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Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:16 pm
by duster
Hello all,
im looking for some info (for a change)
does any one know the most common style/font that would be used by a scribe/clerk in late 14th early 15th century England?
Many thanks.

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:00 pm
by guthrie
According to "Guide to scripts used in English Writings up to 1500" by Jane Roberts, you'd be using Anglicana, althoug perhaps if bang up to date would be using Secretary. Both are used for smaller, less important writings. Otherwise you might use a Gothic Cursiva, or Gothic Textualis for important fancy texts.
Or so I gather.

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:16 pm
by Merlon.
Options could be many, depending on the status of the clerk and the nature of his work. For example each part of Royal goverment had its own distinctive hand.

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:41 pm
by Brother Ranulf
In most parts of Europe the Church was using Gothic Blackletter. This was the standard letter form for religious texts but not for secular stuff, legal records, charters and other official documents. These often used different forms of "bastarda anglicana" which could range from neat and regular to downright shoddy, the whole point being that it was cursive and could be written very quickly (unlike Gothic).

Here's an example from the clerk of the council in London, 1441:
cursive 1441.jpg
cursive 1441.jpg (8.52 KiB) Viewed 5729 times
Also take a look at the Vernon manuscript, which includes many different writing styles in use around 1400; the decoration is excellent:
http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/eda ... index.aspx

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:22 pm
by gregory23b
Scribes of that period, being professional writers had a bank of hands that they used for a range of items. The odd sampler page survives, one from Oxford has black letter and others.

As BR says you then might get cursive, or handwriting, which can be a much bastardised version of the formal hands.

As for shoddy, some of the Guildhall Library 15thc court transcriptions are almost unreadable such is the poor quality of what is written.

I can recommend Marc Drogin's Medieval Calligraphr, a great guide for learning formal hands.

You might like to have a look at Christopher Duhamels's Medieval Scribes and Illuminators - British Museum Medieval Craftsmen series, out of print but easy to get copies of. He gives a very good primer on the whole scribe thing, with examples of the hands and the aforementioned sample sheet.

Diane Tillotson's paleography site is great, she is usually willing to answer queries etc.

http://medievalwriting.50megs.com/

A point of interest, a 'font' is a printing term when the whole character range (a full set of a particular size) of type is meant, we use it to mean typeface, which is not the same as font (although no one really cares and understand what we mean), you mean 'hand' or script, unless you are looking for a computer version to replicate said hands?

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:17 pm
by red razors
Hi again everyone :)

as a sort of tangent to this thread, i have a query about my hand. i've been practicing away, and i'm in a good place at the moment with it, but am paranoid that my hand still looks too modern, or too like my actual handwriting. any tips on how best to alter the appearance, aside from relentless practice?

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:04 pm
by Henri De Ceredigion
Could I ask on a related tangent, what the typical way was writing was? I seem to remember from an episode of Horrible Histories that in Shakespeare's time there was no standardised spelling but I would also like to know how people wrote (for instance did they stick e's on the end of words like Ye Olde Englishe or is that a modern invention)?

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:21 pm
by red razors
i'm sure some of the more learned posters here will correct me if i'm wrong, but basically there was no such thing as standardised spelling - the same words were often spelled differently even in the same piece of writing. spellings were generally phonetic; they were spelled as the writer believed them to sound. a lot of the nuances with extra 'e's and such can be difficult to fully understand, as our pronunciation of those words has changed over time. i won't commit myself to saying more than that, as i truly don't know :)

also, "ye" is a misreading of the letter thorn, รพ, which represented TH in words like the, that. it changed in form from what looked like a P with an ascender, to something that looked very similar to a Y.

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:00 am
by Brother Ranulf
The starting point is that nothing was written in modern English in the late 14th/early 15th centuries. Texts were in Medieval Latin, or Middle English, or occasionally Anglo-Norman French or even in the French of the time, depending on who the target audience was expected to be. This means that apart from the form of letters, you need a knowledge of the language you are writing. Putting an "e" on the end of a modern word will not give you a Middle English word; ME had its own grammar and spelling system that is often very difficult for modern people to grasp - and the pronunciation of all vowels was entirely different to modern English (with regional dialects only adding to the mix).

The popular song "Dou way Robin" will give you an idea of how strange Middle English can be to modern eyes:

Dou way Robin the childe wille wepe, dou way Robin

(pronounced: do wye Robin, the childer willer wayper, do wye Robin). This means something like "leave it out Robin, you are upsetting the kids".

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:35 pm
by Colin Middleton
red razors wrote:Hi again everyone :)

as a sort of tangent to this thread, i have a query about my hand. i've been practicing away, and i'm in a good place at the moment with it, but am paranoid that my hand still looks too modern, or too like my actual handwriting. any tips on how best to alter the appearance, aside from relentless practice?
What are you practicing with? If you're using a biro, you'll struggle to get the same effect as using a quill and could learn some rather bad habits. Also, how are you holding the pen? Some-one pointed out to me that many pictures show the pen held between the first 2 fingers, not between the figner and thumb.

Colin

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:25 pm
by red razors
i have quills, that 2-finger thing could be worth trying though; i just use my normal pen grip.

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:50 pm
by gregory23b
Red, get yourself a good paleography bookk that covers cursive and formal hands. There are a lot of factors influencing your hand; grip - try the beaky two fingers and thumb, hold the pen relatively straight, not canted left or right almost but not quite perpendicular, write with a little pressure, that way you can still write curved letters without scratching or lifting the pen off the page. The key is the examples to refer to - Look at Paston Letters for cursive, loads of variety and styles, look at Cely letter and Stonor. As for spelling, as the BR rightly says there were accepted ways of spelling depending on the region you are talking about. There is a difference between enforced standardisation (state school system etc) and accepted variants, then you have dialect words which are an additional kettle of fish. Razors - look at how contractions are written in formal and informal, they were used with great frequency and the correct use of those in text makes all the difference.

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:37 pm
by red razors
Thanks jorge :) so far i have a bank of exemplars i have scavenged from the internet - letters, notarial documents, etc - and have gone through dianne's and the national archives palaeography websites for further info. A book will be the next step i think.
If i post an image of my current practice piece, would people be willing to give criticisms? I don't mind having it picked apart, i just want to improve.

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:06 pm
by Sophia
For Kentwell you will need to focus of specific Suffolk/Essex border's styles if I have understood him correctly!

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:47 pm
by guthrie
Sophia wrote:For Kentwell you will need to focus of specific Suffolk/Essex border's styles if I have understood him correctly!
Only if you are being anal. Given all the other imperfections at Kentwell getting the precise local writing style is waaayyyy down on my list.

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:58 pm
by aendr
On that subject, what's the feeling about left handed people writing left-handedly?

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:47 am
by Langley
Suggest you contact Steve via his web page "The Scriptorium". He writes fluently in a variety of hands and can explain how he alters his technique and is a very nice and helpful chap. (Don't tell him I said so he will get upset with me spreading such rumours). http://thescriptorium.co.uk/

Re: Late 14th early 15th c handwrititng

Posted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:46 pm
by gregory23b
If you write with the pen near vertically then it doesnt matter if you are left or right handed, if you tend to slant your pen then that is more of an issue.