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Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Brigade II: 

The Grand Panetier and the Bakery of the French Royal Household, 

13th & 14th Cent.

The cadenat  and nef d'or: the two armorial supporters that the grand panetiers of France were allowed to attach to their coats of arms. The cadenat was a locked container into which the sommeliers des napes would place the king's napkins. When the king was dining, the grand panetier would ceremonially open the cadenat in the monarch's presence, remove the necessary napkins, and unfold them according to a specific sequence. The nef d'or, or "golden nef", served a similar purpose to a salt cellar. Part of the ceremony for placing trencher and manchet breads in front of medieval monarchs, as well as the ceremony of assay, required the use of salt. (Image: screen shot from Pierre de Guibours, Histoire généalogique de la maison royale de la France, 1733)

    A number of posts ago I discussed the Brigade de cuisine during the medieval period. I began with a survey of the French royal kitchens during the late thirteenth century, based on the Household Ordinance of Philip IV of France (r.1285-1314). In the earlier discussion, I outlined the operation of the kitchens associated with the Bouche du roi: the department of the French royal household that oversaw foodservice to the king and to the grand commun (the kitchen that provided food to the workers and officers of the royal household). 

    There are, however, other kitchens included in the ordinance that I did not discuss: the queen's kitchen and the royal bakery. This post will focus on a short explanation of the organization of labour in the bakery of the French royal household during the late thirteenth century, including the parameters of an office known as the grand panetier. The queen's household had its own bakers, so again this discussion will be limited to the bakery that served the king and the commun with the queen's kitchens to be examined in a future post.

  The reason the bakery was not included in the last post is because it fell outside the jurisdiction of the kitchen proper. The ordinance of 1286 included the royal bakery as a department separate from the main kitchen; one known as the paneterie (from the Latin "panis" or "bread"). 

    Since the High Middle Ages, the paneterie of the French royal household was overseen by an officer known as the panetier de France or the grand panetier. In addition to oversight of the royal bakeries, from 1333-1711, the grand panetiers' control also extended to the city bakeries of Paris.[1] In this capacity they had the task of maintaining an office through which they could regulate the craft within the city setting prices for bread, admitting masters and apprentices, and maintaining a jury of masters that could oversee the "ordeals" or tests bakers had to undergo to progress from apprentice through to journeyman and master.[2] Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat noted the role of the grand panetier in the city bakeries of Paris during the eighteenth century in A History of Food (2009), though it is true that the origins of this jurisdiction can be found in the arrêt of 1333.

   Seventeenth-century master genealogist of the French royal household, Pierre de Guibours (1625-1694), noted that the position can be traced back to the thirteenth century, though it likely existed long before. Using the royal library and archives, Guibours was able to trace the office back to an individual, Eudes Arrode, who held the office of Panetier du roi until his death at the age of 47, in 1217.[3] After Arrode, the office seems to have been elevated in status and more closely linked to nobles. Two knights, Hughes d'Athies and Geoffroy de la Chapelle, were installed in the position of "maître Pannetier" in 1224, while the title changed to "Pannetier de France" later in the thirteenth century.[4] Under Charles VI, Charles Lord of Montmorency was installed as "Grand Pannetier de France" in 1353, with the title remaining unchanged until the office was dissolved in 1792.[5]

    (Brief diversion from the 13/14th cent.: In 1492 the Lords of Cossé began what would amount to a 300-year domination of the office, with two very short periods when it was held by other families. The Cossé family would later become Dukes of Brissac and come to inhabit one of the most magnificent of the Loire chateaux, the kitchens of which were discussed in a previous post.  The last grand panetier was Louis Hercule Timoléon de Cossé-Brissac, whose death was one of the many that occurred during the September Massacres of 1792. The office was not revived under the Empire) 
    During the thirteenth century the grand panetiers oversaw a household bakery and bread-serving division that operated on a similar brigade-style hierarchy as many bakeries today. The household ordinance of Philip IV (1286) recorded the following organization within the royal bakery:


(Bread Department)

-Panetiers: 3 (1 pour le roy et 2 pour le commun) et 1 valet.

-Napes: Somelier des napes  et valet, galerans des napes.

-Portes chapes:  3.



-Lavendiere des napes.

-Charreste de la paneterie.

-3 Pantlers: 1 for the king and 2 for the Commun (and a pantlers’ valet).

-Napkinry: overseer and staff.

-3 Pastry cooks.


-Wafer makers

-Laundress of the napkins.

-Wagon driver of the pantry.[6]

     Under this system, the king and the grand commun were provided with a chief baker (two for the commun, likely due to the higher volume of work) with a number of assistant bakers carrying out the actual baking tasks. Unfortunately the ordinance did not specify the exact number of bakers.

    Beyond the administration and bakers themselves, there were a number of sub-specialties required by the royal bakery: pastry cooks, wafer makers, napkin servers, a laundress, and a wagon driver. 

     The pastry cooks would have been charged with making sweets and confections, while wafer makers were instrumental in making sweet wafers. Some may be surprised to find out that confections and sweet wafers played an important role in medieval haute cuisine. Pastries were often required during various courses of feasts, while wafers were a treat that could be enjoyed after meals or even outside of meals; there are a number of records of waferers working in the streets and markets of Paris. It may also be possible that either wafer makers or pastry cooks made hosts for the masses held in the royal household since it was a right that had been reserved for pâtissiers since 1270.[7] 

    In addition to the cookery tasks that the grand panetier oversaw, there were also a number of non-cookery tasks associated with the department. Delivery and transport of items related to the bakery was accomplished through the permanent wagon driver who was put at the service of the royal bakery, while napkins and associated laundering had its own section of the department. Napkins played a key role in the department. Since they were used to cover bread at the king's table, the department had to both supply and launder them. To that end, a laundress was employed in the royal bakery; the only female mentioned working in the kitchens in the 1286 Ordinance.

     During meal times the grand panetier was required to stand in the great hall. Using his cadenat (a locked vessel for carrying the king's dining napkins) and nef d'or (golden salt cellar), the grand panetier would oversee removal and refreshing of tablecloths, napkins, salt, bread, and trenchers on the royal table, all under the watchful eye of the Great Master of the royal household who conducted the proceedings. 

    The thirteenth-century French royal household bakery operated on quite a complex division of labour; one we could certainly classify as a brigade de cuisine. Hierarchy, order, division of labour, and compartmentalization of tasks all played fundamental roles in thirteenth-century Parisian bakeries, both inside and outside the royal household. Although the grand panetier's control bled out of the royal household and into the city bread industry, the brigade de cuisine of the royal bakery would have been a key bureaucracy that allowed the grand panetiers to oversee city bakery affairs without worrying about the quality of bread supply within the royal household itself.

       This also gives a slightly different perspective of the social mobility of household officials during the medieval period. We often assume that noble status came from close contact with the monarch. Indeed this did happen. But the office of grand panetier does not seem to have offered upward social mobility to its holders. Instead, it reaffirmed the exceptionally high status already possessed by certain noble families. It seems that before the thirteenth century, gentlemen like Eudes Arrode held the office without being noble; there is no indication in the genealogies that he was a knight or lord of any sort. By the thirteenth century we can see different knightly families holding the position, none sharing the Arrode family name. By the fourteenth century lords from different families held the office, none sharing the family names of previous knightly holders. By the fifteenth century, the countly Cossé family began their domination of the office. Although some royal domestic offices led to nobility, the grand paneterie came to be used to affirm the preexisting high status of select families early in its history.

      It is funny to think that the grand panetier of France likely did not have any real baking skills for most of the history of the office. We know the Dukes of Brissac had a wonderful kitchen, but I cannot see the dukes working the bake oven, laying fires, sweeping the ash in order to learn how to bake bread. Instead the office was a ceremonial position - a dean of city and royal bakers, if you will - that served as an overseer of bureaucracy rather than being a master practitioner of the craft. Still though, it was from the royal bakery that the office received its honour. The actual baking work carried out by the royal bakers and pastry cooks gave honour both to the grand panetiers and the monarchs themselves.
Arms of Jean Paul Timoléon de Cossé-Brissac (1698-1784), 7th Duke of Brissac. Here we can see the cadenat and nef d'or of the grand panetier incorporated into the Cossé family arms. Although this is an eighteenth-century coat of arms, they remained essentially the same between 1492-1792 since the Cossé family dominated the office for most of the period. The coronet is a ducal coronet, so this would have been modified throughout the centuries as the fortunes of the family increased from barons (15th cent.) to counts (16th cent.) and finally dukes (17th cent.). (Image from Guyot's Traitédes Droits, 1784)

[1] The original arrêt establishing control over the city-wide craft is available in "Arret du Parlement de Paris du 31 Decembre 1333 qui maintient le Grand Pannetier de France dans sa jurisdiction sur les boulangers de la Ville de Paris", Histoire généalogique de la maison royale de la France et des grands officiers de la couronne, ed. Pierre de Guibours, T.VIII, 3rd ed. (Paris: La compagnie des libraires associez, 1733) Guibours, 677-678; Regarding the suppression of the office's control over the Paris-wide baking trade see "Edit du roy  Pour la suppression de la Jurisdiction de la Panneterie, Donné à Fontainebleau au mois d’Août, 1711" in Guibours, 680-682.
[2] Regarding the eighteenth century role of the grand panetiers and their importance to the baking craft see, Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, A History of Food (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2009) 221.
[3] Guibours, 603.
[4] Guibours, 604.
[5] Guibours, 611, 677-680. 
[6] Archives Nationales, Paris, L'ordenance de l'ostel le roy Ph[ilippe IV] (January 23, 1286),  MS JJ 57 f.1.
[7]The right of pâtissiers to bake hosts is one that was outlined in the 1270 charter of the Pâtissiers of Paris. Also included in the statute was a prohibition against wives of master pâtissiers making hosts. See " Statutes des Pâtissiers, 1270", in Nicolas de La Mare, Traité de la Police, T.IV, Livre V (Paris: J&P Cot, 1729) 617.

 Credit: Elisabeth Lalou has kindly posted her own, excellent transcriptions of a number of the ordinances held in the Archives Nationales, Paris, and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Also, with assistance from the John Bosher Award in French History (York U), I had the opportunity to examine the original ordinances held at the A.N. (JJ 57) during the summer of 2011.

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