Medieval Writing
15th Century English Chancery Hand

Script Type : minuscule

Script Family : Gothic bastarda

Date : 15th century

Location : England

Function : Document hand or charter hand

This is the left hand end of a long narrow petition in French to Henry VI from the abbot and convent of Notre Dame de Combe in Warwickshire. It dates from 1441. The endorsement of the clerk of the council is on the verso of the document (London, National Archives E28/G8/18). By permission of the National Archives.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This 15th century chancery hand is similar to the others in this example set, even though the language being written is French. It represents the very neat but not particularly extravagant bastarda script used for documents of relatively simple type. Ascenders of letters like b and l are curled at the top. The tall version of s and f both have a sort of broken backed appearance. There are two versions of r and two of s, and while v is sometimes identical to u, in other places it is different, particularly at the beginnings of words.

There are no examples of j, k or q, but z makes an appearance, being a more common letter in medieval French. The letter w only appears as a capital in an English place name so is not included.

There are few calligraphic flourishes apart from some rather randomly applied capital letters, but numerous abbreviations. Pass the cursor along the lines of text to pick up some words. Because this is from one end of a long narrow document, the text is not continuous. To look at it in more detail, go on to the paleography exercises.

The image of the document displayed here has been upgraded from a scan of an old photocopy to a colour image derived from a National Archives download.

Script Index

Script of verso of this document

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 12/3/2008.