Medieval Writing
The History of i

The letter i must have the most uneventful history of the whole alphabet. Basically, an i is an i is an i. The only real problem can simply be the identification of such a minimalist letter among others which are made up of similar elements. In most medieval scripts, and certainly in all early scripts, i is not dotted, which can help it to get lost in a word.

square capital I In the Old Roman square capitals, I has short horizontals at each end.
rusric capital I In the rustic capital script, it appears slightly asymmetrical.
uncial I The uncial I here has a fine horizontal crossbar at the top and an oblique base.
New Roman cursive i In this example of New Roman cursive, the minuscule i takes a minimalist form.
In the pre-Carolingian minuscule scripts or National Hands, the only differences in the form of i relate to minor variants in the treatment of the top and bottom of the letter.
half uncial i In a 6th century half uncial script i is fairly tall.
Corbie ab i In the specialised book script Corbie ab it has no eccentric features.
old Italian i In an old northern Italian book hand of the 8th century it is tiny.
Germanic i This example of Merovingian minuscule or Germanic book hand has an i with little feet top and bottom.
Luxeuil i Even the specialised book hand Luxeuil minuscule cannot think of anything peculiar to do with i.
Visigothic i The Visigothic script has added a wedged top to i.
insular half uncial i The formal script known as known as insular half uncial also has a wedged top for i.
insular minuscule i This 10th century example of insular minuscule displays the wedged top and a foot for i.
Beneventan i In this example from a developed form of Beneventan minuscule the letter i is slightly curvy.
Merovingian chancery i In Merovingian chancery script the letter i is taller than other small letters.
old curialis i Even in the old curialis of the papal chancery, i has a familar shape.
The standard i of the Carolingian scripts had an asymmetrical form, kinking opposite ways at the top and bottom.
Caroline minuscule i This i is from a very formal version of Caroline minuscule.
Caroline minuscule i This sample comes from a forged 12th century monastic charter using Caroline minuscule script.
late curialis i This is from the later papal curialis of the 11th century.
papal i In 12th century diplomatic minuscule of the papal chancery, the letter is very tiny, as are other small letters.
Imperial i In 12th century diplomatic minuscule of the Imperial German chancery it is also a tiny, minimalist letter.

In the development of Gothic book hands, letters became laterally compressed and certain letters were constructed from repeating segments called minims. The letter i comprised one minim, n, u and v had two minims and m had three. When any combination of these letters was juxtaposed, it became difficult to disentangle them. The letter i began to be dotted, but not all the time. Even within the one piece of handwriting, i was sometimes only dotted if it was doubled, or adjacent to other letters constructed from minims. The dotting was usually a fine diagonal slash, which can sometimes be quite hard to see. Also, when the letter i was doubled, as in words like filiis or aliis or in lower case Roman numerals, the second i was often extended down below the baseline, which made it look like a j, but it wasn't a j, it was an i. That is the next story.

extended i This shows the double i in a 12th century protogothic charter hand in the word p[er]tinentiis.

protogothic i This protogothic i from a 12th century French book hand appears as a simple single minim.
rotunda i The 14th century Gothic rotunda version of the letter has a fine diagonal slash in this example.
textura i This 13th century Gothic textura i of medium grade also has a fine diagonal slash to dot it.
prescissa i The very formal Gothic prescissa, displays has an i with a neatly angled top and a very fine hairline diagonal slash for a dot.
textura i A relatively informally written late 15th or early 16th Gothic textura script has a dotted i in this example.
textura i A 15th century Dutch language formal Gothic textura i lacks a dot in this case.
In document hands and later cursive scripts, it can become even more complicated to untangle the letter from the word, even though the form of the letter is uncomplicated.
more about i
Histories of Individual Letters

History of Scripts
What is Paleography?

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