Medieval Writing
Humanistic Minuscule

Script Type : minuscule

Date : 15th century

Location : Italy

Function : Book hand, in this case of a formal grade

This is a segment from a late 15th century copy of De Civitate Dei of St Augustine, produced in Italy, probably in Naples (British Library, add. ms. 15246, f.29). This is from the beginning of the first book. (From New Palaeographical Society 1911)
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This exquisitely neat and tiny script is pure Caroline minuscule rebadged as humanistic script. There are no letter forms left over from Gothic script. The individual letters should all be very familiar, being the forms in use today in printed books, apart from the tall s and the short t.

There are several ligatures such as ae, ct and st. These are also found in formal versions of Caroline minuscule, and the last two have a long history in formal script, becoming particularly elongated and elaborate in highly formal European diploma scripts, such as those used in the most significant grade of papal bulls.

As usual, i and j, as well as u and v, are identical. There are no examples of k, w or z. There is a rare example of y on the page, but not in the passage shown above. Note that it is dotted.

The word errore appears as a superscript in the second line. This is a correction of an error, but there is a bit of a trick here because the missing word is, in fact errore.

Part way along the first line is a punctuation mark which indicates the beginning of a new section. Pass the cursor slowly along a few lines from here to get the idea. For more detail, have a go at the paleography exercises.

Script Index

Paleography exercises for this example 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 updated 4/6/2005.