Medieval Writing
The History of p (2)

In the document hands and later cursive book hands, p tends to become an angular letter, with a range of variant treatments of the descender. While it is usually written as two separate pen strokes, one for the descender and one for the loop, it can be written in a very cursive manner with a single stroke of the pen. In some 16th century hands this type could even be confused with an x, but then you know what I think of 16th century handwriting.

protogothic p In this formal protogothic example of a document hand from the 12th century, p is exceedingly angular and spiky, with a vicious little upswept foot, in character with the general prickly character of this script.
protogothic p In a less formally scribed writ of the reign of Henry II, the letter p is more simply written, with a curved descender.
calligraphic p A calligraphic charter of the 13th century displays rounded p with a long curling descender.
cursiva anglicana p In this example of cursiva anglicana, which first appeared in the 13th century, p is simple, with a slightly kinked descender.
charter p In this formal ecclesiastical charter of the 13th century, the letter p looks a little mannered, with a looped descender and a slightly extended vertical ending in a wedge.
English chancery p In this example of the formal English chancery hand of the 13th century, based on cursiva anglicana, p is simple, with a long straight descender.
English chancery p This example of p from an early 13th century writ is neat and rounded.
French cursive p This 14th century example of p from a French cursive document hand shows one method of writing the letter in a cursive manner, down then up then around in a knot without a pen lift.
English cursive p In this early 14th century cursive English book hand the p has a long straight descender, while the lower part of the loop cuts through the vertical.
charter p This example of p from an English 15th century charter is angular, straight and formal.
charter p In another 15th century charter, p is also angular and straight.
batarde p This example of p from a formal and mannered version of French bâtarde script has the shorter descender, as found in formal Gothic textura book hands, but the bottom finishes in a narrow point.
late chancery p In the later English chancery hand, as shown here from an Elizabethan document of conservative penmanship and formal quality, p is formal and angular, with a long straight descender.
late cursive p In this genealogical document of late 15th or early 16th century, p is formed in a cursive manner, round the loop and directly down the backward sloping descender, finishing with a long barb. The letter p is written in a number of variants in this document.
cursive p In this endorsement on a mid 15th century petition to the English chancery, the p also has a long backsloping descender.

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

humanistic display p In this example from a 15th century Italian book hand, p has the very short descender and the end of the loop crossing over the vertical, as found in Gothic book hands, but a more rounded form derived from Caroline minuscule.
humanistic minuscule p This 16th century example dates from after the advent of printing and has produced a neat p with little serifs.
The basic underlying form of p does not essentially change through the centuries, although variations of style can make it look rather different. Letters with descenders always seem to lend themselves to a bit of calligraphic flourish.
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Histories of Individual Letters

History of Scripts
What is Paleography?

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