Medieval Writing
Cursive Document Hand

Script Type : minuscule cursive

Date : 14th century

Location : England

Function : document hand

This shows the upper left hand corner of a royal writ of 1328 to the abbot and convent of Westminster (Westminster Abbey Muniments. Coronation No. II). (From The New Palaeographical Society 1910)
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This English royal writ is in the aristocratic vernacular, French, and is written in a small and cursive document hand which is less formal than that used in charters. It orders the abbot and convent of Westminster to hand over to the sheriffs of London the coronation stone of the Scottish kings to return it. They didn't.

The letter forms are a bit variable, as tends to be the case in less formal cursive hands. The letters b, d, f, g and y have looped ascenders or descenders, while l, p and q have an angular, open form, although l sometimes extends into an angular loop, with the descenders of p and q both kinking to the left.

There are two forms of r, both fairly simplified, and both the tall s and the short and loopy form, with a closed lower loop.

The letter t is short with a flat top, and is fairly easily confused with c, as is common in later cursive scripts.

The letter e has a tendency to roll over on its back at the ends of words.

The letters n, u and v tend to all look alike, except where v occurs at the beginning of a word. There is no difference between i and j.

As usual, w is an extravaganza of English individualism, oversized, loopy and spidery.

There are no examples of k or x.

This is just one corner of the document, so the text does not run continuously. Pass the cursor slowly over the words to see what they represent. For a more detailed examination of the document and its story, proceed to the paleography exercises.

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 24/3/2012.