Medieval Writing
Cursive Book Hand

Script Type : minuscule cursive

Script Family : Gothic

Date : late 15th or 16th century

Location : France

Function : book hand

This segment is from a book of hours in French, from around 1500, from a private collection.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters: The script of this vernacular French work is truly cursive, with a very angular style. It appears untidy, but is quite easily legible.

The letters b, h and l have very curled ascenders, while d has a curved backsloping ascender. The descender of q curves to the left, resembling a g but less extravagantly curved than that letter. The letter z has a curled descender, as is usual when it occurs in medieval scripts.

The letter s comes in two forms. The tall form is very tall and curved at the top, with a tapering shape made with two separate pen strokes, very typical of late French scripts. The short s is generally formed into a double closed loop. There are also two forms of r, the more elaborate of which is formed from crossed strokes so that it resembles a modern x. In this script, however, x has a closed loop. The letter t is the trick letter, tall and slightly curved, so that it could be confused with f.

The letters u and v are identical, but each appear in different forms depending on their location in the word, as is common with later cursive scripts.

Pass the cursor slowly down the lines of text to get a quick instant transcript, and if you want to know more, proceed to the paleography exercises to find out what it's all about.

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 11/10/2011.