Medieval Writing
Cursive Document Hand

Script Type : minuscule cursive

Date : 14th century

Location : England

Function : document hand or charter hand

This shows the upper left hand corner of letters patent of 1347 of Ralph, Baron Stafford granting arms to his cousin Edmund de Mortayn (Eton College Library). (From The New Palaeographical Society 1910)
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This is a small cursive charter hand in the French language, although of English origin. Ascenders and descenders tend to be angular and loopy. There are some funny variations in the sizes of different letters, so that f and the tall s are very tall, while d, g and h are fairly short and curly.

Both the tall and short s are present, and there are two forms of r, the main one of which extends considerably below the baseline.

The letters i and j are identical, as are u and v, but both of these latter have a different form when they occur at the beginning of a word, as is usual in this style of script.

There is no dot on i, as is usual in medieval scripts in general, but y is dotted.

The small letters can disappear into undifferentiated rows of minims, causing confusion with i, n, m, u and v.

The letter w is an enlarged, loopy, celebratory extravaganza. I think English scribes liked to celebrate w as something special and their own.

The segment shown is not continuous text, as it represents only the upper left corner of the document, but pass the cursor over it slowly to pick out some words. To investigate the whole thing in more detail, proceed to the paleography exercises.

Script Index

Paleography exercises using Flash

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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 16/5/2005.