Medieval Writing
Index of Scripts
These examples of scripts are being progressively added to. The categorisation of scripts is a little tricky and I have used a very pragmatic approach rather than an attempt to be heavily scientific. Script styles grade into one another rather than being separated by immutable stylistic barriers. Scholars of book hand seem to use more formal systems of classification than those of document hand, so that a book script may get the full Latinate treatment of scriptura gothica textura semiquadrata formata, or suchlike, while historians of documents may simply refer to a chancery hand or a legal hand or a typical charter hand of the period. This may reflect a greater degree of variability and flexibility among the scribes of documents, but more likely reflects different preoccupations of scholars.

Even the designation of book hands and document hands reflects usual convention rather than absolutes of classification, as scribes sometimes used scripts normally used for books in documents and vice versa. The hybridisation of book and document hands in the later middle ages led to a proliferation of script styles for a range of purposes. Anyway, the main point of this section is not to classify things, but to have a go at reading them.

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Clicking on the details link for each section will give you a longer and more comprehensive description of each example.

Old Roman scripts More details on the first two sections

New Roman scripts

National Hands or Pre-Carolingian Scripts More details on this section

Caroline minuscule More details on this section

Gothic scripts

Humanistic scripts More details on this section

and anything else we think of along the way.

What is Paleography?

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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 25/7/2011.