Dicta on gallows

If the so-called “gallows” glyphs among the Voynich glyphs are related to forms used in Latin works – something of which I’m still far from certain, then they are described better (i.e. better than as ‘Gallows’) as characteristic of a Caroline chancery script influenced by Papal minuscule and proper to the twelfth or thirteenth century.

The elongated ascenders appear very widely at that time.  The example offered by Jim Reeds is far closer to that in the VMS that the imperial chancery hand, and belongs to a tradition found as far as Dalmatia at the same time.

The example which Jim noted was from San Savino in Piacenza, a document dated, appropriately, to the twelfth century and – again appropriately – a legal document concerning church property.

Franciscans and Benedictines are noted for using similar forms.  The example from San Savino was probably written by Benedictines (they occupied the monastery until the 1470s).  Other examples I’ve found are Franciscan.

Altogether, it may have been the look of those glyphs, in addition to the long-line layout, lack of prominent marking-up and so on which led to such acceptance of the idea that the manuscript was by a thirteenth century Franciscan.  Indeed, a thirteenth century Franciscan might have compiled a version employed by the fifteenth century scribes.

I recommend (and not just for this one item) Rozana Vosvoda, Dalmatian Illuminated Manuscripts Written in Beneventan Script and Benedictine Scriptoria in Zadar, Dubrovnik, and Trogir, (Ph.D. dissertation) Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest, 2011.

especially  fig.214 and commentary in the dissertation.

The photograph is not especially good, but good enough.  In commentary on that figure,  Vosvoda first weighs other scholars’ opinions, before concluding that “Josip Vrana is correct when he states that the document is written in a Caroline chancery script with a papal minuscule influence visible in the tall ascenders, and that it was created in the second half of the twelfth century. (p.165).

Modern palaeographers take exaggerated ascenders, alone, as indicative of influence from Papal minuscule, though on the “medieval writing” blog, a description as “diplomatic script” will be seen.

Note that Franciscan and Dominican monasteries are among the richest repositories of Beneventan script.




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