Medieval Writing
Gothic Textura - Small

Script Type : minuscule

Date : 12th to 15th centuries, this small compressed form coming into use in the 13th century.

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

Function : Book hand

This segment is from a 13th century bestiary (British Library, Harley 3244, f.39), by permission of the British Library. These images are made available by the British Library under a Creative Commons licence.
The section describes the elephant. The script is a small and compressed Gothic textura, in the Latin language.
I originally tried to display this script at something resembing its original size, just to give you the idea of how small it is. The problem was, it was impossible to read on the screen. In the interests of clarity I have enlarged it, so you will just have to imagine that you are looking at it through a very powerful magnifying glass.
Pass cursor over letters to see examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : The letters in this script are tiny and compressed, with the bases of letters finished with a simple diagonal slash rather than formally constructed feet. Although the letters appear joined, this not not make it a cursive script. The letters are individually formed, but are simply squashed together.

The basic letter forms are standard for Gothic textura. The letters i and j are the same. The letter i is dotted, or rather there is a narrow diagonal slash above the letter. The letters u and v are identical, and can be difficult to differentiate from n, as they are all formed from minims. It can be difficult to differentiate c and t.

There are two forms of r, including the simplified form that occurs after o, and two forms of s, the short curly form and the tall form. A second form of d which occurs at the beginning of words has an almost horizontal ascender.

There are no examples of k, w, y or z.

There are many abbreviations in the text. Pass the cursor slowly along the rows of text to decode a sample. For a more detailed examination, continue to the paleography exercises for this example. You will discover some astonishing things about elephants.

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 21/6/2014.