Richard Rufus of Cornwall

On Eve

The letter a

The letter a is very important in paleography, since it is formed in distinctly different ways in different time periods and geographical locations. 

Because it enjoys such variety in appearance, it is useful for placing and dating manuscripts.  There are two basic types of letter a in gothic bookhand manuscripts. 

The type that is used in northern textualis is generally characterized as a box having two nearly equal-sized compartments, both of which are usually closed:

northern textualis: a script style used in England, most of France, the Low Countries, Germany, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe

The type that is used in textualis rotunda is generally characterized as a minim with a small, often triangular, lobe on the baseline.  The upper lobe can be open or closed, usually with a hairline stroke.

textualis rotunda: a script style used in Mediterranean countries

In smaller scripts, such as the Parisian script (Littera Parisiensis)  and more generally in university texts, a single compartment a was used.

Which word(s) start with a?

Which word(s) end in a?

Which letter in this word is a?

letter #1
letter #2
letter #3
letter #4
letter #5
letter #6
letter #7

How many a's are there in the following example?

Read some words with a:

Challenge: Read the phrase!

for help, look at this


Parker Library images from MSs. 13, 24, 25, and 30, used with permission of the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

University of California, Berkeley, Robbins 105, used with permission.

University of Victoria, BC, Bartholomaeus Anglicus 84-61, used with permission from the Department of Special Collections.