Medieval Writing
The History of x

The letter x is one of the simpler ones. It is one of the less common letters of the alphabet in Latin or any other language. The essential elements of a diagonal cross are always present, although it may be adorned with a diagonal descender, or the two arms joined in a continuous loop. An interesting use of the letter x is in the nomina sacra abbreviation xpi, for Christ, in which the x was derived from the Greek letter chi. The term became Latinised and written in standard Roman letters. Arguably it is not an x at all, but it was written as one.

square capital X In the Old Roman square capitals, as shown here from a 4th century copy of Virgil, X is is a simple angular cross with little feet.
rustic capital  X In the rustic capital script, X is essentially the same.
uncial X The uncial X is made from double curved lines, with an extended curl on the lower left.
New Roman cursive x In this example of New Roman cursive, the minuscule x is a simple lopsided cross.
In the pre-Carolingian minuscule scripts or National Hands, x tends to the uncial form, curvy with an extended lower curl on the left. There are, however, some eccentric forms.
half uncial x In a 6th century half uncial script x follows the general uncial form.
Corbie ab x In the specialised book script Corbie ab x also extends down on the left.
old Italian x An old northern Italian book hand of the 8th century displays a very similar x.
Germanic x This sample of x from Merovingian minuscule or Germanic book hand is more compact.
Luxeuil x This x from the variant of Merovingian minuscule known as Luxeuil minuscule has very curly ends to the arms.
Visigothic x The Visigothic script has produced a very strange x in which one of the cross arms has become broken up into two non-connecting loops.
insular half uncial x The letter x in the formal script known as known as insular half uncial is short, chunky and curved.
insular minuscule x This 9th century example of x from insular minuscule is also compact.
Beneventan minuscule x In this example from a developed form of Beneventan minuscule the letter x has only a relatively short and curvy extension on the left.
Merovingian chancery x In Merovingian chancery script the letter x is very laterally compressed, like many other letters in this script, making the cross structure harder to detect.
old curialis x In the old curialis of the papal chancery x is extravagantly extended.

In Carolingian scripts x generally has the curvy cross form, slightly extended to the lower left.

Caroline minuscule x In this version of Caroline minuscule, x is simple and curved.
Caroline minuscule x A sample from a forged 12th century monastic charter is the same.
papal x By the 12th century the diplomatic minuscule of the papal chancery produces an x of standard Caroline minuscule form.
imperial x The 12th century diplomatic minuscule of the Imperial German chancery has produced a similar x without any of the crazy elaborations found in other letters of this script.
In the formal Gothic book hands, the letter x resembles the basic Caroline minuscule form, becoming more compressed and angular in some versions.
protogothic x This protogothic x from a 12th century French book hand is essentially the same as that of Caroline minuscule, but displays angles rather than curves.
rotunda x The 14th century Gothic rotunda version of the letter x is rounded with a thin, straight extension to the lower left.
textura x This 13th century Gothic textura x of medium grade fits in with the same general pattern.
prescissa x The very formal Gothic prescissa has a very narrow x with a very fine extension to the lower left and blocky ends to the arms. It might be mistaken for an embellished r.
textura x A relatively informally written late 15th or early 16th Gothic textura script has an angular x with a fine, straight lower left extension.
textura x This x from a Dutch language formal Gothic textura script of the 15th century is neat and angular. The presence of a visible baseline shows how the letter exrends below it on the left.
In document hands and later cursive scripts, x can become more curly and extravagant.
more about x
Histories of Individual Letters

History of Scripts
What is Paleography?

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