Medieval Writing
Protogothic Document Hand

Script Type : minuscule

Alternative Name : transitional Gothic document hand or chancery hand

Date : mid 12th century

Location : England

Function : Document hand

This is the complete text of a Latin writ of Henry II, dated 1156-166 (New College, Oxford. Takeley No. 136). (From Salter, 1929, No.31)
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This spiky and angular chancery hand is essentially similar to those used for charters in the mid 12th century, when written out by the chancery rather than by the recipient institution itself, but is more informal and abbreviated when used for the less ceremonious document of a writ. (Check out the section on The Written Word for the significance of the terms charter and writ.)

The notable features are tall, angular ascenders on tall letters, and slashing diagonal strokes on letters such as e and n. The Gothic backsloping d is used. Only one form of s is employed, that is the tall form, and only one form of r. Descenders tend to curl to the left, even with q, so that it looks very like g. The letter t is short.

While j appears in a different form to i, it is at the beginning of a word and represents a capital form common to both. The same applies to an apparent differentiation between u and v, as u often assumes the angular form at the beginning of a word. The only example of w is as a capital, but minuscule and majuscule versions of this letter tend to be the same.

There are no examples of k, y or z.

The above illustration represents the complete document. Run the cursor slowly over it for an instant transcript. For more information of what it's all about, go on 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 2/3/2012.