Update Log
Yes indeed, in the years since this site first hit the web there have been far more updates than this. Some of them have been major technical overhauls, while others have involved the steady addition or revision of content, not to mention the endless task of listing the many new and interesting links that have appeared in the subject area and deleting the dead ones. However, I thought it was time to start an update log for those regular users who might want to know if there is anything new here since they last looked, so here it is.

July 2011 : New script sample of French 15th century cursive from a very grotty source. Finished updating Seals, not to mention boring stuff involving page formatting. You get more stuff on screens now and it was looking like a little ribbon down the left hand side of the page. Bit of a tidy up in the section on Initials and Borders.

June 2011 : Script example of early Beneventan or Lombardic script. Some minor modifications to the section on ink, and the quill pen. An addition to Handling Manuscripts to show what happens if you don't do it right. Starting to jazz up the section on Seals, process ongoing.

April/May 2011 : There is a little essay on the subject of Scripts and Hands, to explain why one piece of writing doesn't always look like what you might think.

March 2011 : To increase the French component, there is a script sample of a 14th century letter close of King Jean le Bon. This now also has a paleography exercise.

February 2011 : A little set of script samples of personal cursive hands from the 14th and 15th centuries, as found in monastic pressmarks. The section on Great Big Bibles has a new picture in it of something I found.

December 2010 : Section added on The Strange History of Humanistic Minuscule.

November 2010 : Script sample and paleography exercise on a particularly interesting bit of late 15th century personal cursive, in the form of a list of English language books belonging to John Paston II.

October 2010 : Script sample of a tiny semi-cursive Gothic rotunda book hand, from which you will learn why the Virgin Mary is like a mulberry tree. Paleography exercise not yet ready, but on its way.

August/September 2010 : There is a new script sample and paleography exercise on insular minuscule as used in an early 12th century page of manumissions of serfs, in Old English. And you thought Latin was hard!

July 2010 : A new section has been added on The History of Gothic Book Hands. In the History of Individual Letters section we now have Special English Letters.

June 2010 : Horrible script sample and paleography exercise on Merovingian minuscule, just to show you how truly horrible Merovingian minuscule can be. And the usual link updates.

April 2010 : New section on Works on Science.

March 2010 : New script sample and paleography exercise for a beautiful 9th century Caroline minuscule script, not difficult to read but very historic. And still trying to update links! Also script sample and paleography exercise for a very cramped and difficult 13th or 14th century Gothic textura from a text of a philosophical treatise. Heavy stuff! And still updating more links.

February 2010 : I have just included an essay on Why Paleography Sucks. It doesn't, of course, but a lot of students think it does. This is really a little counselling session on how to deal with it. And links, links, links.

January 2010 : There is a new script sample and paleography exercise for a 13th century portable psalter or breviary in Gothic textura script. The latest bit of housework has involved jazzing up and correcting links in parts of the Tools and Materials section. You will particularly find an interesting little something I have found in the Ink section.

December 2009 : Every now and then it is necessary to do a bit of housework, so some recent changes just involve a little tidying up. There is a new section on The Private Ownership of Books.

August 2009 : The latest script samples are uncial and insular minuscule from a very famous manuscript, the Vespasian Psalter. There is a paleography exercise for the Latin. As promised, there is a segment from a fascinating mystery document that has a real story attached. It is a confession of sins from a priest around the time of the Reformation in England, and was found in a most unusual place.

July 2009 : A new script sample and paleography exercise has been added in the Caroline minuscule section, the Strasbourg Oath, not so much for its letter forms as for its place in the history of development of modern European languages. The section on Music has been expanded with an example of a different form of musical notation that just happened to flutter my way. I am currently in the process of updating the maps in the History of Scripts section.

December 2008 : A new section has been added on Works on Gentlemanly Pursuits. I keep finding wonderful new manuscripts sites for the Links section, and I'm wondering how to keep up with them all.

October 2008 : There is now a script example and paleography exercise for a 15th century Recipe for Ink from the English chancery. This is a nice little example for practical scribes, as well as for those who prefer their paleography in English. The section on Works on Heraldry has been jazzed up as a result of a visit to a secondhand book fair.

August/September 2008 : Apart from trying to break in and tame a new computer, I have added a paleography exercise to the script example from a writ of Henry III.

June/July 2008 : Colour photographs from National Archives downloads have been added to the totally atrocious 15th century petition of Richard Mountfort. This in no way makes the rotten thing easier to read, but rather adds to the grungy image of the document. A correction has been made to the dating of the script example and paleography exercise of a late 15th century chancery warrant, as a result of contact from my ever vigilant readership. The endless task of updating links continues.

April/May 2008 : The section on Personal Devotion and Books of Hours has received a small update as the result of discovering a tiny minor treasure.

March 2008 : As well as some minor housekeeping, a new section has been added in the History of Scripts section on the History of Scripts in the English Royal Chancery, for those who are beating their brains out over downloaded digital documents from the National Archives in London. Speaking of which, some of our old black and white images of those documents have been replaced by colour photographs from such downloads. There is now a paleography exercise for the 16th century cursive script of the York Corporation Minute book.

February 2008 : In response to a steady trickle of emails from people who have their own little private medieval manuscript projects, I have included a section on Tips for Transcribing, mainly aimed at those just getting started. There are new scripts, a 13th century informal English chancery script as used in a royal writ and a late 13th century cursiva anglicana chancery hand, as used in royal letters patent. In housekeeping mode, it occurred to me that the Index of Scripts was growing (and is intended to further grow) into a long and rather amorphous list, so I have added more detailed descriptions of the material in separate lists for each section, linked from the main list. If that doesn't make sense, just take a look and see. If it doesn't help you, it might just help me to see exactly where I'm up to!

January 2008 : We have started with the usual problem of some link repairs, mainly in the Elephant Book. A new script has been added, a mid 16th century business hand from the York Corporation minute book.

September 2007 : A new example of 13th century cursiva anglicana chancery script has been added, showing that the aristocracy of Europe was an international elite. The usual minor corrections and updates to links continue.

August 2007 : Numerous other distractions. Progress will resume.

July 2007 : Some new material has been added to the section on Personal Devotion and Books of Hours. A small correction has been made to the paleography exercise on a 12th century bestiary, once again at the instigation of an attentive reader. New links continue to be added.

June 2007 : An introductory section has been added on Works on Astronomy and Astrology. A section has been added on the Breviary, and a little bit of tinkering has gone on in the section on The Psalter and on Music. I think I have finished manually updating the Links section. To all you people out there who keep changing your URLs, stop it or you'll go blind! No guarantees on how long it will stay correct however. Links embedded in the main text tend to get corrected when I run across them, so please be willing to let me know of any dead ones. There is a new book announcement in the Compendia of Knowledge section.

May 2007 : A new script of Italian Legal Cursive as well as a 16th century Italian Notarial Cursive has been added to the script examples. The section on The Roll has been updated, as it became apparent from a learned reader's comments that what I had written was ambiguous. Also at the instigation of a reader (You are becoming a very diligent lot!) a small correction has been made to the transcription of the 12th century insular minuscule Gospels of Maelbrigte paleography exercise. The section on Where to Find Manuscripts has been updated to keep up with rampaging developments in the digital world. I have also reorganised the Script Index page for consistency, and to make it easier to find things as I intend to add a lot of new material to this section.

April 2007 : There is now a very general introduction to Medieval French. Having been reported by a diligent user, a large transcription error in the Old Italian book hand paleography exercise has been corrected. Hands up who else noticed it!

March 2007 : Some of our script examples and paleography exercises were made using old photocopies of documents from the Public Record Office in London, faux de mieux. Well, now we have mieux, as photographs of many documents are now obtainable online from the National Archives. The script example and paleography exercise on the petition of the abbess of Barking and her barrels of wine has now been jazzed up with more lifelike images. A brief section on Handling Manuscripts has been added for the practical minded.

February 2007 : The History of Individual Letters now goes to z, completing the traditional Latin alphabet, but yes, there is a bit more to come. I have put in a script example of a German imperial diplomatic hand of the 12th century, as it is such a delightfully ridiculous script. I have also added some extra material to the paleography exercise on Small Gothic script in a 13th century Bible, showing how to read faded and nearly invisible writing with equipment bought from a toy shop.

January 2007 : After having had hordes of family visit over Christmas and the New Year, I have now got The History of Individual Letters up to x.

December 2006 :History of Individual Letters is now up to t. Some additional material has been added to the Initials and Borders section.

October/November 2006 : New script example and paleography exercise on square capitals as used in a 4th century copy of Virgil's Georgica. History of individual letters now up to r. Into the home straight now! Dianne's Medieval Writing Blog has been created as another avenue of communication between you and me.

September 2006 : History of Individual letters is now up to q. We are into the home straight now, but there are a few tricky letters left to go. There is a new section on The Missal.

August 2006 : History of Individual letters is now up to n. There is also a little update to the Domesday Book section now that you can access the entire work online from the Documents Online: Domesday Book section of the website of the National Archives in London.

July 2006 : New script sample and paleography exercise on a 16th century humanistic minuscule sample from a book of hours, showing the influence of typefaces on handwriting. History of individual letters has reached j. Some little images of scribes using wax tablets have been added here and there, and there is a note that you may one day be able to consult Domesday Book online.

June 2006 : Script sample and paleography exercise on an absolutely hideous old Italian book hand from the 7th century, for those who need convincing about why Carolingian handwriting reforms were necessary to turn handwriting into an actual communications system. Histories of individual letters have got as far as e. Advancing slowly but steadily here.


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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 3/8/2011.