Bartholomew the Englishman

On the Trinity

Paleography Exercise: Minims

Every written line is divided into two parts, from baseline to headline and from headline to ascender line. The main body of each letter sits on the baseline. In the example below letters such as "o" stay between the baseline and the headline, while the letter b ascends above it to the ascender line. A minim is the vertical downstroke that stays between the baseline and the headline:

In fact, the word "minim" comes from the appearance of the letters m and n, both of which are formed entirely from minims. In this example, the downward stroke of "i" is a minim. The downward stroke of "j" is not a minim - it descends below the baseline. "b" has no minims either - it is constructed from an ascender and a round bow.

Sometimes words are made up of many minims all in a row, and it can be difficult to distinguish one letter from another, so paleographers have to "count their minims" in order to read the word.

Note: In paleography, "u" and "v" are the same letter. "w" (literally double "u") is written as two u's next to each other. It is not a letter of the Latin alphabet, although it is a letter that is needed to write German and English names.

Learn to recognize minims!

Which of the following letters contain minims?

a c l u
f h o x
g i r

How many minims does each letter contain?

b i o x
d m p z
n y

Count the minims to read the words!

Read the paleography samples and enter the correct words in the textfields.

Minim Challenge: Read the phrase!

For help, look at this.