Medieval Writing
Late 16th Century Document Hand

Script Type : minuscule

Script Family : bastarda of sorts

Date : late 16th century, but extending from 15th to early 19th century for speicalist use

Location : England

Function : Document hand, specifically for legal use by the courts

This is the upper left hand corner of a final concord of 1584 (British Library, add. charter 70729), by permission of the British Library.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This final concord, dated 1584, could not be called medieval on anybody's chronology, but it does represent a medieval tradition of English legal handwriting which derives from 15th century legal scripts and continued for several centuries for the documentation of this form of legal process for transfer of land. It is rather laboured in appearance. Letters are upright, jagged, with extravagant flourishes.

Ascenders of b, d and l tend to be loopy. The descender of q loops to the left, like a modern g, while g itself has a completely enclosed figure of eight form. The letter h has a loopy ascender and descender. The letter e is tricky as it appears to have laid down and died, lying on its back with a completely closed loop. The letter c is flat topped and can be confused with t. The letter w is enlarged, with multiple interlocking loops.

There are two forms of r, the more common form being simple and open and extending below the baseline. Both the tall and short s are present, the latter with a closed lower loop. The letters u and v can be identical, although a second form of v appears, but this can also be used for u at the beginning of a word.

The rows of minims that make the differentiation of letters such as i, n, m and u so difficult are even more minimalist than usual, appearing often as rows of simple strokes.

The sample is not continuous text, as it comes from one corner of the document, but pass the cursor over it slowly to ferret out some words. For a more detailed examination of the document, proceed to the paleography exercises.

Script Index

Paleography exercises using Flash

These require at least the Flash 5 plugin

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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 15/6/2005.