Medieval Writing
The History of k (2)

In the document hands and later cursive book hands, k appears more often in English, Dutch and German language texts. Its appearance can be somewhat elaborated. It has occurred to me to wonder whether, in the case of English, this is because it appears in documents at the front of the important word king (or kyng or kynge, however they chose to spell it).

protogothic k In this formal protogothic example from the 12th century, The letter k appears in an English place name.
Gothic k A formal Latin document from England of the 13th century displays a Gothic k with a closed loop top and a shortened diagonal.
cursiva anglicana k In this example of cursiva anglicana, which first appeared in the 13th century, k has a closed upper loop, short horizontal stroke instead of a diagonal, and a chunky head and foot.
cursive k This 14th century example taken from a cursive script is from private letters patent. The document is from England, but is written in French. The letter has a double closed loop and split curvy ascender.
cursive k In this early 14th century cursive English book hand the k has only the upper loop closed, while the ascender curves over at the top.
cursive k This example of k from an English 15th century charter in a cursive script has a double closed loop at the top, but the diagonal has turned into a horizontal slash.
cursive k This example from a 15th century petition comes from a very untidy cursive hand, but the k has an elaborate double loop as in the previous example.
charter hand k In another 15th century charter, the ascender of k is angled rather than looped.
chancery k The 15th century English chancery hand, as shown here in an example from a petition, leaves the letter k open with two horizontal slashes and an extravagantly curved ascender.
chancery k However, another chancery scribe writing a similar document has chosen to add a little closed loop.
late chancery k In the later English chancery hand, as shown here from an Elizabethan document of conservative penmanship and formal quality, k has a tall curved ascender, double closed loop and a long trailing diagonal.
cursive k In this genealogical document of late 15th or early 16th century, k has the double closed loop and horizontal slash.
cursive k In this cursive hand of the 16th century, the letter k is sloping and loopy.

Humanistic book hands reverted to a simple form, when the letter appeared at all.

humanistic minuscule k In this example from a 15th century Italian book hand, k is open and angular.
The letter k is remains relatively simple and standardised as long as it is a rare letter found only very occasionaly in Latin texts. In the vernacular cursive hands of the 14th and 15th centuries, it develops a range of elaborations and variations. In these later days, the variants do not seem to form any very specific chronological or functional pattern.
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Histories of Individual Letters

History of Scripts
What is Paleography?

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