Medieval Writing
Luxueil Minuscule

Script Type : minuscule; a variant of Merovingian minuscule

Date : 7th and 8th centuries, disappeared with the destruction of the monastery of Luxueil in 732 by the Saracens

Location : France, especially associated with the monastery of Luxueil

Function : book hand

The example comes from a 7th century Gallican lectionary which originally belonged to the abbey of Luxueil (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds latin 9427, f.143). (From Steffens 1929)

Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.
Distinctive letters : Although there are only a few individual letters of really unusual appearance, the script looks very mannered and is rather difficult to read. Loops on letters are angular and extravagantly formed.

The letter a is open at the top and looks like cc. The letter f is truly peculiar, while g is closed at the top but has a zigzag form to the descender. There are two forms of d, the upright and the rounded backsloping types, but the loop seems to become open in certain letter combinations. There are also two forms of n as a majuscule form is sometimes used. There are two forms of r, one of which is very pointed. The letter t is short and has a loop on its back. The letter i is extended in length when it appears at the beginning of a word. The letters u and v are identical. The rare letter y is dotted, although, as usual i is not.

There are no examples here of h, j, k, w or z.

For added confusion, there are many ligatures which can change the form of letters considerably. The letter e becomes raised at the top in such examples as

en er et.

The letter i develops a long descender in


The letter t grows an elaborate double loop in

te ti tr tu.

There are few abbreviations in this sample, although examples of the nomina sacra appear.

One problem for decoding is that the word spacing is erratic, suggesting a painstaking process of copying in a difficult and mannered script with perhaps less than perfect comprehension.

Pass the cursor slowly over the first few lines to find out if what appears bears any relationship to what you were expecting. The transcription is from Steffens as it certainly gives me some trouble. For further details proceed to the paleography exercises.

Script Index

Paleography exercises for this example

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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 29/8/2011.