FACTOID # 19: Cheap sloppy joes: Looking for reduced-price lunches for schoolchildren? Head for Oklahoma!
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 


FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:



(* = Graphable)



Encyclopedia > Sumptuary law

Sumptuary laws (from Latin sumptuariae leges) were laws that regulated and reinforced social hierarchies and morals through restrictions on clothing, food, and luxury expenditures. They were an easy way to identify social rank and privilege, and were usually used for social discrimination. This frequently meant preventing commoners from imitating the appearance of aristocrats, and sometimes also to stigmatize disfavored groups. In the Late Middle Ages sumptuary laws were instated as a way for the nobility to cap the conspicuous consumption of the up-and-coming bourgeoisie of medieval cities. Latin was the language originally spoken in the region around Rome called Latium. ... Lady Justice or Justitia is a personification of the moral force that underlies the legal system (particularly in Western art). ... Social hierarchy, a multi-tiered pyramid-like social or functional structure having an apex as the centralization of power. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... Girls wearing formal attire for dancing, an example of one of the many modern forms of clothing. ... A luxury good is a good at the highest end of the market in terms of quality and price. ... The Lords and Barons prove their Nobility by hanging their Banners and exposing their Coats-of-arms at the Windows of the Lodge of the Heralds. ... A privilege—etymologically private law or law relating to a specific individual—is an honour, or permissive activity granted by another person or a government. ... Manifestations Slavery · Racial profiling · Lynching Hate speech · Hate crime · Hate groups Genocide · Holocaust · Pogrom Ethnocide · Ethnic cleansing · Race war Religious persecution · Gay bashing Pedophobia · Ephebiphobia Movements Discriminatory Aryanism · Neo-Nazism · Supremacism Kahanism Anti-discriminatory Abolitionism · Civil rights · Gay rights Womens/Universal suffrage · Mens rights Childrens rights · Youth... A commoner, in British law, is someone who is neither the Sovereign nor a noble. ... Social stigma is severe social disapproval of personal characteristics or beliefs that are against cultural norms. ... Dante by Michelino The Late Middle Ages is a term used by historians to describe European history in the period of the 14th and 15th centuries (1300–1500 A.D.). The Late Middle Ages were preceded by the High Middle Ages, and followed by the Early Modern era (Renaissance). ... Nobility is a traditional hereditary status (see hereditary titles) that exists today in many countries (mainly present or former monarchies). ... Conspicuous consumption is a term used to describe the lavish spending on goods and services that are acquired mainly for the purpose of displaying income or wealth. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Defensive towers at San Gimignano, Tuscany, bear witness to the factional strife within communes. ...



  • The first written Greek law code (Locrian code), by Zaleucus (seventh century BC) stipulated that "no free woman should be allowed any more than one maid to follow her, unless she was drunk: nor was to stir out of the city by night, wear jewels of gold about her, or go in an embroidered robe, unless she was a professed and public prostitute; that, bravos excepted, no man was to wear a gold ring, nor be seen in one of those effeminate robes woven in the city of Miletus." (Quoted from Montaigne, see below.)
  • In ancient Rome, the Sumptuariae Leges were various laws passed to prevent inordinate expense (sumptus) in banquets and dress, such as the use of expensive Tyrian purple dye.[1][2] It was considered the duty of government to put a check upon extravagance in the private expenses of persons,[3] and such laws are found in laws attributed to the kings of Rome and in the Twelve Tables. The Roman censors, who were entrusted with the disciplina or cura morum, published the nota censoria. In it was listed the names of everyone found guilty of a luxurious mode of living; a great many instances of this kind are recorded. As the Roman Republic wore on, further such laws were passed, however towards the end of the Republic they were virtually repealed.
  • During the Tokugawa period (1603-1868) in Japan, people of every class were subject to strict sumptuary laws, which extended even to the types of umbrellas different people could use. In the second half of that period (the 18th-19th centuries), the merchant class (chōnin) had grown far wealthier than the aristocratic samurai, and these laws sought to maintain class divisions despite the ability of the merchants to wear far more luxurious clothing and to own far more luxurious items. The shogunate eventually gave in, and allowed for certain concessions, including the allowance of merchants of a certain prestige to wear one sword at their belt; samurai always wore two.
  • During the Middle Ages in England, beginning with Edward III and ending with James I, sumptuary laws dictated what color and type of clothing as well as what types and breeds of dogs or hunting birds an individual was allowed to own. In the case of clothing this was intended to, amongst other things, reduce spending on foreign textiles. For the most part, these laws were poorly enforced and often ignored, though the Parliament of England made repeated amendments to the laws and several monarchs (most notably the Tudors) continually called for stricter enforcement.
  • Montaigne's brief essay On sumptuary laws criticized sixteenth century French laws, beginning "The way by which our laws attempt to regulate idle and vain expenses in meat and clothes, seems to be quite contrary to the end designed... For to enact that none but princes shall eat turbot, shall wear velvet or gold lace, and interdict these things to the people, what is it but to bring them into a greater esteem, and to set every one more agog to eat and wear them?" He also cites Plato and Zaleucus.
  • In Renaissance Europe, courtesans were sometimes limited in their apparel by various sumptuary laws and were restricted in where they could appear at social functions.
  • In the Massachusetts Bay Colony, only people with a personal fortune of at least two hundred pounds could wear lace, silver or gold thread or buttons, cutwork, embroidery, hatbands, belts, ruffles, capes, and other articles. After a few decades, the law was widely defied -- one woman wore to court the dress she was charged with owning -- and became a dead letter.[4]

Vestiges of sumptuary laws have survived into the modern era. Zaleucus (fl. ... The lower half of the benches and the remnants of the scene building of the theater of Miletus (August 2005) Miletus (Hittite: Milawata or Millawanda, Greek: Μίλητος transliterated Miletos, Turkish: Milet) was an ancient Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia (in what is now the Aydin Province of Turkey... Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (February 28, 1533 - September 13, 1592) was an influential French Renaissance writer, generally considered to be the inventor of the personal essay. ... Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew from a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula circa the 9th century BC to a massive empire straddling the Mediterranean Sea. ... Murex brandaris, also known as the Spiny dye-murex The chemical structure of 6,6′-dibromoindigo, the main component of Tyrian Purple A space-filling model of 6,6′-dibromoindigo Tyrian purple (Greek: , porphura), also known as royal purple or imperial purple, is a purple-red dye made by the... The ancient quarters of Rome. ... Ordinary Magistrates Extraordinary Magistrates Titles and Honors Emperor Politics and Law The Law of the Twelve Tables (Lex Duodecim Tabularum, more informally simply Duodecim Tabulae) was the ancient legislation that stood at the foundation of Roman law. ... A Censor was a magistrate of high rank in the ancient Roman Republic. ... See also Roman Republic (18th century) and Roman Republic (19th century). ... History of Japan Paleolithic Jomon Yayoi Yamato period ---Kofun period ---Asuka period Nara period Heian period Kamakura period Muromachi period Azuchi-Momoyama period ---Nanban period Edo period Meiji period Taisho period Showa period ---Japanese expansionism ---Occupied Japan ---Post-Occupation Japan Heisei The Edo period (江戸時代) is a... Chōnin (町人 townsman) was a social class that emerged in Japan during the early years of the Tokugawa period. ... This page is about the Japanese ruler and military rank. ... An Edo-era daisho on its stand. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... Motto (French) God and my right Anthem God Save the King (Queen) England() – on the European continent() – in the United Kingdom() Capital (and largest city) London (de facto) Official languages English (de facto) Government Constitutional monarchy  -  Queen Queen Elizabeth II  -  Prime Minister Tony Blair MP Unification  -  by Athelstan 967  Area... This article is about the King of England. ... James VI and I (James Stuart) (June 19, 1566 – March 27, 1625) was King of Scots, King of England, and King of Ireland. ... English parliament in front of the king c. ... The Tudor dynasty or House of Tudor (Welsh: ) was a series of five monarchs of Welsh origin who ruled England and Ireland from 1485 until 1603. ... Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (February 28, 1533 - September 13, 1592) was an influential French Renaissance writer, generally considered to be the inventor of the personal essay. ... For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ... Zaleucus (fl. ... The Renaissance (French for rebirth, or Rinascimento in Italian), was a cultural movement in Italy (and in Europe in general) that began in the late Middle Ages, and spanned roughly the 14th through the 17th century. ... This article is 150 kilobytes or more in size. ... A courtesan in mid-16th century usage was a high-class prostitute or mistress, especially one associated with rich, powerful, or upper-class men who provided luxuries and status in exchange for her services. ...

List of sumptuariae leges

The text below is taken from A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875 by William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D. [3] Title page A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities is single volume encyclopedia in English language first published in 1842. ... Sir William Smith (1813 - 1893), English lexicographer, was born at Enfield in 1813 of Nonconformist parents. ... Some universities, such as the University of Oxford, award Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) degrees instead of Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degrees. ... Doctor of Laws (Latin: Legum Doctor, LL.D) is a doctorate-level academic degree in law. ...

SUMTUA´RIAE LEGES, the name of various laws passed to prevent inordinate expense (sumtus) in banquets, dress, &c. (Gellius, ii.24, xx.1). In the states of antiquity it was considered the duty of government to put a check upon extravagance in the private expenses of persons, and among the Romans in particular we find traces of this in the laws attributed to the kings and in the Twelve Tables. The censors, to whom was entrusted the disciplina or cura morum, punished by the nota censoria all persons guilty of what was then regarded as a luxurious mode of living: a great many instances of this kind are recorded [CENSOR, p264, a.] But as the love of luxury greatly increased with the foreign conquests of the republic and the growing wealth of the nations, various Leges Sumtuariae were passed at different times with the object of restraining it. These however, as may be supposed, rarely accomplished their object, and in the latter times of the republic they were virtually repealed. The following is a list of the most important of them arranged in chronological order.

OPPIA, proposed by the tribune C. Oppius in the consulship of Q. Fabius and Ti. Sempronius in the middle of the second Punic war B.C. 213, enacted that no woman should have above half an ounce of gold, nor wear a dress of different colours, nor ride in a carriage in the city or in any town, or within a mile of it, unless on account of public sacrifices. This law was repealed twenty years afterwards (Liv. xxiv.1, 8; Val. Max. ix.1 §3), whence we frequently find the Lex Orchia mentioned as the first Lex Sumtuaria. Tacitus (Tac. Ann. iii.33, 34) speaks of Oppiae Leges.

ORCHIA, proposed by the tribune C. Orchius in the third year after the censorship of Cato B.C. 181, limited the number of guests to be present at entertainments. When attempts were afterwards made to repeal the law, Cato offered the strongest opposition, and delivered a speech in defence of the law, which is referred to by the grammarians (Macrob. Sat. iii.17.3; Festus, s.vv. Obsonitavere, Percunctatum; Schol. Bob. in Cic. pro Sest. p310, ed. Johann Caspar Orelli; Meyer, Orat. Roman. Fragm. p91, &c., 2d ed.). Portrait by Ludwig Wegner Johann Caspar von Orelli (February 13, 1787–January 6, 1849), was a Swiss classical scholar. ...

FANNIA, proposed by the consul C. Fannius B.C. 161, limited the sums which were to be spent on entertainments, and enacted that not more than 100 asses should be spent on certain festivals named in the lex, whence it is called Centussis by Lucilius, that on ten other days in each month not more than 30 asses, and that on all other days not more than 10 asses should be expended: also that no other fowl but one hen should be served up, and that not fattened for the purpose (Gell. ii.24; Macrob. Sat. iii.17.5; Plin. H.N. x.50 s.71). The As (plural Asses) was a bronze, and later copper, coin used during the Roman Republic and Roman Empire, named after the homonymous weight unit (12 unciae = ounces), but not immune to weight depreciation. ...

DIDIA, passed B.C. 143, extended the Lex Fannia to the whole of Italy, and enacted that not only those who gave entertainments which exceeded in expense what the law had prescribed, but also all who were present at such entertainments, should be liable to the penalties of the law. We are not however told in what these consisted (Macrob. Sat. iii.17.6).

LICINIA agreed in its chief provisions with the Lex Fannia, and was brought forward, we are told, that there might be the authority of a new law upon the subject, inasmuch as the Lex Fannia was beginning to be neglected. It allowed 200 asses to be spent on entertainments upon marriage days and on other days the same as the Lex Fannia: also, that on ordinary days there should not be served up more than three pounds of fresh and one pound of salt meat (Gell. Macrob. ll.cc.). Gellius (l.c.) states, that this law was brought forward by P. Licinius Crassus, but we do not know at what time, probably however in his praetorship B.C. 103. Gellius relates elsewhere (xv.8) that a Latin orator of the name of Favorinus spoke in support of this law (see Dict. of Biog. art. Favorinus).

CORNELIA, a law of the dictator Sulla B.C. 81, was enacted on account of the neglect of the Fannian and Licinian Laws. Like these it regulated the expenses of entertainments (Gell. ii.24; Macrob. l.c.). Extravagance in funerals, which had been forbidden even in the Twelve Tables (Cic. de Leg. ii.23-25), was also restrained by a law of Sulla (Plut. Sull. 35). It was probably the same law which determined how much might be spent upon monuments (Cic. ad Att. xii.35, 36).

AEMILIA, proposed by the consul Aemilius Lepidus B.C. 78, did not limit the expenses of entertainments, but the kind and quantity of food that was to be used (Gell. Macrob. ll.cc.). Pliny (H.N. viii.57 s.82) and Aurelius Victor (de Vir. Ill. 72) ascribe the law to the consulship of M. Aemilius Scaurus B.C. 115. It is not impossible that there may have been two Aemilian Leges on the subject.

ANTIA, of uncertain date, proposed by Antius Restio, besides limiting the expenses of entertainments, enacted that no actual magistrate, or magistrate elect, should dine abroad anywhere except at the houses of certain persons. This law however was little observed; and we are told that Antius never dined out afterwards, that he might not see his own law violated (Gell. Macrob. ll.cc.).

JULIA, proposed by the dictator C. Julius Caesar, enforced the former sumptuary laws respecting entertainments, which had fallen into disuse (Dion Cass. xliii.25). Julius Caesar adopted strong measures to carry this law into execution, but it was violated when he was absent from Rome (Cic. ad Att. xiii.7). He stationed officers in the provision market to seize all eatables forbidden by the law, and sometimes sent lictors and soldiers to banquets to take away every thing which was not allowed by the law (Suet. Jul. 43). Cicero seems to refer to this law in two of his epistles (ad Fam. vii.26, ix.15).

JULIA, a lex of Augustus, allowed 200 sesterces to be expended upon festivals on dies profesti, 300 upon those on the Calends, Ides, Nones, and some other festive days, and 1000 upon marriage feasts. There was also an edict of Augustus or Tiberius by which as much as from 300 to 2000 sesterces were allowed to be expended upon entertainments, the increase being made with the hope of securing thereby the observance of the law (Gell. l.c.; Sueton. Octav. 34). The sestertius was an ancient Roman coin. ...

Tiberius attempted to check extravagance in banquets (Suet. Tib. 34); and a senatusconsultum was passed in his reign for the purpose of restraining luxury, which forbade gold vases to be employed, except for sacred purposes, and which also prohibited the use of silk garments to men (Tac. Ann. ii.33; Dion Cass. lvii.15). This sumptuary law, however, was but little observed (Tac. Ann. iii.52, 53). Some regulations on the subject were also made by Nero (Suet. Ner. 16), and by succeeding emperors, but they appear to have been of little or no avail in checking the increasing love of luxury in dress and food (Platner, Exercit. II. de Legibus Sumtuariis Rom. Lips. 1752; Boxmann, Dissert. antiquario-juridica de Leg. Rom. Sumtuariis, Lugd. Batav. 1816).


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ Smith, William.; William Wayte, G. E. Marindin (1890). "Census". A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (third edition). London: Albemarle Street. Retrieved on 2006-25-05. 
  4. ^ Linda M. Scott, Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism p 24 ISBN 1-4039-6686-9

Sir William Smith (1813 - 1893), English lexicographer, was born at Enfield in 1813 of Nonconformist parents. ...

See also



Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m