Medieval Writing
Visigothic Minuscule

Script Type : minuscule

Date : late 7th to 12th centuries

Location : Spain

Function : book hand

This example comes from a 10th century volume from the monastery of San Domingo at Silos, Spain (British Library, add. ms. 30844). By permission of the British Library.
This comes from a work of Mozarabic liturgy. The figure of the angel, which is partnered on the page with a similar figure of the Virgin as the text refers to the Annunciation (Luke 1:26), forms a capital letter I.

(This example is featured in Brown 1990.)

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

Distinctive letters : The letter t is the trick one here, being small with a loop on the back, making it look rather like an a. However, a is open at the top. There are two forms of d, one with a backsloping ascender and the other upright and strrongly wedged, as are b and l. There are also two forms of e, the more common being open and taller than the other small letters. A capitalised form of i is used when it comes at the beginning of a word. The letters g and q could be confused, the former being open at the top with a straight descender, while the descender of q curls to the left. x and z are rather extravagant in form the latter only appearing in the proper noun Nazareth. u and v are identical, as usual.

There is no j or k in this example, and naturally, no w.

The letter b is substituted for v in the word ave (abe Maria).

The presence of ligatures, abbreviations and some eccentric word and line spacing makes reading this a bit of a puzzle, even though the letters are well spaced and clearly formed.

Pass the cursor slowly over the lines of text for some hints at decoding it. To look at the tet in more detail, 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 26/8/2011.