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Sumptuary Laws

The laws that, since medieval times, were created to limit the consumption of specific commodities were called sumptuary laws. These laws were mostly used to regulate the consumption of clothes. In many cases, and especially in the Middle Ages, they also included precise limits on how much people of different social classes could legitimately spend on ceremonies, especially important family rituals such as weddings and funerals. A second feature of the sumptuary laws was that they regulated not all types of consumption, but only those that were deemed to be excessive or superfluous (“sumptuous”) or not suitable to the social status of the consumer: their overall aim was to curb and control any manifestations of excess.

It might appear strange to us that for centuries ...

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