1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Marchpane

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MARCHPANE, or Marzipan, a sweetmeat made of sweet almonds and sugar pounded and worked into a paste, and moulded into various shapes, or used in the icing of cakes, &c. The best marchpane comes from Germany, that from Königsberg being celebrated. The origin of the word has been much discussed. It is common in various forms in most European languages, Romantic or Teutonic; Italian has marzapane, French massepain, and German marzipan, which has in English to some extent superseded the true English form “marchpane.” Italian seems to have been the source from which the word passed into other languages. In Johann Burchard’s Diarium curiae romanae (1483–1492) the Latin form appears as martiapanis (Du Cange, Glossarium s.v.), and Minshæu explains the word as Martius panis, bread of Mars, from the “towers, castles and such like” that appeared on elaborate works of the confectioner’s art made of this sweetmeat. Another derivation is that from the Greek μάζα, barley cake, and Lat. panis. A connexion has been sought with the name of a Venetian coin, matapanus (Du Cange, s.v.), on which was a figure of Christ enthroned, struck by Enrico Dandolo, doge of Venice (1192–1205). From the coin the word was applied to a small box, and hence apparently to the sweetmeat contained in it.