All bakers will be held...


Senior Member

In 1793, the Convention (the post-Revolution government) made a law stating:
“Richness and poverty must both disappear from the government of equality.
It will no longer make a bread of wheat for the rich and a bread of bran for the poor. All bakers will be held, under the penalty of imprisonment, to make only one type of bread: The Bread of Equality.”

(This comes from History of the Baguette: Legends, Laws, and Lengthy Loaves posted on June 8, 2015 by Margo Lestz.)

Does the blue part mean "under the penalty of imprisonment, in order to make only one type of bread, all bakers will be held in prison"? I feel it odd. I don't know where I get it wrong.

Thanks in advance!
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    To hold someone to do something - to compel /insist that someone does something; to be constrained to/to be restricted to do something (usually with the threat of punishment) by someone. (Now old-fashioned and very formal.)

    To hold someone to something (usually a promise or condition of an agreement) = to compel someone to complete something or comply with something (usually a promise or condition of an agreement)

    He promised to build the wall for John in less than a week and, although it rained heavily every day, John held him to his promise. -> John insisted that he build the wall in less than a week (probably with the threat that John would not pay him unless he did this.)
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    It is odd. 'Under the penalty of imprisonment' means "and they will be imprisoned if they don't do this", so we can ignore this. The main part is 'all bakers will be held to make . . .', which is an unusual use of 'hold' for something like "require". (You can hold someone to their promise: that is, require them to fulfil it.)
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