Medieval Writing
Protogothic Book Hand - English

Script Type : minuscule

Alternative Name : transitional Gothic

Date : mainly 12th century

Location : This example is from England, where the script was rapidly adopted after its introduction in northeastern France and the Low Countries.

Function : Book hand

This example is a segment from an early 13th century bestiary from England (British Library, Royal 12 C XIX, f.52v), by permission of the British Library. These images are made available by the British Library under a Creative Commons licence.

The section describes the fraudulent habits of the partridge which brings up the young of others as its own. St Jerome (Ieronimus) is credited with announcing its bad character.

Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : The British Library now dates this as early 13th century, but it still retains some early features in the script which might classify it as protogothic rather than fully developed Gothic textura. However, compared to the French example of protogothic book hand shown in these examples, this example has moved further from its Caroline minuscule predecessor and closer to the developed Gothic textura. While there are no conjoined letters, it does display rows of hooked minims which can be tricky in words like


The letter a is of the earlier single chambered form. The letter d is generally of upright form, but the Gothic variety with backsloping ascender appears occasionally.

There are two forms of r, including the simplified Gothic form which appears after o. There are two forms of s, the long or tall form and the short and curly form.

As usual, i and j are identical as are u and v. The rare letters k, w and z do not appear.

There are a number of abbreviations in the text. Pass the cursor slowly over the lines of text to identify them and to read the words. For a more detailed examination of a segment of text, proceed to the paleography exercises.

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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 20/6/2014.