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Dialogues of Gregory the Great

S. Gregorius Magnus, Dialogi

Vellum leaf from an illuminated Medieval Manuscript
France; Late 15th Century
Latin Text; Lettre Bâtarde
31 by 22.5 cm

This composite text includes the Dialogues of Pope Gregory I (St. Gregory the Great, 540-604 A.D.), which are largely autobiographical, and his writing on the lives and miracles of the early Italian Church Fathers. The book hand used is known as lettre bâtarde, a semi-cursive hand closely related to the everyday writing used by the people. Many French and Flemish printing types were based on similar bâtarde hands. The writing was done with comparative speed; the even tone and the exact alignment of the right hand margin, as well as the beauty of individual letters, are admirable. The long ascenders in the upper line were borrowed from the legal documents of the day. Many printers followed the practice shown here of emphasizing the tone of the first word or two in the beginning of a paragraph. It was usually done without varying the style of the letters, while here we see angular gothic used in the first third of the line, followed by the bâtarde script.
Keywords: 1400s, dialogues, France, Gregory, great, initials, lettre batarde, script

Manuscripts | Cary Collection