Starting from the end of the 11th century, changes took place in the character of the established Carolingian uncial writing: the writing of letters became compacted, their roundings broke down and the vertical stroke became stronger. The concentration of the reader began to be transferred from a single letter to the image of a word. The emerging gothic type set a new historical milestone.
A word or text, depending on the style of the letters, can produce all sorts of emotional impressions. Gothic writing, representing a family of scripts of the Latin script of the Medieval era, evokes a certain veil of mystery and power. Using such fonts, the author conveys to the addressee not only information, but also forms involvement in ancient traditions or the corresponding era. This technique is successfully used by antique shops, manufacturers of religious products and Western European newspapers, making out titles and headlines in Gothic type.
With its name, which appearedmuch later, the Gothic letter is obliged to the ancient Germanic union of tribes - the Goths. The humanists of the Italian Renaissance of the 15th century considered the fonts to be barbaric and showed their negative attitude in naming this script, opposing it to the ancient Roman one.
The appearance of the Gothic font
In what country did Gothic writing originate? In this question, many tend to mention Germany, associating it with the fact that the late Gothic was formed there. But according to surviving sources and some studies of art historians, the first examples of the style originated in monasteries in northern France by the middle of the 11th century. On the basis of the Latin alphabet, with the incessant copying of manuscripts of the Holy Scriptures, a new type of writing began to appear - a pointed monastic letter. The image of the letters changed, broken features began to appear in it, while the vertical lines became more and more intensified in relation to the binders, until they became barely noticeable.
The appearance of a new style could well have been provoked by the high cost of paper and parchment of that time, as well as the complexity of their manufacture or the ability to standardize letters, to minimize the difference in several handwritings in one book.
Early Gothic (or Proto-Gothic) spread to Western Europe and was widely used until the middle of the 13th century.
The general appearance of the symbols of Gothic writing was determined by the use of goose feathers as writingmeans that, depending on the cut and slope (45 degrees), gave out the corresponding lines. The main feature of the letter was the strict parallelism of the strokes to each other, which included all the elements (fat and hairy features, angular bends). Gothic letters such as m, n, u, and i represented vertical beats (for example, minim). In the case when the word included all the indicated letters, it became extremely difficult to read it.
The tendency to condense the line became characteristic of Gothic writing, it was also expressed in the merging of adjacent connecting lines. Now the adjacent letters o and e have been transformed into such a construction that the process of reading is much more complicated.
The main types of Gothic writing
Gothic writing has evolved over the course of its history. In different states, while maintaining general recognition, the Gothic style acquired specific properties, and fonts acquired their individual names. The font that has survived to this day originated with the efforts of German calligraphers in the 15th century.
Texture (from the Latin textualis - fabric) is the main type of Gothic writing. The elongation of capital Latin letters gives a characteristic difference of this font. The text evenly and densely covers the entire parchment, creating a picture of dark writing resembling cloth.
Rotunda (from the Italian rotonda - round) is an Italian variety of Gothic writing that appeared in the 12th century.This font is marked by roundness of writing characters and the absence of breaks in the lines.
Fraktura (from the Latin littera fractura - a broken letter) represents one of the late styles of Germanic Gothic writing, which appeared at the end of the 15th century. This type of writing is characterized by sharp-pointed broken outlines. In the following centuries, fraction becomes the dominant style in the Nordic countries.
Gothic style in Russian writing
Slavic fonts, in contrast to Latin ones, have taken a completely different path of development. The views of scientists are quite contradictory on this matter, so most questions remain open today.
In Russian writing, the Gothic style was weakly reflected in the round tie (1497), which was used in early printed editions in Russia. Combinations and layouts of Gothic characters are well seen in the spelling of the words in this font. It is known that at first ligature was used only in headings in the form of a combination of several intertwining letters, but soon entire lines were written with it. Like the Gothic script, the script was very difficult to read.
In the first half of the 18th century, thanks to the reforms of Peter the Great, Russian modifications of popular Western European fonts began to develop in the Russian Empire.
Difficulties in perception
Gothic writing, despite all the showiness and mannerisms of presentation, was too heavy both for writing and for normalvisual perception. Capital Latin letters, layered on top of each other, gave a generally dark, obscure and heavy picture of writing. This, in turn, led to a low rhythm of reading and perception of the text.
Thus, while satisfying aesthetic requirements, Gothic writing did not meet practical ones at all. The subsequent Renaissance brought a new font, called the humanistic antiqua, based on the Carolingian minuscule.
From the standpoint of the present time, one can see that if at first the birth of the Gothic style of writing was caused by economic considerations (parchment was a rather expensive material), then later this font style reflected already certain tastes of aristocratic circles and could carry a specific message. There was a kind of fashion for unreadable letters. On top of that, the Gothic font harmonized perfectly and echoed the general style in art.
Gothic writing dominated European manuscripts until the 15th century and passed from it into the first printed publications. In Germany, a later version of this letter - fraction - was actively used until the first half of the 20th century and is still used in the design of signs for shops, hotels, offices and in advertising texts. That is why Gothic writing is otherwise called German. At the moment, Gothic fonts remain in demand in various communities in many countries, but for the most part they are stylization of the Italian rotunda style.