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Apprentissages, États et sociétés dans l’Europe moderne

Bread production apprenticeship in Barcelona

Mercè Renom
p. 319-329

Résumé

The study of apprenticeships in pre-industrial Europe is a fruitful line of research, but little is known about apprenticeships in the bakery trade of Barcelona. The article aims to analyse this type of apprenticeship over a broad chronological period, from the late Middle Ages to the mid-XIXth century. More specifically, it analyses apprenticeships in the XVIIIth century, the role of the guild, the duration of the apprenticeship, the age of the apprentices, their geographic and socio-professional origin, and the trade of their fathers. Data is taken from a series of apprenticeship registers from the bakers’ guild of Barcelona; this sources also contains information on the number of master bakers who accepted apprentices.

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Notes de l’auteur

The research undertaken by Mercè Renom forms part of the programme of the research group Treball, Institucions i Gènere (TIG) of the University of Barcelona, funded by the Generalitat of Catalonia (SGR2017-1258), and of the projects “Crisis y reconstrucción de los mercados de trabajo en Cataluña, 1760-1960” (HAR2014-57187-P) and “Mundos del trabajo en transicion (1750-1930) : cualificacion, movilidad y desigualdades” (HAR2017-84030-P) of the Ministerio Español de Economía y Competitividad (MINECO). The basis of this article was presented in the session “Apprenticeship, work and creation in early modern Europe” of the ELHC Conference 2017 (Paris, November 2-4) coordinate by Anna Bellavitis (Université de Rouen Normandie-GRHIS/IUF) and Valentina Sapienza (université de Lille 3-IRHIS – Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia). This translation is by Richard Pike.

Texte intégral

  • 1 Such as Caracausi 2017 and 2008; Bellavitis 2016; Solà – Yamamichi 2016 and 2015; Yamamichi 2014; (...)

1Studies on apprenticeship in modern Europe have opened up a very interesting line of research.1 The complexity of apprenticeships requires case studies to understand the numerous different types of conditions and the relations of apprentices in the world of work.

  • 2 Kaplan 1988, 1993 and 1996; Castro 1987.
  • 3 Steel 2013; White 2000; Renom 2016a.
  • 4 Braudel 1976; Riera 2017 and 2016; Feliu 2016; Cáceres 2016.

2From among pre-industrial jobs, bread production and distribution in towns has been studied less than others, although it is an essential activity associated with trade in cereals and strictly supervised by the municipal authorities, aware of their responsibility to guarantee the provision of bread and to contain prices in order to guarantee social peace. Some European cities have studies on the complex organization of bread production and distribution, such as those by Stephen Kaplan on Paris in the eighteenth century, or Concepción de Castro on Madrid between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.2 There are also studies on subsistence, for example in London, Kent and Barcelona.3 In relation to Barcelona, certain researchers have studied the supply of cereals and bread production, mainly in mediaeval times,4 although further specific research is required.

  • 5 Renom 2006, 2009, 2016a, 2016b and 2017.

3Having studied the food supply system in Barcelona and other towns of Catalonia,5 I have now concentrated my research on the work of Barcelona’s bakers, how they organized their work and transmitted knowledge and skills from one generation to the next, their guild, the relations of the guild with the municipal authorities and other aspects related to the supply of bread in the city.

  • 6 AHCB, Gremis, Especials, Mestres Flequers i Forners, Llibre dels aprenents, 1701-1725, reg. 6.22; (...)

4This article focuses basically on apprenticeship in the bakers’ trade in Barcelona in the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth, a subject which has not yet been studied. Our essential source is the registers of apprentices of the bakers’ guild between 1701 and 1836, with some gaps caused by wars or legislative changes.6 There are considerable quantitative variations in the number of annual records, with a maximum of 60 in 1712, and less than 12 or even none in other years. This reduction is sometimes justified, for example the lack of records in 1714, when Barcelona was under siege and suffered from defeat in the War of the Spanish Succession, and between 1809 and 1813, due to the Napoleonic War. Other reductions are currently difficult to explain.

  • 7 Real Decreto of 20/01/1834 and Orden of 30/06/1836. Almost half a century after their suppression (...)

5We have chosen to examine in detail three moments from this long period: the two five-year periods 1726-1730, with 98 records and 1766-1770, with 121 records. To complement this, we examined the year 1833 due to its proximity to the time of dissolution of the guilds in Spain (1834/6).7 It did not make sense to study the five-year period 1831-1835, since the previous and subsequent years did not include a significant number of records (1830, 1831 and 1832, no record; 1834, four; 1835, five). It should be taken into account that sometimes the apprentices were recorded with a certain delay, which makes the counts inaccurate, but significant for our purpose.

  • 8 I would like to thank my colleagues Juanjo Romero, Cristina Borderías, José A. Nieto, and Antoni R (...)

6Other guild and municipal documentary and bibliographic sources will be cited, allowing us to construct a framework of reference for the bakery trade and bread supply in Barcelona.8

Bread in Barcelona and the city government

  • 9 Renom 2012.

7Barcelona was a manufacturing city and the city government (the “Consell de Cent”) obtained a monopoly of bread production and distribution in the late Middle Ages. The common goods to perform this task included the depots of wheat and other cereals (“posit”), the kneading workshops (“pastim”) and the ovens. These were important buildings located in the economic centre of the city, next to the customs and the sea port, where the wheat arrived from the Mediterranean and, in times of shortage, from as far away as Russia.9

  • 10 AHCB, Registre de Deliberacions, 7/02/1611; 03/10/1633, among others.
  • 11 AHCB, Registre de Crides, 25/05/1621; Registre de Deliberacions, 16/08/1651.
  • 12 The disputes in the seventeenth century ended up in the courts with a judgement in 1705 (“Memorial (...)

8The abundance of wheat or famine decided municipal policies on prices and bread production conditions. The municipal council could decide to maintain bread production as a monopoly, granting preference to the bakers of the city organized as a guild. It could, however, also decide to liberalize it, accepting the kneading and sale of bread by bakers from outside or even by individuals from the city. Controlled liberalization was an instrument of local power to introduce competition, reduce prices or overcome subsistence crises. There were private ovens for own consumption. When the municipality chose to maintain the monopoly, these ovens were fined by the local authorities if they sold bread to the public.10 However, during times of crisis, the production and sale of bread by individuals were authorized and even encouraged.11 In the seventeenth century, the municipality of Barcelona decreed the liberalization of bread production and sale on several occasions, mainly to overcome shortages, giving rise to several disputes between the authorities and the guild.12

  • 13 Andrea Caracausi demonstrates the important role of the municipal courts in apprentice conflicts i (...)

9All the guilds of Barcelona came under the jurisdiction of the municipal authorities, which approved their ordinances, intervened in disputes when the councils of the guilds could not solve them, before taking them to court.13 In the nineteenth century, the second level of authority, after the councils of the guilds, was the Royal Board of Commerce (“Reial Junta de Comerç”).

  • 14 See the case of the Sabadell baker in a long dispute with the council of that town in Benaul – Ren (...)
  • 15 The Spanish government tried to introduce free production of bread in 1767 (Real Provisión del Con (...)
  • 16 A municipal licence was required for activities using ovens or fuels (Patxot 1840, p. 78).
  • 17 Costa 1988, p. 92-93.
  • 18 In Barcelona, in 1841, 41 bakers formed a cooperative to install a 12 horsepower steam machine in (...)
  • 19 AHPB, notaire F. Maymó, 1845, f. 3.
  • 20 AHPB, notaire Roca, 1845, f. 37.

10The Free bread production law was passed in the eighteenth century (1767), eliminating the municipal monopoly. This legislation was discussed and postponed successively by the Barcelona government because it went against its interests.14 The almost final effects were felt after the end of the Napoleonic War (1814).15 Bread production thus ceased to be a municipal monopoly. The freedom —although under administrative control to ensure the supply and the security of the safety of the facilities—,16 gave way to the free initiative of bakers, but also to some consumers’ cooperatives, as occurred in the town of Mataró, near Barcelona.17 In the nineteenth century, and above all starting from the 1840s, the bakers of Barcelona created medium or small-sized economic units, but also cooperatives to adopt innovations,18 societies of bakers for the joint purchase of wheat and flour,19 or contracts with investors from other professions.20 At the time of the end of the municipal monopoly and the appearance of small bread production and sale units, the work of women in this sector became visible.

  • 21 Romero 2005, p. 19 and 123-124.

11The suppression of guilds in 1834/6 did not entail the complete liberalization of economic activities. The bakers remained under administrative supervision for decades, being considered a sector of social interest. The experience of riots caused by price increases, notably of bread, explains the continued control of this sector.21

  • 22 Cerdà 1968, p. 656. The estimation for Paris was 0.800 kg per person/day (Kaplan 1996, p. 473-474)
  • 23 The average in Paris was two batches per baker; this depended on the capacity of each oven (Kaplan (...)

12How can we quantify bread supply in Barcelona? We do not have data prior to the nineteenth century. In 1850, the population of Barcelona was around 190,000 and daily bread consumption was 0.700 kg per person.22 The average bread production in each of the 125 ovens recorded at that time must have been 106 kilos a day, the number of bakings varying.23

The bakers’ guild in Barcelona

  • 24 Ordinances of the bakers’ guild of Barcelona of 1369 and 1474.
  • 25 Comas – Muntaner – Vinyoles 2008. For Paris, see Kaplan 1996, p. 345-352.

13Bread-making was a female activity in families for centuries. The growth of cities and mass production for the market introduced a certain division of labour between preparation of the dough and the baking. The latter became a male job. Over time, women’s space in bread-making decreased, their role mainly being in company management duties (purchase of raw materials, payments and sales). In Barcelona, this process took place in the late Middle Ages, accelerated by the institutionalization of trades and the establishment of guilds from the fourteenth century. Earlier documentation records female bakers,24 even in the apprenticeship contracts for boys and girls.25

  • 26 See the ordinances in Bové 1894?.

14The ordinances of the bakers’ guild in Barcelona always mention that it brings together two jobs considered as different: bakers and those who work in the bread ovens. The first ordinances for bakers (1369 and 1474) considered the activity of women, but with reduced rights. Women were already absent from the 1497 ordinance.26

  • 27 Molas 1970, p. 233-237.

15Maximum expansion of the guilds in Barcelona took place in the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth: 30 guilds in 1450, 70 in 1700, when the city had gone from 30,000 inhabitants to around 35,000. The increase in the number of guilds reflects a progressive specialization of the activities, which reduced the work spaces for women. There was a certain stagnation of the guilds in the eighteenth century, with mergers which bear witness to a certain crisis,27 before their complete suppression in 1834/6.

16The number of bakers in the guild was between 50 and 70 for centuries, showing limited growth in accordance with the slight increase in population (30,000 inhab. in the sixteenth century, 40,000 at the beginning of the eighteenth century, 100,000 at the beginning of nineteenth century).

  • 28 Molas 1970, p. 238-239. The 1516 reference is from Capmany – Duran 1944.
  • 29 Algava 1777?, p. 54-55. The source gives the name in Spanish and in Catalan: “mancebos panaderos”/ (...)
  • 30 AHCB, Junta de Comerç, caixa 43,4.

17In 1516 in Barcelona, 58 bakers were registered in the guild.28 In the second third of the eighteenthcentury (in around 1770; 90,000 inhab.), there were 60 bakers and 100 journeymen of bakers in Barcelona. There were moreover a certain number of apprentices, although we do not have specific data for the latter.29 This figure shows the significant need for assistants in bread ovens, the number being higher than that of master bakers. At the time of the dissolution of the guilds, in 1834/6, the number of bakers belonging to the Barcelona guild was around 80.30

  • 31 Epstein 2008; Kaplan 1993.
  • 32 Molas 1970, p. 238-239.

18It is possible that, on combining these factors controlling access to the trade, the masters and also the corporations could adapt the profitability and the sustainability of their economic unit to good and bad times. They could even maximize profits on favourable occasions, or reduce costs and improve the cost-benefit.31 Comparatively, the bakers’ guild was one of the biggest guilds in Barcelona by number of members belonging to the institution.32

The bakers of Barcelona and their apprentices

  • 33 AHCB, Gremis, Especials, Mestres Flequers i Forners, Llibre dels aprenents, reg. 6.22, 6.23, 6.25, (...)

19The first ordinances of the bakers’ guild which talk about apprentices are from 1497. The regulation of the apprenticeship system in the bakers’ guild of Barcelona appears to have been organized with greater precision in the eighteenth century. The first register of apprentices dates back to 1701 and is continuous until 1833, with 11 dispersed records until 1845.33 An illustration of the guild's strategy based on the control over the use of external workers combined with the restriction on the growth of the guild.

  • 34 AHCB, Gremis Especials Mestres Flequers i Forners 6.27, loose documents.
  • 35 This is not the right place to study monetary equivalences in depth. The reference is given to sho (...)

20Another document from the eighteenth century confirms this hypothesis. This is the Derechos de Maestros y Aprendices, which dates back to 1725, and was copied again in 1753.34 Below we indicate some of the aspects contained in the 1725 document: A) Cases of abuse were observed; for example, some of those who worked as journeymen had not been apprentices, taking work from those who had undertaken an apprenticeship. B) The guild maintained a record of apprentices and all the masters had to report any apprentices accepted within a period of four days —a period which in practice was not complied with, as observed in the registers of apprentices. C) The following payments had to be made to the guild: for master bakers who accept apprentices, the fee was 6 “libras”; for apprentices who wanted to rise to the next level on the guild scale, that of journeymen (“mancebos”, or in local terms, “fadrins”), the fee was 8 “libras”; to rise to master, the amount increased to 100 “libras”,35 unless they were the sons of a master baker or were married with the daughter of a master baker, provided that the son or daughter were born after their father became a master (it should be observed that this provision consolidated endogamy in the trade).

  • 36 Bellavitis 2016, p. 101.
  • 37 In relation to the production of bread by the Cathedral of Barcelona and the disputes with the mun (...)

21In numerous pre-industrial economic activities, the living space and the work space were not differentiated, and apprentices therefore often lived in their master’s house and could undertake household work.36 However, for bakers, part of the work was performed outside the master’s house. In Barcelona, the bread ovens formed part of municipal common property —rented by the bakers under certain conditions and for certain periods of time—, or of ecclesiastical (the cathedral, monasteries) or military institutions.37 Maybe for this reason, in Barcelona the documentation concerning bakers’ apprenticeships rarely contained a commitment by the master to provide shared accommodation, although it did include food support and some payment. The activities of apprentices were sure to include cleaning the work spaces and other activities similar to the domestic tasks carried out by the apprentices in other trades.

  • 38 Kaplan 1996, p. 85-105.

22In relation to the transmission of knowledge about the trade, baking involved very complex techniques, without a theoretical system but with considerable practical knowledge.38 The transmission of the trade was necessarily personal. For a long time a baker’s apprenticeship was therefore the only channel to access this knowledge.

  • 39 For example, AHPB, notaire P. Rodríguez, 1844, f. 245. In Paris, a master baker had to offer accom (...)

23An analysis of the registers of apprentices offers us information about aspects such as the duration of the apprenticeship, the apprentice’s father’s profession and their territorial origin. The age only appears in the records for the five-year period 1726-1730. We can also obtain information from the registers on the master bakers who hired them. It was frequently indicated that the apprentices received some compensation on completing the apprenticeship, but not of what type. It is likely that the main compensation was financial remuneration, sometimes accepted as a total to be received, but given gradually during the apprenticeship with part withheld until the end, as a guarantee against the risk of abandonment.39

Duration of the apprenticeship

  • 40 Bellavitis 2017; Epstein 2008; Laudani 2006.
  • 41 The same possibility appears in France before the sixteenth century (Kaplan 1993, p. 451).
  • 42 Kaplan 1996, p. 217.

24The various guilds in the different cities established the apprenticeship time independently.40 In Barcelona, the first ordinances of the bakers’ guild which include an obligation to meet this requirement before joining the profession are from 1497. They established a duration of three years, which could be exchanged for an unspecified payment,41 this possibility not appearing subsequently. The duration remained the same, at least in theory, until the eighteenth century. Variations are observed in the bakery trade of eighteenth-century France: in Paris, the statutes foresaw three years, two in Lille, and four in Rouen.42 In relation to other trades, this duration was among the shortest.

25The three-year duration of the baker’s apprenticeship in the city of Barcelona remained the rule in the eighteenth century. In practice, some apprentices and masters agreed on longer or shorter times, between two and four years. This dysfunction diminished as the century advanced (table 1).

Table 1 – Duration of apprenticeship in the bakers’ guild of Barcelona.

1726-1730 % 1766-1770 % 1833 %
2 years = 24 months 1 1,0 0 0,0 0 0
2 ½ years = 30 months 1 1,0 0 0,0 0 0
3 years = 36 months 57 58,2 107 88,4 32 100
3 ½ years = 42 months 15 15,3 7 5,8 0 0
4 years = 48 months 21 21,4 7 5,8 0 0
Not indicated 3 3,1 0 0 0 0
Total apprentices registered 98 100 121 100 32 100

Source: Prepared by the author from the registers of apprentices for the years indicated (Arxiu Històric de la Ciutat de Barcelona, Gremis, Especials, Mestres Flequers i Forners, Llibre dels aprenents 1725-1751, reg. 6.23; 1751-1771, reg. 6.25; 1833-1836, reg. 6.27).

26It is difficult to explain the different durations at present. The individual from the period 1726-1730 who was an apprentice for only two years was the son of a journeyman. However, there were another two with the same filiation who were apprentices for three years, in addition to the three sons from a baker who was in the guild. Parameters such as distance of origin or orphanhood do not explain these different durations.

27The progressive shift toward an apprenticeship of three years during the century can be explained in part by the need that the bakers had for labour and the reduction of applicants. As we will see below, the bakers’ trade was very tough. As the century advanced, the number of young people from Barcelona and its surrounding area who decided to undertake a baker’s apprenticeship went down.

Age of the apprentices

28We can only analyze the age of the apprentices from the registers for the period 1726-1730. This information is not recorded on the other registers. Out of the 98 records for this five-year period, the age only appears in 39 (39.8%). The result can be seen in table 2. A considerable older age bracket is observed among apprentice bakers. Most of them were between 16 and 19 years old (66.6%). As we will see below, this circumstance remained in the nineteenth century, due to the harsh nature of this trade.

Table 2 – Age of apprentices on beginning their apprenticeship in Barcelona.

Age on beginning the apprenticeship Number of apprentices %
13 1 2.6
14 8 20.5
15 3 7.7
16 8 20.5
17 7 17.9
18 7 17.9
19 4 10.3
20 1 2.6
Total 39 100

Source: Prepared by the author from the registers of apprentices for the years indicated (Arxiu Històric de la Ciutat de Barcelona, Gremis, Especials, Mestres Flequers i Forners, Llibre dels aprenents 1725-1751, reg. 6.23).

Origin of the apprentices

  • 43 Arranz – Grau 1970, p. 42. The source does not distinguish between them.
  • 44 Cerdà 1968, p. 604 (data from 1856).

29In relation to territorial mobility, it was well-known that most bread oven workers came from outside Barcelona. It has been said that, in the second third of the eighteenth century, 75% of apprentice bakers, builders and carpenters of Barcelona came from other Catalan regions (Maresme, Vallés, Osona and Bages).43 This trend of immigrant bakers continued in the mid-nineteenth century, most coming from further away, from the high mountains.44 A detailed analysis of the registers of apprentices partly corroborates these declarations. We can observe that, in the eighteenth century, there are noteworthy changes in relation to the origin of the apprentices.

30With two exceptions, all of the apprentices come from Catalonia. In the early decades of the eighteenth century, 40.8% of apprentices came from the city of Barcelona itself. In the period 1766-1770, this figure went down to 15.7%, the highest percentage being from the area 60 km from Barcelona, and from the area between 60 and 120 km away. In 1833, the highest number of apprentices came from the area between 0 and 60 km from Barcelona (table 3).

Table 3 – Origin of the apprentice bakers of Barcelona.

1726-1730 1766-1770 1833
Distance, in km Number of apprentices % Number of apprentices % Number of apprentices %
0 40 40.9 19 15.7 2 6.3
0-60 13 13.3 36 29.8 23 71.9
60-120* 22 22.4 38 31.4 4 12.5
Over 120 7 7.1 15 12.4 2 6.3
Outside Catalonia 1 1.0 1 0.8 0 0
Not indicated 15 15.3 12 9.9 1 3.1
Total 98 100 121 100 32 100

Includes some important administrative towns, such as Vic, Manresa, Igualada, Vilafranca, in the current regions of Osona, Bages, Anoia, Penedés.

Source: Prepared by the author from the registers of apprentices for the years indicated (Arxiu Històric de la Ciutat de Barcelona, Gremis, Especials, Mestres Flequers i Forners, Llibre dels aprenents 1725-1751, reg. 6.23; 1751-1771, reg. 6.25; 1833-1836, reg. 6.27).

31Table 3 shows some more general economic transformations. For example, the distance of over 120 km includes some textile manufacturing locations which, during the century, lost their production capacity in favour of the concentration of this activity around Barcelona. It is notable that, in the period 1766-1770, seven of the 15 apprentices from places more than 120 km away were from Sant Joan de les Abadesas.

  • 45 Cerdà 1968, p. 604. On the town planner and utopian Ildefons Cerdà, you can see Fuster 2010; on hi (...)

32It is clear that the young people from Barcelona lost interest in the baking trade compared with other craft and commercial alternatives which were opening up in the city. Baking was a very tough profession. The Barcelona town planner Ildefons Cerdà (1815-1876) stated that, in the 1850s, out of the whole working class, that devoted to baking had the worst conditions and was made up of robust and strong people from the high mountains.45

The paternal trades of apprentices

33There is a great variety of trades among the fathers of the apprentice bakers in Barcelona. The most important data are as follows. In all the periods analyzed, the dedication of the fathers to agriculture was dominant (29.6% in the period 1726-1730, 28.1% in the period 1766-1770, and 40.6% in 1833). This high percentage matches the fact that agriculture was the main activity in the overall territory. Two paternal professions stand out in the period 1766-1770 with a relatively high number: 11 wool textile artisans (“paraire”) and 6 tailors. The origin of the children of wool manufacturing artisans was locations around Barcelona (Sabadell, Castellar, Esparreguera) and also those previously mentioned with manufacturing in decline (Puigcerdà and Sant Joan de les Abadeses, among others).

34In relation to the presence of paternal trades related to baking, this was relatively unrepresentative: 7.1% in the period 1726-1730 (three bakers and three journeymen, or officials) 9.1% in the period 1766-1770 (seven bakers and four journeymen) and none in 1833.

  • 46 Arranz – Grau 1970, p. 77 and 79.

35It has been estimated that 129 of the 272 apprentice bakers who began an apprenticeship had the possibility of becoming journeymen between 1761 and 1770 (47%). The percentage within the profession was lower. Indeed, 18 of the 30 apprentices who were the sons of bakers of different levels became journeymen (30%). Ease of access to the profession depended more on family networks than on a background in the profession.46

The master bakers who accepted apprentices

36Not all bakers accepted apprentices. The number of apprentices per master also varied. It is difficult to present precise information on this aspect. However, as a plausible approach, we prepared a table which includes the records made by each master during the five-year period. The resulting data, included in table 4, do not report on the number of apprentices that one master could have simultaneously, since they could have registered apprentices in the immediately previous years, who were still in their house when they hired others and, in turn, some apprentices completed the years within the five-year period and left. It does, however, give us an idea that the predominant practice among the masters was to accept a small number of apprentices, between one and three.

Table 4 – Number of apprentices of the bakers of Barcelona.

1726-1730 1766-1770 1833
Number of apprentices Number of masters who registered them % Number of masters who registered them % Number of masters who registered them %
1 12 27.9 33 51.5 21 80.8
2 18 41.9 16 25.0 4 15.4
3 7 16.3 8 12.5 1 3.8
4 4 9.3 5 7.8 0 0
5 1 2.3 1 1.6 0 0
6 0 0 1 1.6 0 0
7 0 0 0 0 0 0
8 1 2.3 0 0 0 0
Total 43 100 64 100 26 100

Source: Prepared by the author from the registers of apprentices for the years indicated (Arxiu Històric de la Ciutat de Barcelona, Gremis, Especials, Mestres Flequers i Forners, Llibre dels aprenents 1725-1751, reg. 6.23; 1751-1771, reg. 6.25; 1833-1836, reg. 6.27).

37Accepting the estimates which consider that the number of masters remained around 70, we observe that in the first five-year period one third of bakers accepted apprentices, while in the second period almost all did. A tendency to reduce the number of apprentices per master is also observed over the century.

The bakers of Barcelona after the dissolution of the Guilds

  • 47 Lucassen – Moor – Van Zanden 2008; Romero 2005 and 1996; Pellegrin 1993, p. 358; Kaplan 1993, p. 4 (...)

38There is considerable agreement that, despite the abolition of guilds in most Western European countries, the craft culture persisted and even influenced the following social and economic organization.47 Indeed, in Barcelona, apprentice baker contracts persisted in the framework of the new economy.

  • 48 Saurí – Matas 1849, p. 280-281 (contains a list with the name of the owners of the bakeries – some (...)
  • 49 Cerdà 1968, p. 263, 265 and 604.
  • 50 This is the case of a baker from Sabadell who had at least three “fadrins flequers” (apprentices o (...)
  • 51 Cerdà 1968, p. 268-269.

39In 1849, there were 130 bread production units, but we do not have data on the number of apprentices.48 In 1852, according to the statistics of Ildefons Cerdà, in the city there were 125 bread ovens with sale —as well as 67 establishments just for the sale of bread—, employing between 450 and 500 journeymen and between 250 and 300 apprentices —young people between 16 and 18 years old—, all men.49 This means that an average of one third of the workers in the bread ovens were apprentices. Cerdà’s figures also indicate that on average there were 5 to 6 workers in each bakery, maybe including two apprentices.50 Cerdà estimates that, in Barcelona in the mid-nineteenth century, in most trades the average number of apprentices in relation to that of journeymen was 30%. There were exceptions: in the spinning and mechanical weaving factories, he gives a percentage of 5%, because, in his opinion, the work was very simple; and for construction work he indicates 10% of apprentices in relation to journeymen.51

  • 52 Iturralde 2015; Laudani 2006; Wallis 2008.
  • 53 In the wool and silk manufacturing of Florence in the low Middle Ages the notion of apprenticeship (...)

40It could be considered that, at this time in the mid-nineteenth century, the original concept of apprenticeship changed, and these young men who worked in bakeries were simply cheap labour, even if this work allowed them to learn and join the trade. This confusion existed in other trades and in other cities.52 Even in previous times.53

Work in the bakery and the place of apprentices in the nineteenth century

  • 54 Cerdà 1968, p. 604. The organization of the bakers of Paris was similar: the team leader, who orga (...)
  • 55 Cerdà 1968, p. 606.

41The town planner Cerdà informs us that, in the mid-nineteenth century, each bread oven had a manager who was involved in the baking and in managing the work. There was also a person in charge of kneading the dough, who supervised the work of the other journeymen and of the apprentices.54 The salary was in the middle range of Barcelona workers in the food sector (10-12 “rals” per day), and the income ratio between the apprentices and the journeymen was between one third and half, a little more than other apprentices from other sectors. When the payment was monthly, the remuneration of journeymen and of apprentices went down (60 “rals” per month for journeymen / 20 “rals” per month for apprentices), but they received a food allowance. The purchase and maintenance of work clothes were for the account of the workers. According to Cerdà, the bakers and the workers in the factories making pasta for soups worked in very bad conditions, aggravated by the fact that the former worked at night.55

  • 56 Kaplan 1996, p. 217-218.
  • 57 In relation to apprenticeship in Barcelona, the most complete study is the one dedicated to the si (...)

42Cerdà also reports that, in the mid-nineteenth century, the apprentices from the bread ovens were relatively older, perhaps due to the tough work involved (16-18 years old) —the average in Paris was 19 years old, even if the regulations foresaw children younger than 12—,56 while the average age of apprentices in the other trades of Barcelona was lower. Also in Europe, lower ages are observed in the majority of trades and even, in some of them, it had gone down in the modern age.57

Conclusions

43Knowledge of baking was complex and difficult to theorize. It therefore had to be transmitted orally. For a long time, a bakery apprenticeship had been the only way to access this activity, a promotion process which was not always successful. In Barcelona, the bakers’ guild began to consider a compulsory apprenticeship in the 1497 ordinance. At that time, the three years established could be resolved through payment. The three-year duration was maintained until the eighteenth century, despite the fact that in practice apprenticeships of other durations, between two and four years, are documented. According to data from the first third of the eighteenth century, the age of bakers’ apprentices was relatively high, a characteristic which remained in the nineteenth century.

44In relation to origin, throughout the eighteenth century a reduction in the number of apprentices born in Barcelona was observed, together with an increase in those from greater distances within Catalonia. Paternal trades varied greatly, with a notable presence of farmers, this being characteristic of an eminently agrarian society. Less than 10% of apprentices came from the area close to the bakery trade.

45Work in a bakery was difficult and a great deal of labour was required. The apprentices formed part of this personnel, while respecting the procedures to rise within the professional hierarchy. Everything seems to indicate that the number of apprentices per master was lower in the eighteenth than in the nineteenth century. Apprentices worked in bread ovens to learn the trade, but formed cheap and irreplaceable labour, with very low salaries compared to other workers, while hoping to reach a higher category.

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Notes

1 Such as Caracausi 2017 and 2008; Bellavitis 2016; Solà – Yamamichi 2016 and 2015; Yamamichi 2014; Stojak 2013; Nieto 2013; Minns – Wallis 2012; Solà 2011; Wallis – Webb – Minns 2010; Schmidt 2009; Crowston 2008; Wallis 2008; Laudani 2006; Pellegrin 1993; Kaplan 1993.

2 Kaplan 1988, 1993 and 1996; Castro 1987.

3 Steel 2013; White 2000; Renom 2016a.

4 Braudel 1976; Riera 2017 and 2016; Feliu 2016; Cáceres 2016.

5 Renom 2006, 2009, 2016a, 2016b and 2017.

6 AHCB, Gremis, Especials, Mestres Flequers i Forners, Llibre dels aprenents, 1701-1725, reg. 6.22; 1725-1751, reg. 6.23; 1751-1771, reg. 6.25; 1791-1832, reg. 6.26; 1813 i 1833-1836, reg. 6.27.

7 Real Decreto of 20/01/1834 and Orden of 30/06/1836. Almost half a century after their suppression in France.

8 I would like to thank my colleagues Juanjo Romero, Cristina Borderías, José A. Nieto, and Antoni Riera for the information and encouragement that they gave me; and Àngels Solà-Vidal, for her guidance and consultation of the Arxiu Històric de la Ciutat de Barcelona.

9 Renom 2012.

10 AHCB, Registre de Deliberacions, 7/02/1611; 03/10/1633, among others.

11 AHCB, Registre de Crides, 25/05/1621; Registre de Deliberacions, 16/08/1651.

12 The disputes in the seventeenth century ended up in the courts with a judgement in 1705 (“Memorial” undated from the eighteenth century. AHCB, Gremis, Especials, Mestres Flequers i Forners, reg. 6.26).

13 Andrea Caracausi demonstrates the important role of the municipal courts in apprentice conflicts in early modern Italy (Caracausi 2017).

14 See the case of the Sabadell baker in a long dispute with the council of that town in Benaul – Renom 2018.

15 The Spanish government tried to introduce free production of bread in 1767 (Real Provisión del Consejo de 13 de noviembre de 1767 (« libre Panadeo »), but the government of Barcelona, in defence of its monopoly, wanted to stop it for almost 50 years (see the proceedings in Castells 1970, p. 51-54).

16 A municipal licence was required for activities using ovens or fuels (Patxot 1840, p. 78).

17 Costa 1988, p. 92-93.

18 In Barcelona, in 1841, 41 bakers formed a cooperative to install a 12 horsepower steam machine in Valldoncella street, in order to grind the wheat (Saurí 1841, p. 64)

19 AHPB, notaire F. Maymó, 1845, f. 3.

20 AHPB, notaire Roca, 1845, f. 37.

21 Romero 2005, p. 19 and 123-124.

22 Cerdà 1968, p. 656. The estimation for Paris was 0.800 kg per person/day (Kaplan 1996, p. 473-474).

23 The average in Paris was two batches per baker; this depended on the capacity of each oven (Kaplan 1996).

24 Ordinances of the bakers’ guild of Barcelona of 1369 and 1474.

25 Comas – Muntaner – Vinyoles 2008. For Paris, see Kaplan 1996, p. 345-352.

26 See the ordinances in Bové 1894?.

27 Molas 1970, p. 233-237.

28 Molas 1970, p. 238-239. The 1516 reference is from Capmany – Duran 1944.

29 Algava 1777?, p. 54-55. The source gives the name in Spanish and in Catalan: “mancebos panaderos”/“fadrins flaquers”.

30 AHCB, Junta de Comerç, caixa 43,4.

31 Epstein 2008; Kaplan 1993.

32 Molas 1970, p. 238-239.

33 AHCB, Gremis, Especials, Mestres Flequers i Forners, Llibre dels aprenents, reg. 6.22, 6.23, 6.25, 6.26, 6.27.

34 AHCB, Gremis Especials Mestres Flequers i Forners 6.27, loose documents.

35 This is not the right place to study monetary equivalences in depth. The reference is given to show the scale of contributions.

36 Bellavitis 2016, p. 101.

37 In relation to the production of bread by the Cathedral of Barcelona and the disputes with the municipal authorities due to the distortion that this introduced into the market, see Serrahima 2016.

38 Kaplan 1996, p. 85-105.

39 For example, AHPB, notaire P. Rodríguez, 1844, f. 245. In Paris, a master baker had to offer accommodation, heating and lighting (Kaplan 1996, p. 215). About the different balances between conditions and quality of the apprenticeship and of the remuneration, in different trades in European cities, see Bellavitis 2016.

40 Bellavitis 2017; Epstein 2008; Laudani 2006.

41 The same possibility appears in France before the sixteenth century (Kaplan 1993, p. 451).

42 Kaplan 1996, p. 217.

43 Arranz – Grau 1970, p. 42. The source does not distinguish between them.

44 Cerdà 1968, p. 604 (data from 1856).

45 Cerdà 1968, p. 604. On the town planner and utopian Ildefons Cerdà, you can see Fuster 2010; on his ideas, Dorel – Renom, 1998.

46 Arranz – Grau 1970, p. 77 and 79.

47 Lucassen – Moor – Van Zanden 2008; Romero 2005 and 1996; Pellegrin 1993, p. 358; Kaplan 1993, p. 469.

48 Saurí – Matas 1849, p. 280-281 (contains a list with the name of the owners of the bakeries – some widows – and the address).

49 Cerdà 1968, p. 263, 265 and 604.

50 This is the case of a baker from Sabadell who had at least three “fadrins flequers” (apprentices or day labourers) in 1794 (Benaul – Renom 2018). According to Kaplan, in the 18th century in Paris, the masters had on average two boys, and it was usual to have four; in London, the average baker employed three or four boys and one apprentice (Kaplan 1996, p. 253).

51 Cerdà 1968, p. 268-269.

52 Iturralde 2015; Laudani 2006; Wallis 2008.

53 In the wool and silk manufacturing of Florence in the low Middle Ages the notion of apprenticeship appeared fundamentally unfit for defining the reality of the services provided by the children, a reality closer to strict work (Franceschi 1996).

54 Cerdà 1968, p. 604. The organization of the bakers of Paris was similar: the team leader, who organized the work and loaded and unloaded the oven, the first server who supervised the kneading, and the second server devoted to the preparation of the bread (Kaplan 1996, p. 100-101, 253).

55 Cerdà 1968, p. 606.

56 Kaplan 1996, p. 217-218.

57 In relation to apprenticeship in Barcelona, the most complete study is the one dedicated to the silk sector in the late Middle Ages by Stojak 2013, p. 68-104. According to her, at the end of the fourteenth century, in the silk sector in Barcelona, 75% of apprentices were between 11 and 18 years old, most being between 13 and 16; the average duration was four years. For eighteenth-century Barcelona, see Solà – Yamamichi 2015 and 2016, Yamamichi 2014. See the situation of certain European cities in Bellavitis 2016.

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Mercè Renom, « Bread production apprenticeship in Barcelona », Mélanges de l’École française de Rome - Italie et Méditerranée modernes et contemporaines, 131-2 | 2019, 319-329.

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Mercè Renom, « Bread production apprenticeship in Barcelona », Mélanges de l’École française de Rome - Italie et Méditerranée modernes et contemporaines [En ligne], 131-2 | 2019, mis en ligne le 30 décembre 2019, consulté le 20 septembre 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/mefrim/6806 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/mefrim.6806

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Mercè Renom

University of Barcelona/TIG, mrenompulit@gmail.com

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