Medieval Writing
Protogothic - English

Script Type : minuscule

Alternative Name : transitional Gothic

Date : 12th century

Location : This example is from England.

Function : Book hand, but in this case used as a document hand

This document is a charter or writ of Henry I confirming lands and privileges to the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury (British Library, Campbell Chart. xxi 6). By permission of the British Library.
It is in the form of a single sheet, with seals, and is bilingual, the text appearing first in Latin, then in English. This examines the Latin script.
This is a small segment of the Latin text in a protogothic script. The text is not continuous, but just represents segments from the first half of the top three lines.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.
This example is featured in Johnson and Jenkinson 1915 and Warner and Ellis 1903.

Distinctive letters : While this script is on an administrative document, in type it represents a protogothic book hand. According to various authors this suggests that it was produced not in the royal chancery, but in the monastic scriptorium of the beneficiaries and validated by seal in the chancery.

The script is easy to read as the letters conform to the type of the Caroline minuscule predecessor, except that the letters have become angular and have developed feet. The individual letters are well separated and there are no incomprehensible rows of minims. Letters such as h, b and l have wedged ascenders which is supposedly an English characteristic. The letter s is tall and t is short. There is no j, k, y or z in the example, but the letter w appears in certain English words which appear embedded in the Latin text.

The st ligature appears, as found in some very formal Caroline minuscule texts.





These are Old English formulae for certain rights and privileges claimed in the document. The English half of the document is written in a form of insular minuscule, but the English words in the Latin part of the document are written in the same protogothic script as the Latin text.

There are many abbreviations in the text. Although the segment shown is a fragmented, pass the cursor along the lines of text to find some of the features. For a detailed examination of the document, proceed to the paleography exercises.

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English text of this document

Script Index

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