Whilst the runica manuscripta of the English tradition (Derolez 1954, Derolez 1991), the Scandinavian rune poems (Heizmann 1998, Bauer 2003), their recording in the scholarly, early medieval treatise (De inventione litterarum), their occasional use as the writer’s signature and within the Old High German glosses have been comparatively well-researched (Nievergelt 2009), this does not apply to the same extent to the use of runes in late medieval (German) manuscripts. Runes and runic alphabets are found far less frequently in these, for example within the foreign alphabets in the “Travels” of Sir John Mandeville or in a manuscript with medical recipes and an invocation of the devil (Prag, NB, Cod. XXIII F 129), finally also in magic treatise relating to the “Hermetic tradition” (Dresden, SLUB, Mscr. N 100).
However, the use of runes in late medieval manuscripts is hardly explained by the functions to which the runica manuscripta are normally attributed (Bauer 2003). Based on the finding that the debate with runica manuscripta is not just a runic problem in the narrow sense, but can also contribute to the understanding of medieval culture (Derolez 1954), the use and pragmatics of the late medieval runica manuscripta will be explored regarding the specific implications. The function of runes in late medieval manuscripts should be determined at the same time between the poles of secret written forms, readability and illegibility.