Assizes of Bread, Beer, & Lucrum Pistoris

Found this source from this website. It’s a source from 1350.

The Assizes of Bread, Beer, & Lucrum Pistoris
[Arkenberg Introduction]

The Assize of Bread and Beer (including the Lucrum Pistoris), only takes the form found in the printed Statutes of the Realm in 6% of all Common Law English statute books written up to 1350. More often the three component parts, the Assize of Bread, the Assize of Beer, and the Lucrum Pistoris, appear alone in the statute books as separate instruments. Occasionally, though, the Assize of Bread and the Assize of Beer show up combined in a single instrument–the Assize of Bread and Beer. But in this instance, the Lucrum Pistoris still stands alone as a separately-titled instrument. Together or separately these three instruments appear in over half of all statute books written. Their popularity should not surprise. First issued in various forms during the reign of Henry II, with variations in form and issuance dates down to that of Edward II (See: G. J. Turner, “Some Thirteenth Century Statutes. II,” Law Magazine and Review, 4th ser., 22 (1897): 240-250, p. 241), the three regulated the price, weight, and quality of the bread and beer manufactured and sold in town, village, and hamlet (See: Alan S. C. Ross, “The Assize of Bread,” Economic History Review, 2d ser., 9 (1956): 332-342, pp. 332, 334; R. H. Hilton, A Medieval Society: The West Midlands at the End of the Thirteenth Century (London, 1966), pp. 230-231; Judith M. Bennett, Women in the Medieval English Countryside: Gender and Household in Brigstock Before the Plague (Oxford, 1987), p. 120; Bolton, Medieval English Economy, pp. 127-128; Helen M. Cam, The Hundred and The Hundred Rolls: An Outline of Local Government in Medieval England (London, 1930; reprint ed., 1963), pp. 211-212).

Assisa Panis (Assize of Bread): When a Quarter of Wheat is sold for 12d., then Wastel Bread of a farthing shall weigh £6 and 16s. But Bread Cocket of a farthing of the same grain and bultel, shall weigh more than Wastel by 2s. And Cocket Bread made of grain of lower price, shall weigh more than Wastel by 5s. Bread made into a Simnel shall weigh 2s. less than Wastel. Bread made of the whole Wheat shall weigh a Cocket and a half, so that a Cocket shall weigh more than a Wastel by 5s. Bread of Treet shall weigh 2 wastels. And bread of common wheat shall weigh two great cockets.

When a quarter of wheat is sold for 18d., then wastel bread of a farthing white and well-baked shall weigh £4 10s. 8d.

When for 2s., then £3 8s.

When for 2s. 6d., then for 54s. 4d. ob. q.

When for 3s., then for 48s.

When for 3s. 6d., then for 42s.

When for 4s., then for 36s.

When for 4s. 6d., then for 30s.

When for 5s., then for 27s. 2d. ob.

When for 5s. 6d., then for 24s. 8d. q.

When for 6s., then for 22s. 8d.

When for 6s. 6d., then for 20s. 11d.

When for 7s., then for 19s. 1d.

When for 7s. 6d., then for 18s. 1d. ob.

When for 8s., then for 17s.

When for 8s. 6d., then for 16s.

When for 9s., then for 15s. q.

When for 9s. 6d., then for 14s. 4d. ob.q.

When for 10s., then for 13s. 7d.

When for 10s. 6d., then for 12s. 11d. q.

When for 11s., then for 12s. 4d. q.

When for 11s. 6d., then for 12s. 10d.

When for 12s., then for 11s. 4d.

When for 12s. 6d., then for 10s. 10d. ½

When for 13s., then for 10s. 5d. ½

When for 13s. 6d., then for 10s. 0d. ¾

When for 14s., then for 9s. 8d.

When for 14s. 6d., then for 9s. 2d. ¾

When for 15s., then for 9s. 1d.

When for 15s. 6d., then for 8s. 9d. ½

When for 16s., then for 8s. 6d.

When for 16s. 6d., then for 8s. 2d. ¾

When for 17s., then for 8s.

When for 17s. 6d., then for 7s. 9d. ¼

When for 18s., then for 7s. 6d. ¾

When for 18s. 6d., then for 7s. 4d. ¼

When for 19s., then for 7s. 2d.

When for 19s. 6d., then for 6s. 11d. ½

When for 20s., then for 6s. 9d. ¾

And it is to be known, that then a Baker in every Quarter of Wheat, as it is proved by the King’s Bakers, may gain 4d. and the Bran, and Two Loaves for advantage [for the furnage?] for Three Servants, 1d. ob. for Two Lads, ob. in Salt, ob. for kneading, ob. for Candle, q. for Wood, 2d. for his Bultel ob.

Assisa Cervisie (Assize of Beer): When a quarter of Wheat is sold for 3s. or 3s. 4d. and a Quarter of Barley for 20d. or 2s., and a Quarter of Oats for 16d., then Brewers in cities ought and may well afford to sell two gallons of beer or ale for a penny, and out of cities to sell 3 [or 4?] gallons for a penny. And when in a town 3 gallons are sold for a penny, out of a town they ought and may sell four; and this Assize ought to be holden throughout all England.

Lucrum Pistoris (Gain of the Baker): And if a Baker of Brewer be convicted that they have not kept the foresaid Assizes, the First, Second and Third time they shall be amerced, according to the Quantity of their offence; and that as often as a Baker shall offend in the weight of a farthing loaf of bread not above 2s. weight, that then he be amerced as before is said; but if he exceed 2s. then he ought to undergo the judgment of the Pillory without any redemption of money. In like manner shall it be done if he offend oftentimes and will not amend, then he shall suffer the Judgment of the Body, that is to say, the Pillory if he offend in the weight of a farthing loaf under two shillings weight as is aforesaid. Likewise the woman brewer shall be punished by the Tumbrell, trebuchet, or castigatorie, if she offend divers times and will not amend.

Source.

From: A. Luders, ed., The Statutes of the Realm: Printed by Command of His Majesty King George the Third, in Pursuance of an Address of the House of Commons of Great Britain, From Original Records and Authentic Manuscripts, 11 vols., (London: Record Commission, 1810-1828), Vol. I, pp. 199-200.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text may have been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book.

One response to “Assizes of Bread, Beer, & Lucrum Pistoris

  1. A wonderful post, thank you. Very nice references. I have been thinking quite a lot a about the bread assize laws in an effort to reconstruct period breads. I feel certain that bread recipes are implicit in the assize tables. But I’d like to clarify here for your readers is that the purpose of the assize was to make sure that bakers, who were essentially offered a price controlled monopoly on the selling of bread, like our public utilities who sell us electricity, in an effort to insure that bread was widely available but that the baker couldn’t take advantage of spikes in grain prices by hording grain when it was cheap and then jacking up his prices when it was expensive.

    The price of a loaf was fixed, like at one penny, or half a penny, but the weight of the loaf varied with the price of grain. The baker was awarded a fixed profit as the text, above, explains. Each grade of bread, which was determined by the grade of flour, cost something different which was expressed in a different weight, not a different price. Thus, a loaf of whole grain bread might weight 45 pounds but the white bread on that day selling for the same price (like one penny) would weight half that.

    In the fine gradations of weight you see in the above assize text you are seeing through to different grades of flour.

    I am looking for collaborators to work on analyzing the assize laws so please contact me if you are interested. Thank you.

    William Rubel, author of Bread, a global history
    williamrubel.com

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