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Sources differ as to the time and place of the pretzel's origin. Its use in the emblems of bakers in Southern Germany at least since 1111 is documented. The 12th century Hortus Deliciarum from the Southwest German (now French) Alsace may be the earliest depiction of a pretzel. It remains very popular in Southern German regions of Swabia and Bavaria where it is known as Brezl and Brezn, respectively. In northern Germany, where it is less popular, it is known as Brezel.
The History of Science and Technology, by Ronnie Smith and Alexander Hellemans, says that in 610 A.D. "...[a]n Italian monk invents pretzels as a reward to children who learn their prayers. He calls the strips of baked dough, folded to resemble arms crossing the chest, 'pretiola' ("little reward[s]")", however no source, primary or otherwise, is cited to back up this detailed specificity. Other sources derive the name from Latin 'bracellus (a medieval term for "bracelet"), or 'bracchiola ("little arms") (more apparent from Spanish brazo "arm") combined with the southern German dialect diminutive ending -le (or -el).