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MEDIEVAL MINUSCULE

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Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 579 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MEDIEVAL MINUSCULE HAND It has been stated above that in the Merovingian MSS. of the 8th century there was evident progress towards a settled minuscule book-hand which only required a master hand to fix it in a purified and calligraphic form. This was effected under Charlemagne, in whose reign the revival of learning naturally led to a reform in handwriting. An ordinance of the year 789 required the revision of Church books; and a more correct orthography and style of writing was the consequence. The abbey of St Martin of Tours was one of the principal centres from whence the reformation of the book-hand spread. Here, from the year 796 to 804, Alcuin of York presided as abbot; and it was specially under his direction that the Carolingian minuscule writing took the simple and graceful form which was gradually adopted to the exclusion of- all other hands. In carrying out this reformation we may well assume that Alcuin brought to bear the results of the training which he had received in his youth in the English school of writing, which had attained to such proficiency, and that he was also beneficially influenced by the fine examples of the Lombard school which he had seen in Italy. In the new Carolingian minuscule all the uncouthness of the later Merovingian hand disappears, and the simpler forms of many of the letters found in the old Roman half-uncial and minuscule hands are adopted. The character of Carolingian writing through the 9th and early part of the loth century is one of general uniformity, with a contrast of light and heavy strokes, the limbs of tall letters being clubbed or thickened at the head by pressure on the pen. As to characteristic letters (fig. 44) the a, following the old type, is, in the 9th century, still frequently open, in the form of u; the bows of g are open, the letter somewhat resembling the numeral 3; and there is little turning of the ends of letters, as m and n. ccapere&marturn cavil 'Cerra '=cWM..9 uod enirn occ.,.c eo ,r-'dorp(C-es . pa ecdsrttrn~ltsum a uocaret, rmorricrtcutrihrf7 1 FIG. 44.—Gospels, 9th century. (accipere mariam coniugem tuam'quod enim ex ea nascetur de spiritu sancto est. Pariet autem filium et uocabis nomen eius Iesum) In the roth century the clubbing of the tall letters becomes less pronounced, and the writing generally assumes, so to say, a thinner appearance. But a great change is noticeable in the writing of the 11th century. By this time the Carolingian minuscule may be said to have put off its archaic form and to develop into the more modern character of small letter. It takes a more finished and accurate and more upright form, the individual letters being drawn with much exactness, and generally on a rather larger scale than before. This style continues to improve, and is reduced to a still more exact form of calligraphy in the 12th century, which for absolute beauty of writing is unsurpassed. In England especially (fig. 45) the writing of this century is particularly fine. cuiof aiarumtthf Cad rc fur ai xeutculti tu'~+elk4cart»buf 11110 cmiif g c ttL - ;~; ~ dtt (—culos cum aruinulis suis adoleuit super altare uitulum cum pelle et carnibus et fimo cremans extra castra sicut preceperat dominus) As, however, the demand for written works increased, the fine round-hand of the 12th century could not be maintained. Economy of material became necessary, and a smaller hand with more frequent contractions was the result. The larger and XX. 19more distinct writing of the r i th and lath centuries is now replaced by a more cramped though still distinct hand, in which the letters are more linked together by connecting strokes, and are more laterally compressed. This style of writing is characteristic of the 13th century. But, while the book-hand of this period is a great advance upon that of a hundred years earlier, there is no tendency to a cursive style. Every letter is clearly formed, and generally on the old shapes. The particular letters which show weakness are those made of a succession of vertical strokes, as m, it, u. The new method of connecting these strokes, by turning the ends and running on, made the distinction of such letters difficult, as, for example, in such a word as minimi. The ambiguity thus arising was partly obviated by the use of a small oblique stroke over the letter i, which, to mark the double letter, had been introduced as early as the 11th century. The dot on the letter came into fashion in the 14th century. ,flagw000ttgpUctrattfattitnodfilmi Tebtitc1l34etofifctutbffertt chte8uetIn meiopxamta.dttditfatao ogzut=ttap> . *cam tgoai n n afatctttafi 'mm1YS1ai:abfivatto6ttwtadt,, ",• (Eligite hodie giiod placet cui seruire potissimum debeatis. Utrum diis quibus seruierunt patres uestri in mesopotamia, an diis amoreorum in quorum terra habitatis. Ego autem et domus mea seruiemus domino. Respon- ditque populus et ait, Absit a nobis ut relinquamus dominum) In MSS. of the 14th century minuscule writing becomes slacker, and the consistency of formation of letters falters. There is a tendency to write more cursively and without raising the pen, as may be seen in the form of the letter a, of which the characteristic shape at this time is a,, with both bows closed, in contrast with the earlier a. In this century, however, the hand still remains fairly stiff and upright. In the 15th century it becomes very angular and more and more cursive, but is at first kept within bounds. In the course of the century, however, it grows more slack and deformed, and the letters become continually more cursive and misshapen. An exception, however, to this disintegration of minuscule writing in the later centuries is to be observed in church books. In these the old set hand of the 12th and 13th centuries was imitated and continued to be the liturgical style of writing. It is impossible to describe within limited space, and without the aid of plentiful illustrations, all the varieties of handwriting which were developed in the different countries of western Europe, where the Carolingian minuscule was finally adopted to the exclusion of the earlier national hands. In each country, however, it acquired, in a greater or less degree, an individual national stamp which can generally be recognized and which serves to distinguish MSS. written in different localities. A broad line of distinction may be drawn between the writing of northern and southern Europe from the 12th to the 15th century. In the earlier part of this period the MSS. of England, northern France and the Netherlands are closely connected. Indeed, in the 12th and 13th centuries it is not always easy to decide as to which of the three countries a particular MS. may belong. As a rule, perhaps, English MSS. are written with more sense of gracefulness; those of the Netherlands in darker ink. From the latter part of the 13th century, however, national character begins to assert itself more distinctly. In southern Europe the influence of the Italian school of writing ismanifest in the MSS. of the south of France in the 13th and 14th 'centuries, and also, though later, in those of Spain. That elegant roundness of letter which the Italian scribes seem to have inherited from the bold characters of the early papal chancery, and more recently from Lombardic models, was generally adopted in the book-hand of those districts. It is especially noticeable in calligraphic specimens, as in church books—the writing of Spanish MSS. in this style being distinguished by the blackness of the ink. The medieval minuscule writing of Germany stands apart. It never attained to the beauty of the hands of either the north or II the south which have been just noticed; and from its ruggedness and slow development German MSS. have the appearance of being older than they really are. The writing has also very commonly a certain slope in the letters which compares unfavourably with the uptight and elegant hands of other countries. In western Europe generally the minuscule hand thus nationalized ran its course down to the time of the invention of printing, when the so-called black letter, or set hand of the 15th century in Germany and other countries, furnished models for the types. But in Italy, with the revival of learning, a more refined taste set in in the production of MSS., and scribes went back to an earlier time in search of a better standard of writing. Hence, in the first quarter of the 15th century, MSS. written on the lines of the Italian hand of the early 12th century begin to appear, and become continually more numerous. This revived hand was brought to perfection soon after the middle of the century, just at the right moment to be adopted by the early Italian printers, and to be perpetuated by them in their types. English Cursive Charter-Hands.—It must also not be forgotten that by the side of the book-hand of the later middle ages there was the cursive hand of everyday use. This is represented in abundance in the large mass of charters and legal or domestic documents which remains. Some notice has already been taken of the development of the national cursive hands in the earliest times. From the 12th century downwards these hands settled into well defined and distinct styles peculiar to different countries, and passed through systematic changes which can be recognized as characteristic of particular periods. But, while the cursive hand thus followed out its own course, it was still subject to the same laws of change which governed the book-hand; and the letters of the two styles did not differ at any period in their organic formation. Confining our attention to the charter-hand, or court-hand, practised in England, a few specimens may be taken to show the principal changes which it developed. In the 12th century the official hand which had been introduced after the Norman Conquest is characterized by exaggeration in the strokes above and below the line, a legacy of the old Roman cursive, as already noted. There is also a tendency to form the tops of tall vertical strokes, as in b, h, 1, with a notch or cleft. The letters are well made and vigorous, though often rugged. (et ministris et omnibus fidelibus suis Francis et—Regine uxoris mee et Eustachii filii- mei dedi et concessi ecclesie Beate Marie) As the century advances, the long limbs are brought into better proportion; and early in the 13th century a very delicate fine-stroked hand comes into use, the cleaving of the tops being now a regular system, and the branches formed by the cleft falling in a curve on either side. This style remains the writing of the reigns of John and Henry III. q.0 2 eCorill;z tkX if, is9 fob (uniuersis presentes litteras inspecturis salutem. Noueritis quod--ford et Essexie et Constabularium Ang'.ie et Willelmum de Fortibus —ad iurandum in aninlam nostram in presencia nostra de pace) Towards the latter part of the 13th century the letters grow rounder; there is generally more contrast of light and heavy strokes; and the cleft tops begin, as it were, to shed the branch on the left. ntm ptm m Mote ltzOI'BOCar (t moa¢ CtMttTrmra tt~rt~tt""sem lTgtwSlnt mo&uun pozZ &tie'al6nocaro¢ IS ~btt6 Cotu¢na*S t l tc'nanEt senuaytia 4 pram f u teb (More cum pertinentiis in mora que vocatur Inkelesmore continentem —se in longitudine per medium more illius ab uno capite—Abbas et Conuentus aliquando tenuerunt et quam prefatus Co—) In the 14th century the changes thus introduced make further progress, and the round letters and single-branched vertical strokes become normal through the first half of the century. Then, however, the regular formation begins to give way and angularity sets in. Thus in the reign of Richard II. we have a hand presenting a mixture of round and angular elements—the letters retain their breadth but lose their curves. Hence, by further decadence, results the angular hand of the 15th century, at first compact, but afterwards straggling and ill-formed. %is fttez!; (e gS,5) yt:nse oe,4 6viS- e.nt.09 n4 9 16 ~~¢ gQAP++t.~ m1 97 (and fully to be endid, payinge yerely the seidsuccessours in hand halfe yere afore that is—next suyinge xxiij. s: iiij. d. by evene porciouns.) In concluding these remarks on the medieval cursive English writing, it is only necessary to remind the reader that the modern English cursive hand owes its origin to the general introduction into the west of the fine round Italian cursive hand of the 16th century—one of the notable legacies bequeathed to us by the wonderful age of the Renaissance. Greek Palaeography: B. de Montfaucon, Palaeographia graeca (1708); V. Gardthausen, Griechische Palaeographie (1879); W. Wattenbach, Anleitung zur griechischen Palaeographie (1895); F. G. Kenyon, The Palaeography of Greek Papyri (1899); N. Schow, Charta papyracea praece scripta musei Borgiani Velitris (1788); A. Peyron, Papyri graeci regii taut. mus. Aegypti (1826–1827); J. Forshall, Greek Papyri in the British Museum (1839) ; C. Leemans, Papyri Graeci Mus. Lugd. Bat. (1843, 1885) ; C. Babington, The Orations of Hyperides for Lycophron and for Euxenippus (1853), and The Funeral Oration of Hyperides over Leosthenes (1858); W. Brunet de Presle, " Notices et textes des papyrus grecs du Musee du Louvre," &c. [tom. xviii. of Notices et extraits des MSS. de la Bibl. Imp.] (1865) ; J. Karabacek, Mittheilungen aus der Sammlung der Papyrus Erzherzcg Rainer (1886), and Fiihrer durch die Ausstellung (1894) ; C. Wessely, Corpus papyrorum Raineri (1895, &c,) ; J. P. Mahaffy, On the Flinders-Petrie Papyri (1891-1905); U. Wilcken, Tafein zur alteren griechischen Palaeographie (1891), Griechische Urkunden (1892, &c.), Griechische Ostraka (1895), and Archiv fiir Papyrusforschung (1900, &c.) ; F. G. Kenyon, Greek Papyri in the British Museum (1893–1906), Greek Classical Texts from Papyri in the British Museum (1891, 1892), Aristotle on the Constitution of Athens (1892), and The Poems of Bacchylides (1898) ; E. Revillout, Le Playdoyer d'Hyperide contre Athenogene (1892) ; Grenfell and Mahaffy, The Revenue Laws of Ptolemy Philadelphus (1896); J. Nicole, Les Papyrus de Geneve (1896, &c.); Grenfell and Hunt, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri (1898, &c.), Fayt2m Towns (1900), The Amherst Papyri (1900, 1901), and The Tebtunis Papyri (1902, &c.); C. Wessely, Papyrorum scripturae graecae specimina (1900); U. von Wilamowitz-Mollendorff, Der Timotheus-Papyrus (1903); H. Diels, Berliner Klassikertexte (1904, &c.); G. Vitelli, Papiri fiorentini (1905, &c.); T. Reinach, Papyrus grecs et demotiques (1905); Sabas, Specim. palaeogr. codd. graec. et slay. (1863); W. Wattenbach, Schrifttafeln zur Geschichte der griech. Schrift 1876), and Scripturae graecae specimina (1883); Wattenbach and von Velsen, Exempla codd. graec. lilt. minusc. scriptorum (1878); H. Omont, Facsim. des MSS. grecs dates de la bibl. nat. (1891), Facsim. des plus anciens MSS. de la bibl. nat. (1892), and Facsim. des MSS. grecs des xv. et xvi. sibcles (1887); A. Martin, Facsim. des MSS. grecs d'Espagne (1891); O. Lehmann, Die tachygr. Abkurzungen der griech. Handschriften; T. W. Allen, Notes on Abbreviations in Greek MSS. (1889). Latin Palaeography: J. Mabillon, De re diplomatica (1709); Tassin and Toustain, Nouveau traite de diplomatique (1750-1765); T. Madox, Formulare anglicanum (1702) ; G. Hickes, Linguarum septent. thesaurus (1703-1705); F. S. Maffei, Istoria diplomatica (1727) ; G. Marini, I Papiri diplomatici (1805) ; G. Bessel, Chronicon gotwicense (1732); A. Fumagalli, Delle Istituzioni diplomatiche (1802); U. F. Kopp, Palaeographia critica (1817-1829); T. Sickel, Schrifttaf. aus dem Nachlasse von U. F. von Kopp (187o); C. T. G. Schonemann, Versuch eines vollstiind. Systems der dlt. Diplomatik (1818); T. Sickel, Lehre von den Urkunden der ersten Karolinger (1867); J. Ficker, Beitrage zur Urkundenlehre (1877-1888); N. de Wailly, Elements de paleographie (1838) ; A. Chassant, Paleographie des charley, &c. (1885); L. Delisle. Melanges de paleographie, &c. (188o), Etudes paleographiques, &c. (1886), Memoire sur l'ecole calligraphique de Tours (1885); W. Wattenbach, Anleitung zur latein. Palaeographie (1886); A. Gloria, Compendio di paleografia, &c. (1870); C. Paoli,- Programma di paleografia lat. e di diplomatica (1888-1900); H. Bresslau, Handbuch der Urkundenlehre (1889); M. Prou, Manuel de paleographie (1891); A. Giry, Manuel de diplomatique (1894); F. Leist, Urkundenlehre (1893); E. H. Reusens, Elements de paleographic (1897-1899); W. Arndt, Schrifttafeln zur Erlernung der latein. Palaeographic (1887-1888); C. Wessely, Schrifttaf. zur dlteren latein. Palaeographie (1898) ; F. Steffens, Latein. Palaeographie-Tafeln (1903, &C.) ; C. Zangemeister, Inscriptiones pompeianae [C.I.L. iv.] (1871), and Tabulae ceratae Pompeis repertae [C.I.L. iv.] (1898) ; Nicole and Morel, Archives militaires du premier siecle (1900) ; J. F. Massmann, Libellus aurarius sine tabulae ceratae (1841); T. Mornmsen, Instrumenta dacica in tab. cerat. conscripta [C.I.L. iii.] (1873) ; A. Champollion-Figeac, Charles et MSS. sur papyrus (184o); J. A. Letronne, Dipl6mes et chartes de l'epoque merovingienne (1845-1866); J. Tardif, Facsim. de chartes et dipl8mes merovingiens et carlovingiens (1866) ; von Sybel and Sickel, Kaiserurkunden in Abbilaungen (1880-1891); J. Pflugk-Harttung, Specim. select. chart. pontiff. roman. (1885-1887); Zangemeister and Wattenbach, Exempla codd. lat. lilt. majusc. scriptorum (1876-1879); E. Chatelain, Uncialis scriptura codd. lat. (1901-1902); A. Champollion-Figeac, Paleographie des classiques latins (1839); E Chatelain, Paleographie des classiques latins (1884-1900); Musee des archives nationales (1872); Musee des archives departementales (1878); L. Delisle, Album paleographique (1887) ; T. Sickel, Monumenta graphica ex archiv. et bibl. imp. austriaci collecta (1858-1882); W. Schum, Exempla codd. amplon. erfurtensium (1882); A. Chroust, Denkmdler der Schriftkunst des Mittelalters (1899, &e.); Monaci and Paoli, Archivio paleogr. italiano (1882-189o); M. Monaci, Facsimili di antichi manoscritti 088'-1883); M. Morcaldi, Codex diplom. cavensis (1873, &c.) ; L. Tosti, Bibliotheca casinensis (1873-188o); Paleografia artistica di Montecassino (1876-1881) ; Ewald and Loewe, Exempla scripturae visigoticae (1883); C. Rodriguez, Biblictheca universal de la polygraph) espanola (1738) ; A. Merino, Escuela paleographica (178o) ; Munos y Rivero, Paleografia visigoda (1881), Manual de paleografia diplomatica espanola (189o), and Chrestomathia palaeographica (189o); E. A. Bond, Facsim. of Ancient Charters in the British Museum (1873-1878); W. B. Sanders, Facsim. of Anglo-Saxon MSS. (charters) (1878-1884), and Facsim. of National .MSS. of England (1865-'868); Warner and Ellis, Facsim. of Royal and other Charters in the British Museum (19o3); C. Innes, Facsim. of National MSS. of Scotland (1867-1871); J. Anderson, Selectus diplomatum et numismatum Scotiae thesaurus (1739) ; J. T. Gilbert, Facsim. o f National MSS. of Ireland (1874-1884); E. Chatelain, Introduction d la lecture des notes tironiennes (19ao); J. L. Walther, Lexicon Diplomaticum (1747); A. Chassant, Diclionnaire des abreviations latines et frangaises (1884) ; A. Cappelli, Dizionario di abreviature latine ed italiche (1889) ; L. Traube, Nomina sacra (1907) ; A. Wright, Court-Hand restored (1879) ; C. T. Martin, The Record Interpreter (1892). The application of photographic processes to the reproduction of entire MSS. has received great impetus during the last few years, and will certainly be widely extended in the future. Many of the most ancient biblical and other MSS. have been thus reproduced; the librarians of the university of Leiden are issuing a great series comprising several of the oldest classical MSS.; and under the auspices of the pope and the Italian government famous MSS. in the Vatican and other libraries in Italy are being published by this method; not to mention the issue of various individual MSS. by other corporate bodies or private persons. (E. M. 'f.)
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