Medieval Writing
Cursive Document or Personal Hand

Script Type : minuscule cursive

Date : late 15th or early 16th century

Location : England

Function : document hand or personal hand

This is a small segment from a genealogy of the Beauchamp family, dating from the late 15th or early 16th century, from a private collection.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters: This represents a relatively informal cursive script, with a great degree of variability in the letter forms. Reasonably representative examples are included in the alphabet above, but there are many variations. It is part of a genealogy of one line of the Beauchamp family, to which have been added numerous notes, additions and annotations in a different script, and possibly several different hands. The language is English and there are many abbreviations. The small sample shown indicates how the earldom of Warwick passed into the Beauchamp family through the female line.

Ascenders tend to be loopy. There are a few tricky letters, such as c which is angular, like a small t. There are two forms of e, one of which is virtually indistinguishable from c, while the other, which appears only at the ends of words, appears to be back to front with closed loops, as if it has rolled itself into a ball. The letter f sometimes has a closed loopy ascender, but sometimes it remains open. The letter k has the rather fiddly form often encountered in late cursive scripts, but w is plain and simple.

There are two forms of r, as found in Gothic scripts, but the less common form in earlier scripts has become predominant and somewhat elaborated. Only the tall s is used. The letters u and v are identical, but otherwise there does not seem to be a problem with rows of minims or with distinguishing them from n or m. The letter i is dotted, although the dot does seem to ramble away from its appointed place.

There are no examples of j or x.

This is a somewhat complicated document to deal with in a paleography exercise, as different scripts are entangled all over the page, so I will divide it into two separate examples and exercises. Pass the cursor slowly over the text for a quick sample, and proceed to the paleography exercises to look at it in more detail. You can also examine a sample of the other script type of the page.

Paleography exercises using Flash

Requires at least the Flash 5 plugin

Other script of this document
Script Index

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