To the untrained eye, my manuscripts might seem impossible to read but in reality, I’ve been pretty lucky. Most of the documents I use for my dissertation are very neat, written in polished and uniform cursive writing typical of southern European chanceries. They tend to be a rounder script than say what scribes used in England, where strokes were much more angular. Most of them are very clear, like the examples below:


While the above is a picture of an original manuscript, most of my documents are photocopies made from microfilm but are no less readable:


Which is just as well since I have to go through thousands of these! But then, just to make things sinteresting, every once in a while some messier examples comes to the fore and I wasted a long time trying to figure out what’s going on:




or faint ones


But judging by some of the stuff my friends have to read, I can still count myself lucky even if at times I want to shoot myself. Medieval history is not for the faint of heart! And to think that I chose it because I got bored with the typed documents used in modern history… there must be something wrong with me.

Author: guerson

Food-obsessed historian and knitter.

6 thoughts on “Manuscripts”

  1. Is the text in the second image in catalan? I tried to read it and I feel I understood some of the words and sentences in it. What is it about?

    Is the first one in spanish?

  2. Good eye Miq! The second one is indeed in Catalan; all others are in Latin.

    The second one involves a case between a Jew from Barcelona, Mosse Enoch, who was sentenced by the Jewish authorities – all the people mentioned in the beginning – of the Jewish community of Barcelona to exile for 12 years. Mosse Enoch seems to have appealed this sentence to court of the infante (the “nostre primogenit” mentioned in the document), who remitted the sentence. King Pere III now sends a letter to the Jewish authorities reminding them of that.

  3. My research is about Christian-Jewish relations in the Crown of Aragon (specifically Catalunya and Aragon) between ca1380-1391. The manuscripts mentioned here are some of the documents I use for my dissertation…

  4. Great!
    Let’s keep in touch. With a group of friends we are starting a publishing company in Barcelona. We might be interested in publishing you thesis in some sort of “book version” once it is completed.

  5. Isso me lembra manuscritos do Brasil colonial que eu tinha que transcrever para algo legível. 15 linhas me tomavam quase um dia inteiro.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: