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Professor Marc Smith (École nationale des chartes), 'The script palaeographers forgot: Gothic (Lombardic) majuscules' 

How is a new script born? Gothic majuscules, also known as Lombardic letters, were the last form created by medieval scribes for the Roman alphabet: a script technically belonging to the art of 'lettering', drawn in outline, falling in between decorated initials and common writing, and thus overlooked both by palaeographers and by art historians. Its gradual formation, essentially in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, resulted from a remarkable interplay of form and function in writing and layout: the transformation of initials originally used as visual signposts on the page into a new alphabet with unusually standardised proportions and shapes, suitable as a display script — the earliest 'monospace' Latin writing, long before the typewriter — and also for framing pictures, as the Romanesque initial, dynamically fusing letter and image, gave way to the Gothic initial, an image set within a letter.


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