Medieval calligraphy

2017-02-17 Khaiell

A lot of fantasy and dark SF models and buildings are decorated with parchments covered in blackletter, Gothic script. Is this something rooted in real medieval art? Oh yes! But please use the real historical "fonts" and not a contemporary wedding invitation blasphemy

Picture described below
Calendarium Parisiense, XIV century, National Library in Warsaw
Calendarium Parisiense, XIV century, National Library in WarsawA church plaque made in Limoges, France, XIII century, National Museum in WarsawBas-relief from the Geneva CathedralKapellbrücke in Lucerne, Switzerland: a king and his men try to escape Death, XVII centuryTextur Lombardisch TTF fontA cetificate I prepared for participants in an eventMy take on capital lettersMy take on various old script stylesDrawing old style letters is easy if you have a dip pen with a wide nibDwarf standard bearersBronze Gryphons Space Marines Standard Bearer (from the Skullz Promotion)Bunkers revisited

Things to note:

  • There were two distinct representations of the letter "s". One, called "long s" and written "ſ" was used in the middle of a word and fathered the mathematical sign for the integral "∫" (from ſumma). It looks a lot of like an "f" but should not be confused. Normal "s" was used at the end of words
  • Punctuation has not been invented yet. Scribes usually capitalised first letters of verses or paragraphs and proper names.
  • The thorn letter "þ" (th) was still in common use in English. You would find "þe" instead of "the". Later, when printers didn't have a movable type for "þ", they used somewhat similar (at the time) type for "Y", creating the famous "ye old" phrase.
  • Use ligatures a lot. Medieval scribes loved to connect letters to speed up writing. See ae, ft and others on the Textur Lombardisch picture above
  • Arabic (actually Hindu) numerals 1-9 were little known and hardly used in decorations of medieval Europe. You should generally use the Roman numerals instead. But this transgression is easily forgiven as the Hindu-Arabic numerals where definitely already used in scientific writings. They were actually introduced in the X century by the real tech-magos: the mathematician, astrologist, alleged cyberneticist and sorcerer, eventually the Pope in Rome: Sylvester II

See the pictures as separate pages: Calendarium Parisiense, XIV century, National Library in Warsaw * Calendarium Parisiense, XIV century, National Library in Warsaw * A church plaque made in Limoges, France, XIII century, National Museum in Warsaw * Bas-relief from the Geneva Cathedral * Kapellbrücke in Lucerne, Switzerland: a king and his men try to escape Death, XVII century * …more

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