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Sumptuary Law in Italy 1200-1500$
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Catherine Kovesi Killerby

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199247936

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199247936.001.0001

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Money and People

Money and People

Chapter:
(p.41) 3 Money and People
Source:
Sumptuary Law in Italy 1200-1500
Author(s):

Catherine Kovesi Killerby (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199247936.003.0004

This chapter begins by explaining that sumptuary legislation cannot be ‘linked in a simple or satisfying way to contemporary economic opinion or conditions’. It then investigates the importance for late medieval and Renaissance Italian governments of preserving and encouraging the two resources of money and people by means of sumptuary laws. It stresses that the laws stated that expenditure itself was not discouraged for it was recognised that the circulation of money was vital to the maintenance and improvement of trade and industry. It clarifies that the laws considered useless expenditure to be universally condemned. It argues that an apparent flaw in these governments' economic thought here is their failure to consider that expenditure by the wealthy, though possibly foolish, provided income for artisans. It stresses that sumptuary laws were not employed as a useless, rhetorical exercise of moral catharsis, but as a practical means of dealing with practical problems.

Keywords:   sumptuary legislation, economic impact, medieval Italian government, Renaissance Italian government, artisan

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