Medieval Writing
Gothic Textura - medium grade

Script Type : minuscule

Date : 12th to 15th centuries, this example from the mid 13th century.

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

Function : Book hand

This is a segment from a song, with music, in both English and Latin, from the mid 13th century (British Library, Harley 978, f.118).

Photograph from James, M.R. 1925 Abbeys London: The Great Western Railway.

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

Distinctive letters : This example of Gothic textura is neat and clear, but not exceptionally formal. The feet of letters are formed with a simple diagonal stroke, and it looks a little uneven in places. This is exaggerated by the process of fitting both the MIddle English and the Latin text of the song under the appropriate musical notes. The letters, although angular, are not laterally compressed and are well separated, so that there is no problem with them disappearing into indecipherable rows of minims.

The letters are similarly formed in both English and Latin, except that the English contains the letters k and w, absent in Latin, as well as the thorn character for th.

The ascenders of letters such as b, h and l are strongly wedged. The letter d has the backsloping form. The letter a is of the simple single chambered form. There are the usual two forms of r and two forms of s, although the short, curly form has been given a bit of extra flourish at the ends of words. The letter w has the angular form of two interlocked vs. The letters u and v are mostly not differentiated.

An interesting point is that i is dotted; not always, only in the Latin text when it appears in a row of minims, to enhance readability.

There are no examples of j, y or z.

Pass the cursor along the lines of text for a quick transciption. For a more detailed examination of the whole song, complete with singing instructions and a little midi file for a bit of karaoke, 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 3/10/2011.