The Assizes of Bread, Beer, & Lucrum Pistoris
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 Kings 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.
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
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© Paul Halsall, August 1998