Script

A particular type or style of writing. See also hand. "The handwriting used in manuscripts. Medieval script was subject to greater discipline and more rigid rules and hierarchies than modern personal handwriting, for in early book production such professional or semi-professional handwriting had to serve many of the functions of modern print. The form and function of a book determined the overall appearance of a script - its aspect - the speed and care with which the letters were formed - its ductus - and the number of space-saving devices employed (notably abbreviations). Seldom was the same grade of script used for, say, a liturgical manuscript and a document or school book. The cut and thickness of the pen nib alters the appearance and degree of formality of a script; and writing materials generally influenced the development of letter forms. Majuscule scripts employ what can be thought of as 'uppercase' letters and are of generally even height. This script is also termed bilinear, because the letters are confined between two horizontal lines. Minuscule scripts are 'lowercase', with longer strokes (ascenders and descenders) that extend above and below the body of the letter (as in d and q) and touch on four lines (quadrilinear script). Initially majuscule scripts, comprising square and rustic capitals, uncials, and half-uncials, were used for more formal purposes than minuscule, but with the development of Caroline minuscule in Carolingian scriptoria in the late eighth century, even formal scripts were minuscules. The degree of formality now lay in the speed and care with which a script was written. Set scripts were slowly and carefully produced, with the scribe frequently lifting the pen from the writing surface. Cursive scripts were written more rapidly with less lifting and sometimes include loops. Current scripts were the most rapidly written and informal and are often difficult to read. The more formal text scripts are generally termed formal book script, textualis, or textura (or variations such as Gothic black-letter script), while the less formal are termed cursives. The fusion of the formal and cursive styles gave rise to hybrid or bastard scripts. Beginning around 1400, the humanists (see Humanistic) sought to reform medieval scripts, and in so doing laid the foundation for many early typefaces.


Michelle Brown , cr

Michelle Brown, Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts (Malibu, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum in association with the British Library, c1994).

Bernhard Bischoff, Latin Palaeography (Cambridge, England; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 49-149.

Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham, Introduction to Manuscript Studies (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007), 135-178.