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Calligraphy is the art of beautiful writing.
Calligraphy comes in many hands (roughly analogous to fonts on your computer). Some examples, in rough chronological order:
- Roman capitals - these look like the carved letters on ancient monuments, or like the capital letters in a modern serif font.
- Uncial - the curvy capitals you find in many Celtic works.
- Carolingian minuscule - contemporary with Charlemagne (hence the name), this hand looks very similar to the printed letters taught to schoolchildren.
- Gothic - also variously called blackletter or Old English, this family of hands is characterized by evenly (and closely) spaced vertical lines with serifs on both ends. Often hard to read, but beautiful nevertheless.
- Batarde - a more relaxed version of gothic, with more curves; often highly flourished.
- Humanist minuscule - the Italian Renaissance revival of Carolingian minuscule, this hand is the ancestor of modern serif fonts like Helvetica and Garamond. Manuscripts written in Humanist often look printed.
- Italic - the more relaxed version of Humanist minuscule. Despite the modern connotation of the name, italic in period is not necessarily slanted (oblique).