Medieval Writing
Paleography Exercises
Italian gospel, 6th century (British Library, Harley 1775, f.195). All images by permission of the British Library. These images have now been placed in the public domain under Creative Commons licence.

This page is from a 6th century Italian gospel book which is known to have been in France by the 9th century. The script is uncial. The Latin text is from the gospel according to Mark (Mark 10, 45 - 49) and describes Jesus restoring the sight of a blind man, Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus. Being a majuscule script, the difficulties in reading it are not so much in the letter forms as the lack of spacing and punctuation, and the fact that our brains do not seem to readily take to lines of capital letters. It is also slightly confusing that faint letters are visible from the other side of the page. The only abbreviations are the nomina sacra terms.

I have seen this particular volume described as being a Latin Vulgate text, or alternatively as an Old Latin version, predating Jerome's translation. All I can say about that is that this particular section checks out against the Vulgate.

This is representative of the kind of work that was sent from Rome or other Italian Christian centres to missionising centres in the barbarian north. The most fundamental texts of the Christian canon, written in imposing uncial script. These predated the production of copies of works in the various regional minuscule scripts which developed in the major Christian writing centres of Europe.
The text of the Vulgate Bible can be obtained from Biblia Sacra Vulgata (1969), among other editions. There is a searchable version on the web at the Multi-lingual Bible site.

| overview | text | alphabet | abbreviations | exercises | transcript | translation |

Click on each of the above to walk your way through a segment of the text. The transcript will appear in a separate window so that you can use it for reference at any time. These exercises are designed to guide you through the text, not test you, so you can cheat as much as you like.
Script sample for this example
Index of Exercises
Index of Scripts

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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 3/2/2014.