Medieval Writing
Caroline Minuscule

Script Type : minuscule

Date : 8th to 12th centuries; this example from the 12th century

Location : France, Germany, England, Spain, northern Italy, Scandinavia; this example from England

Function : Book hand and basis for document hands

This is just a little segment from a forged charter of Battle Abbey (British Library, Egerton Charter 2211). By permission of the British Library.
While purporting to be from the time of William II, it in fact dates from the mid 12th century. Nevertheless, a scribe with a historical bent has produced a very fine Caroline minuscule script. The language is Latin.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This is a very easy script to read as the letter forms are very familiar to us, and it is in a neat rounded hand. So long as you remember that s is tall and t is short, everything else is much as you might expect it.

As usual, u and v are identical, as are i and j. There is a simplified form of r which occurs after o. There are no examples of k, y or z, but w is represented in various English names and words.

The script differs in no way from a Caroline minuscule book hand, as English documents of the date that this purports to be did not tend to adopt the elongated ascenders and calligraphic flourishes of Continental diplomas. The one little affectation is the linking of the ct combination, as in

uictoria(m) or st as in monasteriu(m).

This document is an object lesson in caution in paleographical dating. The script has no protogothic features, either in relation to the book hands being produced at the time, or to the rather spiky and angular document hands of the 12th century. It is an exemplary Caroline minuscule of the 11th century, produced by a scribe with a long memory and a capacity to write in whatever hand was appropriate to the occasion.

The segment is not continuous script as it comes from the top right hand corner of the parchment sheet, but pass the cursor along the lines to pick out some words. To examine the document in more details, proceed to the paleography exercises.

Script Index

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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 6/9/2011.