Medieval Writing
The History of c

The letter c is one of the more boring letters of the alphabet. Mostly it comes in rounded or angular form, and sometimes is very simplified, but it rarely seems to have inspired scribes with flights of fancy.

Old Roman C In the Old Roman square capitals, we have the definitive rounded C.
rustic capital C In the rustic capital script, it has the same basic form
uncial C The uncial C is also a simple segment of a circle.
New Roman cursive c In this example of New Roman cursive, the minuscule c slopes somewhat to the right, but is more recognisable than most letters in this cantankerous script.
In the pre-Carolingian minuscule scripts or National Hands, c hardly varies at all, apart from some minor differences of roundness and slope.
half uncial c Here it is in a 6th century half uncial script.
Corbie ab c Once you get to the third letter of the alphabet, even the specialised book script Corbie ab starts looking the same as the others.
old Italian c An old northern Italian book hand of the 8th century gives c a slope to the right.
Merovingian c This example of of Merovingian minuscule or Germanic book hand displays the same basic form.
Luxeuil minuscule c The other named special Merovingian book hand, Luxeuil minuscule, has a simple, very open c.
Visigothic c The Visigothic script has a simple rounded c.
insular half uncial c The formal script known as known as insular half uncial makes the letter thick and imposing.
insular minuscule c It has no notable eccentricities in insular minuscule.
Beneventan c Beneventan minuscule shows strongly defined thick and thin lines as the pen travels around the curve, but the essential shape of the letter is the same.
Merovingian chancery c Merovingian chancery script seems to be the only one that adds elaborations to c, putting a strange curl on the top. Nobody can persuade me that this script was actually designed to be read.
old curialis c Even the old curialis of the papal chancery kept c simple.
The Carolingian scripts really did not alter the form of c.
Caroline minuscule c Here it is in a formal rounded version of Caroline minuscule.
Caroline minuscule c A sample from a forged 12th century monastic charter looks much the same.
later curialis c The later papal curialis of the 11th century also looks the same.
papal chancery c The diplomatic minuscule of the 12th century papal chancery makes this letter, as well as other small letters, very tiny, in contrast to the exaggerated ascenders of tall letters.
diplomatic minuscule c The same applies to the 12th century diplomatic minuscule of the Imperial German chancery.
In Caroline minuscule book hands, c is found in a ligature with t.
In the formal Gothic book hands, c became more angular and compressed, like other letters. In some cases the top was extended into a horizontal line, making it look rather like a t, especially as t tends to be short with the crossbar at the top in these scripts. This is interesting as there is often a spelling substitution of c for t in medieval Latin where the t sound is soft, as in iusticia for iustitia.
protogothic c This protogothic c from a 12th century French book hand looks much like its predecessors, except for an angular top.
Gothic rotunda c The 14th century Gothic rotunda version of the letter retains the roundness of the Caroline minuscule.
Gothic textura c This 13th century Gothic textura c of medium grade has the extended horizontal top.
Gothic prescissa c The very formal Gothic prescissa, is upright and angular, and heavily laterally compressed.
Gothic textura c A relatively informally written late 15th or early 16th Gothic textura script has the extended horizontal top, and a simple hairline slash at the bottom.
Gothic textura c A 15th century Dutch language formal Gothic textura displays a similar basic shape, with a somewhat neater execution.
So there is not a great deal of variation so far. With later cursive hands, the angular form with extended horizontal top and a minimalist treatment of the lower part of the letter becomes more common.
more about c
Histories of Individual Letters

History of Scripts
What is Paleography?

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