Login (DCU Staff Only)
Login (DCU Staff Only)

DORAS | DCU Research Repository

Explore open access research and scholarly works from DCU

Advanced Search

Moustaches, mantles and saffron shirts: what motivated sumptuary law in medieval English Ireland?

Booker, Sparky orcid logoORCID: 0000-0003-4436-9291 (2021) Moustaches, mantles and saffron shirts: what motivated sumptuary law in medieval English Ireland? Speculum: journal of the medieval academy of America, 96 (3). pp. 726-770. ISSN 0038-7134

Sumptuary laws—laws that regulated displays of status through clothing, hairstyles, armor, and other visual markers—were enacted across Europe with increasing frequency beginning in the late thirteenth century. Sumptuary laws from the English colony in Ireland, promulgated from 1297 onward, have never been analyzed as a distinct corpus of law nor interpreted in the wider European context. Comparison of the Irish laws with their European counterparts highlights the markers of status that lawmakers in the colony were most anxious to preserve. Irish laws share the same core concern that prompted most sumptuary law: that a person’s position in society was faithfully reflected in their appearance. They differ markedly from much European material, however, in the types of status with which they were primarily concerned. They rarely addressed, for example, the attire of women or sought to restrain expenditure. Most notably, in Europe the signaling of rank and social status was the main concern of sumptuary laws, while in Ireland differentiation by ethnicity was the primary focus. The relative inattention to social status in the Irish laws relates to several economic and societal factors but also reflects the centrality of ethnic division between English and Irish to the worldview of lawmakers in the colony.
Item Type:Article (Published)
Uncontrolled Keywords:medieval sumptuary; clothing; fashion; identity; Ireland
Subjects:Humanities > History
DCU Faculties and Centres:DCU Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Science > School of History and Geography
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
Official URL:https://dx.doi.org/10.1086/714426
Copyright Information:© 2021 Medieval Academy of America. Open Access(CC BY-NC 4.0 )
ID Code:26481
Deposited On:06 May 2022 11:07 by Sparky Booker . Last Modified 01 Jul 2022 03:30

Full text available as:

[thumbnail of Speculum booker mantles moustaches final.pdf]
PDF - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader


Downloads per month over past year

Archive Staff Only: edit this record