Deciphering French Handwriting from 1450 AD

In 1450, after the final major battle of the English occupation of France during the Hundred Years War, one of the soldiers received his pay from then King Charles.  We recently acquired this document from the collection of Otto Fisher, a legendary collector who bought most of his material, this included, nearly a century ago.

Some time back, we wrote on deciphering the court script of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella. The study of script, often script in a language other than your own and much older than your typical modern manuscript, is called paleography.  This is a necessary skill in reading such pieces, and knowledge of the language alone does not suffice.

Take this document for example.

For the most basic components, ability to read old script is required.

The below reads: “Jehan (Jean) d’armangat viconte de loma [i] gne.”

Below is the date, written out in part with Roman numerals.  “le xviii jour d’octobre lan mil CCCC…”  Or “the 18th day of october in the year 14…”  The next line reads “cinquante” or 50.

Here Jehan has written “conqueste de normandie” or conquest of normandy.

The extended S and looped introductory n are noteworthy but the r is distinct as well.  Below reads “pour fournire.”  The r reads to us as a capped v.

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