The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Eight – Vocabulary

In Chapter 8, we find out how the king approved royal documents in a time where literacy rates were low, and signatures would be mostly meaningless. So what would be used instead? Today our vocab word is…


The King’s Royal Seal was one of his most valuable posessions, and in Chapter 8 it goes MISSING…dun dun dun! The tradition of a seal still lives on to this day, most often by being pressed into hot wax on the back of a fancy envelope for things like wedding invitations. Keep reading or watch the video below for more information on the word ‘seal’.



(n) a material with a design stamped into it to approve documents

acts as a sort of signature




  • Language of Origin: Latin
  • “sigillum” meaning small picture, engraved figure, seal

  • Language of Origin: Old French
  • “seel” meaning seal on a letter

Sentences/Additional Forms

  • Straightforward sentence: The King used his royal seal to show he approved the document.
  • Sentence from the chapter: “The King dropped into inarticulate mumblings…gropingly trying to recollect what he had done with the Seal”  (p. 40)
  • Other forms: seal/sealed (v.) – to fasten/close securely

But wait, there’s more!

So when did we switch to signatures?

Signatures didn’t widely catch on until the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe. At that time, education and literacy were on the rise. In addition, most agreements were made in writing. In 1677, something called the Statute of Frauds was put in place in England. It said that contracts must exist in writing and must contain a signature. Obviously this contributed to the rise in signature use. This practice was also carried over to colonial America.

What were some other ways that have been used to show approval?

  • Press a signet ring into beeswax
  • Signet rings in general
  • Cutting off a lock of hair
  • Slapping (or other traumatic acts)
  • Signing an “x”

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