(Illustration) Shakespeare wrote in early modern English. Readers of medieval manuscripts have the secondary task of learning what can amount to a different language.
For those of us who are wholly obsessed with the history of writing, with the smell of paper and how to cut a fine quill pen, and for whom an illuminated medieval manuscript is the culmination of human achievement, here’s an article showing great online resources for paleography: reading the handwriting of generations past.
As a medievalist, I studied this stuff in grad school. But my interest began long before that. I’ve even made the arcane ideographic Messenger Script calligraphy central to the story of my novel, so I stumbled on this nice reference while doing some research.
It’s sad to think–if the teaching of cursive has indeed gone the way of sheepskin vellum–that the literacy of future generations will only be as flexible as the number of fonts in their version of Windows.