Medieval Writing
Paleography Exercises
Bede Historiae Ecclesiasticae Gentis Anglorum, a 9th century copy (British Library, Cotton Tiberius C II, f.34). All images by permission of the British Library.
The History of the English Church and People, composed by the Venerable Bede in the monastery of Jarrow and completed in 731, is the main historical source for the establishment of the Christian church in Britain after the departure of the Romans and the Anglo-Saxon invasions. This is not the earliest known copy of the work, but it dates from the 9th century. The script is a very neat and rounded form of insular minuscule which retains some letter forms from insular half uncial, such as the figure-of-eight a and an occasional majuscule N or R.
The page shown is the beginning of Book Two, which begins with the death of Pope Gregory. There are, in fact, three different versions of insular minuscule script on this page, as the main text, which begins with the decorative heading in the second column, is preceded by some commentary or gloss in two forms of script that are more pointed than the main text. The exercises in this section are based on the script of the main text.
Bede's major history can be read in Sherley-Price 1960 Bede: A History of the English Church and People Harmondsworth: Penguin, or in McClure, J. and Collins, R. (ed) 1994 Bede: The Ecclesiastical History of the English People Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, or read on the web at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England. If you want the full bottle on Bede in an ancient tome, try Bede 1964 Beda Venerabilis: Opera Historica Vaduz: Kraus Reprint Lyd (Originally London 1838) 2 volumes. An English translation is also available on the web from Fordham University's Medieval Sourcebook.

| overview | scripts | text | alphabet | abbreviations | ligatures | numerals | exercises |

| transcript | translation |

Click on each of the above to walk your way through a segment of the text. The transcript will appear in a separate window so that you can use it for reference at any time. These exercises are designed to guide you through the text, not test you, so you can cheat as much as you like.
Script sample for this example
Index of Exercises
Index of Scripts

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