Medieval Writing
Humanistic Display Script

Script Type : minuscule

Date : 15th century

Location : Italy

Function : Book hand of formal grade

This is a section of a calendar page from a late 15th century northern Italian book of hours, from a private collection.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This example of humanistic display script is very similar to the previous, but while that was a highly prestigious volume, this comes from an ordinary little book of hours, showing that elegant calligraphy was not confined to luxury volumes. The script has the striking display characteristics of the rotunda form of Gothic as was used in Italy, with very fine diagonal upstrokes and weighted downstrokes, combined with the neat, rounded and clear forms of the rediscovered Caroline minuscule. The letter forms are all familiar to us from our own printed styles.

Two forms of r are employed, the upright form and the simplified form, and both the tall and short from of s appear. Only the rounded backsloping d, as used in Gothic scripts, appears on this page. The letters u and v are identical when they occur in the middle of words, but an angular v is used at the beginnings of words and in numerals.

There are no examples of k, q, w, y or z in this sample.

The capital letters on this page are very elegant and striking. There are numerous abbreviations, and there is also a certain amount of mysterious code. Pass the cursor slowly over the lines for a quick read of what is there, but to find out more about it, and why so much of the writing is in red, proceed to the paleography exercises.

Script Index

Paleography exercises for this example using Flash

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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 2/7/2013.