Encyclopedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles

Get access

Laws and prohibitions: sumptuary
(1,154 words)

Sumptuary legislation takes its name from sumptus, the Latin word for expense. The English laws concerned with clothing were also known as Acts of Apparel. The acts sought to regulate expenditure on luxury goods. They were not an innovation of the late Middle Ages, having developed in classical Greece. Luxury in itself was not a problem for the social élite because it was a useful way of defining the social order. However, uncontrolled access to luxury goods could result in the blurring of social boun…

Cite this page
Maria Hayward and Stephen Church, “Laws and prohibitions: sumptuary”, in: Encyclopedia of Medieval Dress and Textiles, Edited by: Gale Owen-Crocker, Elizabeth Coatsworth, Maria Hayward. Consulted online on 27 May 2020 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2213-2139_emdt_COM_000709>
First published online: 2012
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004124356, 20120503

▲   Back to top   ▲