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Gothic

 
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     The rapid development of universities during the 12th century made the need to speed the production of manuscripts even more demanding. The round shaped letters were cast aside in favor of a new style called gothic, which will become dominant from 1200 until around 1500.
     The characters are almost joined with the next ones and their upper and lower edges are reduced. We have an abundance of corners while the roundness of the Carolingian and Uncialis styles is dropped. Decorations are placed on the edges of the manuscripts in the forms of different themes from everyday scenes to religion scenes, while the letters themselves are becoming more decorated by the intersecting lines and their integration into the narrative image.
     Gothic style is divided to three categories according to different styles and regions: The Quadratus in German speaking countries and France, the Precisus in England and the Rotunda in the southern countries. In quadratus the upper and lower edge of the letter is divided into two slimmer edges; while the Precisius, the edge is intact but thicker. The rotunda style is a more roundly shaped gothic form, more open and easy to read but demanding in space compared to the other two.
In general, the scribe used textura lettering, where the repetition of verticals capped with pointed serifs has been compared to a picket fence. Textura is from the Latin word texturum, meaning woven fabric or texture. In fact, Textura was quite functional, for all the vertical strokes in a word were drawn first, then serifs and other strokes needed to transform the group of verticals into a word were added. Rounded strokes were almost eliminated. Letters and the spaces between them were condensed in an effort to save space on the precious parchment. The overall effect is one of a dense black texture.
 
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. Page from the Ormesby Psalter, c. early 1300s A.D. Decoration, illustration, and initials are joined into a single complex text frame. Red and blue prevail in many late Gothic manuscripts
Ulbrecht Durer, Aus dem, Gebetbuch Raifer Maximilians, Mit einem Geleitmort von Rarlheinz Reiffinger, 1939
 
       
© 2004 Natalia Rifai