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How medieval Catholic missionaries made white bread popular

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Daniel Esparza - published on 06/02/22

White bread is one of the most popular types of bread in the world. The reason: 7th-century Catholic missionaries evangelizing England.

Historian Debby Banham, affiliated lecturer in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Newham College (Cambridge, UK), recently published an article that explains the extended use of white bread in England back in the early 7th century is a consequence of the Christianization of the country. In short, early medieval missionaries made white bread the most popular kind of bread in the world.

The article, included in the book Global Perspectives on Early Medieval England, explains how Augustine of Canterbury, “the Apostle to the English” converted kings Æthelberht of Kent, Sæberht of Essex, and Rædwald of East Anglia in the year 604. He and his missionaries brought with them the wheat needed to make Eucharistic white bread.

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