Medieval Writing
The History of g

The letter g is one of the interesting ones, undergoing some developments in form over time, and also appearing in a range of variations. This mainly relates to whether the upper and lower loops are open or closed. The descending loop can be an open curve, a tightly curled loop, an extended flourish or a closed loop. In some early scripts, the open form of g resembles the medeival form of z with a descender. In others, particularly the later cursive variants, it may be confused with q, as that letter sometimes has a descender curling to the left. In these circumstances, the descender of g usually has an extra added flourish or loop to differentiate it.

square capital G In the Old Roman square capitals, G is just like a C with an extra inward curve at the bottom.
rustic capital G In the rustic capital script, it is much the same.
uncial G The uncial G attached a long curving descender to the body of the letter.
New Roman cursive g In this example of New Roman cursive, the minuscule g is very open at the top, with a double curved descender.
In the pre-Carolingian minuscule scripts or National Hands, the variants on g are based around whether the letter has a flat top, an open curved top or a closed loop. The descenders tend to be strongly curly. This can be a tricky letter to recognise in some scripts.
half uncial g In a 6th century half uncial script g has a completely flat top and a generally angular form. I tend to call this the lightning bolt g, but I don't think anybody else does, so don't put it in your exam answers.
Corbie ab g In the specialised book script Corbie ab it is open and more curly, with a horizontal extension at the top.
old Italian g An old northern Italian book hand of the 8th century displays a similar open curly form.
Germanic g This example of Merovingian minuscule or Germanic book hand has some examples of g which are completely closed at the top, and some other which, while they are curly, are left slightly open. As scripts of this type gradually became more standardised towards Caroline minuscule, the g was more likely to be closed.
Germanic g
Luxeuil g In the other named special Merovingian book hand, Luxeuil minuscule, g has closed loops top and bottom, and a rather wiggly shape.
Visigothic g The Visigothic script has borrowed the uncial form of g, with a straight descender.
insular half uncial g The formal script known as known as insular half uncial uses the flat topped lightning bolt form as g, as in Continental half uncial.
insular minuscule g This 10th century example of insular minuscule shows the same basic form, a little more informally written.
Beneventan g In this example from a developed form of Beneventan minuscule the letter g is closed and loopy.
Merovingian chancery g In Merovingian chancery script the letter g consists of two connected closed loops.
old curialis g In the old curialis of the papal chancery, g, like many other letters, has an eccentric form, with no upper loop and a closed lower loop that turns the opposite way to the way it is written in other scripts.
The Carolingian scripts standardised the form with the closed upper loop of g, while the lower loop could be open or closed.
Caroline minuscule g In a formal rounded version of Caroline minuscule g has a closed upper loop and a curly descender with a big curve.
Caroline minuscule g A sample from a forged 12th century monastic charter has similar characteristics, in a rather more compact form.
late curialis g The later papal curialis of the 11th century has adopted a more standardised general shape, but with a closed lower loop.
papal g By the 12th century the diplomatic minuscule of the papal chancery has displayed a g of very standard Caroline minuscule form.
imperial g The 12th century diplomatic minuscule of the Imperial German chancery could never suffice with anything so simple, so that the descender has been elaborated into a series of twisted loops. This really is a silly script.
In the formal Gothic book hands, the basic form of g is taken from that of Caroline minuscule, generally with the lower loop closed.
protogothic g This protogothic g from a 12th century French book hand has a closed rounded lower loop.
rotunda g The 14th century Gothic rotunda version of the letter closes the lower loop with a fine angular hairline.
textura g This 13th century Gothic textura g of medium grade is more angular, and also closes the loop with an oblique hairline.
prescissa g The very formal Gothic prescissa, displays its usual neat angular style.
informal textura g A relatively informally written late 15th or early 16th Gothic textura script has an open and more horizontal descender. The upper loop is made open initially, then closed with a separate horizontal slash. This form of the letter seems to derive from that found in some cursive scripts.
textura g A 15th century Dutch language formal Gothic textura uses the standard angular closed form.
In the later cursive scripts, differences in the style of execution are noticeable, but the basic form of theletter remains fairly constant.
more about g
Histories of Individual Letters

History of Scripts
What is Paleography?

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