Friday, February 17, 2012

Sumptuary Law in Nürnberg

I found a book that expands on my Bavarian information and should be perused for later use... Sumptuary Law in Nürnberg by Kent Roberts Greenfield published in 1915.  It appeared to give more information on the history of Nürnberg's government than the actual sumptuary laws, but then I went back to the Contents and found sections on the regulation of weddings, marriage festivities, funerals, christenings and, last, but not least, 'The Regulation of Clothing' [Chapter 8, pg 106-125].

From these pages I have been able to extract the following, whose time frame is approximately the late 14th century:
  1. "Apparel was everywhere a prominent subject of sumptuary regulation, and the council of Nürnberg did not fail to extend its surveillance to clothing and adornment of the person."
  2. "Men and women, in literal truth, were regulated from the part in their hair to the soles of their shoes."
  3. "The object of keeping things as they were had been seemed to be foremost."
  4. "The influence of the free intercourse with Italy is reflected in the ban laid on "Roman jackets," "silver Italian knives," and "silver cloth from Venice." [I have no idea what any of these are, though I can infer concerning the knives.]
  5. "In this early ordinance young and old were forbidden to wear specified ornaments which were evidently regarded as extravagant or dandified...  ...silver girdles worth more than a half a mark; silver bags; silver knives from Italy, perhaps disapproved of as a foreign affectation; fine pearls; slashed shoes, or slashed coats--coats "slashed under and on the sleeves"' or any sort of paternoster worth more than twelve haller.  ...the wearer of the paternoster 'shall not hang them over the backside; he shall wear it in front at one side, as has been done from old.'" [The footnote indicates this was likely around 1400.]
  6. "Men and women alike were to refrain from wearing any sort of clasps or rings or buttons on their sleeves higher than the elbow, on pain of forfeiting one pound haller a day." [I am uncertain what monetary value a 'haller' possessed.]
  7.  "Burgher ladies, married, unmarried, or widowed, must not put on a veil or a headdress that had in it more than a certain quantity of material, and were not to wear it in such a way 'that the ends in front lie upon the head.'  If they wished to put on an extra veil or headtire on account of sickness or cold, they might do it provided they put it on over 'twerch,' and must not pile two or more one upon the other." [Twerch?!  No clue.]
  8. "Women were classified in the terms of the ordinance as 'married women, maidens, and widows.'"
  9. "Matrons and widows were forbidden to wear any "reisen" except of a cheap grade, which was white or red, 'as they have done from of old.'" [Reisen or 'die Reise' or 'a kind of Haube', per the footnote.]
  10. "All women--matrons, widows, or maidens--were prohibited from wearing any garment of silk, or Roman jackets, or garments trimmed with 'zendal' (a light silken fabric) or with gold or silver, or bordered with these last; and they might have only two garments wholly of fur."
  11. "They must smother their longings for ermine, fur coats, and coats of 'spalt,' or pay a fine of ten pounds haller;"
  12. "...and on pain of the same penalty they must abjure the vanity of ear ornaments 'which are made with beaten gold, or with silver, with fine pearls or precious stones.'"
  13. "If men had passed fifty years they must stop wearing red buckram, perhaps because this was not becoming to advancing years."
  14. "Furthermore 'no burgher, young or old, shall wear his hair parted; they shall wear the hair in tufts as it has been worn from of old.'"
  15. "Finally no burgher, young or old, was thereafter to 'wear any sliver cloth from Venice.'"
I especially found the following few sentences to be somewhat amusing and felt compelled to include them:  "The chronicler notes that in the year 1453 "the long peaks on the shoes began; the vanity came from Schwabia."  To which the Bishop at Bamberg felt the need to write a letter to the city with the response as follows: "On July 17 the council replied that in obedience to his request it had given orders to the cobblers "on pain of a definite penalty henceforth to make no more peaks on the shoes."

The following are from within the 15th century:
  1. "Things forbidden to women were cloth of gold or of silver, velvet, satin, or other silk material, as dressgoods or trimming; sable or martin fur, as material or lining; coats of camel's hair; garments of 'scharlach' and 'scharlatin'; linings or taffeta or other silk in their mantles; and pearls, which, however, young maidens might wear if they followed a prescribed manner."
  2. "Men were forbidden to wear cloth of gold or of silver, velvet, and scarlet; ermine, sable, and weasel fur; gold lace, and pearls.  These materials were evidently condemned on the ground of their high cost."
  3. "...women might wear the silks and the precious cloths, otherwise prohibited, as a border on the collar and sleeves of their cloaks and coats, but not a jot wider than the standard measure given to the tailors, and never so as to use more than a half an ell of goods."
  4. "...women might not have borders of fur on their garments any broader than the measure given the furriers for this purpose, and they were not to have them at all around the bottom of their coats and undergarments."
  5. "Exception to the prohibition of taffeta and silks as lining for mantles was made of 'zendal, schylher, or taffant'; but these were to be worn in such moderation as not to cost, on any one mantle, over five Rhenish gulden." [The Rhenish guilder was a standard of gold coin that was widely used in the Germanic countries during the 14th-15th centuries.]
  6. "A woman might have her cloak lined with fur, provided it did not as a result, with all appurtenances, buttons, covering, clasps, and the rest, cost over eighteen gulden; or she might have it lined with buckram or the like, if it did not exceed in cost ten gulden."
  7. "No male person in the city was to have a bordering of 'velvet, satin, damask, or other silk' on coat, breeches, cloak, or mantle, that contained over a half an ell of goods; and no man was to have any border of silk around the bottom of his garment."
  8. "...'taphart-hembden' (wide garments caught in the middle with a girdle), with making and all appurtenances, must not cost more than six gulden;"
  9. "...'halshembden' must not exceed two gulden in value;" [Footnote indicated: "Guimps" I suppose we should call them; they began at the neck and extended over the breast, where they were fastened to the corsage.]
  10. "Veils were not permissible that contained over six folds, or with all attachments cost more than six gulden."
  11. "A 'stewchlein' worth a Rhenish gulden or less might be worn."
  12. "...a maiden might wear pearl fringes, tiaras, and fillets, but they must be of such value as not to make her whole headtire cost more than forty gulden."  ...  "in order to bridle a 'notable extravagance' in this matter which had 'broken out and is practiced among certain honorable maidens.'"
  13. "[The women] would have thereafter to content themselves with one [gold] chain; and this, with all pendants, was not to exceed in value fifteen Rhenish gulden." ... "[the council] was seeking "to avoid and repress such useless and uncalled-for costliness.'"
  14. "The council forbade women to wear rosaries of a value exceeding twenty gulden."
  15. "[The men] could not wear breeches or caps which cost them more than one orts-gulden to have made.  And they must cease wearing fancy shirts and breast-cloths." ... "because 'considerable extravagance has broken out,'"
  16. "When it ordered the men to wear their clothing closed in front, in order to remove the temptation to have a costly fur lining to show at the openings, and then allowed them only a turned-over fur collar, it declared that it was moved to this because 'notable extravagance' had arisen among the men of all classes, 'namely in the use of marten and other expensive fur-stuffs on cloaks, breeches, coats and mantles; also expensive sable, marten and [other] fur hats and headgear, all which more befit manifest pride than necessity.'"
  17. "...the council forbade women to wear garments cut too low in the neck.  'Too low,' in the eyes of the city father, was anything exceeding one finger's breadth below the throat.  In the back the collar might lawfully be a half quarter-ell lower."
  18. "women must not wear their coats and other garments standing open at the girdle, but have them clasped with catches, or else wholly closed.  If they had garments which they could not alter to conform with the law, they might wear them only if they wore underneath a breast-cloth and a closed collar."
  19. For men: "Coats and mantles had, for decency's sake, to extend two finger breadths over the fly and the man's shame.  And the mantle, short or long, must 'not be cut out too deeply, or be left open, in order that everyone's shame may be covered, and he may not be found unchaste therewith.'"
  20. "..every man in the city "shall wear the fly of his breeches not bare, uncovered, open, or visible, but shall have all of his garments made, and shall wear them in such a manner that his shame and the fly of his breeches may be well covered and not seen bare.'"

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