sons of Arnald Galle, with the help and consent of our mother Pupelina and our sisters Alice and Genevieve, are selling and quit-claiming [giving up all claims to the land and property] for ourselves and our heirs to Odo Galle and his heirs all the lands which we hold in Saltfleetby that in that place 8 acres … with all services, mills and exactions.. for 5½d [5½ pence] at Christmas, Easter, St Botulph’s day [18 June], and Michaelmas [29 September]….

Learn more about the medieval period in our lesson resources:


Owner: The National Archives UK
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 7985

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    • 06/Mar/2023 15:44:34

    Seems very little money for 8 acres, even in those times.