Glagolitic script



The Glagolitic script, also known as Glagolitsa and Azbuka, is the oldest known Slavic alphabet originated in the middle of the 9th century and Croats used it over a thousand years.

You must have wondered how a Glagolitic script was created…


There are more scientific theories and the origins of the script are not clear.  According to one of them, the Glagolitic gloriousness was associated with the spread of Christianity in the 9th century. This task was performed by the Byzantine monk Cyril. The author of this letter Saint Cyril, on the basis of the Macedonian Slavic languages from the surroundings of Solun, prepared a custom alphabet and translated the ecclesiastical books. It was either created by a single individual (Constantine/St. Cyril), or it was derived from Greek cursive forms and was already in use by the time St. Cyril arrived in the area. Cubberley suggests in ‘The Slavic Alphabets’ that the Slavs themselves created the script based on Greek cursive letters a few centuries before St Cyril and St Methodius’ mission in 860, and that St. Cyril formalized the system and added some new letters based on Coptic, Hebrew or Armenian forms, to represent sounds not found in Greek.


The Old Church Slavic or Old Church Slavonic was created in the 9th century and it was the first Slavic literary language. Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius are credited with standardizing the language. Many ecclesiastical books were translated in that language as part of the Christianization of the Slavs and later the Glagolitic script was also used to write the Croatian language. This language served as a literary language to all Slavic people. it was the supranational language of Slavic literary medievalism. Cyril invented a special letter for that language – Glagolitic script.

How was the Glagolitic script named?

The name of the letter comes from the old Slavic word “glagoljati” that means “to speak”. Forms of this verb were heard very often when performing church rituals in the Slavic literary language. The letter was named Glagolitic script in the 19th century, but the term Glagolitic has been known since the 16th century.


Are there different types of Glagolitic letters?                        

The Glagolitic script can be round and square, according to the shape of the characters. The round type was used in the entire Slavic-speaking world, while the square Glagolitsa, introduced in the 13th century, is exclusively Croatian so it is often called the Croatian Glagolitic. Actually, there is also the third type that was discovered much later and it is considered to be the oldest – triangular type.





At the beginning of the 16th century, Glagolitic script got suppressed by Latin Alphabet but it was still used in some Croatian regions until the end of the 19th century, particularly in the church, and is still used in a limited way on the island of Krk.

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