Medieval Writing
Humanistic Minuscule

Script Type : minuscule

Date : early 16th century

Location : France

Function : Book hand

This is a segment from a book of hours of the early 16th century, probably from Paris, from a private collection.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This sample comes from a book of hours produced in France in the first half of the 16th century, when printed books of hours were already being published by printers in Paris. The script used is a humanistic minuscule, but of painstaking and somewhat awkward form, in imitation of the typefaces of the early printed books.

Notable in this context is the letter g, which is composed of two roughly circular elements connected by a straight line, rather than appearing as a letter created with a flow of the pen. There are blocky little serifs added to letters like long s and l and little wedged tops to ascenders.

The letters have the fundamental forms of Caroline minuscule. The short and curly s is used as well as the long s, but only one form of r is employed. The letters u and v both appear in rounded and angular form, the latter being used at the beginning of a word. The letters i and j are identical.

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

The script employs the ligatures ct and st , as found in the earlier Caroline minuscule script, and as also used in printing typefaces.

This example from the very end of the era of manuscript books, with the printing revolution already under way, brings us a script which is very easy to read, but was probably rather painstaking and difficult to write. Pass the cursor slowly down the lines of text for a quick transcript. To look at the whole page in more detail, 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.