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Visigothic script

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Title: Visigothic script  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Palaeography, Visigothic art and architecture, Blackletter, Carolingian minuscule, A
Collection: Latin Calligraphy, Medieval Scripts
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Visigothic script

Alphabet in Visigothic script.

Visigothic script was a type of medieval script that originated in the Visigothic kingdom in Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula, modern Spain and Portugal). Its more limiting alternative designations littera toletana and littera mozarabica associate it with scriptoria specifically in Toledo and with Mozarabic culture more generally, respectively.

The script, which exists in book-hand and cursive versions, was used from approximately the late seventh century until the thirteenth century, mostly in Visigothic Iberia but also somewhat in southern France. It was perfected in the 9th-11th centuries and declined afterwards. It developed from uncial script, and shares many features of uncial, especially a uncial form of the letter g.

Evolution from Visigothic Zet to modern Ç.

Other features of the script include an open-top a (very similar to the letter u), similar shapes for the letters r and s, and a long letter i resembling the modern letter l. There are two forms of the letter d, one with a straight vertical ascender, and another with an ascender slanting towards the left. The top stroke of the letter t, by itself, has a hook curving to the left; t also has a number of other forms when used in ligatures and there are two different ligatures for the two sounds of ti (“hard” or unassibilated and “soft”or sibilated) as spoken in Hispano-Latin during this period. The letters e and r also have many different forms when written in ligature. Of particular interest is the special Visigothic z , which after adoption into Carolingian handwriting eventually transformed into the c-cedilla ç.

From the standard script, a capital-letter display script was developed, with long slender forms. There was also a cursive form used for charters and non-religious writings, which had northern ("Leonese") and southern ("Mozarabic") forms. The Leonese cursive was used in the Christian north, while the Mozarabic was used by Christians living in the Muslim south. The cursive forms were probably influenced by Roman cursive, brought to Iberia from North Africa.

Visigothic script has many similarities with Beneventan script and Merovingian script.


  • 'Manual of Latin Palaeography' (A comprehensive PDF file containing 82 pages profusely illustrated, June 2014).
  • Littera Visigothica, blog specialized in Visigothic script
  • Visigothic Minuscule on Medieval Writing

See also

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