Medieval Writing
Cursive Book Hand

Script Type : minuscule cursive

Script Family : Gothic

Date : late 15th or 16th century

Location : Netherlands or Germany

Function : book hand

This segment is from a book of hours in a Dutch or German dialect, from around 1500, from a private collection.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters: This segment of a prayer from a book of hours is written in the vernacular, in a dialect of Dutch or German, in a cursive Gothic script. While the letter forms are somewhat irregular and it has an untidy appearance, the letters are, for the most part, relatively clearly formed. They are a bit variable, and the examples above are chosen from the clearest examples. While the letters are mostly well separated, sometimes they merge to almost form ligatures, particularly the de combination. While there are no incomprehensible rows of minims, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish n from u. There are some abbreviations.

Ascenders and descenders tend to be a trifle exaggerated, but not looped, so that the tall form of s is very elongated, while the short form is twirled into closed loops.

The letter a is the single chambered form, d has the backsloping Gothic form but taller and straighter, g resembles the Gothic form but with an open descender.

There are two forms of r, including the simplified form found generally after vowels. The letters u and v both come in two forms, but these distinguish their position in the word rather than differentiating them.

Being a Germanic language, k, w and z are present, w being literally in the form of a double u and much less extravagant than in English cursive scripts, while z has a long curling descender.

but there are no examples of j or q.

Pass the cursor slowly down the lines of text to get a quick instant transcript, and if that doesn't make too much sense, proceed to the paleography exercises to find out what it's all about.

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 11/10/2011.