Medieval Writing
The History of i (2)

In the document hands and later cursive book hands, i does not very greatly in form. It never seems to have been a letter that encouraged calligraphic flights of fancy. However, it can often disappear in among cramped and sometimes untidy rows of minims, particularly in the more cursive hands and if the dotting of the letter is erratic or nonexistent. In decoding scripts of this type, it can sometimes be a case of identifying a word and then decoding the letters rather than identifying the letters to decode the word. The possibilities for alternative spellings are many. Sometimes, if i appears at the beginning of a word it is capitalised, even if this is not grammatically appropriate, but then the appropriateness of capitalisation can be a bit of an enigma in medieval writing.

protogothic i This undotted i is from a formal protogothic charter from the 12th century.
protogothic i This one is from a less formally scribed writ of the reign of Henry II.
calligraphic i This one is from a calligraphic charter of the 13th century.
cursiva anglicana i This one is from a document written in of cursiva anglicana, which first appeared in the 13th century.
Gothic charter i This one is from a formal ecclesiastical charter of the 13th century.
English chancery i While this one is from the formal English chancery hand of the 13th century, based on cursiva anglicana.
English chancery i This example is from an early 13th century writ.
French cursive i This 14th century example is from a French cursive document hand.
cursive book hand i In this early 14th century cursive English book hand the i is dotted with a fine oblique slash.
charter i This undotted example is from an English 15th century charter.
batarde i This example of i comes from a formal French bâtarde script. This particular hand is rather fiddly and mannered, and the i has been dotted in some cases with a very fine closed loop.
This one comes from a the later English chancery hand, as shown here from an Elizabethan document of conservative penmanship and formal quality.
This dotted i is from a genealogical document of late 15th or early 16th century.
This undotted i comes from an endorsement on a mid 15th century petition to the English chancery.

Humanistic book hands did not actually change the form of i, but the very neat execution of these scripts makes it easier to identify.

In this example from a 15th century Italian book hand, i is dotted with an oblique slash.
This undotted 16th century example dates from after the advent of printing.
The letter i has remained remarkably consistent in form over the centuries, but that does not necessarily make it an easy letter to recognise in context, particularly in highly compressed Gothic scripts or cursive scripts.
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Histories of Individual Letters

History of Scripts
What is Paleography?

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