Documentary hands writing charters tend to be showy. In England, particularly in the thirteenth century, there was a tendency to emphasize lengthened ascenders and descenders, most obvious in the top line.
The papal knot was an alternative to the regular abbreviation stroke. It was introduced in the twelfth century as a result of papal influence.1
1. Which of these example words contains a papal knot?
Image samples are taken from a copy of the Magna Carta held in the British Library, Cotton MS. Augustus II. 106.
1. Brown 33.