Medieval Writing
Gothic Textura

Script Type : minuscule

Alternative Name : Black Letter Gothic

Date : 12th to 15th centuries, and beyond as a typeface. This is a 15th century example.

Location : Spread from France and the Low Countries across western Europe. This example is from Belgium.

Function : Book hand , this example being a formal specimen of the family of scripts.

This specimen is from a 15th century book of hours, produced in Belgium for the English market (National Library of Australia, MS 1097/9, f. 80v), by permission of the National Library of Australia.
The text here is from the litany. The script is a relatively formal Gothic textura, which could probably qualify as a textura quadrata, as the letters have neat little feet.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : All letters have the characteristic of being very angular, with the bases of the letters finished off with little angular feet. Letters such as m, n, i and u are made up of series of hooked strokes called minims. This can make them hard to resolve in words such as uirginum or omnes, as seen in the example. There are two forms of r. The tall form of s hooks to the right at the base, and there is also the short curly form. The letters u and v are apparently distinguished from each other in this script, but this is a bit of an illusion as it is really a distincion between whether the letter occurs at the beginning or the middle of a word. The letters i and j are identical, or perhaps one could say that j has not been invented yet.

While the individual letters are boldly formed and well separated, certain combinations tend to be conjoined, such as

ba de do pe

There are several abbreviations in the example. The response ora pro nobis to the invocation of each saint in the litany has been reduced to a mere prompt after the first example.

Pass the cursor slowly along the lines of text to follow them. To examine another section of text from this book in more detail, 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 4/10/2011.