A clear and well-written description of Gothic manuscript hands, with illustrations and historical context:
The final hundred years of the Gothic period, roughly 1350 to 1450, saw a rapid increase in literacy caused by the expansion and spread of universities, which in turn, led to a huge demand for books. Many professions, including the newly literate merchant class, joined the ranks of the book-consuming public, which before was composed primarily of aristocratic patrons and monastic scholars. This demand for books — and the ever-growing length of the works to be copied — put pressure on scribes to produce more work and to do it faster. The prevailing formal bookhands of the late Gothic period were tall, tightly spaced, angular, elegant, and written slowly with great care. These were Gothic Textura Quadrata with diamond-shaped terminal strokes or feet, and Gothic Textura Prescisus, without feet. Variations of these formal hands were seen primarily in “luxury” manuscripts. The luxury manuscripts of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and early fifteenth centuries in England and northern Europe were opulently decorated and illuminated treasures laboriously produced for the Church and for patrons among the nobility such as Jean, Duc de Berry, brother of Charles V, King of France. (Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, completed in 1413 in the scriptoria and workshops of the Limbourg brothers [Pol, Jan, and Hermann], is a notable example.) The workaday hand of the Gothic period, used for one’s grocery list or casual notes, was Gothic Cursive, a quickly written, informal running script.
The elegant and stately Textura was marvelous to look at, but slow to write. With the huge demand for books, more quickly written — if less elegant — scripts, known as “bastard” hands, were developed. Simply stated, the term “bastard hand” implies a union between an informal or “base” script, such as any of the Gothic Cursive hands, and a formal or “noble” script such as Textura. Bastard hands were written with varying degrees of deliberation depending on the level of elegance and formality desired, or the speed required. When the emphasis is on speed, as in Bastard writing, it is easier to see the individual peculiarities of the hand of the scribe doing the writing.
Via wood s lot.