Medieval Writing

Script Type : minuscule

Date : 15th century

Location : France and the Low Countries, in this case from Flanders

Function : Book hand

This is a segment from a late 15th century book of hours from Flanders, from a private collection. The text is from Matins of the Hours of the Virgin.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This example of the bâtarde script is from a quite small book of hours. The actual size is probably rather smaller than what is displayed on your screen, as the segment shown measures around 4 x 4 cm. The page has elegant tiny gilded initials and a sprig of foliate ornament in the margin, but the script appears a little hasty and informal. One tends to think of bâtarde as rather elegant and easy to read, but those general names for hybrid scripts cover a multitude of variations. This is a little difficult.

This version is angular and spiky and many of the letters terminate in narrow downward points rather than upturned feet, which rather makes the rows of minims collapse into rows of sloping pointy lines. The letter i is dotted with a narrow diagonal slash to help sort it out.

The letter a has a simple single chambered form, otherwise the essential form of the letters could be described as standard Gothic.

Ascenders are variable, with b, d and h having open curves while l has a closed loop. The ascender of t is tall, but very narrow and sloping. The descender of q is straight, while that of g is curved and that letter has a straight flat top.

The tall form of s, as well as f, is long, tapered and angled, as in many French scripts. The short s has a double closed loop.

The two forms of r are present, with the simplified form that comes after o resembling a modern z.

The letters u and v are identical, except where v occurs at the beginning of a word.

There are no examples shown of j, w, y or z.

Pass the cursor slowly over the lines of text for a transcript. Once we put in a paleography exercise you can play with it in more detail.


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 25/8/2013.