sumptuary law


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sumptuary law

a law imposing restraint on luxury by limiting personal expenditure or by regulating personal conduct in religious and moral spheres.
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The consumption of silk was restricted both by its price and the sumptuary laws of medieval Livonia.
The flexible 'language' of clothing also expressed social identity in a performance context, during and after the era of sumptuary law. All regulations exempted actors and generally speaking, 'the theater was a space outside the rules of dress'.
England's first sumptuary law was passed in 1336 and was in fact "an alimentary statute," a law concerned strictly with food, specifically with the overly elaborate fare of the landed gentry.
Apply the sumptuary laws to the "value free" speech now prized by most of our upwardly mobile politicians, and we come again to the freedoms of expression that the equestrian classes, newly enriched and digitally enhanced, neither wish nor choose to see.
Similarly, perre in a sentence from the 1363 English Sumptuary Law surely, in this context, refers specifically to gemstones: "ne quils ne usent ...
Take, for instance, aliciotti con l'indivia (anchovies with endive) a dish invented, he says, by ghetto-era Roman Jews in response to a 17th century sumptuary law that prohibited Jews from preparing salads with any foods other than leafy greens and dark-fleshed fish.
Thus, for example, in 1551 thirteen gentlemen of Mantua sent the Lord of Mantua a letter of complaint against a sumptuary law which did not give sufficient weight to social differences, arguing their case as follows: "If we must observe rank, we fail to see why (be it said without ambition) the merchant should not be at least distinguished from the gentleman and the villein from the nobleman.
In 1709 Mandeville jocularly proposed a reverse sumptuary law, compelling everyone to buy new clothes every month, purchase new furniture every year, and eat four meals a day so little did he think of 'the pernicious tenets of the Catos, the Senecas, and other moral-mongers that extolled content and frugality, and preach'd against gluttony, drunkenness and the rest of the supporters of the commonwealth'.
(24) By 1623 Spanish dress of the previous decades was considered so lavish that the new government of Felipe IV passed a sumptuary law limiting the use of such precious gems, prohibiting necklaces "de solos diamantes, sino que ayan de llevar, a lo menos otras tantas piedras de diferente calidad, o perlas, como llevaren de diamantes." (25) This same outfit will be worn again towards the end of the story, when Isabela is preparing to enter the convent, with the difference that she enhances the display by adding to it the priceless pearls and diamond ring given to her by Queen Elizabeth ("Salieron a luz las perlas y el famoso diamante" [2: 92]).
A sumptuary law passed in Virginia forbade settlers from importing "silke stuffe in garments or in peeces except for whoods and scarfs, nor silver or gold lace, nor bone lace of silk or threads, nor ribbands wrought with gold or silver in them." But with the Restoration in England in 1660, periwigs came into fashion on both sides of the Atlantic.
Finally, maybe the question "was it a sumptuary law?" does not really need an answer, if our reference model is an artificial category of "sumptuary laws" created in modern times, since what is important is not placement in a group of laws but the Roman perception of such laws and the use that the Romans made of them.
(14.) Catherine Kovesi Killerby, Sumptuary Law in Italy, 1200-1500 (Oxford, 2002), p.30.