Hence arose the use of the counterseal, which might be an impression from a matrix actually so called (contrasigillum), or that of a signet or private seal (secretum), such countersealing implying a personal corroboration of the sealing.
The earliest seal of a sovereign of France to which a counterseal was added was that of Louis VII.
When, in 1154, Aquitaine passed to the English crown, this counterseal disappeared, and eventually in subsequent reigns a fleur-de-lis or the shield of arms of France took its place.
This seal was furnished with a counterseal, the design being nearly Conqueror, as duke of Normandy, used an equestrian seal, representing him mounted and armed for battle.
Episcopal seals more generally show the prelate prominently as a standing figure, or, less conspicuously, as kneeling in prayer before the Deity or patron saint; the counterseal also frequently represents him in the same posture of adoration.
If there be a counterseal, the figure of patron paint or founder may stand there, while the building occupies the obverse.