The Misal rico de Cisneros, produced by archbishop Cisneros, the archbishop of Toledo, Spain, in the early sixteenth century, is a Latin Catholic missal also known as the Missale secundum consuetudinem almae ecclesiae Toletanae.

I've been making it into a font. I want to make the font highly useful to medievalists, and plan to implement any MUFI ligature and codepoint found in the missal.

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One question I have that I've not been able to find in any guide of medieval Latin scribal abbreviation is why the missal uses the word «Qiſſa» («Qissa») in its table of contents…


It can be seen in the third line on the first page. Why the Q? It seems M is what is meant.

  • 2
    What amazing handwriting! Missa is even written Adissa a few times on the second page. I look forward to the experts’ comments. Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 7:07
  • 1
    The amount of variants of M in Missa is quite perplexing! I counted eight, but I might have missed something. Do the titles look the same in the book or is this variation only found in the table of contents?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 8:33
  • @MartinKochanski When you see a question you like, please remember to vote up!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 8:35
  • @JoonasIlmavirta It seems like all the capitals have many variants, S has at least five, and D at least 3; E at least six. I'm not sure they have any meaning beyond decorative, but what's perplexing to me is the use of a Q where an M seems like it ought to go; and since it's done often it can't be a mistake. Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 11:45
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    @FredrickBrennan It seems pretty clear to me that this is an "M" that looks like a "Q," not a "Q." (Consider the "M" in "Missa Generalis" about halfway down the first page: it's definitely between a "Q" and an "M.") So, I don't think the right question is, "Why does the author write 'Qissa.'"
    – brianpck
    Commented Jul 5, 2019 at 14:38

1 Answer 1


I agree with brianpck's comment: I don't understand why you're reading this glyph as a Q. In isolation, it might look like a Q, but considering the context, it appears to be a variant of M (it's not that unusual I think for capital M to have a closed bottom in certain handwriting styles).

Have you ever seen this glyph used for Q in this text? The symbol I see used for Q is different. See page 62, which has Quotiens spelled like this:

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Quid, page 64:

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Several words, page 10:

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Only the left side of these Qs looks the same as the capital M used in Missa. The tail of the Q is straight rather than curling up.

There are other variants for capital M, but that seems to be a common situation in this text. I also see multiple variants for lowercase d (one with a vertical ascender, as in the words munditia and repellendas, and one that curves, as in defensione and deuota).

The variant of capital P with a pointy top that is used on the fourth-to-bottom line of the first page in your picture also seems relevant, as it's another example of a rounded stroke being used interchangeably with a pointy-topped stroke.

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