Medieval Writing

Script Type : minuscule

Date : 15th century

Location : France and the Low Countries

Function : Book hand

This is a segment from a late 15th century book of hours from France, from a private collection. The text is Psalm 142 in the Vulgate Bible.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This is a very formal, and rather stilted and mannered, version of the bâtarde script from what must have been a rather elegantly produced book of hours with many elaborate gilded initials. However, where the bâtarde style can often be a free flowing and elegant style of script, this has rather awkward angles and tricky adornments requiring extras pen strokes which must have made it more laborious to write. Unlike other forms of the script, it is also a little difficult to read, mainly because the minims end, not in upswept feet, but in narrow points, which does tend to confuse the eye.

As usual with this family the most distinctive letters are the tall s and f, with their tall tapering form and double pen strokes. The short form of s is a double closed loop, as found in some cursive scripts. The letter x is not a simple cross, but rather elaborately constructed, with a curling descender. The ascenders of letters such as b, d and h are tall and curly, but the descender of q is short and straight.

The letter j is sometimes but not always distinguished from i, at least when it occurs at the beginning of a word. Similarly, v is differentiated from u when it occurs at the beginning of a word, but is identical if it occurs in the middle.

There are the two forms of r, as occur in Gothic textura.

There are no examples on the page of g, k, w, y or z.

There are some conjoined letter combinations, as found in textura scripts.

Pass the cursor slowly over the lines for a quick read, then proceed to the paleography exercises to examine the whole page in more detail.

Script Index

Paleography exercises using Flash

Requires at least the Flash 5 plugin

If you are looking at this page without frames, there is more information about medieval writing to be found by going to the home page (framed) or the site map (no frames).
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 20/10/2010.