Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak

Professor of History

École Nationale des Chartes (Sorbonne), France, PhD 1977

Office Address: 

King Juan Carlos Center, Room 610



Field of Study: 

Medieval Europe

Research Interests: 

History and Theory; Semiotic Anthropology; Material Culture; Media and Communication; Historical Anthropology of the Middle Ages; Medieval France; Medieval Sign Theory; Medieval Diplomatics and Sigillography; Latin and Old French Paleography

Curriculum Vitae

Associated with other departments or programs:

Professor Affiliate, Institute of Fine Arts (IFA, NYU)
Professor Affiliate, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW, NYU)

External Affiliations:

Editorial Board, Revue Camaren: Cahiers Moyen Age et Renaissance (U. of Nantes, France); Editorial Board, Signs and Society (U. of Chicago); Editorial Board, Series: Cultural Histories of the Material World, Bard Graduate Center and University of Michigan Press


Brigitte Bedos-Rezak’s scholarship bears primarily on medieval France (900-1600), with some attention to England, Germany, and Spain. Her early social-historical and archival work considered the modes of engagement between kingship and the northern French nobility over six centuries, particularly their documentary practices, their manipulation and domination of bureaucratic structures, their relations as clients and kindred, and their conflicting politics of prestige and cultural modeling. In the course of considering the dialectics of power among ruling elites, Bedos-Rezak observed the developing agency of media in these elites’ strategies of representation and communication from the twelfth century onward. She has demonstrated that authoritative presence and personal identity during that period came to be embodied in material artifacts (badges, insignia, seals, images, inscribed parchment), so that such artifacts were effective as agents of their users in situations requiring commitment and accountability. In her analysis of these mediatic developments, Bedos-Rezak’s work aims at constructing a semiotic anthropology of the western Middle Ages. She has explored the relationship between medieval sign theory and both the concept of and markers of personal identity. Her investigation of medieval definitions of person and identity has revealed that loci of singularity and distinction did not necessarily overlap with or result in the creation of individuality. Her present work considers the medieval imprint as an object, a process, and a metaphor, so as to probe the spectrum of active concerns during the later Middle Ages about the autonomy and agency of material signs.


National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship; Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (Paris); Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton); Mellon Fellowship (Metropolitan Museum of Art); John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship; Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (London); Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America; Fellow of the International Committee on Diplomatics, Comité des sciences historiques.

Selected Works:


Histoire de Montmorency, Le Moyen Age (Paris:  Arem.  Collection Epoques et Sociétés, 1979), pp. 159  

Corpus des sceaux français du Moyen Age, tome Ier: Les sceaux de villes (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1980), pp. 546  

La châtellenie de Montmorency des origines à 1368 (Pon­toise:  Sociétés historique et archéologique de Pontoise, du Val d'Oise et du Vexin, 1980), pp. 430  

Anne de Montmorency, seigneur de la Renaissance (Paris:  Publisud. Collection La France au fil des siècles, 1990), pp. 415  

Ed. and co-author., Polity and Place:  Regionalism in Medieval France, special issue of Historical Reflections/Réflexions historiques 192 (1993), pp. 151-278.  

Form and Order in Medieval France, Studies in Social and Quantitative Sigillography (Aldershot: Variorum, 1993), xii + 313 pp.  

Ed., with Dominique Iogna-Prat, and co-author, L’Individu au Moyen Age. Individuation et individualisation avant la modernité (Paris: Aubier- Flammarion, 2005)  

When Ego was Imago.  Signs of Identity in the Middle Ages (Leiden: Brill, 2010. Visualizing the Middle Ages 3)

Recent Articles: 

"les Juifs et l'écrit dans la mentalité eschatologique du Moyen Age chrétien occidental (France, 1000-1200),"Annales. HSS 49/5 (1994): 1049-1063  

“L’ au-delà du soi. Métamorphoses sigillaires en Europe médiévale,” Cahiers de civilisation médiévale49(2006) : 337-358  

“Cutting Edge. The Economy of Mediality in Twelfth-Century Chirographic writing,” in: Modelle des Medialen im Mittelalter, ed. Christian Kiening and Martina Stercken, special issue of Das Mittelalter 15(2010): 134-161

“Semiotic Anthropology. The Twelfth Century Experiment,” European Transformations 950-1200, Thomas F.X. Noble and John Van Engen, ed.  (Notre Dame : University of Notre Dame Press, 2011), pp. 426-467  

Le sceau et l’art de penser au XIIe siècle, » Pourquoi le sceau ? La sigillographie, nouvel enjeu de l’histoire de l’art, ed. Marc Gil and Jean-Luc Chassel  (Lille, 2011), pp. 153-176

Were Jews Made in the Image of God? Christian Perspectives and Jewish Experience in Medieval Europe,” inStudies in Medieval Jewish Intellectual and Social History. Festschrift in Honor of Robert Chazan, ed David Engel, Lawrence H. Shifman, Elliot R. Wolfson , Supplements to The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy15 (2012): 63-96

“Image as Patron. Convention and Invention in Fourteenth-century France,”  in Patrons and Professionals in the Middle Ages, ed.  Paul Binski and Elizabeth A. New, HARLAXTON MEDIEVAL STUDIES, XXII (Donington, 2012.), pp. 216-236

“Outcast. Seals of the Medieval West and their Epistemological Frameworks (XIIth-XXIst centuries), in From Minor to Major: The Minor Arts in Medieval Art History, ed. Colum Hourihane (Princeton, 2012, pp.122-140

“Seals. Medieval West and Byzantium,” In : Oxford Bibliographies. Medieval Studies, ed. in chief, Paul E. Szarmach,

“Loci of Medieval Individuality. A Methodological Inquiry,” in Forms of Individuality and Literacy in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods, ed. F.-J. ARLINGHAUS, Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy, 31 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2015), pp. 81-106

« Nom et non-sens. Le discours de l’image parlante sur les sceaux du Moyen Age Occidental (XIIe-XIIIe siècle), » in Désir n’a repos. Hommage à Danielle Bohler, études réunies par Florence Bouchet et Danièle James-Raoul (Bordeaux : Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, 2015), pp. 189-204

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Updated on 09/10/2015