Medieval Writing
Paleography Exercises
Petition to the king of 1439 (London, National Archives, E.28/file59/No.57). All images by permission of the National Archives.
This is a petition addressed to King Henry VI from William Pencrych, a Welsh cleric who has been having trouble with his superiors. He is claiming that he has been unable to get repaid a debt of £20 that he lent to one William Tame, archdeacon of St Davids. He is seeking action through the office of the privy seal. The script of the document is a 15th century English chancery hand derived from bastarda. In the bottom right of the document is a note in French and in a cursive hand, indicating what action was taken.
I must confess to a fondness for this document because it is such a tabloid piece. Just imagine if they had had local rags in Wales in the 15th century:


The greedy and predatory archdeacon of St Davids, who has been preying on poor clerics and extorting money, has finally been brought to heel by a writ under the privy seal, by the authority of our sovereign lord, the king. One of his hapless victims, a poor bedesman by the name of William Pencrych, told reporters yesterday "Not one peny wold he paye...."


Sorry, I forgot that this was supposed to be serious educational stuff and was just enjoying myself.

The photographs on this and the text page have been updated from scans of old photocopies with colour images from National Archives downloads, so you get a bit more of an idea of what they actually look like.

| overview | text | alphabet | abbreviations | structure | exercises |

| transcript | modern paraphrase |

Click on each of the above to walk your way through 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

If you are looking at this page without frames, there is more information about medieval writing to be found by going to the home page (framed) or the site map (no frames).
This site is created and maintained by Dr Dianne Tillotson, freelance researcher and compulsive multimedia and web author. Comments are welcome. Material on this web site is copyright, but some parts more so than others. Please check here for copyright status and usage before you start making free with it. This page last modified 12/3/2008.