[Sca-cooks] Bread Labor

Stanza693 at wmconnect.com Stanza693 at wmconnect.com
Thu Nov 1 10:28:35 PDT 2007

On SCA-Cooks, volume 18, issue 70, Johnnae wrote:

> And certainly on in remote areas, small holdings and in earlier times, it 
> have been common for a family to raise grain, mill it at home and then bake 
> on  bakestone or under the ashes in some fashion (lacking the larger 
> bakeovens), but was this practice that generally common by
> the 14th-16th centuries? 

I don't know.  I always keep my eyes open for sources about living and 
cooking in those time periods since that is when Constanza lived (1469-1519) in 
Castile.  However, ...

The kingdom of Castile was more inclined toward city/town structure from my 
understanding.  Teofilo F. Ruiz in his book, "Spanish Society 1400-1600" writes 
on page 40-41 that "Inflation (provoked in part by the influx of silver from 
America and the increasingly heavier taxes which the Spanish Crown imposed 
primarily on Castilian peasants to pay for wars in central Europe and the Low 
Countries), droughts and devastating plagues throughout most of the sixteenth 
century radically affected those who worked and lived on the land, and drove many 
fairly propserous farmers into poverty.  This led (again, mostly in Castile) 
to a large migration from the countryside to city."  

Then again, (just to add to my own confusion), Ruiz makes this statement 
about the southern portion of Castile where Constanza would have been living 
(Modern Huelva is in Andalusia, but medieval Huelva was recaptured much earlier so 
would have been in Castile):  p.15 "Moreover, after the mid-thirteenth century 
and the expulsion of the Muslims from western Andalusia (1260s), the region 
became the site for latifundia in Spain.  Large estates dominated the 
landscape, and its numerous landless peasants, a true rural proletariat, provided the 
conditions for social conflict (see Chapter 2)."  So, perhaps, I need to stop 
reading about town life and concentrate more on estate life.  Either way, 
finding information on Spain can occasionally prove challenging.

I won't get many details from this source, though.   While this book does 
examine the diets of the rich vs. the poor, it does not look at where/how the 
foods were obtained.

> I note your source is for 1100-1300. Does this 
> source apply to larger households and estates?

I have always understood this source to relate to town dwellers rather than 
the larger estates.  Dillard's introduction states:  "Settlements evolved early 
to consist of a fortified urban core (the villa, cuerpo de la villa) around a 
castle stronghold and a large, sometimes extensive outlying rural landscape 
(the alfoz or te'rmino) of common lands, waste and scattered dependent 
villages."  A few sentences later he states, "This book is about the pioneering women 
who migrated to brand-new settlements and their daughters who inhabited the 
flourishing towns of Leo'n and Castile during the last two centuries of the 
medieval Reconquest, roughly between the capture of Toledo in 1085 and the last 
quarter of the thirteenth century."

I don't know if that is a fault of mine in the reading of it or not, but 
unless he specifically states that he is discussing the castle life, I read his 
statements as pertaining to the smaller, individual family groups that would be 
found in the urban area.  In the portion of the book I cited yesterday, since 
he talks about the grain from the "family plot outside the walls", I assume he 
is not talking about a larger estate.

> Certainly manors and estates had divisions of labor and trade statutes 
> defined who baked what and at what regulated cost? The Assizes for bread 
> come into existence in England in the 13th century.

I will bow to your superior knowledge on that front.  I have begun to 
concentrate solely on Spain in an attempt to further my own persona development. I 
know very little other than absolute basics about other cultures.

> I suppose the question is Can the person wishing to do the project 
> whereby they raise, mill and bake the grain be able to research and prove 
> that their persona in that chosen period would have done such a thing?  
> Acquiring the heirloom varieties of grain, the land, appropriate
> agricultural implements, the appropriate milling
> stones, learning the techniques, assembling and building the bake oven, 
> etc. might take a number of years. As Olwen used to remind us... 
> let's hope they take pictures as they progess...
> Johnnae

It would certainly make for an interesting project.  Didn't Mistress Aldyth 
mention a particularly eager apprentice in the original post?  I don't think 
I'd want to tackle that, but then again, I don't think that was the direction 
the question was headed, either.  Wasn't it supposed to be more a hypothetical 
about the amount of time involved?

A sus ordenes,
Constanza Marina de Huelva   </HTML>

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