sumptuary laws

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sumptuary laws

(sŭmp`cho͞oĕ'rē), regulations based on social, religious, or moral grounds directed against overindulgence of luxury in diet and drink and extravagance in dress and mode of living. Such laws existed in ancient Greece and Rome, and in Japan they were applied to the peasant and commercial classes until the mid-19th cent. In the 14th and 15th cent. several statutes were passed in England that regulated ornateness of dress and the people's diet. These regulations varied according to the rank of the person, peasants being subject to rules different from those of the gentry. The main purpose of the legislation was to mark class distinctions clearly and to prevent any person from assuming the appearance of a superior class.


See F. E. Baldwin, Sumptuary Legislation and Personal Regulation in England (1926).

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While addressing the influence of sumptuary laws, increased social mobility, and a wider availability of luxury items on fashion during the period, Paulicelli looks at both works in the context of the contemporaneous genres of costume and conduct books and shows how Vecellio and Franco not only document but also participate in the dissimulation inherent in fashion by using dress to shape their representations of historical events and figures.
And although sumptuary laws attempted to limit the display of expensive jewelry even restricting the number of rings one could wear fashion-conscious women found ways to skirt the laws.
The section on the purpose and effects of sumptuary laws will be of particular interest to students of Renaissance drama, who are accustomed to think of them as legal restrictions on dress designed to bolster class differentiation.
Exploring Fortune in the pseudo-Boethian De Disciplina Scholarium (and its English commentators Trevet and Wheatley; de Lille's Anticlaudianus; de Meun's Roman de la Rose; Chaucer's Fortune and his other works; Lydgate's The Fall of Princes; and Charles, Duke of Orleans's Fortunes Stabilnes) and relating the texts to sumptuary laws and authorial biography, Denny-Brown reveals Fortune's self-fashioning; how her changeability of dress fuses with the new concept of fashion; the relationship of her clothing to morality; and ultimately (in Orleans's poem), her constancy in an ever-changing world.
Sin taxes are the latest manifestation of a long conversation that harkens to the sumptuary laws of the late medieval period and beyond (Tuchman 1987, 19-21).
In Europe in the Middle Ages the Catholic Church tried to regulate social and economic activity by declaring money lending a sin, by promulgating sumptuary laws, and by the occasional purge of worldly goods (such as the infamous "Bonfire of the Vanities" in Florence).
It was common for earlier societies to implement sumptuary laws to
There was serious discussion over whether the new nation needed formal sumptuary laws or "only prudence and good taste" in order to resist the corrupting influence of imported fashions.
Scarlet letters and sumptuary laws are more commonly remembered today, but the local organization of charity and relief was probably a more important development in the sixteenth century.
Utilizing comparisons between Sunday closing and sumptuary laws, this writer warned that a government that maintained a Sunday closing law could, "on the same principle .
Her themes are the evil of luxury, the Roman response to luxury, previous measures against extravagance, sumptuary laws, and sumptuary legislation in comparative perspective.
The discussion in Chapter 14 of the importance of Robert's sumptuary laws in the development of French practices would be more convincing if discussion of Philippe III's own legislation in this area was not relegated to an appendix.