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English Vernacular Minuscule from Æthelred to Cnut, circa 990–circa 1035

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherD.S. Brewer
Number of pages309
ISBN (Print)9781843843696
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2014

Publication series

NamePublications of the Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies
PublisherD.S. Brewer
Volume14
ISSN (Print)1478-6710

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Abstract

A new, distinct script, English Vernacular minuscule, emerged in the 990s, used for writing in Old English. It appeared at a time of great political and social upheaval, with Danish incursions and conquest, continuing monastic reform, and an explosion of writing and copying in the vernacular, including the homilies of Ælfric and Wulfstan, two different recensions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, two of the four major surviving manuscripts of Old English poetry (the "Beowulf" and "Junius" books), and many original royal and ecclesiastical diplomas, writs and wills. However, although these important manuscripts and documents have been studied extensively, this has tended to be in isolation or small groups, never before as a complete corpus, a gap which this volume aims to rectify. It opens with the historical context, followed by a thorough reexamination of the evidence for dating and localising examples of the script. It them offers a full analysis of the complete corpus of surviving writing in English Vernacular minuscule, datable approximately from its inception in the 990s to the death of Cnut in 1035. While solidly grounded in palaeographical methodology, the book introduces more innovative approaches: by examining all of the approximately 500 surviving examples of the script as a whole rather than focussing on selected highlights, it presents a synthesis of the handwriting in order to identify local practices, new scribal connections, and chronological and stylistic developments in this important but surprisingly little-studied script.

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