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Considering the ornament (siering) of modesty, which is the chief ornament (jewellery) of a women, is removed by excess (huge amount) in apparel (clothing/dress), and since the way in which one dresses indicates the nature of one's mind, the priors (man who is in charge of a building where monks or nuns live, work and pray) want therefore to control or limit the superfluous (unnecessary/needles) expense and excess in apparel, as well as to contain (control) the ‘fertile subtleties' of women through corrective measures.
I will mainly talk about Florence. Florentines of the Renaissance period were very much aware that dress played a role in announcing one's status, rank and dignity, and they attached a great deal of importance to appropriate clothing. But women unfortunately were not allowed to buy clothes or jewelry as much as they wanted. The ‘sumptuary laws' regulated this.
Examples of law: amount and type of material/fabric even how it was decorated of woman's clothes and jewelry were decided, (LITERALLY) !
Enforcement failed: when you were under the age of ten, when you or your husband were a foreigner, wives of knights, physicians, doctors either civil or canon law you were exempted from these laws ?? For prostitutes (they had to identify themselves) and servants girls you had separate regulations governing the dress and punishment when the laws were violated, these were quite embarrassing and severe in comparison with the ‘respectable women in Florence' (when not paid the fine within a certain time).
Motivation behind sumptuary legislation:
- Christian women has to dress themselves ‘modestly and soberly' (seriously and reasonably/simply)
- A Christian women must be a learner, listening quietly and with due submission, (when a person or allows someone to have power over them >humility). I do not permit a women to be a teacher, nor must women domineer over man, she should be quiet.
Bishop (cause-and-effect relationship, linking the sins of Florentine men to women's show in dress)
- Control/limit the women's taste for luxury, and their husbands might be saved from their sinful pursuit of money.
- Women were criticized for asking their husbands to buy them more closed than was needed, were as a consequence young men didn't want to marry because of the high expense to dress the women which they couldn't afford. They postpone their marriage from mid-twenties to the early thirties, which became a trend in the first half of the fifteenth century. Because of this phenomenon (late first marriage of men/show in female apparel) Florentine lawmakers enacted a number of measures in the early 1400s, including sumptuary laws that was designed to remedy the new trend among men to marry later in life.
Consequences late marriage:
- fewer marriage meant fewer legitimate births.
- to fill the city's population (Florence) up again, duty of the women were to get married and
bear children/ concerns about population decrease
- increasing homosexuality(that's why measures were made to favor prostitutes so that the men turn away from homosexuality)
This wrong behavior of women was ‘perverse nature' that needed to be controlled through dress regulations
1425 > Bernardinio: Florentine women who were dressed like a prostitute said that they did this to please their husband so that they not fall into sodomy (homosexual behavior)
‘one was not permitted to commit any sin, even with the intention of achieving some good' and
‘at home, you dress like baker women, wearing rags, but save your beautiful clothing and jewellery' > so it was the to please the men of the street, adulterers and philanderers, and not their husband, that the women of Florence dressed up in fancy ornaments.
After about 1415 these laws were made less strict so more liberalized. Fe women were allowed to wear more rings on their fingers,
In the 1470s and 1480s the old laws were restored and sometimes more stringent laws were enacted with regard to the dress and jewelry of a women.