Medieval Writing
Corbie a-b

Script Type : minuscule: a variant of Merovingian minuscule

Date : 7th and 8th centuries

Location : France, especially but not exclusively associated with the monastery of Corbie near Amiens

Function : book hand

The example comes from a codex of c. 800 (St Petersberg, Imperial Library, F.XIV). (From Steffens 1929)
The codex from which the example comes originally belonged to the abbey of Corbie. The segment shown is part of a hymn to the martyrs Gervasius and Protasius.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : As the name of the script indicates, the most distinctive letters are a and b. The letter a is open at the top and rather resembles a u. The letter b has no closed loop but is crossed like a t. Meanwhile, t is quite different and is a short letter with a loop to the left. The letters r and s are similar in form, but r extends below the baseline while s is tall. The letter o is formed as a simple loop. While e has a simple and familiar closed loop form, it tends to project above the other small letters, as in many of the scripts derived from new Roman Cursive. The vertical stroke of d extends below the baseline.

There are no examples of j, k or z in this example, or naturally y or w.

While the script is initially difficult to read because of the unfamiliar letter forms, it is a carefully written book hand with words well separated, so it can be approached systematically. While it is descended from cursive, it tends to be written with the letters separated. Combinations which form ligatures do not change the letter forms too drastically. However, unless you are into 7th and 8th century French monasticism, you are unlikely to encounter it in the wild. It is included here for its historic interest in relation to the development of handwriting.

Pass the cursor slowly along the lines of text and see whether you are astonished. I will include a paleography exercise one day, when I can get my head around it!

Script Index

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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 29/8/2011.