Medieval Writing
Protogothic Book Hand - French

Script Type : minuscule

Alternative Name : transitional Gothic

Date : 12th century

Location : This example is from France, where the style developed as well as in the Low Countries.

Function : Book hand

This example is from a 12th century French copy of De Vita Caesarum by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (British Library, Egerton 3055, f.2), by permission of the British Library.

The script is a continental form of protogothic book hand.

(This example is featured in Brown 1990).

Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This script is fairly easy to read as the letter forms still conform to the very clear and familiar shapes of Caroline minuscule, except that they have become slightly compressed and angular and have developed little hooked feet. However, the letters are well separated and have not evolved into the rows of minims of fully developed Gothic. There are two forms of r, one being the simplified form that mainly appears after o, and two forms of s, the tall form and the short form. The letters i and j are identical as are u and v. The rare letters k, w and z do not appear in this example.

The difficulty with reading this text comes from the fact that there are numerous abbreviations, and it also contains a number of proper nouns, in the form of names of people, which do not begin with a capital letter. Some words go from one line to the next, but this is indicated by a hyphen-like punctuation mark. Pass the cursor slowly along the lines of text to pick out these features.

You may be fascinated to know that Brown (Brown 1990) terms this script a littera minuscula protogothica textualis libraria media/formata. I hope you all remember that carefully. To examine the text more carefully in a somewhat less technical and more practical way, 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 30/4/2005.