Assise of Bread [John Powell, editor], 1608 - woodcuts, p.D1v, detail.

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Date:1608

Description:Bakers at work: Shakespeare's neighbours.

In towns few people baked their own bread on account of the dangers of chimney fires. The baker’s role was one of the most important in any community, especially in towns and cities like Stratford, or London. The size and weight of each loaf was regulated by law to maintain a national consistency. When Shakespeare was still a young man his father was Stratford’s inspector of the bakeries in the town and this was the official handbook for such duties. The poor harvests that led to a scarcity of corn caused high prices and violent demonstrations in the Midland counties of England in 1604. Shakespeare may have had this situation in mind when, in 1607/8, he wrote the first scene of Coriolanus, 1,1, lines 62-90, where a riot is breaking out in Rome caused by a shortage of food for the poorer people.


Full title: The Assise of Bread, newly corrected and enlarged together with sondry good and needful ordinances, for Bakers, Brewers, Inholders, Victuallers, Vintners, and Butchers; and also other Assises in weightes and measures, etc. [revised by John Powell], London, printed by John Windet and sold by Edward White, 1608.


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1570s
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1590s
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Donor ref:SR 93.02 [37,832] (32/10552)

Source: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust - Library

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