Medieval Writing
Cursive Document Hand

Script Type : minuscule cursive

Date : 15th century

Location : England

Function : document hand

This is the upper left hand corner of a private charter of Richard Redmayne and Elizabeth, his wife, to William Gascoigne and William Scott, of 1417. The language is Latin (British Library, Harleian Charter 112 C 30). By permission of the British Library.
Pass cursor over letters to see examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This particular cursive charter hand is relatively formal but rather spiky. While letters such as b, d and l have looped ascenders, they tend to be angular. The trickiest letter to identify is r, which is very simplified and extends below the baseline. The letter e is very loopy and appears to be back to front. Both the tall and the short and curly forms of s are present. It can be difficult to distinguish c from t, as the former tends to be angular and the latter is short.

From the examples above it would appear that u and v are differentiated, but this is a bit of an illusion. They are identical when they appear in the body of a word, and are also identical, but with a different form, when they appear at the beginning. The form of v in the example set is identical to u in the word uxor at the end of the first line. There is a tendency for the letters i, m, n, u and v to disappear into rows of angled lines when they appear in any sort of sequence.

The English letters k, w, y and z are represented in English place or personal names. While k and w only appear as first letters which one might expect to be capitalised, the form tends to be the same when they appear in the middle of a word in writing of this period.

There are numerous abbreviations in the text. As the sample comes from one corner of the document, it is not continuous text. However, to extricate some words, pass the cursor slowly over the lines of text. To examine the document in more detail, proceed to the paleography exercises.

tomb effigies Tomb of Richard and Elizabeth Redmayne.
Meanwhile, just for a bit of context, here are the alabaster tomb effigies of said Richard Redmayne and wife Elizabeth. They lie, with several other exquisite examples of their kind, in the now redundant parish church of Harewood in Yorkshire. Go up to the main gate of the stately home cum recreation park and ask very politely if you can be let in to see them.
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 22/5/2012.