Medieval Writing

Gothic scripts

  • Book hands
    • protogothic
      • book hand - French (12th century copy of Suetonius, Latin) Segment of text from a 12th century copy of De Vita Caesarum by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, a work of Classical history in twelve books. With paleography exercise.
      • book hand - English (12th century bestiary, Latin) Small segment from a 12th century bestiary from England, explaining the fraudulent habits of the partridge. With paleography exercise.
      • book hand in a document (12th century royal charter, Latin) The Latin segment of a bilingual charter of Henry I confirming the priveleges of the monastery of Christ Church, Canterbury. The script is closer to a book hand than to the more usual document hands of the day. With paleography exercise.
    • textura
      • book hand (13th century breviary or psalter, Latin) Page from a portable psalter or breviary in a script which shows the true meaning of the term textura or textualis, like a textile. A very worn and grubby page from a working volume, but elegant in a simple way. With paleography exercise.
      • small book hand (13th century bestiary, Latin) Page from a 13th century English bestiary, with tiny script and a magnificent picture of an elephant. With paleography exercise.
      • medium grade book hand (13th century song, English and Latin) Mid 13th century page of a song with bilingual lyrics, the Latin very religious, the English not. Singing instructions and a midi music file provided. With paleography exercise. What more could you want?
      • small glossing script (13th century Bible, Latin) A segment of text from a 13th century portable Bible, written in a minute Gothic script derived from that used for glosses, from the Book of Ecclesiasticus. There is also some secret writing on this page. With paleography exercise.
      • compressed book hand (13-14th century theological text, Latin) A segment from a 13th or early 14th century copy of the Sentences of Peter Lombard, a highly significant theological work of the 12th century. The example uses some extreme forms of abbreviation and interesting page design. Shows why they needed to invent cursive for books.
      • prescissa (14th century psalter, Latin) A page from the very famous 14th century Luttrell Psalter, written in the very formal and painstaking script called (by some) Gothica prescissa sine pedibus, complete with some of the famous marginal illustrations. With paleography exercise.
      • high quality book hand (15th century book of hours, Latin) Two segments from a formally scribed 15th century book of hours now resident in the National Library of Australia. Segments shown include a section of the litany and a rubric encouraging the reader to pray to the Virgin. With paleography exercise.
      • moderately formal book hand (15th century book of hours, Latin) Leaf from an exceedingly tiny book of hours, the text from Psalm 117. With paleography exercise.
      • formal book hand (late 15th century book of hours, Dutch) Leaf from a Dutch language book of hours, to show that Gothic textura could be just as formal when used for writing in the vernacular. With paleography exercise.
      • informal book hand (15/16th century German psalter, Latin) Page of a psalter from Germany from around 1500, written in a rather untidy and hasty Gothic script, the text being Psalm 106. With paleography exercise.
      • as inscription (15th century brass funerary memorial, Latin) And now for something completely different, this is what happens when a script designed for writing with a pen is transformed into an inscription in brass, perhaps the origin for the 19th century predeliction for Black Letter Gothic in monumental and architectural contexts. With paleography exercise.
    • rotunda
      • book hand from the Holy Land (12th century psalter, Latin) A page from the mid 12th century Melissande Psalter, produced in the Holy Land, in the Italian style of script that never deviated as far from its parent, Caroline minuscule, as northern varieties. This page contains a prayer to Mary Magdalen. With paleography exercise.
      • book hand from Italy (14th century copy of Dante, Italian) A page from a 14th century copy of the Divine Comedy of Dante, showing that the most formal Gothic rotunda script was not too good for the national poet writing in his native language, with a horrid picture of Lucifer, but not half so horrid as the actual description. With paleography exercise.
      • tiny semi-cursive book hand from Italy (early 14th century copy of a theological treatise, Latin) A segment of a page from a text in praise of the Virgin Mary, De Laudibus Beatae Mariae, which has been attributed to Albertus Magnus but was probably actually written by Richardus de Sancto Laurentio. Full of strange botanical imagery in a tiny crabbed script that must only have been able to be read by a very learned scholar with a magnifying glass. A valiant attempt at a paleography exercise will be forthcoming.
    • cursiva
      • English (14th century poem, Middle English) An English language poem on Holy Meditation in a reasonably carefully written cursive book hand, from a codex of mixed content. With paleography exercise.
      • Dutch or German (15/16th century book of hours, Dutch or German) Prayers relating to the joys of the Virgin in a low German or Dutch dialect using a cursive Gothic book hand. With paleography exercise - no antique Germanic language skills required.
      • French (15/16th century book of hours French) A page of prayers in the French language, which has been added to the main text on blank pages of a book of hours, perhaps in the early 16th century, in a fairly formal cursive book hand. With paleography exercise.
      • French (15/16th century bilingual psalter, Latin and French) A mysterious little book page with Psalm text presented line by line, first in Latin then in French, presumably as a learning guide, in a tiny but neat Gothic cursive of the late 15th or early 16th century. With paleography exercise.
    • bastarda
      • English (15th century poem of Hoccleve, English) A page from Thomas Hoccleve's Regement of Princes, famous for its early portrait of Chaucer, written in a stately and formal bastarda style of hand which owes much to the royal chancery. With paleography exercise.
      • English (15th century Brut Chronicle, English) A page from an early 15th century copy of the Brut chronicle, this page discussing events of the reign of Edward III, which include his holding of a round table, the outrageous fashions of his court which made the ladies' bums look big, and an attack on the king of France. In a cursive book hand which is as untidy as the spelling. With paleography exercise.
      • French Bâtarde (15th century chronicle of Charlemagne, French) A page from a mid 15th century chronicle of Charlemagne, complete with grisaille miniature, in an elegant Gothic bâtarde book hand. With paleography exercise.
      • French Bâtarde (late 15th century book of hours, Latin) Page from a late 15th century book of hours from France, showing part of Psalm 142, in an over elaborate and mannered version of the bâtarde book hand. With paleography exercise.
      • French Bâtarde (15th century popular song, French) A page containing a popular song about a love lost in the wars, in a simple and cursive bâtarde script, with musical notation. With paleography exercise.
return to Index of Scripts

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