Carolingian Minuscule: Layout


The Psalms are laid out in three columns of text. This page shows the end of Psalm 102 and the beginning of Psalm 103. The new psalm is introduced by a capital letter spanning three lines of text, a rubric, and an opening line in capitals. But most conspicuously, there is a coloured drawing running across all three columns, illustrating the contents of the psalm. Since the psalm does not tell a story as such, this is an interesting attempt to illustrate metaphor and verbal image.

This is a verso page. There are lavish margins on the left and to the top and bottom.

Line spacing
The spaces between the lines of text are in the proportion 3:2 - half as wide again as the text body. With descenders limited in length, this gives plenty of room for the ascenders, and creates a spacious look to the text.

The initial rubric giving the number and title to the psalm is in a version of Artificial Uncial,

as is the opening line:

Verses are marked by coloured capitals to the left of the block of text. These vary in origin. Can you locate the sources of each?

Such letters are known as litterae notabiliores, 'more noticeable letters'.

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Punctuation is by the semi-colon-like marks we saw in the previous script.

The 'semi-colon' marks the end of the verses of the psalm.
The 'upside-down semi-colon' (punctus elevatus, 'raised point') is used for lesser pauses in the middle of the verse.

Word division

Again, this looks almost complete, but phrases, especially participial phrases, tend to be run together:

This reads in filios, 'on (the) children'.
Et, 'and', is also run together with the following word: this reads Et iusticia, 'and justice'.
So are qui, 'who', and the following verb: this says qui facis, 'who makest'.

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