early continental scripts

The three local Continental scripts on display here demonstrate the considerable variation among regional hands. Luxeuil, the earliest, is noted for its derivation from Merovingian Chancery scripts, but with added half-uncial characteristics. On the other hand the latest, Beneventan, borrowed elements from New Roman cursive to create a unique minuscule script.

Beinecke MS 481.3: Regula ad monachos

Beinecke MS 481.3. St. Basil, Regula ad monachos. Spain, between 890 and 910.

Beinecke MS 447: Unidentified theological commentary

Beinecke MS 447. Unidentified theological commentary. Spain, between 900 and 950.

Beinecke MS 481.3 and Beinecke MS 447 are both examples of an unusual regional script known as Visigothic minuscule. As the Visigoths of the Iberian Peninsula were never subject to Carolingian rule and had relatively few cultural contacts with that empire, their script developed without extensive influence from Caroline minuscule. Visigothic, a long-lasting script, was used in Iberia until the twelfth century. The fragment from St. Basil’s Regula ad monachos dates from the late ninth or early tenth century, while the other fragment, a copy of an unidentified theological treatise, was written during the first half of the tenth century. Both manuscripts show the greatly separated letterforms of Visigothic minuscule as well as its rather upright nature, with ascenders reaching nearly to the line above.

Beinecke MS 481.2: Pseudo-Augustine, Sermon 190

Beinecke MS 481.2. Pseudo-Augustine, “Sermon 190." Luxeuil, France, between 700 and 710.

The unusual handwriting of Beinecke MS 481.2 is known as Luxeuil minuscule, a script associated with the abbey of Luxeuil in eastern France, which was founded around 590. This particular example has been dated to the beginning of the eighth century. Though Luxeuil was founded by Irish missionaries, this script bears little resemblance to contemporary Insular scripts. Instead, it has distinct Merovingian characteristics that tie it to the Chancery script of that empire, which spanned portions of modern-day Germany and France.

Beinecke MS 482.55: Lectionary or missal

Beinecke MS 482.55. Lectionary or missal. Southern Italy, between 1200 and 1210.

Beinecke MS 1157: Georgica

Beinecke MS 1157. Virgil, Georgics. Italy, c. 1075-1099.

Both Beinecke MS 482.55, a fragment from a lectionary or missal, and Beinecke MS 1157, a fragment from Virgil’s Georgics, were written in Beneventan minuscule. Though the former was written in the early thirteenth century and the latter in the late eleventh, their similarities are apparent. Beneventan script was developed in the monasteries of southern Italy in the mid-eighth century, and its use continued up to the turn of the fourteenth century. The script survived the advent of Caroline minuscule, though both were used in the region.

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early continental scripts