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Baking for the Common Good: A Reassessment of the Assize of Bread in Medieval England

James Davis
The Economic History Review
Vol. 57, No. 3 (Aug., 2004), pp. 465-502
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Economic History Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3698543
Page Count: 38
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Baking for the Common Good: A Reassessment of the Assize of Bread in Medieval England
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Abstract

This article reassesses the structure of the assize of bread and its relevance for bakers and consumers in late medieval England. It has long been thought that the laws governing the manufacture and sale of bread, although adhering to a logical relationship between weight and price, were nevertheless ill-considered in formulation, calculation, and enactment and did not, in reality, provide the stable allowance recommended for bakers. By examining the economic and moral ideology underlying the assize of bread it is possible to demonstrate that legislators were actually employing a rationale that best fitted contemporary circumstances and retail practices. There nevertheless remained one fundamental flaw in its construction, which was to have implications for its enforcement.

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