Medieval Writing
The History of p

The history of the letter p is another of the less exciting ones, with very little change in the letter during the centuries under consideration here. The main variants revolve around the treatment of the descender, and whether the upper loop is completely closed or slightly open.

square capital P In the Old Roman square capitals, P is upright with a closed loop.
rustic capital P In the rustic capital script, P has a narrower loop and a solid foot.
uncial P The uncial P has curved loops at the ends of the upright stroke. What is not apparent when the letter is abstracted from its context, is that the closed loop sits on the baseline and it has a true descender.
New Roamn cursive p In this example of New Roman cursive, the minuscule p is formed in a minmalist manner with a single curled line.
In the pre-Carolingian minuscule scripts or National Hands, p has variable lengths and treatment of the descender. The upper loop is usually closed, but may be slightly open in some cases.
half uncial p In a 6th century half uncial script p is has a longish straight descender and a slightly open loop.
Corbie ab p In the specialised book script Corbie ab p is a simple, straight, closed letter.
old Italian p An old northern Italian book hand of the 8th century displays the simple p formed from a single curled line.
Germanic p This sample of p from Merovingian minuscule or Germanic book hand is more formal, with a wedge at the top and an angular closed loop.
Luxeuil p This p from the variant of Merovingian minuscule known as Luxeuil minuscule is quite similar to the one above.
Visigothic p The Visigothic script has produced a p which also conforms to the same general design.
insular half uncial p The letter p in the formal script known as known as insular half uncial has a particularly short descender and an upper loop which is not quite closed.
insular minuscule p This 10th century example of p from insular minuscule also has a short descender, although the loop is closed.
Beneventan p In this example from a developed form of Beneventan minuscule the letter p has a medium descender and a closed loop.
Merovingian chancery p In Merovingian chancery script the letter p is simple and closed.
old curialis p In the old curialis of the papal chancery p has a very long, bent descender, while the upper closed loop is almost separated from the descender.

In Carolingian book hands p has a fairly short, straight descender and a closed loop. In the document hands of the period, the descender tends to be elongated and elaborated.

Caroline minuscule p In this version of Caroline minuscule, p is straight and neat, with a wedge at the top.
Caroline minuscule p A sample from a forged 12th century monastic charter is the same.
later curialis p The later papal curialis of the 11th century produces a simple closed p with an elongated descender.
papal diplomatic p By the 12th century the diplomatic minuscule of the papal chancery produces a p with a kink to the left at the bottom of the descender.
imperial p The 12th century diplomatic minuscule of the Imperial German chancery has produced a p with an extremely long wiggly descender, in keeping with the generally florid style.
In the formal Gothic book hands, the letter p resembles the basic Caroline minuscule form, but can become rather angular and the closed loop, rather than curling up, may end by horizontally bisecting the descender.
protogothic p This protogothic p from a 12th century French book hand is essentially the same as that of Caroline minuscule.
rotunda p The 14th century Gothic rotunda version of the letter p is entirely similar.
textura p This 13th century Gothic textura p of medium grade has a slightly angular appearance.
prescissa p The very formal Gothic prescissa has a very narrow and angular p in which the bottom of the loop cuts through the descender.
testura p A relatively informally written late 15th or early 16th Gothic textura script has an angular p in which the cutting through the descender by the bottom of the loop is more prominent.
textura p A 15th century Dutch language formal Gothic textura p is very similar in form to the above.
In document hands and later cursive scripts, p is not too problematic.
more about p
Histories of Individual Letters

History of Scripts
What is Paleography?

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