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The Brezel or Pretzel
Bread in the shape of a Brezel (modern German word) or Pretzel. is an old one, thought the precise origin is uncertain. Here are the four earliest manuscript depictions of a Brezel that I have, so far, been able to find:
- Ottonian Manuscript Getty Museum, MS. Ludwig VII 1, fol 38, produced in 1030-1040AD in Regensburg Germany. The folio depicts the Last Supper, and among round bread and fish there is also a brezel on the table.
- In a Gospel from Salzburg, Austria (MS G44), dating to around 1050, fol 80 shows the Last Supper, which also features a whole and one half a brezel.
- English Manuscript from Corpus Christi College Cambridge MS373 3895B. It was made in the 12th century and depicts the wedding feast of Matilda and Henry V (Holy Roman Emperor) in 1114 AD. Again the brezel is on the table along with round bread, knives, dishes and bowls.
- The last is from the "Hortus deliciarum" a manuscript written between 1167 and 1185 in Hohenburg, Alsace. The Manuscript was destroyed in 1870, and the images only survive as the copies made in 1818. The image depicts the biblical story of the marriage of Esther to King Ahasuerus, and again there is a brezel on the table among the other foods. Another image in the manuscript shows another table with food on which also shows a brezel.
The shape of the brezel in these images is not quite the same as the brezel from the later medieval period or the modern ones, which have a twist in the middle. These early brezel simply have the ends turned in on themselves so they touch at the top. But, importantly and distinctively, this still creates the three holes, which may represent the Holy Trinity.