Comparison Of Insular Script And Rhaetian Minuscule

Insular script refers to scripts developed in Ireland and the British Isles. These scripts use a combination of Uncial and Semi-Uncial letters. Insular scripts tend to have wedge-shaped finials at the tops of ascenders. The descenders tend to end in a long pointed stroke, giving the entire script a pointy look. Insular scripts often use a diminuendo at the beginnings of sentences and have elaborate decorated initials with anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures. Insular scribes often use dotting and punctuation as decoration.

Insular script has a great deal of distinct abbreviations. Among these are an 'h' with a hook to stand for 'autem'; a left-facing 'c' for 'con-'; a left-facing 'E' for 'eius'; the division sign, '÷', for 'est'; a 'p' with a hook for 'per'; and 'q' with a stroke on its descender for 'quia'.

Example of Insular script from Medieval Manuscripts in Dutch Collections website

Many national hands developed throughout Europe, many of which were influenced by the Insular scripts as scribes manuscripts spread. One of these hands is Rhaetian Minuscule, a script that developed near modern Chur in Switzerland.

Some characteristic letter-forms of this script are an upside-down, rotated 't'; a form of 't' with a loop extending from the left side of the crossbar; a letter 'a' that either looks like an 'o-c' ligature or a 'c-c' ligature; and a letter 'g' that looks rather like a '3'. Letter 'd' has both an Uncial form and a form with a straight ascender. Ascenders are tall and have a second stroke to give the ascender a clubbed look—a telling difference from the Insular wedge finials. Rhaetian Minuscule also lacks the pointed descenders of Insular script, instead favoring curved descenders that give the script a wavy appearance. Overall, the Rhaetian Minuscule script has a thicker, more weighty appearance than Insular script.

Abbreviations in Rhaetian Minuscule include a crossed 'r' for 'rum' and ampersand for 'et'.

When in ligature, 'i' can have a pendant form, especially when following 'r'.

Like Insular script, Rhaetian Minuscule uses zoomorphic figures and Celtic knots to decorate capitals and other portions of the text. Punctuation is sparse and is not used decoratively as it is in Insular script.


Example of Rhaetian Minuscule from the Schoyen Collection

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