Medieval Writing
The History of o (2)

In the document hands and later cursive book hands, o may be connected to adjacent letters at the top. The only real confusion occurs if the connection is carelessly executed, so that it may be hard to distinguish between o and a. By the 16th century, some very informal hands are starting to look very careless. When they start not even bothering to close o at the top, so that it can be confused with u or e or even r (Now there's another story!), it's time to take up a new hobby. Even Luxeuil minuscule starts looking good.

protogothic o In this formal protogothic example of a document hand from the 12th century, o is neat, wide and relatively rounded.
protogothic o In a less formally scribed writ of the reign of Henry II, the letter s is formed in a more cursive manner.
calligraphic o A calligraphic charter of the 13th century displays a rounded o.
cursiva anglicana o In this example of cursiva anglicana, which first appeared in the 13th century, o is round and separate.
charter o In this formal ecclesiastical charter of the 13th century, the letter o is much the same as the above.
English chancery o In this example of the formal English chancery hand of the 13th century, based on cursiva anglicana, o is the same again.
English chancery o This example of o from an early 13th century writ is slightly angular.
French cursive o This 14th century example of o from a French cursive document hand is simple and round.
cursive book hand o In this early 14th century cursive English book hand the o is round, with marked thick and thin sections.
cursive charter o This example of o from an English 15th century charter shows the cursive form with a reverse twist at the top to connect to the next letter.
cursive charter o In another 15th century charter, o is very similar.
This example of o from a formal and mannered version of French bâtarde script is narrow and pointed.
late chancery o In the later English chancery hand, as shown here from an Elizabethan document of conservative penmanship and formal quality, o is round.
cursive o In this genealogical document of late 15th or early 16th century, o also round, in an untidy sort of way.
cursive o In this endorsement on a mid 15th century petition to the English chancery, the cursive o shows the tendency for the connecting line to drop down the right hand side of the letter, and also for the letter to start to open at the top.

Humanistic book hands, as usual, reverted to the neat, rounded, carefully written form derived from Caroline minuscule.

humanistic display o In this example from a 15th century Italian book hand, o is neat and rounded with markedly thick and thin sections.
humanistic minuscule o This 16th century example dates from after the advent of printing and has produced a simple round o.
Basically, there are no major changes to the form of o and, apart from a couple of idiosyncrasies in some early scripts, it has no special diagnostic forms. When lost in the depths of paleographical despair, find yourself an o.
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Histories of Individual Letters

History of Scripts
What is Paleography?

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