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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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(p.1) Introduction
Sumptuary Law in Italy 1200-1500

Catherine Kovesi Killerby (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter aims to evaluate the nature of ‘sumptuary laws’ up to 1500 and thereby associate them to the circumstances, the framework of ideas, and the habit of mind that gave rise to them. It mentions some of the previous analyses conducted with the sumptuary laws. It examines all known sumptuary laws in Italy enacted over a three-century period over forty towns across the peninsula. It argues that the failure of the laws was not usually caused by the lack of desire to implement them, but to a combination of other factors such as the inappropriateness of legislation as a tool with which to control luxury consumption and the aggravation of the legislative problem by a lack of desire of an outright condemnation of luxury consumption. It clarifies that it was the context of use, by whom and for what purpose, that determined the approval or censure of luxury.

Keywords:   sumptuary laws, 1500, Italy, legislation, luxury consumption

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