Sumptuary Laws


Also found in: Dictionary, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Sumptuary Laws

Rules made for the purpose of restraining luxury or extravagance.

Sumptuary laws are designed to regulate habits, especially on moral or religious grounds. They are particularly directed against inordinate expenditures on apparel, drink, food, and luxury items.

These laws existed in Rome and were enacted in a variety of forms in England during the Middle Ages to regulate the ornateness of dress and to impose dietary restrictions. Sumptuary laws varied according to classes, with peasants being subjected to a different set of rules than the gentry. The primary purpose of the laws was to distinguish the different classes of people, and often, a person's social class could be determined by something as simple as the style or length of his or her coat.

Today sumptuary laws are ecclesiastical in nature and not part of the U.S. legal system.

SUMPTUARY LAWS. Those relating to expenses, and made to restrain excess in apparel.
     2. In the United States the expenses of every man are left to his own good judgment, and not regulated by Arbitrary laws.

Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
Sumptuary laws mainly regulated the amount of jewellery and accessories women were allowed to wear according to their wealth and tax payments (e.g.
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 1964 surgeon general's warning about the health consequences of cigarette smoking represented a sea change in political rhetoric that began justifying what some have called, perhaps inaptly, "modern sumptuary laws." Smoking "warranted appropriate remedial action," according to the 1964 report (U.S.
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.) This conviction derived in part from the importance placed on the Old Testament as a source for social ethics, an importance Lutherans and Catholics--and the Anglicans who founded the American South--did not share.
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.
Cities such as Florence were praised for the beauty of their women and sumptuary laws were suspended, often for months, when important foreign dignitaries visited.
Masquerading as a hunter, Juliane crosses both boundaries, gender and rank, two boundaries historically regulated through sumptuary laws. The portrayal of class distinctions in the novel does not challenge the fundamental division of rank, nor does its argument for female development challenge fundamental notions of gender complementarity.
He begins with a discussion of sumptuary laws that linked dress and social status, arguing that challenges to these laws made way for the rise of fashion.