How to write in medieval handwriting

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Palaeography is the study of old handwriting. This web tutorial will help you learn to read the handwriting found in documents written in English between and At first glance, many documents written at this time look illegible to the modern reader. By reading the practical tips and working through the documents in the Tutorial in order of difficulty, you will find that it becomes much easier to read old handwriting. You can find more documents on which to practise your skills in the further practice section. Ten documents of varying levels of difficulty, information about the documents and their historical backgrounds.

Chancery hand

One of the main problems is the ages of the protagonists. Most women of the class and status I write about would have been betrothed at a young age. Recently I read about a noblewoman who was betrothed at the age of three. Her husband was of a similar age. The marriage would not have been consummated until she was fourteen or fifteen, but that seems to be unacceptably young for the heroine of a romantic novel.
By medieval times, the craft of writing had evolved to a form fairly similar to today's pen and ink. Writing in medieval times required more work than today, and fewer people possessed the knowledge to produce it. The tools were certainly not sophisticated, but medieval writing displayed an artistry that is now absent. Medieval ink was typically charcoal-based and used gum as an adhesive.

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