Medieval Europe 814-1450: Fashion - Research Article from Arts and Humanities Through the Eras

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Dress Codes and Anti-Fashion

The Origins of Sumptuary Law.

Sumptuary laws, named from a Latin word that joins the ideas of magnificence and expense, were enacted across Western Europe during the Middle Ages. Such laws had economic, moral, and social foundations. Economically, they regulated personal spending, with the intention of controlling inflation, discouraging the depletion of state resources for purposes of ostentatious display, and limiting the trade deficits that could occur through the import of luxury goods from faraway places. At the same time they regulated behavior, reinforcing the virtues of modesty and moral seriousness that were often thought to be especially lacking among women and young men. Finally, they performed a social function in clarifying the lines between classes through visual signs, slowing the encroachment of the commercial classes on the privileges of the aristocracy. The earliest such laws in the Middle Ages were those...

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This section contains 2,798 words
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Buy the Medieval Europe 814-1450: Fashion Encyclopedia Article
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