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Medieval Sourcebook:
Judicium Pillorie (The Judgment of the Pillory)

[Arkenberg Introduction]

The Judgment of the Pillory provided the articles for inquests into violations of the assizes of bread and beer, weights and measures, and forestalling. It appears in about of quarter of the Common Law statute books written through the mid-14th century.

If a Baker or a brewer be convicted, because he has not observed the Assize of Bread and Beer, the first, second, and third times, he shall be amerced according to his offence; if it be not over-grievous; but if the offence be grievous and often, and will not be corrected, then he shall suffer punishment of the body, that is to wit, a baker to the pillory, and a brewer to the tumbrel, or some other correction.

First, six lawful men shall be sworn truly to gather all measures of the town, that is to wit, bushels, half and quarter bushels, gallons, pottles, and quarts, as well of taverns as of other places; measures and weights, that is to wit, pounds, half pounds, and other little weights, wherewith bread of the town or of the court is weighed; that is to say, one loaf of every sort of bread. And upon every measure, bushel, weight, and also upon every loaf, the name of the owner distinctly written; and likewise they shall gather the measures of mills. After which thing done, twelve lawful men shall swear to make true answer to all such things as shall be demanded of them in the King's behalf upon articles here following; and such things as be secret, they shall treat of secretly, and answer privately. And the bailiffs shall be commanded to bring in all the bakers and brewers with their measures, and all things under written.

First, they shall inquire the price of wheat, that is to wit, how a quarter of the best wheat was sold the last market day, and how the second wheat, and how the third; and how a quarter of barley and oats.

After, how the baker's bread does answer in his court, that is to wit, wastel and other bread after wheat of the best, or of the second, or of the third price.

Also upon how much increase or decrease in the price of wheat a baker ought to change the assize and weight of his bread.

Also how much the wastel of a farthing ought to weigh, and all other manner of bread, after the price of a quarter of wheat that they present.

And for default in the weight of the bread, a baker ought to be amerced, or to be judged unto the pillory, according to the law and custom of the court.

Also if any steward or bailiff, for any bribe, does release punishment of the pillory and tumbrel, being already judged, or to be judged of right.

Also if they have in the town a pillory of convenient strength, as appertains to the Liberty of their market, which they may use, if need be, without bodily peril either of man or woman.

After, they shall inquire of the Assize and price of wine, after the departure of the justices in eyre, or of them that were last in office of the market of the town; that is to say, of the Vintner's names, and how they sell a gallon of wine: and if any corrupted wine be in the town, or such as is not wholesome for man's body.

Also of the assize of Beer in the court of the town how it is, and whether it be observed; and if not, how much [how many?] brewers have sold contrary to the assize; and they shall present their names distinctly and openly, and they shall be amerced for every default, or be judged to the tumbrel, if they sell contrary to the assize.

Also if there be any that sell by one measure, and buy by another. Also if any do use false yards, weights, or measures.

And if any butcher do sell contagious flesh, or that died of the murrain. Also they shall inquire of Cooks that seethe flesh or fish with bread or water, or any otherwise, that is not wholesome for man's body, or after that they have kept it so long that it loses its natural wholesomeness, and then seethe it again, and sell it; or if any do buy flesh of Jews, and then sell it to Christians.

When a quarter of barley is sold for two shillings, then four quarts of beer shall be sold for a penny; when for two shillings sixpence, then seven quarts of beer shall be sold for tuppence; when for three shillings, then three quarts for one penny; when for three shillings sixpence, then five quarts for tuppence; when it is sold for four shillings, then two quarts at one penny. And so from henceforth the prices shall increase and decrease after the rate of sixpence.


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. 201-202.

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. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, August 1998
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