We have now examined the various national handwritings of Western Europe, as they were developed within the borders of different countries. We have seen how they had their origin in different styles of Roman writing, and how they followed their own lines and grew up in different forms under different conditions. And yet, with all their variations from one another, they followed one general law of development, passing from the broad simple style in the early periods through stages of more artificial calligraphy to eventual degeneration from their first standards. We have now to gather the threads together and follow the course of the handwritings of Western Europe along a new line. One form of handwriting had been developed, which by its admirable simplicity recommended itself at once as a standard hand. The Caroline Minuscule, which we have already seen brought to perfection at Tours and at other monastic centres of France, spread quickly throughout the confines of the Frankish empire, and extended its influence and was gradually adopted in neighbouring countries. But at the same time, with this widespread use of the reformed hand, uniformity of character could not be ensured. National idiosyncrasies show themselves as manifestly in the different handwritings of different peoples as they do in their mental and moral qualities ; and, although the Caroline minuscule hand forms the basis of all modern writing of Western Europe, which thus starts with more chance of uniformity than the old national hands which we have been discussing, yet the character of each country soon stamps itself upon its handwriting. Thus in the later middle ages we have again a series of national hands, clearly distinguishable from each other, although in some degree falling into groups.
First we follow the course of the minuscule hand as a book hand, reserving the examination of the more cursive styles used for legal and other documents for a later chapter.
In a former chapter we have examined the development and final moulding of the Caroline minuscule hand, and we left it established as the literary hand of the Frankish empire. Its course through the ninth and tenth centuries, particularly on the Continent, can be traced with fair precision by means of the excellent facsimiles which have been published during recent years. Its general characteristics during the ninth century, at least in the better written examples, are these : the contrast of line and heavy strokes is marked, there is a tendency to thicken or club the stems of tall lettors, as in b, d, h ; the letter a is often in the open form (), and the bows of the letter g are often left unclosed, somewhat after the fashion of the numeral 3. In the tenth century, the strokes are usually of a less solid cast ; the clubbing gradually disappears ; the open a (in its pure form) is less frequently used, and the upper bow of g closes. No fixed laws can, however, be laid down for distinguishing the MSS. of the two centuries, and the characteristics which have been named must not be too rigidly exacted. As in all other departments of our subject, practice and familiarity are the best guides.
In illustration of the finest style of writing of this class in the ninth century, we may take a few lines from the Gospels of the Emperor Lothair, executed in the middle of the century in the Abbey of St. Martin of Tours and now preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (Album Paléogr. pl. 22). For such a book the most skilful writers were of course employed, and the handwriting was formed in the most accurate and finished style of the new school.
|Gospels of Lothair.—middle of 9th century.|
|Ait paralytico . tibi dico | surge . et tolle lectum | tuum . et vade in domum | tuam ; Et confestim | surgens coram illis | tulit in quo iacebat | et abiit in domum suam|
This MS. shows scarcely any advance upon the style of the MS. of Quedlinburg quoted above (p. 235). We may notice the prevalent use of the open-bowed g to which reference has been made as characteristic of this time ; but an instance of the open a does not happen to occur in the facsimile. The general style of the writing, however, is quite typical of the ninth century. Greater variety is seen in a MS, containing commentaries of St. Augustine, written by order of Bishop Baturich of Ratisbon in 823, and now in the Royal Library of Munich (Pal. Soc. i. pl. 123).
|Commentary of St. Augustine.—A.D.823.|
|sic et vos maneatis in eternum ⸵quia talis est — | eius dilectio est ; Terram diligis ⸵ terra eris ; d— | quid dicam . deus eris ? Non audeo dicere ex m— | audiamus ⸵ ego dixi dii estis . et filii excelsio— | vultis esse dii et filii altissimi, Nolite diligere—|
The writing here is in some respects rather archaic, and may be quoted as an example produced outside the direct influence of the French school, but at the same time conforming generally to the new style of the period.
Next we select two specimens from two MSS. of Lyons, the one a commentary of Bede, written before 852 ; the other containing works of St. Augustine, written before 875 (Album Paléogr. pl. 20).
|Commentaries of Bede.—A.D.823.|
|uxoris eius abigail interventa et muneribus— | decem dies mortuo nabal ipse accipit uxore[m]— | de iezrahel . data uxore sua michol falti fil— | Zipheis prodentibus saul descendit cont[ra]— | ipse nocte descendens dormientibus cun[etis]—|
This MS. is more carelessly written than the preceding, and shows in the general character of the letters a falling off from the earlier models of the Caroline minuscule hand and rather an advance towards the more meagre style of writing of the next century, when the graceful contrast of heavy and fine strokes is gradually lost. The survival of the old high-shouldered letter r may be noticed in the word mortuo in the second line.
|St. Augustine.—before A.D.875.|
|ullo appetitu significandi proter se aliquid aliu[d]— | nosci faciunt . sicuti est fumus significans ignem-— | volens significare id facit . sed rerum experta[rum]— | adversione et notatione cognoscitur. Ignem— | si fumus solus appareat., Sed et vestigium tr—|
This MS., while it is later than the other, is written in rather better style, but a facsimile of only a few lines can hardly make this very evident.
The two specimens may be taken as typical examples of the ordinary French minuscule book-hand of this time.
The very gradual change which came over the writing of the tenth century as compared with that of the ninth century is well illustrated bv a MS. in the British Museum, containing the commentary of Rabanus Maurus upon Jeremiah (Pal. Soc. ii. pl. 109), which, from internal evidence, could not have been written earlier than the year 948.
|Rabanus Maurus.—after A.D.948.|
|—suo ut ponat terram tuam in solitudinem . civitates | —que habitatore. Iste est ut diximus verus nabucho[donosor] | adversarius nost er diabolus quasi leo rugiens cir[cuit] | —in quas religandus est . et ne mittatur exorat . | —levavit de quo dictum est. Omnium inimicorum suorum|
The not infrequent occurrence of the open a and the general regularity of the writing would have inclined us to place this MS. within the ninth century, had not its approximate date been clearly ascertained. It may be the work of an old man who had not grown out of the training of his younger days. At all events it is an interesting instance of an older style of writing surviving into a new generation, and emphasizes the difficulty of accurately assigning MSS. of the period of the ninth and tenth centuries to their true positions—a difficulty which is enhanced by the comparatively few MSS. of the tenth century which bear dates.
In illustration of the ordinary minuscule hand of the Caroline type in this century, we may take a facsimile from a Sacramentary of Corbie in the Bibliothèque Nationale (Delisle, Cabinet des MSS. pl. 31).
|Nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere— | pater omnipotens aeternæ deus. Honorum auc[tor]— | [distri]butor omnium dignitatum . per quem profic[iunt] [univer] | sa . per quem cuncta firmantur . Am[plificatis] | semper in melius naturæ rationalis|
It will be seen that the letters are not so well formed and are less graceful in stroke than in the earlier examples. They are also rather squarer and are more slackly written. Comparing this example with the facsimile from the Gospels of Lothair (p. 259), a single glance is enough to satisfy the eye of the change which the lapse of a century can effect in a style of handwriting. It is true that the Lothair Gospels are written in the finest style of the ninth century, and this example is an ordinary one of the tenth century, and the contrast between two MSS. of the two centuries would not in all cases be so marked. For the present purpose, however, strong contrast is a first object.
All the specimens which we have given of this class of Caroline minuscule writing represent the normal hand of the Frankish empire. Another style, however, was also followed. in the eastern districts, which developed later into the hand which we recognize as German. The special characteristic of this style is the sloping of the letters and a certain want of finish, which, perhaps, may be due to distance from the influence of the French centres of Caroline writing. A M S. of this class is the Fulda Annals at Leipzig, written at the close of the ninth century but before the year 882 (Arndt, Schrifttafeln, pl. 44).
|Annals of Fulda.—before A.D.882.|
|[tes]tatus est quod illi non inficientes quasdam assercion[ibus] | racionum verisimilium quibus geste rei qualitatem [muni] | re nisi sunt obposuerunt easque litteris conpræhe[nsas] | ut legati apostolici suggesserunt per gundharium agr[ippine] ) colonie et theotgaudum treverensem gallie be[lgice]|
And another example of the same period, but written in a rougher manner, may be selected from a MS. of Canons, in the Library of St. Gall, of about the year 888 (Pal. Soc. i. pl. 186).
|episcopo apamie syrię. Euphranta religiosis[simo]— | [Ty]anorum. Theodoro religiosissimo episcopo hiero[polis] | — Bosporio religiosissimo episcopo neocesarię | | [r]eligiosissimo episcopo bostre Philippo religi[osissimo] | — mirorum . Theodoto religiosissimo episcopo sele[tie]|
In both these examples is apparent the lack of sense of grace which is so marked a failing in mediaeval German writing.
It will here be convenient to follow briefly the progress of the continental minuscule hand, as practised in France and Germany, into the eleventh century, before touching upon the course which it took in England. In that century lies the period in which the handwritings of the different countries of Western Europe, cast and consolidated in the new mould, began to assume their several national characters, and which may be said to be the starting-point of the modern hands which employ the Roman alphabet. In the course of the century many old practices and archaisms which had lingered are cast off, and general principles are more systematically observed. The words of the text are now more generally separated from one another ; abbreviations and contractions are more methodical ; and the handwriting makes a palpable advance towards the square and exact character which culminates in the MSS. of the thirteenth century.
The general characteristics of the writing of the first half of the century are shown in the following facsimile from a MS. of Saints' Lives at Paris (Cabinet des MSS., pl. 32).
|Lives of Saints.—11th century.|
|etiam dominica quę advenerat nocte ac die— | [vesper]tinam pene horam quarti a transitu diei quę— | [habe]batur . magno concursu fidelium multaque de— | [frequen]tabatur . ita ut hoctu et interdiu congregat—|
In a later and more compressed style is a MS. of the Life of St. Maurillus, at Paris, written about the year 1070 (Cabinet des MSS., pl. 34).
|Life of St. Maurillus.—about A.D.1070.|
|(—tur ad urbem . Quo cum sine mora venisset . et pace— | tuta regredi cepisset ⸵ antequam ad pontem leuge per — | loci ipsius ut benedictionibus presulis firmari mere[rentur] | devotius prestolabantur· . Inter quos ⸵ parentes cuiusdam pu[eri]— | [ni]mia infirmitate extempore gravatum secus viam per|
And of a bold type of the close of the Century is the next facsimile, from a Bible written at Stavelot in the Low Countries between the years 1094 and 1097, and now in the British Museum (Pal. Soc. ii. pl. 92).
|[eon]tritione tua ? Insanabilis est dolor tuu[s Prop] | ter multitudinem iniquitatis tuę et pr[opter] | duva peccata tua feci hęc tibi . Propter[ea omnes] | qui comedunt te devorabuntur . et univ[ersi ho] | stes tui in captivitatem ducentur . et qu[i]|
When examining the early English forms of writing in use before the Norman Conquest, we noticed the result of the introduction of the continental minuscule hand in England as a general form of writing, for Latin texts, in the course of the tenth century. The character which the English scribes irnpressed upon this imported style is that of roundness—a character which indeed continued to mark the Latin writing of MSS. executed in England for a long time. No better example of this round English hand could be quoted than the Benedictional of Æthelwold, Bishop of Winchester from A.D. 963 to 984 (Pal. Soc. i. pl. 142). The MS. is not only a valuable example of English writing of this period, but is also famous for the interesting drawings which it contains.
|virginitate manente . nova | semper prole fecundeͣt . fidei [spei] | et caritatis vos munere repleat | et suae in vobis benedictionis d[o]na infundat . Amen|
It is interesting to notice that, while the letters are of the foreign type, there is a strongly-marked English character in the writing which is unmistakable, even if it were not known that the scribe was an Englishman, And the difficulty which English scribes appear to have experienced in laying aside their native style when writing the continental minuscule hand is remarkably well illustrated by a MS. of Pope Gregory's " Pastoral Care, " in the Bodleian Library, which is probably of the beginning of the eleventh century (Pal. Soc. ii. pl. 69).
|De Cura Pastorali.—early 11th century.|
|imaginibus deliberando cogitatur ; | —itaque est quia prius foramen in pariete | —cernitur .' et tunc demum occulta | — demonstratur .' quia nimirum uniuseuius | —[p]rius signa forinsecus . deinde ianua|
The thoroughly Anglo-Saxon form of the letter t will be observed, as well as the compromise between the flat-headed Saxon g and the 3-shaped French minuscule which the scribe has effected in his rendering of the letter. But in the course of the century, and consequent on a closer intercourse with the Continent, the foreign minuscule, as written by English scribes, lost all such marks of the native writer and developed, on the lines of the writing of the Æthelwold Benedictional, into a beautifully exact hand. with correct forms of letters, and distinguished by the ronndness which has been described.
In a work of limited scope, such as the present one, it is impossible to do more than select a certain number of specimens to illustrate the different bands of the successive centuries of the middle ages. Dating from the twelfth century onwards, the number of existing MSS. is comparatively large, and the varieties of hand-writing to be found in them are numerous, each country at the same time having its own style and developing individual peculiarities. But there is not space to illustrate the writing of each individual country, The most that can be done, in order to give an idea of the main line of development from century to century, is to place before the reader a few facsimiles of typical MSS. of the different periods, which may serve as a general, though imperfect, guide ; and in making this selection we shall depend mostly upon MSS. of English origin, as being probably of more practical value to those who will make the chief use of this book.
The twelfth century was a period of large books, and of forms of handwriting on a magnificent scale. The scribes of the several countries of Western Europe seem to have vied with each other in producing the best types of book-writing of which they were capable, with the result that remarkable precision in the formation of the letters was attained, and that the century may be named as excelling all others for the beauty of its MSS. in general. Great advance was made at this period towards the compressed and angular style which marks the writing of the later middle ages as compared with the rounder hands of the centuries immediately succeeding the Caroline reform.
The following facsimile is a good example of the bold style of writing which is found in numerous MSS. of English origin in this century. It is taken from a commentary of Bede upon Ezra, which was written at Cirencester not long after the year 1147 (Pal. Soc. ii. pl. 72).
|Bede on Ezra.—after A.D.1147.|
|[de]cebat omnimodis ut domus | quędominici figuram corporis | erat habitura .' eo annorum | numero conderetur in ierusalem | quo dierum numero ipsum domini | corpus in utero virginis sacro|
The handsome appearance of this English hand of the twelfth century can hardly be surpassed. It certainly bears most favourable comparison with the other handwritings of Northern Europe of the same date ; and we must go to Italy to find anything so fully pleasing to the eye.
In this calligraphic style the growth of upstrokes from the base of the main strokes in the form of hair-lines lends an ornamental effect to the writing. It is the beginning of a practice which, when carried farther, tends to cause confusion in the decipherment of the short-stroke letters i, m, n, u, when two or more of them happen to come together. The form of the general mark of abbreviation and contraction, the short oblique curve, may also be noticed as very general in MSS. of English origin in this century.
As an example of French writing of this period we select a facsimile of a MS. of Valerius Maximus, written in the year 1167 (Cabinet des MSS., pl. 37).
|[Cor]nelius scipio cum plurimis et clarissi | mis familię suę cognominibus ab | undaret . in servilem serapionis ap | pellationem vulgi sermone impactus | est quod huiusce nominis victimario quam simi[lis]|
And to illustrate the less elegant style of the German hand of this time, we take a few lines from a MS. of Origen's Homilies, of the year 1163 (Arndt, Schrifttaf., pl. 51).
|Homilies of Origen.—A.D.1163.|
|gratiam et participationem dei appellantur dii ⸵ de quibus | et alibi scriptura dicit. Ego dixi dii ⸵ estis . et iterum | deus stetit in synagoga deorum. Sed hi quamvis capa | ces sint dei . et hoc nomine donari per gratiam vide | antur . nullus tamen deo similis invenitur|
We may be content with these three specimens to represent the writing of Northern Europe. In the south a different style prevailed. The sense of grace of form which we perceive in the Lombardic writing of Italy is maintained in that country in the later writing of the new minuscule type, which assumes under the pens of the most expert Italian scribes a very beautiful and round even style. This style, though peculiarly Italian, extended its influence abroad, especially to the south of France, and became the model of Spanish writing at a later time. We select a specimen from a very handsome MS. of Homilies of the first half of the 12th century (Pal. Soc. ii. pl. 55), written in bold letters of the best type, to which we shall find the scribes of the fifteenth century reverting in order to obtain a model for their MSS. of the Renaissance. The exactness with which the writing is here executed is truly marvellous,.and was only rivalled, not surpassed, by the finished handiwork of its later imitators.
|fuerat traditurus. Ut quem secun[dum] | presidem post se facere disponeb[at] | eundem faceret plenum atque per[fectum] | habentem in se et dignitatem qua [pre] | celleret . et potestatem qua cunc[tis]|
It will of course be understood that this was not the only style of hand that prevailed in Italy. Others of a much rougher cast were also employed. But as a typical book-hand, which was the parent of the hands in which the greater proportion of carefully written MSS. of succeeding periods were written in Italy, it is to be specially noticed.
The change from the grand style of the twelfth century to the general minuteness of the thirteenth century is very striking. ln the latter century we reach the height of the exact hand, in which the vertical strokes are perfectly formed but are brought into closer order, the letters being laterally compressed, the round bends becomiag angular, and the oblique strokes being fined down into hair-lines. In the second half of the century there appears to have been a great detnand for copies of the Bible, if we are to judge by the large nurnber of surviving examples, and the minuteness with which many of them are written enabled the scribes to compress their work into small volumes, which stand in extreem contrast to the large folios so common in the preceding century. An interesting example of the transitional hand of the end of the twelfth century, in which the writing is reduced to a small size. but yet is not compressed with the rather artificial precision of some fifty years later, is found in a MS. of the Historia Scholastica of Petrus Comestor, written for Elstow Abbey in the vear 1191, or 1192.
|martirium ⸵ dixit iacobo. Pater . da mihi remissionem. At | ille parumper deliberans . ait . Pax tibi ⸵ et osculatus est eum. | Et simul ambo capite trunati sunt. Petrum autem | apprehensum misit herodes in carcerem . quia in diebus azimo | rum non licebat aliquem occidere. Et preter custodes car | ceris ⸵ tradidit eum custodiendum quaternionibus militum.|
As a good illustration of the perfect style of the book-hand of the First half of the thirteenth century, we next select some lines from a Bible, written at Canterbury between the years 1225 and 1252 (Pal. Soc. i. pl. 73), which exhibits great regularity and precision in the compressed writing.
|[fir]mamento. Et factum est ita. Vocavitque firma | mentum deus celum. Et factum est vespere et ma | ne dies secundus. Dix't vero dens. Congregentur | aque que sub celo sunt in locum unurn: | et appareat arida . factumque est ita. Et vocavit deus | aridam terram : congregationesque aquarum | appellavit maria. Et vidit deus quod esset bonum | et ait. Germinet terra herbam virentem et | facientem semen et lignum pomiferum faci[ens]|
And of a still more ornamental type, of the second half of the century, is a Lectionary of the year 1269, which was written by an English scribe, John of Salisbury, at Mons in Hainault (Pal. Soc. ii. pl. 113).
|—cussione mirifica tremen | do palpitasse . Cuius mox | manu tenuit . et eum pa | tri viventem atque inco | lnmem dedit. Liquet pe | tre quia hoc miraculum | in potestate noil habuit || nono . fuit liber | iste scriptus. | Iohannes de | salesburi scrip[sit]|
These two specimens have been selected as presenting the style of book-writing of the thirteenth century in its most decided form. There is no mistaking the period to which they belong. Variations from this high standard are of course to be found in the more ordinary MSS. written with less exactness; but in all writing of this time, whether formal or cursive, the rigidity, which is its strong characteristic, never fails to impress the eye almost at the first glance.
With the fourteenth century we enter on a new phase in the history of Latin palaeography; and the latter part of this Century and the following Century are a period of gradual decadence from the high standard which had been attained in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. As if wearied by the exactness and rigidity of the thirteenth Century, handwriting now becomes more lax, the letters fall away in beauty of shape, and in those MSS., such as biblical and liturgical works, in which the old form of writing still remains prevalent, it degenerates into an imitative hand. At this period also, and including the latter part of the thirteenth Century, we have numerous instances of the cursive or charter-hands being employed in the production of books as well as for documents. In England particularly a large number of law MSS., which date from the reigns of Edward I. and Edward II., are written in the charter-hand. But we here confine our attention to the more formal styles.
As a specimen of a class of writing which is not uncommon in the first half of the Century, when the reminiscence of the teaching of the thirteenth Century still remained and exercised a restraining influence, we maygive a few lines from a MS. of the Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de Voragine, which was written at Paris in 1312 (Pal. Soc. i. pl. 222). Comparing this hand with the specimens of the previous Century, the advance is apparent in the decreasing regularity of the strokes generally and in certain changes in the formation of some of the letters. For example, the letter a, which in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries normally has an open upper bow, now generally appears with the bow closed ; and the vertical stroke of the letter t, which at an earlier date, in the best specimens, does not rise above tlie transverse, now betrays an increasing disposition to do so.
|testamenti .' occidentalis autem non facit | festum de sanctis veteris testamenti . eo quod ad infe | ros descenderunt . preterquam de innocentibus | ex eo quod in ips is singulis occisus est Christus .' et de | machabeis . sunt autem quatuor rationes quare | ecclesia de istis machabeis licet ad inferos | descenderintsolempnizat . prima est propter pre|
Next, we will take a specimen from a liturgical MS., a Psalter written in England about the year 1339 (Pal. Soc. i. pl. 99), in which the formal style of an older date is retained.
|[I]uravit dominus et non penite | bit eum : tu es sacerdos in | eternum secundum ordinem melchisedec| [D]ominus a dextris | tuis : confregit in die ire sue reges.|
Apart from the actual shapes of the letters in which indications of the true date are to be detected, there are forms of decoration employed which would not be found in writing of the preceding century.
A formal French style of writing of the latter half of the century is well represented in a MS. of the " Grandes Chroniques " which was copied about the year 1377, and which illustrates the constantly increasing debasement of the individual letters from the old standard, although the setting and general run of the text are sufficiently regular (Album Paléogr. pl. 42).
|une lampe de voirre qui devant son tombel | ardoit chai daventure sus le pavement . le | voirre qui assez legierement brise de sa na | ture entra en la duresce du pavement sanz | nulle froisseure et sanz nulle corrupcion | aussi comme il eust fait en plain mui de fa | rine bien bulettee . Ses freres qui sorent la | desloiaute quil avoit faite assamblerent | leurs oz et distrent que homme de si grant felon|
As a contrast to this, we select a facsimile of a not uncommon type of the English hand of about the same time, which has a slightly cursive element in it, and which developed into the ordinary hand of the fifteenth century. It is taken from a chronicle of English history, written about the year 1388 (Brit. Mus., Harl. MS. 3634).
|Et ecce subito pr inceps iunctis manibus et erectis | in celum oculis deus grati as inquit tibi ago de | cunctis beneficiis tuis tuam pietatem omnibus vo | tis expostulo ut mihi concedas veniam delic | torum eorum que contra te nequiter perpetravi sed et a cunc | tis mortalibus quos scienter sive ignoranter offen | di remissionis gratiam tote corde posco Cum | hec dixisset in plena fide catholica spiritum exala[vit]|
Finally, to close the facsimiles of the handwritings of the fourteenth century, we take a few lines from a copy of Horace, written at Cremona in the year 1391 (Pal. Soc. i. pl. 249), in the fine exact hand of Italian type which is found in so many surviving MSS. of the hundred years between 1350 and 1450, and even later—the direct descendant of the beautiful hand of the twelfth century, which is illustrated above (p. 272) by a facsimile from a MS. of homilies of that period.
|Natalis hore seu tyrannus | Hesperie capricornus unde | Utrumque nostrum incredibili modo | Consentit astrum te iovis impio | Tutela satunio refulgens | Eripuit . volucrisque fati|
The course of the fifteenth century witnessed the final dissolution of the mediæval minuscule book-writing. When printing was at length establisbed, MS. books were no longer needed and only survived as specimens of calligraphy, especially in the Italian school. In this century there is, necessarily, an ever-increasing number of varieties of hands. The charter-hand is now very generally used for books as well as for documents. And while the formal minuscule hand is still employed for liturgical and other books, and under certain conditions is written with great exactness, it generally betrays an increasing tendency to slackness and to malformation or exaggeration of individual forms of letters : there is, in a word, an artificiality about it by which it is to be distinguished from the purer style of two hundred years before. Between MSS. in the cursive charter-hand and the formal minuscule book-hand, there is that large mass of MSS., all more or less individual in their characteristics, which are written with a freedom partaking of the elements of both styles—an ordinary working hand, which has no pretensions to beauty of form, and which, in course of time, grows more and more angular, not with the precise angular formation of letters as in the thirteenth century, but with the careless disregard of curves which accompanies rapid writing. And finally, in the latter part of the century we find those different styles of handwriting which were so markedly to the several countries of Western Europe, and which formed the models for the types of the early printers.
We cannot here do more than select a few specimens to illustrate the general stvles of the many varieties of handwritings of this century.
The first is from a MS. containing a treatise on the Passion, by an Austin friar named Michael de Massa, which was written at Ingham, in Norfolk, in the year 1405 (Pal. Soc. ii. pl. 134).
|Treatise on the Passion.—A.D.1405.|
|[exo]ravit usque in passionis finem.' qua ndo corpus Christ i de | posituni fuit de cruce . et sepultum in sepulcro. Un | de subsecute sunt milieres que cum ipso uener ant de galilea et vi | derunt monumentum . et quemadmodum positum | erat corpus Iesu. Luce xxiii. Pr ima pars que inci | pit in die vener is ante domi nicam in passione.|
The writing is in the formal square literary hand, maintained chiefly in liturgical books from the earlier style, but is entirely wanting in the old regularity. The forms of the letters are weak aud debased. and the general character is irregular and imitative.
Of the same class of writing, but of rather later date and taken from a liturgical MS., is the following facsimile from a selection of Psalms written for Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who died in 1446 (Brit. Mus., Royal MS., 2 B. 1). This is the common hand of the liturgies English origin throughout the fifteenth century, and it maintains a monotonous uniformity for a comparatively long period.
|Sicut unguerilum in capite .' quod des | cendit in barbam barbam aaron | Quod descendit in oram vestimenti eius | sicut ros hermon qui descendit in montem sion | Quoniam illic mandavit dominus be | nediccionem : et vitam usque in seculum.|
As a contrast to this formal book-hand we next select a specimen from a M S. of the chronicle of Robert of Avesbury, written, in a small half-cursive hand founded on the charter-hand. in the first quarter of the fifteenth century (Brit. Mus., Harley MS. 200).
|R. de Avesbury.—early 15th century.|
|[vhi]culum quo ipse et nos noscimur adinvicem fore coniuncti nec non ob [speci alem] | affectionem et sinceram dilectionem quas erga per sonam suam [super] | omnes alios de sanguine nost ro mer ito gerimus et habemus ac pro eo [quod ipse] | qui alios pr incipes in strenuitate precellit melius quam aliquis [alius] | poter it maliciam dictorum rebellium per dei grati am refrenare mero [metu] | ac nostra pura et spontanea voluntate diligenti et matur a deliber[acione] | prehabita in hac parte dedimus concessimus et pre senti carta nostra co[nfirmavimus]|
This style of hand and a more hurried and angular form of the writing shown above (p. 278) in the facsimile from the chronicle of about the year 1388 were very generally used in England for MSS. of ordinary literature in the fifteenth century, always becoming more slack and careless as time progressed.
Turning to foreign countries, we first give a specimen of a common class of handwriting found in MSS. of the Netherlands and northern Germany at this period. There is a marked angularity and pointed style in the forms of the letters, besides their individual shapes, which impart to the general character of German and Flemish writing its peculiar cast. The facsimile is taken from a MS. of St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, which belonged to Parc Abbey near Louvain, and was written in 1463 (Brit. Mus., Add. MS. 17,284).
|St. Augustine.—A.D. 1463.|
|[P]romissiones dei que facte sunt ad abraham cuius | semi ni et gentem israheliticam secundum carnem, et omnes | gentes deber i secundum fidem deo pollicente didicimus | quemadmodum compleantur per ordinem temporum pro | currens dei civitas indicavit. Quoniam ergo super i | oris libri usque ad regnum david factus est finis: | nunc ab eodem regno quantum suscepto oper i sufficere|
More strongly marked is the German character in the next facsimile, from a MS. of the Epistles of St. Jerome, written at Lippe in the year 1479 (Arndt, Schrifttaf., 59).
|St. Jerome.—A.D. 1479.|
|lectulo deeumbentes . longaque egrotaci[one]— | notar io celeriter scribenda dictavimus.— | sed ne tibi in pr incipio amiciciarum aliq[uid]—·| [vide]remur negare Ora nobiscum a domi no — | duodccim menses, quibus iugi labore— | sim aliquid dignum vestre scri bere volu[ntati]|
The handwritings of northern and eastern France of the fifteenth century run on the same lines as those of other countries, sometimes following the set square style, more often developing varieties based upon the cursive charter-hand of documents. Among the latter there is one which should be specially noticed. It is found particularly in MSS. derived from French Flanders and Burgundy, and afforded a pattern of type to the early printers. It is a heavy, sloping, and pointed hand, which is in very common use for general literature, particularly in the middle and latter part of the century. The following specimen of this kind of writing is taken from a volume of Miracles de Nostra Dame written for Philip the Good, of Burgundy, about the middle of the century (Album paléogr., pl. 43).
|Miracles de Nostre Dame.—about A.D. 1450.|
|—[q]ui bien chantoit et hault Eru | —[qu]el la vierge marie preserva de | — [A]nice que Ion nomme orenmort | — en auvergne fut Iadis une | —quilz aloyent tous les samediz|
Lastly, we give a specimen of a hand of the Italian Renaissance, a revival of the style of the eleventh or twelfth century, and a very successful imitation of a MS. of that period. It was this practice, followed by the scribes of the Renaissance, of reverting to that fine period of Italian writing (see p. 272) to find models for the exquisitely finished MSS. which they were compelled to produce in order to satisfy the refined taste of their day, that influenced the early printers of Italy in the choice of their form of type. The facsimile is from a MS. of Sallust, written at Florence in the year 1466 (Pal. Soc. ii. pl. 59).
|negocia transferunt. Quod si hominibus bonarum | rerum tanta cura esset : quanto studio aliena ac | nihil profutura multoque etiam periculosa petunt: | neque regerentur á casibus, magis quam regerent casus .' | et eo magnitudinis procederent .' ubi pro morta | libus gloria eterni fierent. Nam uti genus homi | num compositum ex corpore et anima est .' ita res|
It is unnecessary to pursue the history of the Latin minuscule literary hand beyond the fifteenth century. Indeed, after the general adoption of printing, MS. books ceased to be produced for ordinary use, and the book-hand practically disappears in the several countries of Western Europe. In the comparatively small number of extant literary MSS. of a later date than the close of the century it is noticeable that a large proportion of them are written in the style of the book-hand of the Italian Renaissance—the style which eventually superseded all others in the printing press. The scribes of these late examples only followed the taste of the day in preferring those clear and simple characters to the rough letters of the native hands.
A handbook of Palaeography which is intended chiefly for the use of English students would be incomplete without a special examination of the styles of writing employed by English scribes of the later middle ages when writing in English.
We have already followed the course of English minuscule writing down to the period of the Norman Conquest. From that date, as we have seen, the foreign hand became the recognized literary hand and was employed for Latin literature; and the old Saxon hand was discarded. With the native English, however, it naturally continued in use; and eventually, after its cessation as a separate style of writing, a few special Saxon forms of letters, the g, the thorn (þ and ð), and the w, still survived to later times. But it must be remembered that, as we have seen above, the influence of the foreign minuscule had already begun to tell upon the native hand even before the Conquest. In the eleventh century the spirit of the change which marks the general progress of the handwriting of Western Europe is also visible in the cast of Anglo-Saxon writing, and after the Conquest the assimilation of the native hand to the imported hand, which was soon practised in all parts of the country, naturally became more rapid. In some English MSS. of the twelfth Century we still find a hand which, in a certain sense, we may call Anglo-Saxon, as distinguished from the ordinary Latin minuscule of the period; but, later, this distinction disappears, and the writing of English scribes for English books was practically nothing more than the ordinary writing of the day with an admixture of a few special English letters. On the other hand, it is observed that there was a tendency to prefer the use of charter-hand for English books, and in many MSS. of the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries we find a kind of writing, developing from that style, which may be called an English hand, in the sense of a hand employed in English MSS.
To illustrate the handwriting of the twelfth century referred to above, we select a specimen from a copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle written about the year 1121 (Skeat, Twelve Facsimiles, pl. 3), in which the writing may still be called Saxon as regards the forms of letters employed. At the same time, it has the impress of the general character of twelfth century writing.
|Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.—A.D. 1121.|
|tællen . sægdon þet hi hit dyden for ðes mynstres holdscipe. | syððon geden heom to scipe. ferden heom to elig betæhtan | þær þa ealla þa gærsume þa denescæ menn wændon þet hi | sceoldon ofer cumen . þa frencisca men þa todrefodon | ealle þa munekes . beleaf þær nan butan án munec he | wæs gehaten leofwine lange . he læi seoc in þa secræman|
A rough but strong hand of the beginning of the thirteenth century, founded on the charter-hand of the time, is employed in a MS. of homilies in the Stowe collection of the British Museum (Pal. Soc. ii. pl. 94).
|Homilies.—early 13th century.|
|ne so ȝeap . ne swa witti to donne ðit tu scalt don . [bute ðu habbe] ðese strengþe of god ⸵ ne miht tu non god don . Ðu [miht isien sum] | wel wis clerec . ðe wisliche him selven naht ne wisseð [and þiniþ ðat he] | hafð inohȝ on his witte ðe he cann . ne ðese streng[ðe ne besekð nauht at] | gode for ði he belæfð among ðin ðe non god ne [cunnen . And hem] | he is ilich of werkes . alswa lihtliche oðerhwile heȝ ⸵ þ ð Ð|
And a very pretty and regular hand or the same period appears in a copy of " The Ancren Riwle," or rule for anchoresses, in a copy of the Cottonian MSS. (Pal. Soc. ii, pl. 75), which may be compared with the Latin facsimile of that time given above (p. 273).
|The Ancren Riwle.—early 13th century.|
|elle . þer ho lai i prisun fowr þusent | ȝer and mare ho and hire were baðe | and demde al hire ofsprung to leapen | al after hire . to deað wiðuten ende | Bininge and rote of al þis ilke reow | ðe ⸵ was a lute sihðe þus . Ofte as mon || [pa] triarehes . and a muche burh forb | earnd . and te king and his sune | and te burhmen isleine . þe wum | mon ilad forð. Hire fader and | hire breðre utlahes makede | se noble princes as ho weren . þus eo[de]|
Following on the same lines as the Latin hands, the transition from the stiff characters of the thirteenth Century to the more pliant style of the fourteenth century is seen inthe " Ayenbite of Inwyt," or Romorse of Conscience, written in the year 1340 by Dan Michael, of Northgate, in Kent, an Augustinian monk of Canterbury, in heavy minuaculea of the charter-hand type (Pal. Soc. i. pl.· 197).
|Ayenbite of Inwyt.—A.D. 1340.|
|workes of wisdom to þe zone ⸵ alsuo þe worke[s]— | wor guodnesse is ase zayþ sanyt Denys to lere— | þet him naȝt ne costneþ ⸵ þet ne is naȝt grat guo[dnesse]— | se zeve yefþes spret hin zelve ine oure hert[en]— | streames . þervore hi byeþ propreliche yeleped ye[fþes]— | welle . hy byeþ þe streames . And þe oþer scele is—|
Next, as a contrast, we take a few lines from a Wycliffite Bible of tlie latter part of the fourteenth century, written in a square hand akin to the formal writing as seen in Latin liturgical MSS. (Pal Soc. i. pl. 75).
|Wycliffite Bible.—late 14th century.|
|for to have wirschiping þe þrittenþe day | of þe moneþ adar . | þat is seid bi voyce of | sirie : þe first day of mardochius, þerfore | þese þingis don aȝeinus nychanore . and of þe | tymes þe eytee weeldid of ebrues ⸵ and | I in þese þingis schal make an eende of | word, and soþeli ȝif wel and as it acordiþ to|
Of the latter part of the fourteenth century, perhaps about the year 1380, is a MS. of the Vision of Piers Plowman, in the Cottonian collection (Pal. Soc. ii. pl. 56), written in a set minuscule hand, partly formed upon the charter-hand of the time. This specimen may be compared with the facsimile from the chronicle of about the year 1388 above (p. 278).
|Piers Plowman.—late 14th century.|
|Have me excused quod clergie . bi crist but in [scole] | Schal no swich motyng be mevet . for me bu[t þere] | For peres love þe plouhman . þat enpungned[e me ones] | Alle kyne cunnynges . and alle kyne craftes | Save love and leute . and lownesse of herte | And no tixt to take . to preve þis for trewe|
And of about the same date, but written in a more careless style, and partaking rather of the character of the fifteenth century, is the original MS. of Hereford's Wycliffite translation of the Old Testament, at Oxford (Pal. Soc. ii. pl. 151), which is probably of the year 1382.
Next, as a contrast, we take a few lines from a Wycliffite Bible of tlie latter part of the fourteenth century, written in a square hand akin to the formal writing as seen in Latin liturgical MSS. (Pal Soc. i. pl. 75).
|rereden up to hevene, and þe holi lord god herde | anoon þe vois of hem, he he remembride not þe | synnes of hem . ne ȝaf hem to þer enemys ⸵ but | purgide hem in þe hond of isaio þe holi prophete | he |þrew doun þe tentis of assiries : and hem to | broside þe aungil of þa lord, forwhi ezechie | d de þat pleside to þe lord . and strongli he wente|
Early in the fifteenth century, in some of the more carefully written MSS., a hand of the charter-hand type, but cast in a regular and rather pointed form, is employed. Such is the writing of a copy of Occleve's poem De Regimine Principum in the Harleian collection (Pal. Soc. ii. pl. 57).
|Occleve.—early 15th century.|
|Yrt somme holden oppynyoun and sey | Þat none ymages schuld imaked be | Þei erren foule and goon out of þe wey | Of trouth have þei scant sensibilite | Þasse over þat now blessed trinite | Uppon my maistres soule mercy have | For him lady eke þi mercy I crave|
And to illustrate two other varieties of the writing of this century, we select the following :—
(i.) Some lines from a MS. of Bokenham's Lives of Saints, written in the year 1447 in a formal hand (Pal. Soc. ii. pl. 58).
|Lives of Saints.—A.D. 1447.|
|Of þe sevene wych be clepyd lyberal | So profoundly þat greth ner smal | Was no clerk founde in þat cuntre | What evere he were or of what degre | But þat she wyth hym coude comune | What shuld I speke of hyre fortune | Wych was ryht greth for as I seyd before | A kyngys doughtyr she was bore|
(ii.) A passage from a MS. of Chaucer's " Legend of Good Women" (Skeat, Twelve Facs., pl. 10), written in the pointed charter-hand of the middle of the century.
|Madame quod he, it is so long agoon | That I yow knewe, so charitable and trewe | That never yit, syn that the worlde was newe | To me, ne founde y better noon than yee | If that ye wolde, save my degree | I may ne wol nat, werne your requeste | Al lyeth in yow, dooth wyth hym, as yow liste | I al foryeve, withouten lenger space|