Carolingian Minuscule

Carolingian Minuscule is a script that is characterized by broad and round letterforms. Letters rarely touch. There is little compression of letterforms or words. It is a very legible script which influenced Renaissance Humanist scripts and modern Roman type fonts, like Times New Roman.

This script developed during the reign of Charlemagne, also known as Charles The Great or Carolus I. The script may have been developed as a way of promoting a clear and legible form of writing throughout his newly consolidated empire. In the previous centuries, after the fall of the Roman Empire, different regions developed distinctive local forms of handwriting that could be challenging for some to read, such as national hands like Merovingian and monastic hands such as Luxeuil. (These types of script are not in this exhibit because they are rare and difficult to find on the private market.) Carolingian Minuscule was created as an empire-wide handwriting to alleviate the problem of varying scripts. Carolingian was based on Roman half uncial and Insular scripts (handwriting from what are now the British Isles). After Charlemagne's death his empire was divided amongst his sons and Carolingian Minuscule began to evolve over the next few centuries.