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Re: VMs: MS408 Character Development

At 02:27 01-07-05, Dennis wrote:
Maurizio M. Gavioli wrote:
Neither the relatively low 'writing angle' or the roundish overall aspect of the Voynich script are unheard of in the _littera moderna_ world, which even sported a style openly called _littera rotunda_.

Is _littera rotunda_ reminiscent of Voynich script? Where might we find examples?

There is one important distinction to make: _littera rotunda_ is a formalized style (with its own sub-styles: _littera bononiensis_, _littera Sancti Petri_, ...), to be written carefully, often used for important mss., etc. etc.; in practice, it is the *outcome* of a process (or a dead end, if you want) rather than a step.

OTOH, the V. script is a personal script, rather quickly written, it is not formalized at all...

So, it is difficult to establish a link between them (and time sequence would, in case, imply the opposite: V. script being reminiscent of _littera rotunda_). I quoted the _littera rotunda_ only as an example that _littera moderna_ does not necessarily imply the angular forms we may tend to associate with it.

A relation might be easier to establish between the V. script and other, less formalized, usually rather cursive, __litterae_ also belonging to the _littera moderna_ world. I am thinking to the number of private scripts, or 'instrumental' scripts, like the notarial _imbreviaturae_ (the first example I came onto is at: http://biblio.comune.grosseto.it/atlante/centro_piazzacomune_realizzazione.htm, not very good image, I'm afraid!). These kinds of scripts gave origin to the _litterae bastardae_ widely used in France, Vlanderen, Germany and probably also in Eastern parts of the Empire to a quite late date.

There might be a relation (the V. script author having seen them and having been influenced by them) or / and there might also be a similar outcome as the result of similar conditions: stroke assimilation + cursivity + relatively narrow nib -> similar graphic shapes.

I think that the most important point, however, is the stroke assimilation. It is not a strange idea in itself but, *before* the V. script, it has been employed in a huge number of Latin scripts, all over Europe, it has been theorized, gave rise to formal styles, etc. etc... it would be strange if the V. script author had not all these precedents in mind!

However, I would not go as far as saying that the Voynich script *derives* from the _littera moderna_, but I believe reasonable to maintain that the creator of the script was highly familiar with it and in particular with the most cursive variants; these were widely used all over Europe for mss not intended (or not *primarily* intended) for circulation, like notarial notes, private notes, accounting, diaries and the like and, once formalized and stylized again, gave ultimately origin to the _litterae bastardae_ (to which 'family' the German Fraktur also belongs).
I am sorry that I can provide little solid evidence for that, beyond the mere assimilation of the strokes, but I am confident a *true* palaeographer could find more.
Lastly, a link with the _littera moderna_ tradition is consistent with the generally accepted time and place frame for its origin: by the XV c. Italy has completely abandoned the _littera moderna_ for the _littera antiqua_ and only in the Northern Europe that tradition was still alive. Of course, Northern Europe is a fairly generic concept...

So, you're saying that Voynich script was influenced by the older script in a cursive variant, and *not* the "humanist hand" - yet this is still consistent with 1450-1500, because the older style had been abandoned but not quite forgotten?

All the contrary! It was not an "older script": for instance in Germany, a kind of _littera moderna_ has been in prevalent use until XIX- c.! Those scripts I was referring above were "the script" well into XVI - XVII c. in Northern Europe and one of them was probably / possibly the script the V. scrip author was using in its day-by-day usage (unless he was an Italian).

The _littera moderna_ and its outcomes were "older" in Italy, as by XV c. all the "learned" writing was in _littera antiqua_ (but less "learned" usage tended to be more conservative), but this took centuries to spread North of the Alps!

Here are the original notes on "humanist hand" and its hypothesized relation to Voynich script:


Hmmm... I have doubts on the dates and the facts quoted in this paper... The humanistic reform begun much earlier than stated there (at least one century earlier), the samples images belong to very different scripts, the "italic hand" quoted as a term _ante quem_ is a *print* innovation with very little to do with handwriting... But I do not want to argue with it now, as I have too little solid data left on my hand at this epoch of my life...



Maurizio M. Gavioli - VistaMare Software via San Bernardo 5, I-16030 Pieve Ligure, ITALY http://www.vistamaresoft.com/

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