The Montpellier Parchment and the Signature of Iustitia

Murray, Andrew (2019). The Montpellier Parchment and the Signature of Iustitia. Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis, 94 pp. 301–323.



The Montpellier parchment (made circa 1467–1477), now kept in the Bibliothèque Municipale de Montpellier, is an enigmatic image from Valois Burgundy. In this article, I argue that its peculiarities result from its attempt to synthesise two conceptions of authority: firstly, the virtues of rulers and of councils, and secondly, divine and feudal hierarchy. To make this synthesis, the parchment depicts Iustitia as a signature: a sign that translocates presence and authority between two realms. Iustitia translocates Christ’s authority in the earthly realm, as well as extends worldly judicial hierarchy into the heavenly sphere. In depicting the duke and his councils as fulfilling divine providence, this rhetoric suited the politics and learned culture of the later Burgundian state, and the inscriptions in the Montpellier parchment as well as iconography could have been devised by the Burgundian poet and chronicler, Jean Molinet.

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