Medieval Writing
Paleography Exercises
Conquêtes de Charlemagne, 1458 (Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale, MS 9066-68, vol.1, f.138b). All images from The New Paleographical Society 1904, plate 44.
This page is from a mid 15th century compilation from chronicles and other sources of the conquests of Charlemagne. It was made in 1458 by David Aubert of Hesdin, calligrapher and librarian to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. It was written by Aubert himself and illustrated with 105 miniatures in grisaille by Jean le Tavernier of Oudenarde. As you can see, posh book production is now coming with names attached. The language is French, and if you can get your head around some odd spellings and the lack of accented letters, it is a pretty familar language to that in use today. The script is called bâtarde, and is a hybrid of Gothic textura and the French form of cursive document hand. It is a formal script for fancy book production, and formed the basis for some early typesettings.
This also shows the evolution of the Charlemagne legend into an archetypal myth of European kingship. The bare bones of historical narrative had been embroidered with romance, and reworked into mythic histories of national identity. The ownership of such a fancy volume by such a powerful character as the Duke of Burgundy would seem to represent a ratification of his own temporal power.

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Click on each of the above to walk your way through the text. The transcript will appear in a separate window so that you can use it for reference at any time. These exercises are designed to guide you through the text, not test you, so you can cheat as much as you like.
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This site is created and maintained by Dr Dianne Tillotson, freelance researcher and compulsive multimedia and web author. Comments are welcome. Material on this web site is copyright, but some parts more so than others. Please check here for copyright status and usage before you start making free with it. This page last modified 30/5/2005.