2. Script Types

2.4 Protogothic Script

By the end of the eleventh century the roundness of the Caroline minuscule began to show an increasing degree of angularity. In the advent of the Gothic scripts, the twelfth century saw the development of a transitional style which bridged the gap between the earlier round and spacious forms of the Caroline style and the angular and compressed ones of the forthcoming Gothic scripts. By this time, Protogothic forms become oval whereas the first signs of lateral compression are perceived. Besides, the presence of feet in minims, the main characteristic of English Caroline minuscule, is extended to virtually every stroke possible in protogothic texts. The latter helps us understand the extent to which this style developed under the influence of English Caroline minuscule.

Here is Dr Erik Kwakkel (Leiden University) discussing some of the developments that Caroline minuscule underwent during the Protogothic period.

As with preceding styles, Protogothic minuscule was used both in books (bookhand) and documents (documentary hand). However, during the second half of the twelfth century, the latter appears to show a number of distinctive features including linked minims and occasional looped ascenders and descenders (see example below). These come to reflect, amongst other things, the increase in administrative production (especially in the royal chancery) and, therefore, the need for quicker forms.



Here is an example of a Protogothic bookhand found in an English bible from the early 13th century (London, Senate House Library, MS 785).

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This confirmation to Battle Abbey (Sussex) from the mid twelfth century shows a documentary style of Protogothic minuscule (London, Senate House Library, I, 28, 1).

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Transcription practice

Click here to do some transcription from London, Senate House Library, MS 639 (opens in a new window).