New Publication: English Vernacular Minuscule from Æthelred to Cnut, circa 990 – circa 1035

I am very pleased to announce the publication of English Vernacular Minuscule from Æthelred to Cnut, circa 990 – circa 1035 (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2014). The book is available from Boydell and Brewer, and (as the title suggests) it presents a study of the vernacular script of the early eleventh century. Full details are as follows:

A new, distinct script, English Vernacular minuscule, emerged in the 990s, used for writing in Old English. It appeared at a time of great political and social upheaval, with Danish incursions and conquest, continuing monastic reform, and an explosion of writing and copying in the vernacular, including the homilies of Ælfric and Wulfstan, two different recensions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, two of the four major surviving manuscripts of Old English poetry (the "Beowulf" and "Junius" books), and many original royal and ecclesiastical diplomas, writs and wills. However, although these important manuscripts and documents have been studied extensively, this has tended to be in isolation or small groups, never before as a complete corpus, a gap which this volume aims to rectify. It opens with the historical context, followed by a thorough reexamination of the evidence for dating and localising examples of the script. It then offers a full analysis of the complete corpus of surviving writing in English Vernacular minuscule, datable approximately from its inception in the 990s to the death of Cnut in 1035. While solidly grounded in palaeographical methodology, the book introduces more innovative approaches: by examining all of the approximately 500 surviving examples of the script as a whole rather than focussing on selected highlights, it presents a synthesis of the handwriting in order to identify local practices, new scribal connections, and chronological and stylistic developments in this important but surprisingly little-studied script.

13 Digit ISBN: 9781843843696
Pages: 309
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: D.S.Brewer
Series: Pubns Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies 
Subject: Medieval Literature
Price: £60
Purchase from Boydell and Brewer



Cover of the book 'English Vernacular Minuscule from Æthelred to Cnut'


  1. Introduction
  2. Background
  3. Attributions of Origin
  4. Scribal Change in Bookhands and Charters: The 'Tall and Narrow' Hands
  5. Scribal Continuity in Bookhands and Charters: The 'Square Influenced' Hands
  6. Glosses and Scribbles
  7. Conclusion: Change and Continuity in Early English Vernacular Minuscule
  8. Appendix: List of Scribal Hands
  9. Glossary




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