Gingerbread was brought to Europe in 992 by the Armenian
monk Gregory of Nicopolis (Gregory Makar). He left Nicopolis Pompeii,
to live in Bondaroy (France), near the town of Pithiviers. He stayed
there seven years, and taught gingerbread baking to French Christians.
He died in 999.
During the 13th century, gingerbread was brought to
Sweden by German immigrants. In 15th century Germany, a gingerbread
guild controlled production. Early references from the Vadstena Abbey
show how the Swedish nuns were baking gingerbread to ease indigestion
in 1444. It was the custom to bake white biscuits and paint them as
The first documented trade of gingerbread biscuits dates
to the 17th century, where they were sold in monasteries, pharmacies
and town square farmers' markets. In Medieval England gingerbread was
thought to have medicinal properties. One hundred years later the town
of Market Drayton in Shropshire, UK
became known for its gingerbread, as is proudly displayed on their
town's welcome sign. The first recorded mention of gingerbread being
baked in the town dates back to 1793; however, it was probably made
earlier, as ginger was stocked in high street businesses from the 1640s. Gingerbread became widely available in the 18th century.