Short Notes on Sumptuary Laws in France

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Short Notes on Sumptuary Laws in France

(i) Sumptuary laws (1294 to 1789) were laws which imposed social codes of food and dress upon different strata of society in France.

(ii) These laws were meant to emphasise social hierarchy and control behaviour of those considered ‘social inferiors’, i.e., the unprivileged.

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(iii) They prevented social inferiors from wearing certain clothes and consuming certain foods and beverages associated with the aristocracy. As per these laws only royalty could wear expensive materials like ermine and fur, or silk, velvet and brocade.

(iv) Thus items of clothing a person could buy and use for clothing were regulated not only by income but by social rank.

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