Apologies for the necessity for drastic horizontal scrolling, but that is just the way they designed petitions.  
The French language petition is written in a typical chancery hand of the period, of the script family bastarda. The question might well be asked why a document which is going into the chancery, rather than out of it, should be written in what a paleographer would identify as a chancery hand. There are several possible explanations. One is that it may have actually been written by a chancery scribe for the petitioner. Another is that it is a copy made in the chancery. The other is that there were professional scribes outside the chancery who could write in this style when they thought it was appropriate. There does not seem to be a lot of information about this subject.  
The document is in French, but it is rather what we used to call in my schooldays "piggy French", or, as they sometimes say "Franglais". The words please, chapelayns, fee and fyne are sprinkled though with gay abandon. Some words look a bit more familiar once you realise that there are no apostrophes or accents, so that you have labbe rather than l'abbé. There are numerous abbreviations.  
Petition to Henry VI of 1441. (London, National Archives, E28/G8/18). All images by permission of the National Archives.  

| overview | recto text | verso text | recto alphabet | verso alphabet |

| recto abbreviations | verso abbreviations | exercises |

| recto transcript | recto translation | verso transcript | verso translation |

Click on each of the above to walk your way through the text. The transcripts will appear in a separate window so that you can use them 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.  
Medieval Writing
Script sample for recto  
Script sample for verso  
Index of Exercises  
Index of Scripts  

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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 12/3/2008.