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Carolingian

 
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     In the late 8th century Charlemagne replaces the Merovingian dynasty. Under his rule a big part of the former Roman Empire was re-united creating the need for an extensive use of scripts for administrative reasons.
     The Carolingian miniscule was developed by the Anglo-Saxon monk Alcuin, who was Charlemagne's "Head of the court scriptorum", such as a minister of culture. Evidently, it was a combination of Frank and early Irish Uncialis with the elements of Roman writing (in order to intone the link between Charlemagne's Empire with the Roman one).The characters are easily readable, with the vertical proportions of the letters fixed.
The words now were separated by a space for the first time; the spacing between the lines, the top and bottom edges of the characters were controlled as well. In fact, the characters were set apart instead of being joined. To contain the strokes, a set of four lines at designated intervals was used. Alcuin also systematized punctuation in manuscripts and the division of text into sentences and paragraphs, with capital letters at the beginning of sentences.
     This form of writing remained dominant all around Europe until around 1000 A.D. due to its clarity, legibility and elegance. This fact has influenced many later type designs even many of the ones in use today. In fact, this script is the foundation of our modern alphabet.
 
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Carolingian miniscule, 9th century (British Library, London, Add.ms.10546)
 
       
© 2004 Natalia Rifai