The Problem of Grade in Pre-Conquest Vernacular Minuscule, c. 1060-1220

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It is often asserted that writing in English had lower status than Latin during the twelfth century. However, palaeographers have generally established the characteristics of lower-grade script by looking at Caroline minuscule used for Latin, and this has lead to vernacular script seeming lower-grade than it probably was. This article seeks to establish new criteria for formality in vernacular script by studying cartularies with charters in Latin but boundary-clauses in English. Differences in scribal practice when writing each language are analysed, and the relationship between the (Latin) bodies and (vernacular) bounds are addressed, particularly in a twelfth-century cartulary from Evesham in which many of the Latin portions of the texts were erased, leaving just the English.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)23-47
Number of pages25
JournalNew Medieval Literatures
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Palaeography
  • script grade
  • cartularies
  • charter bounds
  • English Vernacular minuscule
  • Caroline minuscule
  • Anglo-Saxon History
  • Evesham


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