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Siimptuary Legislation end Personel 
Regulation in England 


Frances Elizabeth Baldwin 

A Dissertation 

Submitted to the Board of University- 
Studies of The Johns Hopkins University 
in Conformity v^ith the Hequirements for 
the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 





Introduction Page 

Chapter I - The Earliest SiJUT.ptuary Laws. 1 

Chapter II - The Lancastrian Period 77 

Chapter III.- The Yorkist Period 111 

Chapter IV - Sumptuary Legislation - Henry VII to Mary 144 

Chapter V - The Reign of Elizabeth 248 

Chapter VI - The Decline of Sumptuary Legislation 815 


This study attempts to trace through a considerable period of 
English history the laws which regulated the intimate personal conduct 
of men in distinction from their general political rights and duties. 
Most of these regulations can be classified as sumptuary in the sense 
that they goverri^he amount and direction of individual expenditures and 
that by means of them the legislators of the past "sought to regulate the 
private life of a citizen in every respect : the fashion of his clothes, 
the number of oourees at his meals, how many guests he m.ight have at 
wedding, dinner or dance, how long he should be permitted to haunt the 
tavern and bavr much he should drink".,,. Consideration has also been 
given, however, to other ordinances of a paternal character which from a 
modern point of view seem burdensome and unnecessary, So, too, the 
ordinary police regulations, without which no society can exist, are intro- 
duced from time to time for comparison in the/y^^SOof their avm day. 

The sub,iect throws much light upon the aivilization of the times 
when these laws were in operation, and the treatrient here adopted endeavors 
to exhibit them in the surroundings of contemporary social history. No 
attempt is made to sharpen legal definitions, for the Middle Ages took it 
for granted that every government had the right to check extravagance and 
restrain luxury for the public good (since luxury in individuals was 
presumed to lead to the corruption of the state and even by weakening it 
to endanger its national existence). The philosophical discussion of this 
matter which took place in later probably hastened the disuse of this 
right. A consecutive historical treatm.ent of English experience has hither- 
to been wanting and in partial fulfillment of that want these pages offer an 

1, Preserved Smith, The Age of the Reformation, p. 482 ff. 


account of sumptuary legislation in that country from its earliest appear- 
ance in the recorded statutes to the time of its decline. 

In ree.din£; over the numerous laws of this kind which were payed in , , 
England, one is struck by the fact that at least three.kinds of motives 
seem to have led to their enactment: (l) the desire to preserve class 
distinctions, so that any stranger could tell by merely looking at a man's 
dress to what rank in society he belonged; (2) the desire to check practices 
which were regarded as deleterious in their effects and the feeling that 
l\ixury and extravagance were in themselves v.'icked and harmful to the morals 
of the people; (3) economic reasons: (a) the endeavor to encourage home 
industries and to discourage the buying of foreign goods, and (b) the 
der.ire on the part of the sovereign to have his people save up their money, 
so that they might be able to help him out in time of need. Sheer conser- 
vatism and dislike of new fashions or customs might be mentioned as a 
f ourth^BifntiTTii which led to the passage of the English sumptuary lav.s. ! 

In treating the subject dealt with by this paper, it has been divided 
for convenience into chronological periods corresponding to the reigns of 
croups of kings. Changes in law do not always depend on the personality 


of the rulers, but in general the periods have each a characteristic j 


civilisation into which this legislation enters. In contrast to the mass 

of sumptuary laws found in central Europe, the English ordinances were 

national rather than local in character and dealt with fewer subjects than j 
did those of otVier countries. In fact, the English laws were almost ] 

entirely concerned with the regulation of food and clothing, especially the 
latter. The to'OTis of that country.aiffered from the towns of the continent, 
in that they seom rarely to heve exercised a paternal oversight of expen- 
diture and fashions. The cities of the Rhine country assumed all the 
fionctions of governm.ent, and ruled their few citizens in a more strict and 


intimate fashion than the k5ag of England was able to do in his wider 
dominions. Their records contain materials vhich are not found in 
English towns. This fact places limits to the scope of this study, 
but it is hoped that the development of sumptuary legislation within 
the given period has been sufficiently set forth, together with the 
documentary ©vidance. 

Chapter I 
The Earliest Sumptuary Laws . 

The earliest English sumptuary laws of which any record has been 
found were enacted by Parliament during the reign of Edward III, who came 
to the throne in the year 1327, Previous to this time, ordinances of a 
sumptuary character may perhaps have existed, but. even ifni'rr-^ ■■-in the 
case, none of these appear in the published documents. Any attempt to 
prove the existence of such ordinances by analogy v/ith later timss.when 
royal proclamations regulating dress were frequently issued, would be 
unwarranted. Therefore, after a preliminary survey of some early laws 
which, though not strictly sumptuary in character, may be clt.ised imder 
the head of attem^pts at personal regulation, this study will begin with 
the period of Edward III, 

Like the people of other nations living in the same period, the 
English of the Middle Ages were accustomed to the public regulation of many 
matters pertaining to private, everyday life. Statutes dealing with the 
subject of food and drink, or "victuals", were common enough. Tabulated 
tariffs and official regulations of everything from beer to labor filled 
the old English law books. The aim of such legislation was, however, not 
to put an end to extravagance in one form or another, but to protect the 
consumer against the possible greed and dishonesty of the producer. First 
the gilds and then the towns issued regulations for the conduct of markets 
and the fixing of prices, but with these efforts this study is not concerned, 
except as illustrations of the habit of thought universally prevalent during 
the mediaeval period. Eventually the central governmentyTturned its 
attention in this direction and assumed many duties formerly belonging to 
cities, among o+hers that of regulating the sale of various articles. 

1, Edwin R. A. Seligman, "Two Chapters on the Mediaeval Guilds of England", in 
the Publications of the American Economic Association, vol. ii, p. 454, 

^A brief discussion of price-fixing in ipediaeval England will, serve to 

indicate the spirit of the age. In 1221 (to go back no farther) the 

Select Pleas of the Crov/n for Worcestershire record a command issued to 

the keepers of pleas in the town of T^orcester to seize all wine sold at a 

price of more than "5 d. for the sextary , whether of white wine or of 

red", to sell the wine and to hold the money for the king's use. In 

another passage from the same collection of documents, a complaint is irade 

that those who make bread and beer wil] not suffer theraselTes to be broug-ht 

to justice when they offend against the laws regulating the prices of their 

products. It is therefore ordered that "as rt^^^ards these matters they 

do vfhat is due by law. 

In the fifty-first year of the reign of Henry III (1266-67) a statute 

was enacted regulating the selling prices of both bread and ale, or rather 

stating how much of each should be sold for a given price under given 

conditions. Thus, in this "assize panis et cervisiae", as the statute was 

called, it is laid down that "when a quartsr of virheat is sold for 12 d., 

then wastel bread of a farthing shall weigh 6 1, and 16 s. But bread 

2* Pleas of tha Crown were those pleas or actions at law over which the crown 
claimed exclusive jurisdiction as affecting the king's peace. The term was 
later applied to all crimirial actions or proceedings. 

', "Sextary" oomes from the Latin word "sextarius", meaning the sixth part 
of a measure. A sextary was probably equivalent to about 1,14 pints, 

4. Solden Society, Select Pleas of the Crovm, vol. I, pp. 97, 96» 

5. Ibid. Tlie jurors also ccmplained that the rules laid down by law as to the 
breadth of cloth were not being strictly observed. The decision as to what 
should be done about this matter was left in this case to the king's council. 
Since Parliament was not yet in existence, the lav.s referred to in the 
passages quoted must have beer royal orders. 

6. "Assize" >:ieans literally a legislative sitting or assembly, but the term 
is also used, as in this case, to mean an instruction, decree or enactment 
made or issued at such a sitting. 

7. Bread made of vsry fine flour. 


cccket of a farthing of the same corn... shall w<?Dgh nore thp.r. westel by 

2 8« The statute goes on to fix the v/eights of several different kinds 

of bread. As the price of wheat rises, it is provided that the amount of 

each of these sorts of bread which shall be sold for a farthing shall decrease. 

For example, it is ordered that "when a quarter of wheat is sold for 18 d., 

then Tivastel bread of a farthing, white and v.ell-baked, shall weigh 4 1, 10 s. 

8 d.", and that when wheat reaches the outrageous price of 12 s. a quarter, 

a farthing loaf of bread shell only weigh 11 s. 4 d. 

Similar provisions ere set forth with regard to ale and beer. "TVhen 

a quarter of whest is sold for 3 s. or 5 s. 4 d.", so we read, "and a quarter 

of barley for 2C d, or 2 s., and a quarter of oats for 16 d., then brewers 

in cities ought and may well afford to sell tv;o gallons of beer or ale for a 

penny and out of cities to sell three or four gallons for a aenny. And when 

in a town three gallons is sold for a penny, out of tov/n they ought and may 

sell four. And this assize ought to be holden throughout all England. 

In order to supplement this piece of legislation and to provide 

penalties for its infraction (which had been omitted from the earlier act) 

another law, known a^ the Statute of the Pillory end Tumbrel, was passed 

8o A sort of leavened bread, slightly inferior in quality to the wastell or 
finest bread. 

9. Statmtes at Large, vol. I, p. 34 ff.- 51 Henry III, st. 1. 

10. Ibid. 

11. Ibid, The last sections of the act arc largely explanatory of the first 
part. The statute again states that the assize of bread is to "be holden 
according to the price of wheat, that is to say as vv'ell wastel, as other 
bread of the better, second or third sort, shall be weighed... by the 
middle price of wheat; and the assixe or weight of bread shall not be 
changed but by six pence increasing or decreasing in the sale of a quarter. 
The latter portion of the act also explains that an English penny is to be 
considered as equalling in weight "32 v/heat corns in the midst of the ear' , 
and that 20 d. equal one ounce in weight, etc. This makes it clear why the 
weights of the loaves of bread are given in pounds, shillings and pence. 
(See above pp. 2 and 3) 


during the same year. This second law provided that "if a baker or a 

bre'wer be convict, because be bath not observed the assize of bread and 

ale, the first, second, and third tiire, he shall be airerced, according 

to his offence, if it be not overgrievous; but if the offence be grievous 

and often, and will not be corrected, then he shall suffer punishment of the 

body, that is to wit, n baker to the pillory and a brewer to the tumbrel , 

or some other correction". 

This second law also stipulated that in every town six 'lawful'* men 

should be "sworn truly" to gather together all the weights and measures in 

that town - bushels, half and quarter bushels, gallons, quarts, pounds, 

half-pounds, etc, - and to see that on every weight p.rd measure the name 

of the owner was clearly and distinctly written. After this had been done, 

it was commanded that the bailiff of the town should "bring in all the bakers 

II 15 
and brewers with their measures and that inquiries should be made as to 

the price at which a quarter of the best wheat had been sold on the last 

market day, how much a wastel loaf ought to weigh in eccordance with the price 

of wheat as thus ascertained, whether any bakers had sold loaves that were 

underr/eight, etco Investigations were also to be rap-de to discover whether 

the assize of wine and ale was being kept, whether false weights cr measures 

were being used, whether butchers were selling "contagious flesh or that died 

of the murren", and whether cooks were in the habit of seething "flash or 

fish with bread or water or any othervdse, that is not wholesome for nan's 

12, That is, fined. In quoting from this act and the others which I shall have 
occasion to refer to in the course of this essay, I have not attempted to 
follov/ with exactness the vagaries. of the ancient spelling and punctuation^ 
but I have copied the wording of the original faithfully, 

15. A tumbrel was a wheeled cucking-stool^ or kind of chair, used for 

punishing scolds, etc. by fastening them in it, usually in front of their 
doors, to be hooted at and pelted by the mob, but sometimes to be taken to 
the water and ducked. It has been suggested that the reason why different 
forms of punishment were devised for the bakers and brewers was because 
the majoritj'' of the bakers were men, while most of the brewers were women. 

14. Stat. L., vol. i, p. 47 ff, - 51 Henrv III, st, 6. 

15. Ibid. 

body, or af-^.er that they have kept, it so long th&t it loseth its natural 
wholesomeness, • .then seethe it again and sell it." A sliding scale of 
prices for ele v/as again fixed in accordance with the variations in the 
price of barley, and it was provided that all offences against the act 
should be strictly punished. 

Just p.s the prices of ale and bread were regulated by the statutes 
to which already referred, so the price of wine was fixed by an ordi- 
nance of uncertain date, vrhich iray have been issued either in the reign of 

Henry III or in those of Edward I or II. This ordinance declared that 


in the future a sextertium of wine should be sold for 12 d., and that if 

taverners failed to observe the assize of vine as thus fixed, their taverns 
should be closed up. It was also provided that the assize of ale should 
be assessed, proclaiir.ed and kept in accordance v^rith the price of corn ,of 
which malt was made. If a brewer should break this assize, he was to be 

fined the first ^hree times that he committed such an offence, but the 

fourth time he was to be put into the pillorj'. 

The price and sale of wine were again regulated by the Statute of 

Gloucester, passed in the reign of Edv;ard I, and by a law enacted during 

the reign of Edward III, TviC last mentioned law directed that wine 

should be sold at a reasonable price, should be assayed twice e year by the 

town officials, and that "corrupt" wine should be poured out and the vessels 

16, Ibid, The entire act is much too long to be quoted here, I have mentioned 
only those provisions which see»n to have some connection with ny subject. 
Blackstone, in commenting upon this particular pKssBige in the act quoted, 
says, "a species of offense agtinst public health is tha sellinp of 
unwholesome provisions, 51 Henry III, st, 6, and the ordinance for bakers, 
c. 7, prohibit the sale of corrupted viir.-i, unwholesome flesh, etc. under pain 
of airercement for the first offense, the pillory for the second, fine and 
imprisonment for the third and abjuration of the town for the fourth", (Sir 
V'illiam Blackstone, Commentaries on the laws of England, vol. ii, bk. 4, 

p. 121) 

17, A measure who sj3 exact r-epHjdty seems to be doubtf-alr* possibly the, sane e^tl-M^ 
saxtary, ylu-a^*<^, f '4,^ -u^^'. 

18, Stat. L., vol. i, p. 390 ff. An ordinance for bakers, brev/ers, and for 
other victuallers, incert. temp. 


which had contained it broken. The Sfatute of Gloucestar ordered the 


mayor and bailiffs of London to "inquire of wines sold against the assize," 

and a subsequent act provided that no one in London should keep a tavern 


open to sell .vine, etc., after curfew. The latter was obviously a police 

measure designed to keep order, rather than an attempt to regulate the 
price of wine. Somewhat similar to this curfew law was a statute which 
directed coroners and other officers to inquire "of those v/ho live riotously 

and continually haunting taverns". The intention here was evidently to 


put a stop to drunkenness and disorderlxbehavior, if po%s_ible. 

The price-fixing power.which had manifested itself in the statutes 
already discussed was e.gain made use of in March, 1315, ■'.vhen Edvrard II 
issued an ordinance or proclam.ation, in which he stated that because of 

the "great and intolerable dearth of oxen, cows, sheep, hogs, geese, hens, 

capons, chickens, pigeons and eggs, to the no small damage and grievance" 

19. Ibid. p. 128 - 6 Edv/ard I, st, 1, c. 15. 

20. Ibid. p. 436 ff. - 4 Edward III, c. 12. 

21. Ibid. p. 128 

22. Ibid. p. 244 ff. - 13 Edward I, st. 5, S-i-Atuta, Civ. Lond. 

23. Ibid. p. 110 ff. - Sta't. de Offic. Coron., 4 Edward I, st. 2, See also 
Stat. Frankpl.^ 18 Edv^ard II, st. 1, paragraph 28 (Ibid. vol. i, p. S87 ff.) 

24. Attempts to repre£:c drunkenness in England date back at least to the time 
of King Edgar the Peaceable, who, according to Baker's chronicle, in order 
to put a stop to drunkenness, which the Danes had brought in "made a law 
ordaining a siie, by certain pins in the pot, v.ith penalty to any that 
should pios^ome to drink deeper than the mark" (Pichard Baker, A Chronicle 
of the Kings of England From the Time of the Romans' Govei-nment Unto the 
Death of King James, p. 12). 

25. Vfeltcr Scott (rev.) A Collection of Scarce and Valuable Tracts Selected 
from... Public as well as Private Libraries, particularly that of Lord 
Soners, vol. i, p. 6. See also Thomas Rymer, Foedera Conventiones, 
Literae et Cujuscumque Generis Acta Publica inter Pe^s Angliae, vol. ii, 
p. 263. 


of the kingdom, he felt it necessary to fix the maximur- prices at ivhich 
these farni products could be sold for food. He, therefore, directed that 
a fat, live ox (not fed with corn) should be sold for 16 s,; if corn-fed, 
the same animal should be sold for not more than 24 s, A live co-'v ought 
to bring 12 s., and a fat hog, two years old, 40 d., etc. If anyone 
refused to sell the animals mentioned at the prices listed, it was ordered 
that the animals should be forfeited to the king. This proclamation v/ent 
further than the earlier laws had done and fixed the prices of articles which, 
so far as we knrw;, had gone unregulated before, but it must be pointed out 
that it applied only to London. 

In addition to the statutes and proclamations dealing with this 
subject, regulations as to the prices of articles of food and drink, etc, 
were recognized as forming a part of the common law of England, at a 
comparatively early date. Britton, a treatise on the common law written 
probably in the early fourteenth century (or perhaps during the reign of 
Edv/ard l) states that the common law requires inquiry to be made "of vdnes 
sold, whereof the tuns did not contain 240 gallons, and who those are who 
thus sold them hy wholesale... In like manner let inquiry be made", goes on 
the writer, "concerning all sorts of flesh and fish, and of every kind of 
spice, wax, silk, canvas, [and] eloth..,. Afterwards let it be inauired 
concerning taverners who... have sold wine contrary to the legal assize... 
and if they are living, let them be punished by pillor:/ and fired in double 
the value of their gain." ' 

26. Francis M. Nichols (trans.) Britton, pp. 80, 158. "Let it also be inquired", 
says Britton, "of cloth mede out of the realm, brought into the country 
and sold there, not being of the right assize according to the purport of the 
Great Charter, v-'hat quantity of such cloth has been sold since the last 
eyre" (i.e. since the judges last went on circuit)"and by whom, and v/hat 
was the value of the cloth so sold by each merchant separately, and who 
was appointed by us to seize .such cloth into our hmd" (i.e. the hands 
of the king) (ibid,, pp. 78-90). The assize of cloth, mentioned in 


That attempts were made to inflict such punishments and to enforce 
the early laws which we have been discussinp is shovm by the fe.ct that oases 
arising under their provisions came up before the courts for decision. In 

1287, a man named Golding, living in Ipswich, and one Richard Long of Lynn were 

tried by the fair court of St, Ives r.nd convicted of havJng used false 

measures and the former was also found guilty of having broken the assize 

and having sold wir^e for IS d. In 1300, this same court exacted a fine of 

6 d, from "Roger of Moulton, baker, for a deficiency of 5 s. in [the v/eight 

of] a half-penny loef of bread", and another fine of 40 d . "from ¥argaret 

of Ridon, baxter, for a wastel [_loaf of bread]... deficient in weight." 

30 w ' 

Among the records of the Eyre of K^nt tlnno ai -^several references 

to the enforcement of the assizes of bread and ale, wine, etc. In one passage. 

it is stated that the knights who had been appointed assessors of victuals 

and corn were called before the court and ordered to perforir. the duties 

assigned to thetr by law. They accordingly assessed a quarter of wheat at 

6 s., oats at 5 s,, a v^hole beef at 13 s. 4 d,, a whole sheep at 18 d., and 

so on through all the varieties of eatables and drinkables then kno-wn. V/hen 

the passRge quoted, was similar to the assizes of bread and ale, wine, etc, 
although it fixed the length and breadth, j[;ather than the price of cloth. See 
also assize of wines, ibid., p. 158. For^j^feorcemert of the assize of cloth, 
see Rotuli Parliairientorum, vol. ii, p. 28. In connection with the whole subnect 
of price regulation in England, see Edwin P. A. Seligmsn, "Two Chapters on the 
Mediaeval Guilds of England", in the Publications of the American Economic 
Association, vol. ii, pp. 3P9-493, Sellgman says that the "laws of the market 
were rot left to the free arbitranient of the contracting parties. Under the 
supposition that the interests of the v^hole community vfould be best subserved 
by avoiding the dangers of unrestricted competition, the government interfered 
to ordain periodical enactments of customary or reasonable prices - reasonable, 
. that is to say, for both the producer jar^the oonsurer"(lbid. p. 454 ff»} see y 
oJ^ note, p. 455). In another oassage, hey ^ jp opocrtio that the prevertion of undue 

competition v/as "in pursuance of the general spirit of mediaeval legislation" 
(Ibid. p. 480). 

27. A court which, originally at least, was held in connection with a fair. All 
the laws fixing prices were included v/ithin the law-merchant, which in 
England was enforced by the royal courts, especially the pie-povirder courts 
and not by special courts, as on the continent. 

28. Selden Society, Select Cases on the l».Vf Merchant, vol. i, p. 19. In order 

to prove to buyers that measures were not fels^, they v.'ere gerusrally sealed 
with the" seal of the town where the sailer lived, o toi > 0^ iyUuAuHyax — -'IHaX-i 


any of the articles irentioned were not of the best quality, the assessors 

directed that they should be sold for t. price less than that which they 

themselves had fixed. 

This attempt to enforce tha lews regulating prices occurred in 

1313-14, and in the same year a case ivhich involved the construction of 

these laws cane up before the courts. This was the case of Claxton v. 

Everingham in which William of Claxton brought a writ of replevin against 

Adam of Everingharr and complained that Afjam had "amerced William wrongfully 

of the sum of 12 d., because William had brewed beer and sold it contrary 

,, 33 
to the assize . William apparently did not deny that he had broken the 

assixe. The case really hinged upon the question whether Adar was legally 

the lord of the manor in which William lived and whether he, therefore, 

had the right to amerce William or not. 

Another suit, somewhat similar to the one nust cited, was the case 

of The King v. Inge and Carrol. Inge and Cp.rrol had been attemptirr, to 

enforce the assize of bread and beer (or ale) in their inanor gnd were 

based their claim "to have correction of th.e breach of the assize of bread 

summoned before the court by a writ of quo warranto*" to show on vrhatjithey 

29. Ibid., pp. 75, 83. 

30. For the definition of this word, see above p, 7, n. 2g. 

31. Selden Society, the Eyre of Kent, vol. i, p, 51* See also pp. 8, 10, 
15, 25, 49 and 55 for references to the enforcement of price-fixing 

32. At common law. replevin was an action to recover the possession of 
specific chattels, together with damages for their unlawful detention, 
whereby the chattel was, at the commencement of the action, taken into 
the possession of an officer and delivered over to the plaintiff, upon 
security being given to make out the justice of his claim or return the 
property to the defendant* 

33. Selden Society, Year Books Series, vol. XV, pp. 118, 119. 

34. Quo warranto is a legal proceeding to determine the right to an office 
or franchise and to oust the defendant therefrom if his title is found 
to be fatallv defective. 


and beer ^ Whether the defendants were able to prove their claim to this 

right is not stated. These two cases a'-e of interest because, although 
the court, in deciding them, was not directly engaged in enforcing the 
regulations as to prices, both of the suits arose out of attempts to carry- 
out the laws dealing with this subject. 

Examples of this sort might be multiplied, hut the fev; cases cited 
will suffice to show that the habit of regulation had been for a long time 
in operation and that questiorijof the kind discussed above were dealt with 
by the King's law and by the King's courts. That the law might go still 
closer to the private life of the subject and regulate even his dress and 
the sort of food that he might eat is therefore nctsurpris*v4^« 

The primary cause that brought about the passage of sumptuary laws 
during the reign of Edv;ard III we.3 the rapidly-increasing luxury and extrava- 
gance of the period. We are not apt to think of the people of the early 
fourteenth century as being luxurious and probably we should not consider 
them extravagant if their v;ay of living were'- compared -.i'ith that of modern 
times, but to their contemporaries the life of many fourteenth century 
Englishmen ssemed to be both luxurious pnd extravagant. During the reign 
of Edward's predecessor, William of Malmesbury had complained that the 

squire endeavored co outshine ths knight in the richness of his apparel, 

the knight the baron, the heron the earl, and the earl the king himself. 

This "vanity", as Strutt calls it, continued to increase and during the next 

reign became general among people of every class. 

35. Selden Society, The Eyre of Kent, vol. iii, pp. 168, 169. The two cases 
cited above show that the enforcei;ient of the assize of bread end ale, etc. 
was largely left to the lords of the manors and to Icoel officialf;, instead 
of being pu"^ into the hands of royal officers. In fact, such local 
enforcement was provided for in a good many of the laws. The case of King 
V. Inge and Carrol was tried in 1317)-14. 

36. Williain of I/almesbury, Life of Edv/ard II, p. 153; quoted j6*^Joseph Strutt, 
A Complete View of the Dress and Habits of the people of England, vol. ii, 
p. 134. It is said that the extravagance of the EnglisV.v'th regard to 


The development of luxury in England, from the time of the Norman 
conquest en, was, according to Baudrillert, very similar to that which 
took place in France. This analogy was especially striking during the 
early period of English history, because nt that time the nations seemed 
verv much isolated from one 'inother, oyring to the lack of means of sv/ift 
communication, etc. However, because of the pretensions of the kings of 
England to the throne of France and for other reasons, the courts of 
France and England were in perpetual comjnunication, and styles were con- 
stantly imported in''"o England from the continent, A.s the tv»o courts 
set the fashions for France and England respect: vely, so in general the 
mode of living was uniform in both kingdorriS, though there were, of course, 
some national diversities. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the tv.o nations 
are said to have imitated one another very closely,'' 

The aristocratic luxury v/hich was thus introduced into England from 
France was increased in the time of Edward III by the growth of English 
manufactures. At +he beginning of Edward's reign, the making of "broad 
clothes" came to great perfection. Thus began the manufacture, say& Coke, 
of the worthiest and richest commodity of this kingdome,.. The progress 

made at this time in the arts of goldsmitliing and jewelry-making was also 


In addition to the French influence and the increase of material 
prosperity in England, typified by the growth of manufactures, the develop- 
ment of extravagance and luxury during the fourteenth century ^vas largely. 

dress - oi M tlniB pai luu *caused the Scots to compose the following four lines: 
"Long burds hertiless. Gay cotes graceless 

Peynted w^hoods witless, llaketh England thriftless." (ibid.) 

37, H. Baudrillart, Hisfoire du Luxe, vol. iii, p. 187. 

38, Sir Edward Coke, The Institutes of the Laws of England, part 2, p. 41, 

39, BaudrilltLi L, vol. iii, p. 187. 


if not primarily, due to England's ?,uccesses in foreign wars, "Towards 
the middle of the century", saj's Strutt, "the kingdom v/as blessed with 
tranquillity and much plenty, in of her n.£ny victories", ' 
particularly those won in the war France. Great quantities of garments 
lined with fur, of fine linen, .iewels, gold, silver plate and rich furniture 
the spoils of foreign cities, were brought into England. The^-e was hardly 
« gentlewoman in the lend who hadn't in her house some such s,;oils from Caen, 
Calais, aad other French cities. The English at Poitiers were said to 
have bee^'. so laden dovm with valuable booty that they despised antor, tents 
and similar military equipment, and, at the taking of Harfleur, even the 
camp-followers placed no value on gowns trimmed with fur. Those Englishmen 
who had gene to Alexandria brought home with them cloth of gold, velvets 
and precious stones. 

As a result of this flood of costly articles, "the ladies of this 
country became haughty and vain in their attire, and were as much elated 
by the acquisition cf so much finery as the ladies of France were dejected 
by the loss of it," Nor was this "haughtiness" of attire confined to 
the ladies. The knights too, endeavored to outstrip each other in the 

brilliancy of their appearance; and the lower classes followed the example 

of the nobility in their manner of living, as well as in dress, thus trans- 
gressing one of the fundamental, though unwritten, rules of mediaeval society. 

40, Strutt, Dress and Habits ^ vol, ii, p. 134. 

41. Society of Antiquaries of London, Archaeolor.ia, vol. 7Ji, p. 101. 
A?., Ibid, 

43. Thomas Walsingham, Historia A^glioana, p. 168; quoted in Strutt, Dress 
and Habits, vol. ii, p, 134. 

44. This general extravagance was encouraged by the example of tbp king and 
of his court. In a description of £he character of Edward III, we find 
it stated that he was "large in gifts, excessive in expenses"( 
Ms. E261, Icl. 400 a). It is said that on the occasion of one of his 
visits to the continent, he had to mortgage to English merchents his 
jewels and even his crown in order to pay for his clothing, retinue, etc. 
(Baudrillart, vol, iii, p. IPS, 189). 


namely, that every ^an should "keep his place". 

Mediaeval society has been defined as "a democracy founded upon 
the principle of aristocracy". Each rran's place was appointed to him 
in a common scheme; he must, in general, be content to live in that 
state of life unto which it had pleased God to call him at his birth. 
When the people of the middle ages rebelled against authority, it was 
against the misuse of these fixed conditions, not -iwiany hope of changing 
the conditions. Since each man's place in life was thus fixed by social 
custom, it was heresy for him to attempt to rise above his class either in 
his manner of living or in his dress. Ltwas, therefore, inevitable that 

those in authority should consider it necessary to take some steps to curb 

the extravagance v/hich prevailed in the reign of Edv/ard III. 

The central government of England first, so far as v/e know, mani- 
fested its intention of dealing with the question of extravagance by the 
passage of an act regulating the number of courses that the English people 

might have for dinner. This act was entitled "Statutum de Cibariis 

47 I 

Utendis" and was passed on October 15, 1336, in the tenth year of Edward s 

45, J. W. Jeudvfine, Tort, Crime and Police in Mediaeval Britain, pp. 15-16, The 
same writer makes an interesting statement with regard to mediaeval law. 

He says that, in the I/iddle Ages, a distinction was always made between 
criminal and police law, the latter dealing vfith those matters vhich rest 
on occasional or immediate necessity, and the former comprising those 
primary rules which comjnend the'^selves as essential to all civilized man- 
kind. Under this classification. sumptuary laws would seem to fall under 
the head of police law, though they m.r.y have been considered essential by 
the mediaeval mind. 

46, Cunningham says that even before the flood of spoils from France had 
begun to pour into England, there had been a great increase in extravagance 
in the latter country, as was shown by -l-he accounts of tournaments. (VV, 
Cunningham, The Growth of English Industry and Commerce, vol, i, p, 309) 

47, William Longman, The History of the L^fe and Times of Edward III, vol, i, 
pp. 83-84. There seems to be some question as to just the statute 
was passed. The heading of the act, as given in the Statutes at Large, 
states that it was "editum apud Nottingham", but Longman says that it v.'as 
passed at Auckland in Durham. He was probabl;/ confused by the fact that 
the king's letter to the sheriff of York, ordering the enforcement of 
the act, was dated from Auckland. The act itself was apparently passed 
at Nottingham. 


reign. Before discussing this statute, however, it seems advisable to 
sketch the general social conditions of the time, in order that the reader 
may understand the circumstances under -"■'~ich the sumptuary laws of Edv/ard III 
were enacted. 

As far as religion was concerned, the social decline of the church, 
from the death of Edward II up to 1348, was undeniable. This was shown* 
(l) by its relaxing hold upon politics and national life. The higher clergy 
became more pliant as they felt their growing dependence upon the crown, 
while the lower, with the exception parheps c^ the parish priests, were fast 
losing all traces of the spirilvop t'^e last revival of relip-ion. Not a 
few signs of an anti-clerical &piri f y ywere "o be found among hoth the gentry 
and commons in the early fourteenth century. These wors^ .the b^rinnings of 
a revolt not simply against Papal interference or monastic power, but oAm^ 
against clerical influence in politics and society, (2) In the deadness of 
its monastic orders (there is not one distinguished abbot in this time). 
(3) In the beginning of avowed dissent from its creed and system and of 
over- luxuriance in its architecture. (4^ I^ the decline of its missionary 
and crusading spirit, as evidenced by the new plan of "vicarious" pilgrimage. 
(5) In the grovrth of superstitious abuses; and (6) in the severance of the 
clergy from the new spirit in science and letters and faith, despite the fact 
that Oxford and Cambridge, the great training schools for clerks, were then 
taking more organized shape in the new college foundations. 

In the realm, of art, this was the period of the "Decorated", or 
highly-cultivated variety of the Early English style of Pointed Gothic 
architecture. For domestic use, the moated grange and the castellated 
m.anor-house were fast superseding the private castle which was becoming 
more and more used as a great military and governmental fortress instead of 
a baronial residence. There can be no dou^^t that considerable skill in 


the plastic art had by this time been acquired in England, l^'bat may, 
perhaps, best be terrred sepulchral sculpture attained its zenith during 
this period. As to the progress of painting, hov^ever, we are almost 
totally in the dark,' The special feature of this epoch is the growth 
of interest in the natural sciences and in the pseudo-sciences such as 
Astrology and Alchemy, In the field of literature, we have the 
religious epic, which had undergone great development in the second half 
of the thirteenth century, didactic poetry, chronicles, sermons, tracts 
and dramas, which like the rest of the literature of the day were mainly 

In agriculture, the old feudal system under which rents were paid 
in kind or in services was gradually being commuted into one under which 
both rents and wages were paid in money. As the result of the Black 
Death, in which so many laborers died, a new system of farming had to be 
adopted, knovm as the stock and land lease. Trade and industry, too, 
were advancing, ovdng to the fact that the central government had recently 
taken their regulation into its ovm hands, which meant that trade was no 
longer to be regulated in the sole interests of the great landlords, but 
in those of the subjects at large. The encouragement given to manu- 
factures by the diplomatic and legislative activity of the period and the 
growth of craft gilds in the cities and towns resulted in the progress of 
the artisan class, which in turn became one of the chief causes of the 
national strength and prosperity, Tv,ere can be little doubt that this 
progress was largely due to the protection of the Crown and the enlightened 

economic legislation of Parliament, some examples of which may be found in 

certain sections of the sumptuary laws of the period. 

At the time of the passage of these laws, John Stratford, who had 
become lord chancellor when the young kir.g at the age of eighteen had 

48. H. D. Traill (ed.) Social England, vol. ii, p. 18 ff. 


vrrested the royal power from his mother and her lover, Mortimer, still 
held that position. He was the guiding spirit of the administration. 
In 1533, on Meopham's death, he was made Archbishop of Canterbury, but 
he continued to take a leading part in politics. His brother, Robert, 
was his chief helper. These two iren and their followers formed what vms 
knov»n as the Lancastrian party. The Stratfords were capable, but not 
brilliant, politicians, A sort of balance of pov/er seems to have been 
maintained between their party and the old middle party of Pembroke and Badles- 
mere, with which Bartholoirew Burghersh, Bishop of Lincoln, was connected. 
The strife of parties y^hich had been so bitter a feiv years previously was 
now so far hushed that Burghersh, who had been imprisoned in the Tower by 
Edward II, was able to return to office; and the v;orst disorders v^hich had 

existed in the period of anarchy which marked the end of the reign of the 

last-named king v.'ere put down. 

Such v.-ere the men in power in 1S36 v.'hen the "Statutum de Cibariis 
Utendis" became a law. Whether or not the king and his ministers had a 
hand in the enactment of this law, or v/ere responsible for it, there is no 
evidence to show, V/e know, however, that the passage of a good many acts 
vas suggested to Parliament by the executive department of the government, 
and even that some of the petitions purporting to have originated in the 
House of Commons, asking for the enactment of some special statute, really 
originated with the royal ministers. This mey, perhaps, have been the 
case in 1S36, 

The act which becane a law in that year was evidently passed with 

49, V.illiam Hunt end Reginald Foole (eds.) Political History of England, 
vol, iii, p. 310 ff, I„ early life Edward III won the love of his 
sub fleets. He was possessed perhaps of no exceptional measure of 
intellectual capacity and not even endowed to any large extent with 
firmness of character, but he won a great place in history by his extra- 
ordinary vigor and activity. To his contemporeries, he seemed "a man 
of great goodness, excelled all his predecessors by virtue and grace. 


the primary intention of checking idle extravagance" or, as Blackstone 

puts it, "extravagant expenses in,., diet"'; and of promoting thrift. 

In the preara'^le to the act, it is stated that the use of "outrageous and 

too many kinds"" of costly viands of which the people of England have 

previous to this time consumed more than any other nation, has caused much 

mischief in that kingdom. The rich have been "much inconvenienced"" by 

such extravagance and the lesser folk v.ho have attempted to imitate the 

rich in such miatters have been greatly impoverished," v.rhile other equally 

deplorable evils have attacked their souls as well as their bodies. 

The statute goes on to declare that these facts were made knovm to the king 

in his great council at Nottingham., where he was petitioned by Parliament 

to provide a fitting remedy for the situation. He, therefore, desiring the 

common uelfare, with the assent of the lords, commons, etc, 

"hath ordained and established that no man, of what state or condition 

a bold man, fortunate in battle", etc. (Harleian I's, 2261, fol. 400 a). However, 
his shallow opportunism led him to abandon every royal right that stood in the 
v/ay of his receiving the full support of Parliament and kept him in general jia* — 
touch v;ith the Estates, By wanton breaches of grod faith, he often tried to 
win back what he had conceded, in a vain effort to save his dignity. 

50. That this regulation of diet was necessary may be proved by reference to 
the bills of fare for great feasts held in mediaeval times ( and especially 
in the latter part of the period) which show that both "expence and gluttony 
were immoderate". (Daines Harrington, Observations on the V.ovq Ancient 
Statutes from Magna Charta to 21 James I, pp. 240-241). The same author 
also says that the act regulating food was probably, like most other 
sum.ptuary r egulation s , neve r strictly enforced, (ibid.) 

51. Blackstone,^ol« ii/XE ook.^ , p. 129 

52. Stat, L,, vol. i, p. 466-10 Edvmrd III, st. 3. "Outra^'ouses et trop des 
maneres des coustouses viendes", to quote the exact words of the statute. 

53. Ibid. "Woult grevez". 

^^* So greatly impoverished were they that "ils nont pour daider as eux mesmes 
ne a lour liege Seigneur en temps du bCsoigne sicome ils deivent" (ibid.) 
This sentence indicates that there was a selfish motive back of the king's 
desire to check extravagance and promote thrift. He wished his people to 
save their money, so that they might have more to contribute towards his 
expenses ' in time of need". Edward vreis apparently a believer in the old 
maxim: "a rich people (that is, a thrifty people), a rich kingdomj a rich 
kingdom, a rich king". 


soever he be, shall serve"[_or cause himself to be served with]'*!!! his 
house or anv^'here else, at dinner-meal'' or supper or at any other time 
more than two courses, and each ipess of two sorts of victuals at the 
utmost, be it of flesh or fish, vith the common sorts of pottages without 
sauce or any other sort of victuals. And if any choose to have sauce 
for his mess he may have it, provided it he not m.ade at greet cost: and if 
flesh or fish are to be mixed therein, it shall be of tv.-o sorts only at the 
utmost, either flesh or fish, and shall stand instead of a mess, except 
only on the principal feasts of the year, that is to say, the eve and day" 
of Christmas, St. Stephen, Easter, etc." on vhich feasts and days every man 
may he served with three courses at the utmost, after the manner aforesaid. 

It was further provided that this statute should go into effect on 
the first t'.onday after the next All Saints Day, and should be cried in each 
county and kept "in the form, end manner below stated v/ithout any additions 
to or interpretations of it." '.^ 

The enforcement of this law was largely left to local officials, both 
civil and ecclesiastical, rather than to royal appointees sent out for that 
specific purpose. According to a note appended to the statute itself, the 
king sent copies of the law under his seal to various "decanis et capitulis 
ecclesiarun"" (which are listed), to the sheriffs throughout England, to 
the mayor and bailiffs of York, etc. A copy of Edward's letter to the 
sheriff of Yorkshire is also printed as follows (to translate rather freely): 

"The king to the sheriff of York greeting. This ordinance and statute, 
issued by us in our great council at Nottingham the Monday next after the 

55. Literally "a diner, manger ne souper". Translated, in the way quoted 
above, by William A. Hammond, "Siomptuary Laws and their Social Influence", 
in Popular Science Monthly, vol. xxxvii, p. 35. 

56. Stat. L., vol. i, pp. 466-G8, 

57. Ibid. 

58. Ibid. 

59. "Die Lune". 


feast of Saint Michael,... with the assent of the prelates, counts, harons, 
and all the commons of our realm there present, for the common good, ... we 
send vou under our seal ... and comjnand that you shall see to it that this 
ordinance and statute in your whole county and in the cities, hurgs ... and 

other places vithin your jurisdiction ... shall be publicly proclaimed and 

that you shall enforce it as firmly as possible." 

A memorandum following this letter states that similar missives vrere 

sent to the sheriffs of all the other English counties, and that the statute 
in the form of oatents and "consimilia brevia" was also sent to various 
archbishops, bishops, counts and noblemen of the kingdom, commanding them 
to observe the rules laid down in the act and not to presxime even to attempt lo do 
anything in any r.-ay contrary thereto. The names of the persons to whom the 
patents were sent are listed. No statement is made, however, as to v.'hat 
penalties would be incurred by the officials mentioned for failure to enforce 
the lavi or by the people in general for failure to observe it. 

There is no evidence to shov,r whether the act which tie have been dis- 

cussing vms ever enforced but we know that it was not repealed til -^the reign 


of Queen Victoria, after it had lain forgotten for hundreds of years. 

Enforced or not, however, it, together with later lav/s of a sim.ilar character, 
formed part of a plsn by which Edward III hoped to promote prosperity in 
England. Edward's legislation implies that he had certain definite schemes 
as to the best way of gaining this end. According to Cunningham., he 
endeavored (l) to foster foreign commerce; (2) to aid English industries; and 
(3) to check extravagance by sumptuary legislation, though not by his own 

60. Stat. L., vol. i, pp. 467-68. 

61. Ibid. 

62. It was repealed by 19 I- 20 Victoria, c. LXIV. 


example. Sometimes he attempted to kill two birds with one stone, or, 
in other words, to accomplish two or more of his purposes by the passage 
of a single law. Such v/as the case with regard to a law which was 
passed the year after the enactment of the statute regulating food. 

During most of 1337, Edward III remained in Englond, because of 
the strained state of his relations with France, instead of returning to 
the north to continue the campaigns which he had been waging against the 
Scotch. At that time, despite the indifference manifested by the English 
and French courts, tv/o cardinals, Gomez, a Spaniard, and Bertrand of ^^ont- 
favence, a Frenchman, were sent as papal legates to France and England 
respectively to settle, if possible, the points in dispute between the 
tvfo countries. For the next three years these prelates v/orked with 
energy and persistence, but with little result. The personal relations of 
Philip and Edward had become embittered because of the fact that in 1336 
Edward had offered a refuge, in England, to Robert of A.rtois, Philip's 
brother-in-law and mortal enemy. T/ar between England and France was 
virtually declared in 1337. Both countries secured allies on the continent, 
but the real fighting did not begin until 1338, when Edward's proposed 

invasion of Scotland was hastily abandoned because of the news of a threatened 

French attack upon England. 

63. Cunningham, vol. i, p. 298. Cunningham says that Edward's foreign, as well 
as his domestic policy, was affected, if not dictated, by commercial con- 
siderations, and that his corr^ercial oolicy harmonized more closely with 
modern principles than did the schemes of some of his successors. He 
endeavored to develop manufactures for which the country was suited and, 

by precept rather than example, to encourage thrift among the laboring 
classes. He desired to increase the volume of trade, which by this time 
was becoming better understood and "considerably extended", says Harrington 
(pp. 242, 243); and he legislated in the interest of the cotisutngrand in 
disregard of the claims of particular classes. He did nol^J^^nscioilsly 
and habitually subordinate political to economic interests, "it is more 
true to say his oolicy was very greatly determined by his desire to 
promote economic interests". (Cunningham., p. 311 ) 

64. Political History of England, vol. iii, pp. 322-323, 330-334. 

While tbese events v/ere taking place. Parliament was summoned to 
meet at Vfestminster in the middle of March, 15?7, During this session 
of the legislative body, a law intended to restrain extravagance in dress and 
promote the consumption of English manufactures was enacted. This statute 

"that no man nor woman, ' great nor small, of England, Ireland, nor 
Wales, nor of our Sovereign Lord the King's Pa^ei' in Scotland, of Y/hat 
estate or condition he be, the King, Queen and their children only except, 
shall wear no cloth, which shall be bought after the feast of Saint Vichael 
next coming, other then is made in Enf-land, Ireland, Wales, or Scotland..,, 
upon pain of forfeiture of the san^e cloth and further to be punished at the 
King's will; and that in the said lands of England, Ireland, Wales, and 

Scotland, within the King's povi/er, a man may make the cloths as long and 

as short as a man v.ill. 

In order to prevent the wearing of any foreign clo-l^h, all merchants, 

"foreign nor denizen, nor none other" are forbidden to bring or cause to be 

brought into Great Britain any cloth manufactured in any other country, under 

pain of forfeiting the cloth and being punished at the king s will. 

65. This "is perhaps the first instance in the statute book of an apprehension 
that woman was not included under the word man". (Barrington, op. 242-243) 

66, Statutes of the Realm, vol. i, p. 280-11 Edivard III, c, 2. The last clause 
practically repeals the provisions of the assize of cloth, which regulated 
the length and breadth, etc. of cloth and which is referred to above. (See 
p. 7 n.) In 1352, however, another statute was passed which provided that 
■l-hroughout England cloth should be made of the . length and breadth which 
had formerly been ordained at North/ampton. 

67. Ibid., Dp. 280-81 . 

68, Ibid. This clause evidently intended to protect the English cloth manu- 
facturers against foreign competition. Chapter 1 of tha same statute vms 
apparently enacted with a similar pu>-p|se in view, since it absolutely 
prohibits the exportation of any v^ool-^^lS^England "till by the King and 
his Council it be thereof otherwise provided". This was doubtless done so 
that the English cloth-workers could always be sure of an adequate supply 
of wool, A great deal of wool must, prior to this time, have been shipped 
abroad in order to necessitate such a regulation; or perhaps this provision 
was intended to protect the monopoly of the exportation of v;ool granted to 


The fourth chapter of the same act provides that no one, iren or woman, 
in England, Ireland, T.ales or Scotland, "the King, Oueen, and -t-heir 
children, the Prelates, Earls, Barons, Knights and Ladies, and people of 

Holy Church, which may expend by year an C li. of their benefices at the 

least, to the very value, only except" shall wear any fur bought after 

the coming feast of St. Michael, in or on any of his clothes, under the 

same penalty as before. 

This statute w^as sent by the king to the sheriffs of all the counties, 

who were ordered to have it read and proclaimed in "full County Court, and 

in all places in your Bailiwick, as well within Liberties as without, where 

you shall see meet", and to enforce it firmly, "and this in no wise omit". 

the merchants-staplers, (V.'ith regard to the mionopoly of wool granted to the 
merchants-staplers and the purpose for which it was granted, see C. Gross, 
The Gild I'erchant, vol, i, p, 140 ff.) This passage prohibiting the impor- 
tation of foreign cloth should be compared with c, 30 of Magna Charta (as 
confirmed in 1225 by Henry III) which provides that all merchants, "if they 
were not openly prohibited before, % shall have their safe and sure conduct 
to depart out of England, to come into England, to tarrr in and go through 
England... to buy and sell without any manner of evil... bv the old and 
rightful customs, except in time of -war", etc, (Stat. L,, vol, i, p. 11) 

In a p^ition dating from the first year of the reign of Edward III 
(1327) it ^H^Jcompl aired that the granting of permission to foreign merchants 
to rem.ain as long as they pleas€^_in England 4e>/^contrary to the usages and 
ancient franchises of England, as confirm.ed by K agna Charta, and that such 
merchants raisgj.'t^e prices of all sorts of commodities to an outrageous height. 
The petitioners therefore requested that foreign m.erchants should henceforth 
be compelled to sell all their wares within forty days after their arrival in 
England, The king's answer was: "Soit ordene de ce par comune assent" (Rotuli 
Parliamentarum, vol, ii, p, 9, VJith reference to the entrance of foreigners 
into England, see ibid., p, 28), 

In 1328, hov/ever, an act was passed which provided that all staples.both 
in England and abroad^that had been ordained in times past should cease and 
that merchants, whether foreigners or natives, might freely come and go with 
their wares in England, (See Gross, vol, i, p, 141 ), The law with regard to 
the admics^"on of foreigners (and especially of foreign m:erchants) into England 
thus seem.s to have varied almost from year to year. 

69, Ibid,, p, 281 

70. Ibid. 


This act of 1337. had both/economic and a sumptuary purpose. 

"Laws which insisted that all Englishmen should wear native cloth, limited 

the class who might wear fur and forbade the imijortation of foreign cloth 

were at least partially protective", says Cunningham. He thinks, however, 

that this protective system was probably not completely enforced for any 

long period of time. He cites to prove his ooint 27 Edvrard III, st. 1, 

c. 4, where attention is given to the complaint that foreign merchants 

have withdrawn from England and the grievances of foreigners importing 

cloth are redressed. If one m.ay draw a conclusion from a single statute, 

one m&y fairly say that the law referred to substantiates Cunningham. ' s 


The provisions contained in the act of 12£7 with regard to the 

wearing of furs viere necessitated by the fact that, before gold and silver 

lace bagan to be manufactured, furs constituted the greatest single article 

of luxury, so far as dress -mis concerned. The most costly furs were 

71. Cunningham, vol. i, p. 308. 

72. "The most characteristic feature of the winter dress of our forefathers", 
says Thorold Rogers, "was the general use of fur" The poorer classes 
lined their winter garments with sheepskin, and the wealthier classes 
used furs of every description, no winter garment being com.plete without 
this addition. Most of the choicer furs were imported through the 
agency of the Hanse towns and the Baltic trade. T'-^e cVioicest fur was 
miniver, a variegated or banded fur. -Next came popel, the valTie of 
v.'hich \Tas about half that of miniver. Squirrel, stanling, lamb and 
rabbit were all skins g ^.^nj-^ lish origin. Yve also find bugey and swans- 
down (the latteAvery Sea^'^jentioned in the writings of the day. Fur 
linings were indispensable m woolen gowns in which the texture of the 
cloth was coarse and loose. 

The prices of these various kinds of furs may be .iudged from the 
following examples. In ] 310, 1312/|jjlf^3, rabbit skins sold for 1 s. 1^ d. V 
The price was relatively high at this time, hovever, because rabbits v;ere 
scarce. Lambskins were the cheapest kind of lining. They averaged 
1?. s. 6 d. a hundred. In 1321, the fur lining to a set of robes was 
▼alued at 10 s. 6 d. In 1342, a lining of popel (or popul ) skins cost 
14 s. 01/4 d. and a lining of "black fur", in 1379, brought 6 s. 8 d. In 
1342, a miniver hood sold (the highest price recorded for such an article) 
for 12 s. 4 d. Between 1370 and 1383, the charges for furs v>'ere excessive: 
40 s., 53 s., 80 s., and 83 s. (James E. Thorold Rogers, A History of 
Agriculture and Prices in England, vol. i, p. 582 ff.) 


imported froin the northern parts of Europe and were used as early as 

the time of Henry II. In the clausesvrhich extend permission to wear furs 

and foreign cloth to a limited group there is, as in so many later 

sunptuary laws, a recognition of classes in the communitv, a recognition 

which appears more clearly at the time of the Black Death and in the 

celebrated Statutes of Laborers vhich attempted to enforce regulations 

made for one class wherever found. Before Tudor times, the main lines of 

cleavage in English society had ceased to be perpendicular, into privileged 

local groups, and had become horizontal, into separate classes. The 

recognition of the laboring class and also of the moneyed or capitalist 

class was one of the most important developments in English life. from the 

veiopments m hngiisn iiie.irom tne/ 

wh i oh A^»»-JM**i*-4*»^«^"«?***N»***g-, the 

time of Edward III on. In the act whiohy^' 

right of people of means, as well as those of noble birth, to wear costly 

clothing is clearly recognized in the section vhich provides that churchmen 

having an income of h 100 a year may wear furs, 

^he facts adduced by Cunningham lead one to believe that the pro- 
tective system set up by the act of lo37 (and extended by later acts) was 
not enforced for any long period of time. There is no record to show 
whether the sum.ptuary portion of the provisions of this act was carried out 
with greater strictness or not, but we may assume that it 'V|^as_''ot, because 
of the fact that extravagance in dress continued to b(^ rnmnr-nil unow and 
attacked by the chroniclers and satirists of the time, and that law after law 
was passed in order to correct this evil, 

73, Sinee many of the most costly furs were imported from abroad, 't'^M^ijj^i^ 
provision, too, may have had a protective purpose, i,e. may have intended 
to encourage the English fur-trade, 

74, Cunningham, vol. i, p. 379, 

75, See above, p. 2 3 

The next statute which is of interest to us in one which was 
enacted in 1255. "After the Epiphany", to quote Stowe, "a Parliarrient 
was holden at Vv'estminster, v,rherein an ordinance was made at the instance 
of the Ijandoners, that no known whore s>)ould weare froir thenceforth any 
hood, except reyed or striped of divers colors, nor furre, but g;arments 
reversed or turned the wrong side outv/ard upon paine to forfeit the same" 
At first glance this ordinance seems to fall under the head of sumptuary 
legislation, hut its fundamental purpose is evidently not to check extra- 
vagance, but to protect the morals of the community by forcing women -^^ uytu^ AjuJL' 
evil lives to vear distinctive clothing, so that everyone might be able, 
on sight, to distinguish them from respectable citizennesses. It must 
have been extremely difficult, however, to force the women affected by 
this law to wear* garments prescribed for their. 

It v/as not until 1363 that the first act regulating in detail the 

dress of various classes of the English people was passed. Since to a 

certain degree it served as a model for all leter statutes of apuarel, it 

deserves to be given in extenso, but before doing so it seems advisable to 

) ) 

discuss the developments in dress which took place during the period of 
Edward III. 

Edward III has been described as the "king who taught the English 
people how to dress". Edward, however, although he did much to develop 
English nationalism and won a foremost place for his country among the 
nations of the vorld, was not the sole leader in the great movement which 
swept over England during his reign and which left its inhabitants with a 
characteristic national dress. The causes which led up to this consummation 

76. John Stowe, Annales. or a General Chronicle of England (ed. of 1631) p. 254 

77. Mrs. Charles H. Ashdown, British Costume during Nineteen Centuries, p. 84. 


were: (l) the v.'ealth brought in by the wool trade vdth the continent and 


by the general extension of English coiranerce; (2) the great war v>rith 
France vhich necessitated the passing to and fro across the channel of 
thousands on trade or plunder bent. All this resulted in the building up 
of a national character and incidentally of a national costtune. This 
growth of a national spirit among the English people was noticed by Froissart 
who, as an adventurous young clerk from Valenciennes, had sought out a 
career for himself in the household of Fhilippa, Queen of Edward III, where 
he had lived for line years. To hin. -ojw^of the most outstanding charac- 
teristics of the common people of England seemed to be their delight in 
battle and slaughter and their hatred of foreigners. For all v;ho were not 
Englishmen^they felt a fierce hatred, V;'hich found no counterpart among the 
more cosmopolitan knightly class. The same fierce patriotism is recorded 
in the pages of other writers. Before the end of Edward Ill's reign, England 
had become an intensely national stete, proudly conscious of itself and of 
its national life as it had never been before, and contemptuous of the 
foreigner, with its ovm language, literature, style in art, law, universities 
and the beginnings of a m.ovem^ent towards the nationalization of the church. 
The cosmopolitanism: of the earlier kiddle Ages was everyAvhere on the wane. 
As a result of the consummation of a movement which had originated in the 
storms of the reign of Henry III, a nation had arisen out of the old world- 
state BJid world-spirit. One manifestation of this great patriotic movement 
was the development of a style of dress, which v/as more truly national and 
less a mere codv of continental modes than the earlier fashions had been. 

78. For a discussici of the growt.b of English trade, com'rerce, manufac+-ures, etc, 
under Edward III, see Political History of England, vol. iii, pp. 426-427. 

79. Ibid., p. 396 ff .lu^Al so kshdavm, np. 64-85. 


The garments which were thus evolved were not, however, purely 
English in character. They were rather hybrids between those vorn at 
home and those in fashion on the continent. Prior to this time, men had 
been hampered by long robes. These were now done away with or preserved 
only in the dress of lawyers, doctors or traders or in the costume of the 
king. Eegal dress was, at this period, notable for its simplicity. The 
chief garment was the dalmatica which reached to the ground and was open up 
the front, thus exposing an under tunic. The sleeves of the latter 
frequently reached alm.ost to the knuckles and v;ere embellished with a row 

of buttons. The sleeves of the dalmatica might either be tight and 

curtailed at the wrist or long and hanging. ^ A rich piece of embroidery 

often bordered the opening down the front of this garment, which was som.e- 
times confined at the waist by a belt, with long oendants hanging from it. 
The royal mantle of this period much resembled an ecclesiastical cope. The 
king usually completed his costume with embroidered shoes. Just what head- 
covering he wore vi'hen out of doors, it is hard to say, since in the pictures 
of the time he is generally represented as wearing a crovm, probably a mere 
conventionality used to distinguish him from ordinary mortals. 

The charscteristic garment of Edward's reign, worn by miost members of 
the upper classes and by both sexes, was the cote-hardie (or hardi) which was 
a very tight-fittingtunic, following the lines of the figure, buttoned down 
the front and reaching sometimes half-vrav down the thigh, and at others almost 
to the knees. It was worn with a .iewelled or otherwise decorated belt around 
the hips. The sleeves of this garment were generally tight from the elbow 
to the wrist and often decorated rith buttons. Just above the elbow was 
attached the tippet, a piece of silk fastened around the arm like a detachable 

80, Yi'hen the sleeves of the dalmatica were long and hanging, those of the under- 
neath tunic generally resembled the sleeves novi wor-n by bishops. 



cuff v.'ith a long streamer hanging from it. This tight sleeve and tippet 

took the place of the long pendant sleever. -which had been fashionable during 
the early part of Edward's reign, and which had gotten longer and longer as 
tin'e went on, until some of theip actually swept the ground. The cote-Viardie 
itself was usually rrade of some figured or parti-colored material and had a 

band of contrasting (usually white) cloth sewed around its bottom, below the 


hip-belt. The lower edge of this band was "dagged' or cut into ornair.ental 


patterns. As time passed, the cote-hardie grew shorter and shorter, until 
it became so scanty as to evoke criticism from, contemporary writers* 

The tunics of the aristocracy were made of the most gorgeous materials: 
cloth of gold or silver, velvet, silk, satin, etc, the use of some of which 
was forbidden in certain instances by the sumptuary laws. Gold, embroidery, 
pearls and othsr jewels were used in ornamentirg them. The frequent tourna- 
ments and other gorgeous entertainments w'^^ ch took nlace in the reign of 
Edward III promoted a rapid succession of new fashions among the upper classes. 
One of these was the working of mottoes and short verses on tunics and other 
articles of clothing. Ordinary citizens dressed in a manner \rery similar to 
the wav in vshich the nobles dressed, though of course less expensively. 

81. The tight sleeve with the tippet was introduced about i;^50. It hid-the . .JJ 
buttons on the sleeve of the under-tunic which had previously aho>m >^^*^**^ 

The tippet usually hung dovm to about the knees, though soiretimes lower. For 
a picture of the tipoet see Ashdown, opp. p. P6. 

82. The fashion of dagging was introduced about 1?46. The term was applied to 
all ornamental edging. 

83. The cote-hardie was usually buttered tightly down to the hips. The band of 
w' ite material which decorated its lower edge hung loose. For a picture of 
the cote-hardie at the height of its perfection, see Ashdown, opp. p. 88. 
The cote-hardie in its most perfect form was probably padded, since creases 
are conspicuously absent, 

84. The hip-belt, which was one of the most striking features of dress and which 
was practically universal during this period, was generally formed of a number 
of square brooches linked together by chains. The highest art of the gold- 
smith 8nd the jeweller was brought into requisition in the making of these 
belts and the cost was only limited by the wearer's ourse. 

85. Among the merchants, more sober colors and more conservatively cut clothes were 
worn. Clothing from 1259-1400, was very expensive. Cloth was coarse but its 
price was high. Linen, too, was costly. Shirts y-ere such valuable articles 


Over the cote-bardie was v-orn a cloak or mantle v.-'^ich varied considerably 
in shape. Sone of these cloaks vere circular, split dovm the side and buttoned 
on the shoulder. Another circular cloak, vhich buttoned at the n-^ck, had 
dagged edges. There were also parti-colored cloaks, 4 i1'0 govms with hoods, 
and.reach**^ to the feet. The ordinary cloak reached to the ankles, v.-as 
fastened on the right shoulder by three or more large buttons and v.'as ornamented 
around the edges by embroidery. The hem sometimes consisted of dagging eight 
to ten inches deep. To the neck of the mantle was fastened the capuchon or 
hood v^Mch fell upon the chest and back ™'hen not in use. This hood was 
frequently parti-colored. It might either be very full in the cape and 
.lagged at the edges or close about the neck and plain. From, the peak of the 
hood hung dovm the liripipe, a tail or tippet, sometimes very long, at others 
of m^edium length, ^^ 

The nobles snd ^oef/^i' high degree wore fantastic hats of various kinds 
and also felt and fur caps, v:hich were round v;it.h a rolled-up brim snd a little 
peak on top, as irell as hoods. Some of the hats had tall crowns, v.ith close, 
thick brim:S and a string through the brim so that they might be hung on the 
belt wi-en not in use. Other high-crowned hats had castellated brim.s, and still 
others were long and peaked and sometimes had a feather stuck in them - plumes 
which v^ere often nearly a yard in length and which stood straight up in front 
of the hat in sockets ornamented with goldsmiths' work. The brim.s of all 
these hats were apparently colored, hut the crowns were generally of white 

that they were often the subjects of charitable doles and were devised 
by will. (Rogers, History of Agriculture and Prices, vole i, p. 66). 
86, Liripipes were originally restricted to the head-coverings of men, especially 
university graduates. In the Lliddle Ages, they were worn by all classes 
of men and later by women, (George Clinch, English Costume from Pre-Historic to the End of the 18th Century, pp. 154-155.) 


TO coinplete his costume, a g;entle?nan v;ore chansses, or tights, which 
were often parti-colored^ and made after the fashion of trunk-hoao and v:hich 
were prohahly the "hosen" alluded to in the acts of apparel. Ke was shod with 
long-toed shoes which buttoned up the front or buckled over the insteos. 
These shoes v/ere generally made of rich materials, such as red and white 
chequered leather, were pointed and in shape resembled more closely a half-boot 
■l-han 8 shoe." The length of the toes subsequently became so extravagant that 
it was considered necessary to regulate them by law. 

A good many changes in male costume were i-itroduced about the year 1?50. 
The hip belt remained in style, but began to be ornamented v.ith a large buckle 

to which was attached a gypciere, or sort of pouch, with a dagger thrust through 

more pointed, 
it. The boots became longeij/ahd also more ornate. They were now sometimes 

laced instead of buckled. The capuchon£ menti oned/l-n connection with t*^e 

dress of the clergy ^n one o f the later sumptua ry lawg yi wi decorated v^-ith 

ornamental bandsOround the neck and a si^ort liripipe, was nov^ w^orn over the 

left s'-'oulder. Parti-colored clothing became more fashionable thsn ever 

before at this period and proved particularly ob.iectionable to the ecclesiastical 

authorities, while many caustic remarks were levelled at it by the satirists of 

the day. The sleeves of the cote-hard ie were worn longer than they had been 

previously - reaching now to the root of the thumb with the buttons underneath. 

The greater part of the cote-hardie was ncnw generally covered with a pattern 

consisting of foliated leaves and tendrils. In one picture dating from this 

period, a het is shown worn over a capuchon. This hat has a turned-up brim, 

from the back of virhich a feather springs. In the period after 1350, long 

87. Affectation of parade and gaudy clothing were not confined to the laity, 
1 iit/^^rmfiiin I I iinii|_ the clergy as well and were even carried to such 
I I exjr'avagant lengths as to call forth many censures on thel« dress and con- 

Y '^^^ duc'^jy ( Strutt , Dress and Habits, vol. ii,jD. 158) These censures generally 
originated in truth but in miany instancesj^iw^^re probably entirely too severe 
and rarely admitted of general application. 


gowns re-appeared. These gowns were often ■'orn by civilians of tbe better 
class and v/ere made with s^ort sleeves with tippets appended to them, Usuclly 
t^opoy > gowns, and in fact the v/hole costume, of the ordinary citizen were 
remarkably plain, even sometiipes entirely without ornament (excent for the 

buckles on the shoes); but often extravagance prevailed and they were made 

of costly materials and elaborately decorated. 

The women of tVis upper classes were apparently as fond of elaborate 
clothing in the * g i pw of Edward III as were the men. They, also, wore a 
garment knowTi as the cote-hardie, but v/hich was much longer than that worn 
by the male sex, reaching to the feet, and which fitted the figure 
very tightly. The sideless cote-hardie seems to have been very fashionable 
for wom.en. The sides of this garment were cut av/ay all around the armhole, 
the cut sometimes extending f r; m. over the shoulder almost to the y/aist, and 
revealing an under-tunic, usually of contrasting color. In the late 
fourteenth century, the ornamentation round this opening became an important 
feature of female dress. 

Over this garment was frequently worn the super (or supra) cote- 
hardie, a sort of surcoat without sleeves, v.hich was often so long and 
trailing that, in order to facilitate walking and to reveal the richly deco- 
rated cote-hardie beneath, it was drawn up on one side and passed over the 
arm. The surcoats worn by the ladies of the highest rank were often made 
of cloth of gold, covered with an intricate pattern. The use of such 
fabrics was forbidden to the lower classes by rr^any of the acts of apparel, 
as '^as already been stated. The skirts of all the gowns were very volumi- 
nous and generally had either pockets or holes in front - holes cut so as 

88, For pictures of late Edward III costumes, see Ashdown, pp. 94,95. 

89. Clinch, op. \il , 138, 139. Perhaps the writers who mention this aide- 
less cote-hardie have dMedbd^ confused it v;ith the siaper cote-hardie 
which never, apparently, had any sleeves. 


to allow the wearer to reach her purse which was hung from a belt worn over 
the under-dress. The gowns V'lere generally buttoned or laced down the 
front froiD neck to waist. In the early part of the fourteenth century, 
prior to 1350, the sleeves of most dresses were slit to about the elbow and 
hung almost to the ground. The hanging part of the sleeve was lined with 
bright-colored silk. Underneath these hanging sleeves the sleeves of the 
kirtle, very tight-fitting, extending almost to the fingers, and decorated 
with a row of buttons, showed plainly. 

V/hen going outdoors l-'^e ladies of the early fourteenth century wore..' 

curious fur or cloth (lined with fur) capes or cloaks, which were fastened 

across the chest with a cord. These capes were usually longer behind 

than in front and were cut in scallops all the way round. l/Vhen worn for 

hunting they were ornamented VMith bells. lomen also wore high boots, like 

those of the men, when dressed for the chase, but on ordinary occasions they 

appeared in shoes, with slight points, ei-t-her buckled, laced ud the 

side or buttoned up the front. 

One of the most striking features of female dress in tbe 14th century, 

and indeed long afterv/ards, was the headdress. During the period from 

1300-1350, this was composed of a ccuvre-chef (a handkerchief-like effair, 

held in place by a band around the forehead) and a gorget of the same material 

as the couvre-chef, arranged in folds around the neck and shoulders, &nd 

sometimes covering the lower part of the chin. The hair v/as usually divided 

into two plaits, which were arranged on either side of the face and were held 

90, The term kirtle was aoplied to a variety of garments worn by both sexes. 
Originally the kirtle v/as a short linen under-garnent, but Chaucer speaks 
of it in a way which leads us to infer that in his day. the garment was of 
fine material, though still used for underwear, (Clinch, pp. 161-162). 

91. In a brass in one of the old English churches, dating from the 14th century, 
one of these capacious cloaks is represented, lined with fur which is 
brought from, either side in the form of lappets. These lappets meet on 
the chest where they are buttoned dovm. The cloak is gracefully draped 
into one of the openings for the hands and is held in olace by the arm. 
(See AshdowTi, p. 105). "A'ornen sometimes v;ore a belt around the hips during 
■'■'"is period - ^'^■'■■: forerunner cf the later ,iewen<='i >"='l-t". 

ir. place by a filet of silk or linen with long ends which hung dov;n the back 
of the v.earer. Pointed frontlets of peai'ls were el so vorn across the fore- 
head. The plaits were fastened either straight up beside the face or 
at an anigle. They were never left hanging. The gorget, oi' throat-cloth, 
v^as atteched to the hair by pins 7/ith elaborate heads. Sometimes the hair 

was divided into four jlaits, two on either side of the face, and fastened 


horizontally. The couvre-chef" was usually of silk or linen. Vihit^e silk 

or linen caps vere also vorn, shaped so fis to cover ■'he plaits 2nd combine 
the gorget and couvre-chef in ore. The gorget at the time of its fullest 
development had a v/ire strenthening its upper edge. This vire passed round 
to the back of the head and wfiF secured by pins in the hair. The couvre- 
chef was, during the reipn of Edward III, beginning to be omitted for 
indoor wear, since the idea the.t Hi lady might appear in rublin with her head 
uncovered was nov taking root. 

In the Middle Ages, innovations in dress were introduced at rather 
long intervals compared with t^^e present time, but about l-'SSO a change 
occurred in fashions for v.-omen, corresponding to the change in men's dress 
which occui'red about the same time. The nev/ fahions remained in vogue until 
about I08O. Two features which were especially prorrinent in female costume 
from lo50-60 were the nebule headdress and the sleeve tippet. The earliest 
form of the nebule headdress consisted of a cylindrical case of woven 7dre 
(usually gold wire) passing across the forehead and down each side of the 
face. Another early form of this headdress consisted of a metal fillet 
round the head to which were atteched on either side two cases of gold 

92. The couvre-chef was elso occasionally called a wimple, though the term 
wimple seems to have been more correctly applied to that part of the 
headdress which covered the chin, throat and breast. (Clinch, p. 182) 
In a brass of Lady de Creke in Vvestly Yaterless church (Cambridgeshire) 
the couvre-chef has a stiff band with a serrated edge on the forehead 
and two pendant sides, which are brought forward and pinned into the 
plaits of hair on either side of the face, in im.itation of masculine 
head-gear. (Ashdovm, pp. 102, 104.) 


fret.v;crk, generally circular in shape and frequently ornamented with precious 
stones. The hair was no longer plaited hut v,'rs hrought in tv/o parts from 
the hack of the head snd pushed into the .jewelled cases. The nehule head- 
dress hroke the unwritten rule \i'hich had prevailed for so many centuries 
against a woman's showing her hair. 

The emergence of the hair v/as followed by the exposure of the neck. 
Fairly low-necked dresses were now worn, usually with round or bateau necks, 
without any decorative material to soften the hard line round the throat. 
G-owns were still tight-fitting, but not all of them were as long as they 
had been during the first period of Edwe.rd's reign. Some of them now 
reached just to the feet. The sleeves of the gowns still partially 

covered the hands and still had rows of buttons extending half the length 

of the upper arm. The women as well as the men now wore bands f5.x©d 

around the upper parts of their arms from_ which depended *4w»* tippe-fjj 
generally white in color and reaching to the ground. The tippet 
was fastened either directly in front of the sleeve or so as to hang dov/n the 
side. It was seldom seen after 1?80, 

A good idea of the general appearance of the ladies of Edward Ill's 
day may be gained fromi Knighton's description of the women v/ho attended 
tournaments during that period. He says, "They are dressed in party-colored 
tunics, one half being of one color, and the other half of another, with 
short hoods, and liripipes, or tippets, which ai-e vfrapped about their heads 
like cords; their girdles ere handsomely ornam.ented with gold and silver, 
and they wear short swords or dtiggers before them in pouches..."" The 
masculine appearance of the ladies when thus habited and mounted was fre- 
quently censured by the writers of the day. 

93, By the beginning of the next century more than half the hand was hidden. 

94. Henry Knighton, Chronicon, col. 2597, sub A. D. l.'';48, vol. ii, p. 57. 

The dress of the working-class during the early fourteenth century 

was far more striking in color than it had heen hitherto. Many different 

stvles of dress were worn. The long cote-hardie, reaching to the knees^. 

V/8S almost universal. It v/as confined by a cord round the hips in imitation 

of the knightly belt. From t*^is cord depended, either in front, on the 

sides, or behind, a square bag, the gypciere, vj-hich was capacious in its 

dimensions and vas used as a purse, a tool-holder, etc. The old-fashioned 

loose tunics, bunched at the waist, were still v.'orn by the poor, and the 

coif, worn over the head and tied under the chin^TSs very persistent 

throughout this period. The capuchon, or hood, was also very common. 

The lower part of it, which went around the neck and which had formerly only 

reached to the shoulders, vjas now lengthened so as to reach to the elbows 

or lovrer, was buttoned down the front and v.'as pied. Hats were 

occasionally worn over such hoods. Cloaks, wooden-soled shoes and pouch 

gloves were also worn by the lower classes, though sometimes they had no 

covering for either head or feet. Peasant women vrore ill-fitting gowns 

with tight sleeves, hoods open at the neck end short in the back and 

smocked aprons. In general t'-'e lower classes, in the days of Edward III, 

exhibited a queer mixture of the fashions prevalent in this and in preceding 


95. The skirt of the cote-hardie was sometimes pleated and/o? thinner m.aterial 
than the rest of the garment (this went out of style about 1350) or split 
up the front and turned back. The cote-hardie was occasionally sleeveless 
and, in the case of the richer men, had a band of em.broidery around the 

96. The whole foregoing account of the dress of the Edward III period is taken 
from Ashdov.'n, p. 84 ff.; Calthrop, vol. ii, p. 24 f f . ; and Clinch, p^.l37 ff., 
\. 161 ff. For pictures of the costumes of this period^ see J. R. Green, 
Short History of the English People, vol. i, pp. 333, 334, 348, and 
opposite page, -ftg*^ 369, 3^0, ?77, 378, 379, 380, 381, 590, 391, 396, 397, 
398, 399, 400, opp. p. 414, 420, 423, 424, 425, 426, 427, 428, 429, 435, 

446, 464, opp. p. 465; vol. ii, po. 471, 473, 476^77, 483, 497. See also 
Ashdown, pp. 86, 88, 90, 92, 94, 95, 96 and opp. p. 96, opp. p. 98, opp. 
p. 102, 105, opp. p. 106, 108, next to|>.lll, and opp. p. 112^^ Fo^icture 
ofa,tippet, see opp. p. 86; foracote-hardie, opp, p. 88; fo:Hr9l*ess of 


Suoh were the garments vViich clothed ^he people of that day and ivhich^ 
because of their fantastic styles, their sca"tiness, the costliness of the 
materials of which they were made, or for some other reason, called forth 
the censures of contemporary moralists and v.-ere thus brought to the attention 
of the government. In 1363 Edward's third law for the regulation of 
costume was enacted. By this tine the war with France had com.e to an end, 
England having been in the main victorious. A treaty of peace had been 
signed at Calais on October 24, 1360. The return of the armies from abroad, 
loaded down with spoils, probably increased still further the general 
extravagance which had been so much complained of at an earlier date and 
brought in its train other economic troubles, in addition to those v/hich had 
already arisen out of the Black Death. For this reason, the legislation 
of the years from 1360-69 was largely economic and, curiously enough, anti- 
papal,' abisay "curiously" because Edv>rard's government was still mainly 
controlled by ecclesiastics. Hovovut ^^t'^e clergy ,^if they did not help 
forward the anti-Roman legislation,/\«««*'^ajt lesp'^content to stsnd aside and 
let it take effect without protest. It seems unlikely, however, that they 
viewed extravagance and wastefulness among the people of England with calm 
eyes. They probably not only inveighed against it in their sermons (as 
we know t^xej did at other times) but were also perhaps instrumental in 
securing the passage of the sumptuary law of 1363. This dominance of the 

ordinary citizens, see opp. p. 90; for m.en's hats, p. 92;^^adies' dress (1300-50), 
p. 100 - full page illustration in color. Ibid., pp. 103, and ff. p., opp. p. 
108, end next to 109, opp. p. 110 and ff. p. See in addition, Charles and 
Leopold Martin, The Civil Costum.e of England from the Conquest to the Present 
Time, olates 15, 16, 17, IP; and Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii (l4th century) 
frontispiece, plates 69, 70, 72, 75, 74, 75-79, 85, 85, 86, 87 (head-coverings 
of the 14th century), 88-89. 

97, See first Statute of provisors (1351 ) nnd Statutes of praenunire (enacted 
1353 and 1593). 

clergy in secular affairs. though growing gradually less, as has been rren- 

tioned above, lasted until 1371 v.ber, at the request of Perliapent, 

Edward III replaced his ecclesiastical ministers by laymen." 

On October 12, 1362, in the thirty-seventh year of Edward's reign. 
Parliament met at Westminster. From this meeting, as Valsingham puts it, 

mullus magnus se potuit absentare or as Capgrave translates this phrase 
"fro whech mit© no of powere absent him". Evidently the king had 
ordered that all those v-'io v.ere of high rank should be present. This Par- 
liament continued its sessions throughout the following v/inter. During the 
course of its deliberations, the House of Commons, believing doubtless as 
apparently almost everyone in the Middle Ages did believe, th&t it was quite 
improper to allow economic laws to work out their own results and thst it 
was the duty of kings f.nd princes, and incidentally of parliaments, to set JUK^- 
.^ing\ night, addressed a petition to the king which began as follows: 
"...Since many necessaries within the kingdom have been greatly 
increased in price because divers people of divers conditions use divers 

98. Political History of England, vol. iii, p. 427 ff. 

99. Thomas Vials ingham., Historia Anglicana, vol. i, p. 299. 

100. John Capgrave, The Chronicle of England, p. 2?2. 

101. V'e have nothing to show whether this petition was inspired by some outside 
authority or whether it really represented the ideas of the House of 
Comjnons. Judging, however, from internal evidence, i. e. from the 
attitude assumed towards the lower classes, it seems more likely that 
some one of high rank and a corresnondirgly poor opinion of the comm.on 
people and of their place in life was responsible for the petition s.ndJL^i^ 
the statute which v«ls passed as the result of the petition. 


1 02 

apuai-el not pertaining to iheir estate; that is to say, laborers 

(yeomen) use the aroarel of craftsmen, and craftsmen the apperel 

of valets, and valets the aDparel of squires, and squires t'le acoarel of 

knights; ...poor women and others the apnarel of ladies, poor clerks 

fur''' like the king and oth^^r lords; therefore the 'below-mentioned 

merchandise sells at greater prices than it was accustomed to, and the 

weal-^h of the kingdom is destroyed, to the great damage of the Lords 

and Commons. For which they pray a reredy..." 

The king's response to "the petition put forward by the Commons 
v^ith regard to the excess of aooarel of the people beyond their estates, 
to the very great destruction and impoverishment of the land, by which 
cause all the wealth of ±^e kingdom is. . .consumed and destroyed" was 
favorable. Accordingly, a statute was enacted, as v»'eE stated in the 
preamble, to correct "the outragious and excessive apparel of divers 
people against their estate and degree". 

The first chapter of this act ordained that grooms, "as well servants 
of lords, as they of mysteries and artificers, shall be served to eat | v.'ith 
meat] and drink once a day of flesh or of fish," that is to say, they 
shell not be allowed to eat flesh or fish more than once a day. The 
rest of their meals shall consist of milk, butter, cheese, etc., according 
to their rank. It was also provided that this class of people should not 
use or wear, "for •'heir vesture or hosing", any cloth wHich should exceed 

1Q2. "Vitailles" (Rotuli Parliamentorum, vol. ii, p. 27?). 

10-^. "Diverses gentz de diverses condicions usent diverse Apparaill." (ibid.) 

104. "Garceons"(lbid. ) 

105. "Pellure" (ibid.) 

106. The PS^-tipn and response are quoted from. Eot. Pari., vol, ii, p. 278 ff, 

107. StstjJ^/^'Realm, vol. i, pp. 380-81; also Sts'-. L, , vol. ii, p. 164 ff.- 
37 Ed. Ill, c. 8- c. 15. 

108. Stat. L. vol. ii, o. 164. 


in price two marks for the whole amount of cloth needed. Neither shall 
they wear anything of gold or silver, embroidered, enamelled, or made 
of silk "nor nothing pertaining to the said things". ' Their wives 

and children must follow the same rules with regard to their clothing 


and must not wear any veils or kerchiefs exceeding 12 d. in price. 

The next section of the act deals with yeomen and handicraftsmen 
and provides that they "shall not take nor wear cloth of an higher price 
for their vesture or hcsing, than v.-ithin forty shillings the Vfhole cloth", 
that thev shell neither buy such cloth, nor acquire it in any other manner. 
They are elso forbidden to wear precious stones, cloth of silver, silk, 
girdles, knives, buttons, rings, brooches, chains, etc. of gold or silver, 
and embroidered or silken clothing, Ti^is prohibition is extended to 
their v<ives and children, vfho are also directed not to vrear sny veil or 

kerc^^ief made of silk, "but only of yarn thread m.ade within the realm," 

1] 3 
nor any fur nor budge, except lamb, coney, cat and fox. 

Vie might suppose at first sight, as Cunningham points out, that the 
artisans of this period must have been in exceedingly prosperous circum- 
stances if they could even think of v/earing the fabrics which they were 
forbidden to wear, but we must that tv,ese fabrics might, if this 
lav/ had not been passed, have been procured, for wjcasional use at civic 
and ecclesiastical functions by those who were habitually clad in very 
coarse c]oth. These fine clothes were seldom xvorn out by their original 
purohasers, but were frequently left in their wills to the church to be made 

109. Ibid. 

110. Ibid. 

111. Ibid., pu. 164-165. 
11?!. Ibid. 

113. Budge W8S lambskin with the wool dressed outside and was often worn 
on the edges of capes. 


into vestments. 

After disposing of the lower classes, the legislators next turned 
their attention to the higher classes of society, beginning with esquires 
and gentlemen below the rank of knif;h-t$ Persons belonging to this class, 
who did not possess land or rentjto the value of a hundred pound a a year, 
were ordered not to wear cloth costing more than four marks and a half 
"the wliole cloth". They were further forbidden to wear cloth of gold 
or silver, silk, etc. as shove, as well as harness of geld or silver, 
precious stones, poarls or any kind of fur. Their wives and children 
must "be of the sarrie condition as to their vesture and apparel", and 
must not v;ear any trimmings or edgings on their garments. However, an 
exception was made in favor of squires or gentlemen ^.«ho possessed lends or 
rents to the value of two hundred marks or more a year. They were per- 
mitted to wear cloth worth five marks the piece, also silk, cloth of silver, 
ribbons, girdles, etc, "reasonably" trii:m;ed with silver; and their wives, 
daughters and children were allowed to use fur "turned up of miniver, 
without ermine or letuee, or any manner of apparel" trim-ed with 
precious stones, except headdresses. 

114. Cunningham, vol, i, p. 310. Of course, at this period, .just after the 
Black Death, which had killed off a large part of the laboring popu- 
lation, there was a great demand for laborers and v<ages were much higher 
than they had been previously. Seligman maintains that the regulations 
with regard to laborers and handicraftsmen contained in this and other 
laws prove that .iourneymen were so well treated. as regards the neces- 
sities of life that the government felt impelled to interfere occasionally 
in order to prevent them, from indulging in extravagance, (Seligman, 
¥ediaaval Gilds, p. 469) 

115. Stat. L. p. 165. 

116. Ibid, The womien are forbidden to wear "esclaires, criniles, ne treofles", 
as well as all "manner of apparel of gold, or silvei-, or of stone". 
"Criniles" were probably bodkins or hair-pins orna'^ented with jev/els; by 
the word "esclaires'I we should understand somet^-ing flashing or glit- 
tering; and "treofle" might mean a peruliar ornament in the shape of a 
trefoil, (Strutt, vol. ii, p. 105 n. ) 

117. Revers de menevoir" (Rot. Pari., vol. ii, o. 2''8) For a description of 
miniver, see p. 15 n. 7Z 

118. A white or gray fur worn up to the middle of the 16th century, a cap of 
which was thought to act as a ^orific, 

119. Stat. L., vol. 'ii, p. 165. 


Merchants, citizens, burgesses, etc., both in London and else- 
where, and their wives and children likewise, if they possess goods and 
chattels worth five hundred pounds, are authorized to wear clothes 
similar to those which are permitted to esquires and gentlemen possessing 

which are permirteu to esquires and gentiepen pc 
is 100 a year. /^ VorotmntiT ,. otf.ii^vjho owiV property worth h 1000, and their 
wives and children, may dress like esquires and gentlemen who have an 
income of fe 200. "And no groom, yeoman, or servant of a merchant, artificer 

or person of handy-craft shall v^ear otherwise in apoarel than is above 

ordained of yeomen of lords." 

Knights who possess an income of less than h 200 (or 200 marks) s 
year are given permission to v/ear cloth "■ort'-i not more than six marks, but 
not to wear cloth of gold, nor cloaks, mantles or gov.ns furred v.'ith miniver, 
nor sleeves of ermine, nor any spoarel embroidered with precious stones or 
otherwise. Their wives and children mvist observe the sa-^e rules with 
regard to their dress and must not wear any ermine, letus, or precious 
stones, "but only for their heads". However, ell knights and ladies 
with incomes of from 400 marks tot, 1000 a year may wear anything they 
please, except ermine, etc, as above. 

That the clergy and scholars of the time, as well as the laity, were 

guilty of extravagance in dress is indicated by one section of the ordinance 

Jut k^{uuU<-^ 
of 1363, ^isijn their dress, too, is regulated. It is provided that clerks 

"which have degree in any church cathedral, collegi&l or schools, and clerks 

of the king that hath such estate that requireth furr shall do and use 


according to the ccnstitut' on of the same." All of^er clerks who have 

120. Ibid. 

121. Ibid., p. 166. 

122. Ibid. 


less than 200 marks income per year shsill dress like esquires possessing 
h 100 income, v^hile t>03e -who receive more then 200 marks shall "v/ear end 
do as knights of the sarre rent. And th&t all t^ose, as well knights and 
clerks, which by this ordinance, may wee.r fur in the winter shall wear 
linure Llawn] in the summer . "'*■' 

At the very end of f-io ant, seeming almost as if it had been elbowed 
aside by the chapters dealing with more important people, is a section 
regulating the dress of persons belonging to the very lowest class in society, 
namely, carters, ploughmen, ox-herds, cow-herds, shepherds, swineherds, 
dairymen, etc., "and all manner of people of the estate of a groom, attending 
to husbandry, and all other people that have not goods nor chattels to the 
value of 40 s," Such people may not wear anything but blanket cloth and 

123. Ibid, This provision was perhaps intended to prevent tbe unseasonable 
wearing of fur as well as extravagance in its use. 

124. Ibid. From 1259-1400, the cheapest kinds of woolens were bluett, russet 
and blanket. In the first of these, two qualities at least may be 
trac»d; the second was an inferior article; the third cheapest of 
all. The first two terms point to the color of the cloth. Blanket 
v/as undyed stuff. "Pusset" was sometires used to designate cloth made 
from black wool. When bluett was quoted by t^^e piece_,it was superior 
in quality to bluett sold by the yard. In 1284, a piece cf bluett 
cost is 5, 14 s. 9 d..£>nd in 1266 i. 4, 1? s. 4 d. As a rule^the Drice 
Twas low - before the Black Death, it averaged 1 s. "g- d. per yard, 
while russet averaged Is. 4 d. Blanket was never very high and 
occasionally very cheap. It was used especially for long, loose 

garments, which were usually very ample, containing from eight to ten 
yards of miaterial. Blanket and russet were the fabrics prescribed 
for the peasants to wear by the ordinance of lo63. (Rogers, Agri- 
culture and Prices, vol. i, p. 575 ff.) 


russet, costing 12 d. a vard. They are ordered to wear girdles of linen, 
according to their estate, sr.d not to est or drink excessively. The 
penalty for failure to confortn to the ordinance in rU its points is for- 
feiture to the king of all prohibited aoparel. 

In order that t^^is statute A al^ou^n he maintained and kept in all 
points without blemish", ^^ all the msnufacturers of cloth in England, 
both TT.en and women, are ordered to manufacture cloth which will sell for 
the various prices set forth in the act, and all drapers are ordered to 
sell cloth at those prices, so there will be plenty of such cloth for sale 
and therefore no excuse for buying more expensive fabrics and so violating 
the statute. The king and his council are given discretionary power to 
devise some means of forcing the clothmakers and drapers to abide by f^is 
ordinar'.ce - to cor.train them, "by any manner way that best shall seem" 
to the council. 

In 1363 (apparently after the foregoing statute of apparel had been 
enacted) the king issued writs of sumjnons for a Parliament to meet at 
^ i Yvestminster on the sixth of October following. On the latter date, there 

was not a full attendance of the mem.bers, and the meeting was therefore 


ad.iournod to the next Friday, On November 3, which was also Friday, 

the whole parliament assembled at Westminster in a room known as the VVhite 
Chamber. The king, the nobles, prelates and commonalty all were there, 
and a colo^ul scene it must have been, ivith the king attired in his gorgeous 
robes, the nobles in ;-ied garments of silk and sati^ and cloth of gold, and 
the commons in less costly, but equally brilliant clothing. T'-e petitions 

1^5. Ibid., pp. 166-167. 

126. Ibid. For this statute, see also Sttt. E., vol. i, p. "PO ff.: Fot. 
Pari., vol. ii, p. 278 ff., pp. 281-282. 

127. "Le tiercze .iour de Novemhre " (Rot. pari., vol. ii, p. 280) 


drawn up by the House of Coirinions and the responses to thetn by the 
king v^ere read, end then the Chancellor, Siiron Langharri, Bishop of Ely, 
manificent in his ecclesiastical dress, rose at the comrnand of the ki rig 
and announced thst his master was nov resolved to execute the Statute of 
Apparel, He charged all the irenibers of Parliament to abide by this 
statute, to enforce it and cause it to be enforced, and not even to 
attempt to do anything in any respect contrary to it. The commors, 
upon their return home, ■were ordered to p'ablish abroad the new regulations 
and make them knovm to all the people, so that in t^e future evei-yone 
should dress. and make his household and servants dress in accordance 
v.ith the ordinance. Since man;/ of the matters dealt with by this Parlia- 
m-ent were new and had never been touched upon before, the Chancellor asked 
tho r embers of Parliament whether they wished ■•-he results of their delib- 
eratio'-is to be put forth in the form of ordinances or of statutes. They 
reolied that it seemed best to issue ordinances and not statutes, "so that 


they might amend the same at their pleasure". This v^ras done. Whether 
this action affected laws adopted previous to this session of Parliament 
or only those passed after this meeting is not clear. Therefore we do 
not know whether the act of 1363 was issued as a statute or as an ordinance, 

though it seems to be referred to as a series of ordinances in the Rolls of 

Parliament, and is scoken of both as a statute and as pn ordinance in 

the Statutes of the Realm,. 

128. Ibid. 

129. For a full account of the meeting in the Y.hite Chamber, see Cobbett, (ed.) 
Parliamentary Historv of England, vol. i, J)|». 128, 129; and Rot. pari., 
vol. ii, D. 280 ff. Historically, the lines of distinction between an 
ordinance and a statute were not definitely drawn. An ordinance v.'as 
usually held to mean a law or regulation promulgated without the assent 

of one of the three powers (Crown, House of Lords, and House of Comjnons ) 
necessary to the validity of pn act of Parliament. Probably the use 
of the T'.'ord "ordinance" in this case meant that the acts would be 
issued without being voted upon by the House of Lords. The Commons 


Before leaving the lav of 1363, we must call attention to one or 

two of its features. In the first place, it seems clear that its purpose 

■was not only to pu+" s stop to extravagance in dress (and ■'"c a certain 

degree to encourage the use of English products) but also to preserve class 

distinctions by means of costan-.e. As Medley, in his "Social England", 

says, "it is ,. .necessary to reneirber that mediaeval society was far irore 

dominated with the idea of caste than the society with which we are 

familiar, and that this caste, w-hether social or merely official, was 

outwardly marked by a difference of costumes." Few things help us 
more effectively to realize the regimentation of mediaeval and early modern 

society in England than do the sumptuary laws of the period. Every costume 

was to some extent a uniform revealing the rank and condition of its wearer. 

The ordinance which we have been discussing strove to preserve and accentuate 
these natural differences in dress and thus to bolstei' up the class dis- 
tinctions on which they were founded. If one studies the ordinance 
carefully, one perceives that as it takes up the vai'ious classes one by one, 
from the lowest up, it grants to each one a few mora privileges \rith regard 
to dress than it had accorded to the class next below it. It also makes 
distinctions within a class, the wealthier m_embers of a group being allowed 
to indulge their taste for finery to a greater extent than their poorer' 
brethren. Evidently, the high-born and v^ealthv were speciallv privileged, 
with regard to dress as v/ell as* other matters. 

had apparently already voted upon the petition. It is not quite clear why 
Parliament couldn't have amended a statute ,iust as well as an ordinance, but 
the reason quoted above for issuing an ordinance instead of a statute is 
the one given alonr in Rot. Pari., vol. ii, p. 261 - "bon est mettre les 
choses par voie d 'Ordinance, et nemye par Estatut, aufin que si rien soit 
de am.ender puisse estre amende a preschein parlement." 

130, D. J. Medley, Social England, vol. ii, quoted in Clinch, pp. 66-67. 

131. F. J. C. Kearnshaw, Leet Jurisdiction in England, p. 218 note. See also 
p. 123. 


A*— HT.-t:h9 enrorcerent cf the ordinance which has just been con- 
sidered, there is more positive evidence than there is in relation to 
the earlier lav;s. Walsingham, after discussing this ordinance, says 
"Sed haec omnia nullum effectum capiehant". The same statement is found 
in the '*Chronicon Angliae", ' possibly copied from Falsinghem, or 
vice-versa. V/alsingham vas almost contemporary v.-ith the period of Edward III - 
he died about 142?. - and, although the earlier part of his chronicle was a 
compilation from the viorks of other historians, he is considered reliable 
with regard to his own time. To back up his statement, we have som.e 
purely negative evidence, namely, tHe fact -l-hiit, with one exception, men- 
tioned in the next paragraph, nothing has been found to prove that either 
the ordinance of 1S6" or the earlier sumptuary lav/s were ever enforced. No 
mention of any attempts to enforce them is made by any of ■*-'"» contemporary 
•writers, although it seems probable that the enforcement of siich laws would 
have stirred up enough of a ripple in society to have attracted their attention. 
Moreover, one does not find any records of cases arising under these laws 

1?2. For a sumriary of this ordinance, see Capgrave's Chronicle, p. 222: 

"There was forbode that sylvyr and gold schuld not be used in knyves, 
ne girdelis, ne brochis, ne ringes, ne no other ornamentis Tor eDoarel] 
but in sweoh persones that myte spend fc 10 be yere : and fiiipttTrnat no 
man schuld were [_silk] peloure or precious o Ijiyi but he m^yte spend 
be 7^ere a hundred pound. It vjbs orde>Tied al l ^ that the comoune puple 
schuld not use no precious [_delicatej mete ne drink." The chronicler 
seems to be speaking in this passage of the ordinance of 1S63, although 
the provisi on concerning people possessing is 10 a year is not found in 
that act. See also Parliamentary History of England, vol. i, pp. 
127-128; Vvalsingham, vol. i, p. 299; and Baker, p. 140. 

153. IVslsinghem, vol. i, p. 299; E» M. Thompson (ed.) Chronicon Angliae, 
in Chronicles and Memorials of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. LXIV, 
p. 53, 

134. For a statement as to T.'alsinghsm 's reliability and general accuracy, 
see C^iarles Gross, The Sources end Literature of English History, pp. 
328, 395. 


or coming before the courts, " as they doubtless would have done if the 
acts had been strictly carried into effect. On the basis of this evidence, 
it seers fair to conclude that none of the sumptuary laws of Edward Ill's 
reign were enforced to any great extent. But they were no exceotion^to 
the general rule. Many laws remained ineffective during that period, and 
the sumptuary statutes were probably no more so than a number of other acts. 
Even if real efforts were made to carry them out, the "chronic weakness of 
the mediaeval executive soon recoiled before the hopeless task of enforcing 
impossible laws on an unvfilling people." Mediaeval laws were too often 
merelv enunciations of an ideal. The king's arm vi?as not long enough or 
strong enough as yet to reach all the classes affected. 

The ordinance of 1363 was not long allowed to remain on the statute- 
books. The very next year (1563-64), a petition, purporting to come from 
the Commons, was sent to the king, asking that, since all the commonalty 
of the realm bed been greatly burdened by this and other ordinances, thejAt^/cAo*'^— 
might be re-exam.ined by the present Parliament and that all of the 

enactments by which "the poor Commons are put in danger and in sub,iection, 

be repealed and annulled." This sounds as if the sumptuary laws had 

been enforced and is i^e one brea^in the chain of evidence sunuortirir the 

opposite view Referred to abov^ However 

.i^«/u^ O^TK*- i*^^ o«n**U'^i^'^iL- 
, int tho faoo . of tVo negative 

evidence which has been cited, it seems unwise to attach too much importance 
to it. The king's response to the petition vms favorable, and a statute 
went into effect whi^-h provided that "[to that which] was ordained at the 

135. I have been through all the Year Rooks and court records to which I have 
been able to obtain access, covering the period from the reign of Edv/ard 
III to that of lienry VIII. ^IMipCof these records, however, ere in- 
complete, with many years missing, and others are so poorly indexed that 
it is almost im.possi^^le to find anything in them. 

136. Political History of England, vol. iii, p. 372-378. 

137. Rot. Pari., vol. ii, p. 286. 


last Parliament, of living and apparel...; It is ordained, Thet all 
People shall he as free as they were |_at all times] before the said 
ordinance, and namely as they vere in the time of the king's grandfather, 
end his other good progenitors..." And that was t^e end, for the time 
being, of all attempts at sumptuary legislation. 

In the reign of Edward III, there were enacted several statutes 
belonging to a long series of laws v.rhich were passed one after another, 
throughout a period covering three or more centuries and v.hich dealt with 
the sub.iects of livery and maintenance. One is apt at first glance to 
confuse them with the sumptuarv laws, since both are listed under "apnarel" 
in the indexes to the statute-books, but the former are entirely different 
from the so-called statutes of aooarel end must be carefully distinguished 
from. them. The "statutes of livery" may perhaps be best described as 
Dolice measures. In general, they prohibited the giving or taking of 
any sort of liveries in any part, of the realm and the retaining of the 
king's officers or tenants by any other person or persons. These laws 
were directed against the great lords and rural magnates who had formed the 
habit of surr-ounding themselves, for ourposes of ostentation, security or 

aggression, with hordes of retainers, whom they fed and clothed and whose 

energies only too frequently found vent in orivate vmrs. 

This custom grew out of the conditions which prevailed in feudal 

tim^es, when every noble needed a small army of followers to protect him from 

12P. Stat, of Realm, vol. i, p. ?Fc, This statute also repealed an act of 
the preceding Parliament, oroviding "that no English merchant s'^ould use 
but one merchandise" and cermi-f-ted all merchants, foreigner^as well as 
natives_,to sell in end exoort from England, all kinds of merchandise, 
with certain exceptions, etc. See38 Edward III, c. 2 (1363-64 or 1364- 
65). The dates differ in the Statutes of the Realm and in the Rot. Pari, 
The former is correct according to our present method of dating. 

139, Rogers, History of Agriculture and Prices, vol. i, p. 577 ff. 

his neighbors, since there was no central government strong enough to 
preserve the peace amonp its sub.iects. Originally such protection 
had been furnished by the vassals o'f each lord, V-ut as feudalism began 
to fall into decay and the nobility realized that the nur.ber of their 
tenants was steadily £-rowinfr sr-nHer, thev found it necessary to supoly 
th^ defection of theiTy^«^"^^T*^ by other expedients. It accordingly was 
becoming customary in the period of Edvra.rd III (and still more so later 
on) for them to retain persons in their service, to he on hand whenever 
the lord's affairs should need their support. One of the chief duties 
of these retainers vas to attend their iraster on public occasions. They 
did not usually live in his hoiAse, nor oerforrn menial services. In order 

to distinguish the follov/ers of different no^^les from one another, they 

were dressed in liveries or hats nf a peculiar style or color. One 

such hat, or hood, end one suit of clothes were given to each man annually. 
This distinction in dress created, or at any rate strengthened, a sort 
of party soirit which became very general throughout England. Fraternities 
were formed by oersons w^o bound themselves to suooort each other on all 
occasions, and who denoted their union by similarity an dress. The result 
was thot the country abounded with adherents of great n-en and societies 
ready to becori-'O such. These confederacies became a terror +o the govern- 
ment, since persons of weight and influence could always provide themselves 
v/ith a set of determined followers to aid and abet them, in any public 

140. A distinctive dress v/as also prescribed by the founders of monas- 
teries for the recipients of their benefactions. The same thing 
■was done in colleges, though in all, comolaints of undue smartness 
of dress on the part of some of the inmates of the college were 
occasionally made. (ibid.) 


. , 141 

To put a stop to this evil a long series of statutes was enacted, 

beginning in the reign of Edward I, Another act passed in the twentieth 

year of Edward III, like many later statutes of the same kind, relied not 

uoon the king's council (as v/as subsequently done) but upon the ^iustices 

of assize and of the peace for its enforcenent. All of the early laws 

dealing with the subject of liver^-^ and maintenance were poorly enforced 

atid ineffective, afe is proved by the frequent petitions dealing with the 

sub.iect which were drawn up by the House of Commons, by the large number 

of such statutes passe;l during a corrnaratively short space of tine, and 

by the multitude of cases directly or indirectly involving maintenance 

which are reported in the Year Books, 

In addition to the statutes against maintenance, action was also 

takeny b^/ the English government against certain games -which were either 

141. John Reeves, History of the English Law, vol. iii, pp. 352, 353. For 
statutes- against maintenance, see I Edward III, st. 2, c. 14, - 

Stat. L.^vol. i, p. 418; « Edv/ard III, c. 11, p. 456; 18 Edward III, 
St. 1, vol. ii, p, 9; 20 Edward III, c. 4, 5, 6, vol, ii, p. 23. 
These statutes were directed against maintenance only. The questionlf 
liveries di^^ not become important tintil the reign of Fichard II. 

142. Selden Society, Select Cases in the Court of Star Chamber, vol. xvi, 
p. xcvii of introduction. Although the king's council did not^at this 
time have b^;- law jurisdiction over cases of liveries and maintenance, 
and although Parliament only by vague language recognized its authority 
in this cla^s of cases, yet when petitions of this kind were addressed 
to Parliament, it persistently turned them over to the council. It 
■was t'ljs by custom end acquiescence, before it was expressly provided 
for by law, that this part of f^e council's jurisdiction developed. 
(Selden Society, Select Cases ^efore the King's Council, 1243-1462, 
vol. xxxvi, p. xxxi of introduction). 

143. In 1332 we find among the records of the Fair Court of Vsye a statement 
that tw^ty-f-iree girdles had been confiscated in 'A'ye in pursuance of a 
grant made in 1327 to the girdlers of London, enjoining the observance 
of their ordinance forbidding any member of the girdlers' gild to trim 
girdles of silk, viool, leather and linen ■■'.'ith base metal, etc. This 
wa ^ _ a p.iyj^n.'t ly not a sumptuary ordinance, however, but merely a gild 
ordiifini^Lr yesigned to secure uniformity in the manufacture of girdles. 
(See Selden Society, Select Cases on the Law Merchant, vol. i, p. IIO) 


supposed to be harmful in themselves oia objectionable because they took 
up time which should have been ^voted to other pursuits. After peace 
had been made with France in 1360, there followed, as there usually does 
after a long- v/ar, and especially amonp. the troops who were disbanded im- 
mediately a'fter the cessation of hostilities, a disuse of military exer- 
cises. Both England and France wt je heartily tired of war, so tired 
that the English even began to neglect the practice of archery, which had 
so recently enabled them to defeat the French. In 1363 Edward III, 
was obliged to issue a royal order forbidding many rural sports and 
enjoining the use of archery. His letter to the sheriff of Kent, dated 
June 1, 1363, ordered the sheriff to cause it to be proclaimed that on 
holidays every able-bodied man should use bows and arrows, oellets or 
bolts and ore.ctice the art of shooting "forbidding all and singular on 
pain of imprisonment to attend or meddle with hurling of stones, loggats 
or quoits, handball, football, club ball..., cock-fighting or ^ther 

vain of no value. The art of archery is almost wholly disused, 

whereby the realm is like to be kept without archers." 

In 1565, Edward, still dissatisfied v/ith the situation, issued a 

similar order to the sheriffs of London which read as follows: 

144. Calendar of Close Polls (Edward III, 1360-64) vol. xi, pp. 534-545. 
Footfall, included among the list of forbidden games, was one of the 
miost popular games in London in the Kiddle Ages, and regulations relating 
to it are found at intervals in the corporation archives. At one 
tim.e^the city authorities forbade it altogether. In the early part of 
the fifteenth century, there was a Guild of the Football Players in 
London which held its meetings at the Brewer's Hall, Football (totally 
different in character from -t-he modern game) was the ttjwn-game of 
Derby in early days. In Scotland, an act of Parliament, dating from 
the reign of James I of Scotland, and still unrepealed, enacted that 
"no shall pi; y football hereafter under a penalty of 50 s." (See 
The Antiquary, vol. Xiii, p, 39, and vol. xxxvi, p, 59) 


"The King to the Sheriffs of London, greeting. 

Because the people of our realm, as well of good quality as rrean, 
have commonly in their sports before these tines exercised the skill of 
shooting arrows; whence it is well-knovm that honor nnd profit have 
accrued to our whole realm, and to us., smell assistance in our 
warlike acts; and now the said skill being, as it were, wholly laid 
aside, the same people please themselves in hurling of stones and wood and 
iron; and some in hand-ball, foot-ball, handy-ball, .. .or cock-fighting; 
and some also aprly themselves to of^er dishonest games and less profitable 
or useful: whereby the said realm, is likely, in a short timie, to become 

destitute of archers-'' Therefore l.n various parts of London^wherever the<7> 
^ — Jj^^____^ ^ ^ 

/^^Mw*^*- shall deem it expedient to do s^J the\.are 'ordered to proclaims/ 
that ever\'- able-bodied man shall, on holidays, practice archery, to prohibit 
the other sports mentioned above, and to encourage shooting-matches. " 

In addition to the fact that foot-ball and the other games pro- 
hibited by Edward III interfered with the practice of archery and thua 
deprived the kingdom of the skill which v/as its chief defense in time of 
war, certain games were generally regarded as harmful in themselves or in 
the results which they entailed and were therefore forbidden. Blackstone,*.** 
tho pasoggc alroacly guolsd in the irtroducitior t o thjj j uooUVt ^ says that 
games which involve betting tend to promote "idleness, theft and debauchery 
among the lov;er classes and sudden ruin, desolation and suicide among the 
upper classes". He also lists gaming-houses, together with disorderly inns 


145. This letter is taken fror^|A Source Book of London History, pp. 51-52 
and is dated from V-estminster , June 12, 1^65. Similar letters were 
sent to the sheriffs of the counties. See also Eymer, Foedera, vol. 
vi, p. 468. For regulations as to long-bows and archery in general, 
see Daines Harrington, "Observations on the Practice of Archery in 
England", in Archaeologis , vol, vii, p. 46 ff. 


and ale-houses, unlicensed plays, booths and stages for rope-dancers, 
irountehanks, etc., as pu^^lic nuisances, v/hich may upon indictment be 
suppressed and fined. 

Ecclesiastical, as well as secul8.r censures, v.'ere directed against 
certain kinds of games, owing to the fact that at funerals, anniver- 
saries of dedications of churches and similar festivals there were generally 
merry-makings, at which there was often a free, perhaps even a licentious 
indulgence, in the games and sports of the time. Those who indulged in 
these sports subjected themselves to pecuniary penalties and ecclesias- 
tical censures, excomim.unicstion not excepted. In 176Z, John Thoresby, 
Archbishon of York, forbade all those who came to church on the vigils 
of saints and similar festivals "to exercise in anyv/ay such plays" and 
ordered all rectors and others in authority to prevent all such excesses 

from being comm.itted in their churches and church-yards. The penalty 

for not heeding this prohibition was suspension and excommiunication. 

The gilds in the various towns also attempted to regulate the playing of 
games which v.-ere considered harmful. In Newcastle, apprentices were for- 
bidden to "dance, dyse, carde...or use any gytternes", and in London a 

146, Blackstone, Book 4, vol. ii, p. 126 ff. 

147, Samuel Denne, "Figures Carved in Stone on the Porch of Chalk Church'', 
in Archaeologia, vol. xii, p. 20 ff. Ecclesiastical prohibitions of 
games date back to 1??.Z and several examples have been found in the 
fourteenth century. 

148, Seligman, p. 454. Newcastle apprentices were also forbidden to "use 
any cut hose, cut shoes, pounced ,ierkins or any herds"; by this we 
see that the gilds, as well as the central government of England, 
issued sumptuary ordinances. Offences against the gild regulations 
v.'ere punished first by fines, then by confiscation of tools, and 
finally by expulsion from the society. 


master was allov/ed to discharge an apDrentice who was a gairester or a 

thief, even though the apprentice had been enrolled before the chamber- 

lain of London. 

Attempts to set maximum prices for articles of food and other 

necessaries of life and to enforce the laws already enacted which dealt with 

this sub.iect were continued during the reign of Edward III. In a case 

which came up in a Court Leet, in the twelfth or thirteenth year of this 

reign, it was presented thst the plaintiff had brewed contrary to the 

assize of bread and ale. He was fined six-pence. During the course of 

the next year, another man, who had been amerced on a presentm,ent at a 

court-leet for brewing and selling contrary to the assize of ale, brought 

suit in a higher court, claiming that he had been wrongfully fined, since 

that particular -ourt-leet had. no jurisdiction over him, because he vfas 

resident within the manor of another lord. '^'^^^se -^ases show that the 

enforcement of assizes of bread and ale>. ^ tg o . was still largely left to 
A 7% 

the lords of the mjtnors ^ and to municipal officials. 

On October 30, 1361, the king by a proclamation ordered the mayor 
and sheriffs of London to fix prices for articles of food and to super- 
vise their sale. In 1363, during the same session of Parliament in 
which Simon Langham announced the king's determination to enforce the 
statute of apnarel, in response to a petition dravm up by the House of 
Comirons, it was ordained that "little victuals", " such as poultry, 
should be sold at fixed prices in order to put an end to the high orices 

149. David Hughson, An Eoitome of the Privileges of Londo.-i, p. 13R. I shall 
not attempt to take up in detail the sumptuary or allied regulations 
adopted by the various gilds. For those, see the well-known works on 
the gilds. 

150. Year Books of Edward III, Years 12 '=ind 1?, p. 214; years l.'^ and 14, 
pp. 184-186. 

151. Calendar of Close Eolls (Edward III, 1360-64) vol. xi, np, 284-285. 

152. "Petites Vitailles" (Rot. Pari., vol. ii, d. 277 f f . ) 


which then prevailed. It was ordered that a young capon should be sold 
for not TTore than 3d.; an old one for 4 d.; a hen for 2 d.; a pullet 
for Id.; and a goose for 4 d. The execution of this act was entrusted 
to certain justices. 

That the provision found in one of the earlier laws which forbade 
city officers, who had charge of enforcing the assizes of victuals, to 
sell anything during -feheir tern of office, under penalty of forfeiting 
their goods, was, in some cases at least, »burdensoine is indicated by a 
petition presented to the royal council by the citizens of Ratford, who 
claimed that their town was a commercial center and that they were entirely 
dependent for a living upon selling their wares. A suit had been brought 
against their two bailiffs, who, so the inhabitants of Ratford declared, 
got no advantage out of their office and v.ere therefore forced to sell 
articles of food, etc. over the wale of which bailiffs, had 
supervision. The petitioners asked that the goods of these officers 
should not be confiscated, as in accordance with law they should have been. 

The council ordered the records and documents pertaining to the case to be 

brought before it, so that it might examine them and render .iustice. 

Vftiat its final decision in the matter v^as is not recorded. 

153, Ibid, See also Parliamentary History of England, vol. i, p. 128. For 
a regulation^ with regard to taverns and selling ale and beer after 
curfew, see^ proclamation for the safe-keeping of the City of London, 
dated December 13, 1334. (English History Source Books, 1307-99, p. 21 ) 

154, This petition was presented in 1330, 4 Edward III, (See Rot. Pari., 
vol. ii, p. 42, petition 54), See also the petition drawn up by the 
authorities of the University of Cambridge, asking that wine should 
not be sold at a higher price at Cambridge than in London, This 
latter petition was not granted, (ibid,, p. 48, petition 69) Allied 
to the statutes fixing the prices of victuals were the Statutes of 
Laborers which fixed :^'ages or the price of ]abor. Several such 
statutes were passed during the reign of Edward III. See 23 Edward III, 
St. 1; 25 Edward III, st. 1, c. 1 f f . ; 31 Edv/ard III, st. 1, c. 6; 

34 Edward III, c. 9 ff; also Chronicon Angliae, p. 30, and Selden 
Society, Select Coroner's Polls, vol. ix, p. 118, 


On June 21, 1377, Edward III died, and, on July 16, his little 

grandson was crowned king as Richard II. In the second year of the new 

reign (1379), Parliament assembled at Westminster on April 2s. 

Richard, Lord Scrope (or Scroop), an old parliamentary hand and a well- 
trusted DuMic servant, was now lord chancellor, the old chancellor, 
Houghton, Bishop of St. David's, having resigned some time before. At 
this period the royal council was composed mainly of men who were lacking 
in insight and force and whose political views were too heterogeneous to 
be easily reconciled. On the whole, the council was ill-fitted to 
deliver England from the complicated evils which beset her both abroad 
and at hce during the reign of Richard II. Before (or perhaps soon 
after) the parliamentary session of 1379-80 came to an end. Lord Scrope 
gave up his office, and Simon Sudbury, archbishop of Canterbury, was put 
in his place. 

The Parliament of 1378-79 is said to have debated much^**»* done 
little. But one thing, at least, it did do. It presented a petition to 
the king asking "that no man or woman in the said kingdom, except knights 

and ladies, shall use any manner of precious stones, fur, cloth of gold, 

or ribbon " of gold, or cloth of silk, unless ha can spend fe 40 a year, on 

pain of forfeiture of whatsoever he uses contrary to this". 

This was evidently a proposal to re-enact, in less detailed form, 

the substance of the act of 37 Edv.-ard III (1363). The king's answer to 

155. V/hile Parliam^ent was meeting at Gloucester in 1378, it petitioned that 
the Statute of Laborers might be strengthened by nevif provisions for 
the pursuit of vagabonds and fugitive villeins. The Parliament which 
assembled at Westminster^on April 25, 1379^ seems to have been simply 
a continuation of the one "-of 1378. It is nowhere spoken of as a 
separate Parliament, n1t'--ii;;;'^i|_~1 - rr-'i '-y "-nrl-^ in ^^^ Pot. Pari, (Rot. 
Pari, vol. iii, p. 55) 5fe>4W^«M-^^W^ -^ "^^C^,uJl'*-i-- 

156. "Ribane d'ore" (Pot. Pari. vol. iii, p. 66.) 


the petition, v/ritten in French, was short and to the point: Le Poi 

s'advisera tan q'a prosch' Parlement." This practically amounted 

to a rejection of the petition, since the matter does not seem to have 

been taken up at the next session of Parliament, although the need for 

sumptuary laws was quite as great as, i4i-*w*y^greater than, it had been 

in the reign of Edward III, 

Under Richard II, especially as the king grew older, extravagance 
both in dress and menner of living rapidly increased. Luxury extended 
more or less to all the arts of life and affected the whole of society. 
After the Black Death, and perhaps partly as the result of that plague, 
which killed off so many skilled and talented craftsmen, a new style of 
architecture developed (1360-99) This was the Perpendicular, a style 
which was composed mainly of straight lines and which superseded the 
flov,dng tracery of the Decorated rrothic. The redeeming features of the 
Perpendicular architecture were its tov/ers, its elaborate stone vaulting 
and carving, and its beautiful timbered roofs. The lay architecture of 
the reign of Richard and of the last years of Edward III was not very 
distinctive. The evolution of the magnificent country mansion from the 
feudal castle went on . bove ver . and taste and fancy played an increasing 
partJL now that the uses of private war were ceasing to be a dom.inating 

In the field of literature, the late fourteenth century was the 
period of the beginning of the morality plsys, and of lyric poetry, which 
was not only becoming increasi ngly complex in form, but was also showing 
a growing tendency to imitate the sensuous beauty of the French singers, 

157, Ibid, 


This was quite as true of the religious as of the lay lyric. The new 
national spirit which had developed during the reign of Edward III 
found its expression in political songs, ballads and iretrical romsnces, 
Chaucer was, of course, the outstanding literary figure of the day, 
hut Vtyoliffe, Langland and Govrer were also prominent in their ovin fields. 

In spite of the efforts of benefactors of learning, such as V/illiam 
of Wykeham, Bishop of Yfinchester, who is known as the founder of the 
English public school system, and of splendid endowments for arts, theology, 
and lav/, the decay of the universities and of learning generally in 
England proceeded rapidly from the date of the Black Death, which wrought 
special havoc among the clergy, until the introduction of classical studies 
under the early Tudors, In the sp'^e-re of religion, the Papacy was 
becoming more and more of a temporal institution, whose action might be 
criticized li^e the action of ordinary temporal powers, and»was at this 
time judged with greater jealousy on account of its association with the 
politics of France. The English church resolved to manage its own 
concerns without interference from without. This was another manifes- 
tation of the growth which national sentiment had undergone in the four- 
teenth century and was one of the causes which led to the passage of the 
Statutes of Provisors and Praemunire (which dealt with the relationS-©#-^it-«i>«x>u^ 
England -ter/vf^e Papacy) and to the transitory success of the reform move- 
ment, set on foot hv Wycliffe, 

The state of the agricultural classes in England during the first 
half of the fourteenth century, though not perhaps, quite so prosperous 
and satisfactory as in the t>^irteenth, was still steadily progressive. 
About 1549, however, as the result of the Black Death, the consequent 
scarcity of labor and the demands of the surviving la'^orers for higher 


wages, a struggle was inaugurated between the laborers and their 
employers which lasted for at least two generations and v/hich culminated 
in the Peasants' Revolt. Though the r evol t v/as easily suppressed and 
various reactionary laws Apucood i i »i *i i'i I't^^urii <ju t'^e working claEsea|i. the 
uprising accelerated changes already in progress, assured for good and all 
their final triumph, and thus led to the gradual disappearance of 
villeinage. . 

The commercial policy of Edward III has already been noticed. In 
the reign of Richard II, although English trade continued to increase 
and many foreign products, especially costly articles, such as silks, 
velvets, fine linen and furs, made their way into the country and thus 
rendered possible the wearing of extravagant clothing, signs were not 
wanting of the approach of the "mercantile system"* Trade was beginning 
to be subordinated to foreign diplomacy. Wool and cloth were the chief 

1 Kg 

articles of export, and the subjects of much legislation. 

One of the greatest evils in England in the late fourteenth century 
was the growing luxury and ostentation which became a feature in the life 
of nearly all classes of the nation. In this respect, the king himself, 
set a very bad example to his people. He has be er^ c alled the greatest fop 
who -ever occupied the English throne. In.description of nis character, 
we find it stated that he was weak and effeminate, "in gifts prodigal, 
in banquets and dress splendid beyond measure. . .too much given over to 

luxury". ^^^ {Ufh) 

158. Traill, Social England, vol. ii, p. 1:5 ff. 

159, Vita R. Ricardi II (ed. by Hearne) p. 169; quoted in English History 
Source Books (1507-99) p. 110. In the same passage, it is stated 
that Richard was capricious in his ways, that he spurned the counsel 
of the elder nobles and adhered to that of the young. 


He wrung te.xes from the oeople, only to v.-aste them on extravagances. He 

is said to have cossessed one garment worth h 20,000. The nobles 

and the merchants followed his lead and spent larg;e sums or. dress. 

During the first few years of Richard's reign, the stvle of 

costume of the late Edvmrd III period continued in vogue. It v^as not 

until Richard hed succeeded in throwing off the guiding hand of his unole 

that the characteristic dress of the reign began to be evolved. The 

cote-hardie, with its hip belt, principally composed of square oieces of 

metal, joined together by links and supporting a pouch or v;allet of 

stamped and gilded leather or velvet and a sheath contains rg one or more 

daggers, vra.s still v/orn by many. It was nov;, as in the preceding reign, 

often made of pied cloth, but, instead of each half of the garment being 

of a solii color as it had been previously, it -was frequently striped 

with horizontal or diagonal bars. In the winter an overcoat with an 

attached hood was vrorn over it. This overcoat might or might not have 

sleeves, but generally had a belt around the v/aist. Cloaks buttoned 

over the right shoulder and leaving the right arm free were still worn. 


A nev! garment, the houpselande, or pelicon, which remained in 

style for more than twenty years, was just coming into fashion. This 
was a long, loose robe, or tunic, usually lined with fur or silk and made 
to fit on the shoulders only, which was vrorn by both men and women in 
the late 14th and early 15th centuries. It had very long, loose hanging 
sleeves, often cut into designs at the edges. This garment was made in 

160. Ashdown, p.- 112. 

161. for full descriptions of the houppelande, see' Clinch, pp. 158-159; 
Calthrop, vol. ii, pp. 46-48; and Ashdown, pp. 114-115. See also 
Ashdov^n, plates next to p. 115, and opo. p. 116. 


two different lengths, one reaching to the middle of the thigh, the 
other to the ankles. The skirt of the lonr houppelande was open from 
the hottom to the knee. From there up, it was buttoned over. At first, 
its collar v;as of ordinary dimensions, sometimes a mere ridge around the 
neck, but later on it became very high, reaching halfway up the back of 
the head. It was often buttoned up to the chin, the top button being 
left undone and ^ he rest of the collar turned down. The sleeves, 
which were sometimes turned back to show those of the under-tunic, were 
frequently embroidered. The hem was cut into designs, and, in the case 
of the king and the higher nobles, the whole garment was powdered with 
knightly badges or with some other device. 

Another article of dress called a paltock is mentioned by Piers 
Ploughman. "They have e we eft, of silk, callsd a paltock to which their 
hosen are attached with white lechets.' This paltock was probably 
a very short jacket, at times so scanty that there was only a short frill 
below the vjuist. It was perhaps the predecessor of the short jackets Thich 
were forbidden bv lew in the reign of Edward 12 - It was v-orn v;ith 
tightly fitting chausses, or trunk-hose, which reached to the waist and 
which were fastened by points tied to corresponding points fixed to the 
lining of the paltock, the sleeves of which were generally ornamented and 
dagged and v;hich had the usual high collar. The court-pie, an article of 
male attire, which is mentioned but not described by the chroniclers, 
■vvas probably an outer garment, a kind of short cloak, somewhat like a 
tabard, split up the sides, with a high collsr and trimmed with dagging. 

162, Ashdown, pp. 117-118, For pictures of the paltock, see plates next 
to p. 118, 


V/itb this iripht be worn a belt (around tbe waist, not around the h'ps, 
as ir. the case of tbe cote-hardie) or a wallet hanging doiivn the back 
from a strap around the neck, 

Tbe most common bead-covering for men in tbe reign of Picbard II 
was the chaperon, fi very remarkable-looking affair, which was really 
nothing more tbnn the hood (or capucbon) and liripipe transformed. The 
top of the bead was now thrust into the aperture through which the face 
had formerly protruded, while the part v/bich had covered the neck and 
shoulders was passed over the top of tbe bead. Tbe ornamental dagging 
fell down on tbe left side of the face, v/bile tbe liripipe was wound 
around tbe bend, fastened securely and its end allowed to hang down on 
the right side. The chaperon was worn for nearly one hundred years snd 
many transformations took place in it. Sometimes the whole of the 
drapery was in front, sometimes behind. In another case, part of it 

might be banging dovm the back, while the liripipe was twisted around 

the crown of the head like a turban. In travelling a gentleman often 

wore, in addition to his chaperon, a peaked hat of cloth, high in the 

crown, with the brim turned up all around. Gloves of leather, ornamented 

with a design on the back or with a badge, if tbe ov.mer were a knight, 

were also worn. Shoes were made of every kind of material, sewn with 

pearls on velvet or cloth, stam.ped v/ith gold on leather, or made of 

raised leather, with enormously long pointed toes, sometimes stuffed, 

sometimes left limp, and occasionally fastened by chains to the waist 

or knees, in order to allov/ the wearer to move about. This fantastic 

style subsequently becaTe so general that it v/as considered necessary 

to pass several la^ws prohibi-*-ing its use. Shoes of different colors 

163. For pictures of the different kinds of chaperons, see Ashdown, p. 117. 


were sometimes worn on the right and left feet respectively. The 
hose were fastened below the knee with ornamental garters. The court 
gallants wore rich chains around their necks, with pendants representing 
saints' figures or their own badges. The dagger was usually worn in a 
horizontal position, the sword hanging from a baldric over the shoulder. 

The merchants of the time affected the long robe end capuohon. 
The oearants were still clothed in the simplest of garments: long, plain 
Norman tunjcs with the sleeves pushed back over the wrists, loose boots 

and straw-gaiters. Their dress was' somewhat improved by the intro- 

duction of gloves made with a thumb and a pouch for the fingersa They, 

like those superior to them in rank, sometimes wore the chaperon, though 

the ordinary farmer more often appeared in an old-fashioned hood, a 

peaked hat or a round , . Iftrge -brimmed straw hat. 

During the reign of Richard 11^ the women of the upper classes, 

like the men, continued to wear the cote-hardie, which maintained its 

general tight-fitting form and which reached either dovn to the feet 

or ended at the hips and was worn with a petticoat underneath. It had 

by now become customary to wear it at times without the super cote-hardie, 

or sur-coat, though the latter, made of cloth of gold or silver, or of 

some other costly material (perhaps of one of those forbidden by the 

statutes of apparel) and often lined with fur, was almost always worn in 

winter. This surcoat was now, as it had been previously in the reign 

of Edward III, generally sleeveless and split down the sides from the 

shoulder to the hips, so as to enable the cote-hardie and the jewelled 

164. The poll-tax of 1380 brought the laborer as an individual into the 
public eye for the first time and consequently altered and imcroved 
his clothes. (Calthroo, vol. ii, pp. 42-43) 

165. See Chaucer's Canterbury tales for descriptions of the clothes worn by 
different classes during the latter part of the 14th century; also 
Calthroo, vol. ii, p. 52 ff. 


hip-he]t, r)cw nearly as v/ide as that of a knight and fastened in the same 
manner, v/ith a buckle or an Order of the Garter knot with a pendant in 
front, to be seen. The part of the surcoat hanging down the front was 
often considerably narrowed, sometimes to a mere chain, while the back 
Yfas correspondingly widened. Sometimes the garment was made in tv.'o 
separate pieces, joining below the hips. The edges of the surcoat were 

often trimmed vi(ith I'ur, and a row of ornam.ental buttons vwre olaced down 

the front of it. Many ladies lef+ off the surcoat and simply wore 

t'-^e cote-hardie and a mantle. The prioress in the Canterbury Tales is 

described as wearing a hendsom.e cloak, coral beads and a brooch of gold. 

Later or in this reign ladies adopted the long houppelande which reached 

to the ground end was very voluminous, as an outer garrent. 

VJomen wore curses, or aulmonieres, suspended from, their belts, with 
small daggers fixed on the outside, because of the lawlessness of the times. 
A mirror and pincers, used to pluck out the eyebrows and the hair on the 
back of the neck were also hung from, the belt. Jevrelled chains were worn 
around the neck or shoulders^ wit h Tn i'rcr.tO^ of a highly ornate 
characteB^ The fashion prevailed throughout this period of emblazoning 
and quartering armorial insignia on garmsnts, wi-f-.h the result that a great 
many different, colors often appeared in one garment. 

For probably two or three hundred years prior to the fourteenth century, 
ladies had been dressing their hair by the aid of a wire decoration or shspe. 
This system was not fully developed until the advent of the reticulated style 
proper, in the period between 1380 and 1400. The reticulated headdress was 

166. In a plate reproduced in Ashdown, p. 128, a super cote-hardie of em- 
bossed velvet, lined with white fur, is worn over a cote-hardie of purple 
silk, while over all is a cloak of greenvelvet, edged with ermine and 
fastened by e morse across the chest. IWarton (in his History of English 

(poetry, vol. ii5 , p. 324) says that the ladies in the reign of Richard II 
wore such long trains that they caused a to write a tract 
"contra caudas dominarum" (Strutt, vol. ii, p. 157 ff . ) 

167. Calthrop, vol. ii, o. 62 ff. 


more heatitiful than any stvle hitherto evolved. Its c^ief features v.-ere 
its costliness end its beauty as a work of art. Gold v;ire, ivoven into a 
net-like mesh, played the riost orcminent part in this coiffure, -wh5 oh was 
held in position by a rigi(J. frarr.ework of the goldsmith's art. The stiff 
Diece -which crossed the forehead and extended out on both sides v-as terr.ed 
the crespii-cj the portions on either side of the face wei'e called cauls. 
The crespine was usually made like a coronet, with a semicirculsr projection 
on each side, forming the tops of the cauls, which, in some cases, were 
half-cylinders fitting over the ears and enclosing the hair. T''e hair was 
usually plaited, covered with a wimple and stuffed into the caul. If a 
wimple "A'ns not worn, the back of the neck was exposed and from this all 
hair was plucked. At the back of the head, f-e network of gold wire v;hich 
forned the headdress was fastened to the coronet at the top and the part 
hanging down was pulled tight and fixed to either caul. 

The coronet was msvially a stiff golden band, ornam.ented v;ith jewels, 
the cauls narrower bands of gold strengthening the wire net. At the 
intersections of the reticulations were jewels to fasten the bando - of wire 
together. The reticulated headdress was extremely costly and lavishly 
decorated and ?/as often handed dovm from; one member of a family to another. 
In another variety of this headdress, the ears were not enclosed, but all 
the rest of the head vms enveloped in a hemispherical cage of gold net, 
toiwhtch a, floating veil was attached on to is. The apoearcnce of 
any hair outside the headdress was deemed indecorous and, consequently, a 
small pair of pincers, or tweezers, by m.eans of which ladies plucked out 
their eyebrows and the hair on the backs of their necks, even at public 
functions, formed an almost indispensable toilet accessory. However, the 

168, Horned headdresses were not worn before the beginning of the 15th century. 
In the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV, we find the heart-shaped head- 
dress, ■'^■hich rising higher and more nointedly on either side finally formed 
in Henry v's reign, the completely horned headdress. (Strutt, v. ii, pp. 128- 


hair was occasionally worn flowing loose over the shoulders, while the 
head was encircled by a chaplet of flov/ers or a circlet of gold. For 
outdoor wear or hunting, ^he elaborate headdresses were replaced by 
wimples or bv chaperons and peaked hats. For riding and sport, women 
dressed almost exactly like men, with houppelandes or heavy cloaks and 
long boots. The poorer ivomen wore plain, full gowns, hoods, or wimples 
tied under their chins, or no hel^d- covering at all, except their own 

plaited hair. The m.erchant's wife and her maids alike wore ivhite aprons 

over their dresses. 

The insufficiency of the sumptuary laws passed in the reign of 
Edward III to 'effect the purpose for v.-hich they vrere enacted, at least 
for any long period of tim.e, is shown by the continual censures heaped 
by moral and religious writers, poets, and satirists on t^e prevalent 
luxuries and absurdities in dress during the reign of Richard II. The 
last ten years of thie reign were a wild riot &«- dissipation and extrava- 
gance, in which not only the king and the courtiers, but also the middle 
classes, the clergy and even the military engaged, Chaucer, who died 
in 1400, declaimed vehemently against f-e clothing of the time in the 

Parson's '^ale. "As to the first sin," he says, "that is in superfluitee 

of clothing, which that m.aketh it so dare, to the harm of the people; 

169. For a full description of the costumes of this period, see Calthrop, 
vol, ii, p, 43 ff. ; Ashdov/n, p, 112 ff.; a"d Clinch, pp. 158, 159. 
For pictures of these see Ashdovm, ff. p. 114, opp. p. 116, 
p. 117, opp. p. lie, and ff. plate, p. 119, 120, 121, opp. p, 122, 
p. 12S,Jl%TO opp, p. 124, *S$, next to 125, // 128, 130, 131, 1S2, 
134, 135, 136, opp. p. 136, and opp. p, 138, Calthrop, vol. ii, 

p. 44, 45, 46, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52,' 55, 54, 55, 56, oop. p. 56, 61, 65, 
67, 68, 69; Martin, plates 19, 20. 

170, Some articles were very expensive during the reign of Richard II, 
others v/ers fairly cheap. Scarlet cloth, for example, was very dser; 
it sold for 15 s, a yd. Silk fabrics were also expensive and were 
purchased by the ounce, costing from 10 d, to 1 s, an ounce. Green 
silk was cheaper than red. Silk, russet, taffeta^or buckram were 
used to line robes, and very coarse woolen stuff was used to stiffen 


not only the cost of embroidering, the elaborate indenting or barring, 
ornamenting with waved lines, paling, winding or bending and semblable 
waste of cloth in vanity, but there is also costly furring in their 
govj^ns, so much punching of chisels to make holes, so much dagging of 
shears; forthwith the superfluitee in the length of the foresaid gov/ns, 
trailing. the mire,... as ""/ell of man as of woman, that all this 
trailing is verily as in effect wasted, consumed, threadbare, and rotten... 
rather than it is given to the poor." He also attacks "the horrible 
disordinate scantiness of clothing", the use of extremely short ,iackets 
and tight hose and speaks scathingly of the clergy who, he says, are no 
better than the laity in the matter of dress. He accuses them of wearing 
gay govms of scarlet and green, ornamented v;ith cutwork and cf having long 
pikes on thsir shoes. "The monk,' he declares, "'is as proud as a prince 
in his dress, and drink, and esnecially such a one as wears a mitre 
and a ring, who is well-clothed in double v.-orsted, and rides upon his 
courser like a knight, vxith his horses and his hounds, and has his hood 

their collars. Between 1352 and 1396, the silk lining of a robe commonly 
cost fc.l, P s. 1-gd, Cloth caps in 1377 sold for 4 d. and 8 d., and in 
1379^orJ. s. Serge was 2 3/4 d. a yd. in 1303 and 5 d. in 1360. Shoes 
costX^^^. t,o 7 d, and boots (in the latter half of the 14th century) 
from 2s 4 d. to 6 s. 8 d. In 1320 and 1358, gloves were sold at 2 d. a 
pair. The cost of making clothes was comoaratively small. For making 
gaskins, the ordinary charge was 4 d., for a robe 1 s. and for a robe 
"with fiwe garnishments and sleeves turned" 2 s. 10 d. (Sogers, Agriculture 
and Prices, vol. i, p. 575 f f . ) See also Y;f. Paley Baildon, "A Wardrobe 
Account of 16-17 Richard II, 1393-94", in Archaeologia, vol. Ixii, jpart 2, 
p. 497 ff.) 

171. J. S. P. Tatlock and Percy LacKaye, Tve Complete Poetical Yiorks of 
Geoffrey Chaucer, p. 304. 


ornamented with jewels." 

Even the DOor begging friar vms touched by the general volup- 
tuousness of the reipn of Richard II and converted the alms ^Arhich he 

received into "a furred cote, cutted to the knee and quaintly buttoned, 

hose ip- hard vveather fastened at the ankle, snd buckled shoes". The 

fashions frorr Italy and tf-ose iFiported by Queen Anre from Bohemia infected 

the ver:/ servants, v;ho wore absurd, long-toisd sVioes, cc?.led cracows end 

pokys, like those of their rasters, and enormouo sleeves, which the monk 

of Evesham tells us i^ere often dipped into the broth v.'hen the attendants 

tvere waiting at table. Another contemporary writer conderans the 

clothing worn by the maids of the period and says in part: "There is a 

custom now among serving-women of lovi estate, which is verv comjnon, namely 

to put fur UDon the collars of their garments which hang down to the 

middle of their backs: they put fur also upon the bottom which falls dovm 

about t'-'eir heels snd is daubed with the filth... It were better to take 

the fur from their heels in the winter, and olace it about the stomach, which 

has then the most need of warmth; and in the summer it were better away 

entirely, because it only serveth as a hiding-place for thf3 fleas." 

In short, Knighton's statement that "there was so much pride 

amongst, the conmon people in •'r/ing with one another in dress and ornaments 

that it was scarce possible to distinguish the poor from the rich, the 

servant from the master, or a priest from another man,"" seems to have 

172. Quoted in Strutt, vol. ii, p. 159, For Quotations from contemoorary 
writers with regard to extravagance in dress, and references to various 
articles of attire found in their v/orks, see Strutt, vol. ii, p. 118 ff. 
Ecclesiastics and persons of gravity did not affect sombre colors 
during this ueriod, though the statutes of some of the monasteries 
prescribed russet or dark cloth. Green, white, red, and scarlet were 
all v;orn by the clergy. (Rogers, vol. i, p. 57ti ff . ) 

173. Calthrop, vol, ii, p. 58 

174. John.lVebb, "A Translation of a French Metrical History of the Deposition 
of^^^iohard II" in Archaeologi'i, vol, xx, p. 101. 

175. Quoted in Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii, p. 122 ff, 

176. Quoted in Ashdown, p. 113; and Parliamentary History, vol. i, pp. 215-16. 
See also Kenry Kpighton, Chronicon, vol. ii, p. 299, 


been entirely ^us'lfied. Apparantly, however, no+hing was done during 
Richard's reign to remedy these conditions, unless we occept as true the 
otatement made in the "Parliamentary History of England" to the effect 
that, in the Parliament which met at Cambridge on September 9, 1399, 
t^ere were "several new statutes made for the Common Benefit of the 
people end others renewed, w'-'ich had been enacted in the reign of 
Edward III". Am:On.c; the latter was included one statute "about regulating 
apparel suitable to every man's distinct rank and quality." These 
events pre said to have taken place nine months befcro rt^ chard II declared 
himself of sge and took the reins of government into his own hands and 
at a tine when Bishop Gilbert was treasurer and Arundel chancellor. The 

editor of the Parliamentary History apparently drew his information from 

, 178 

Knighton s chronicle. The latter does not state, however, wnich one 

of Edv^ard Ill's statutes of apparel was re-enacted nor does he mention any 


of the provisions of the lavir. Unfortunately the Roll or official record 

177. Parliamentary History of England, vol. i, pp. 215-216. In the Politi- 
cal History of England, vol, iv, p. 114, the statement is also made 
that the legislation adopted by this Parliament "took shape in a 
sumptuary law", 

178. See Knighton, Chronicon, vol. ii, p. 299, Knighton doesn't say in 
so many words that one of Edward's statutes of apparel was renewed. 
Vhat he does say is that the magnates of the kingdom, devoted them- 
selves to finding some remedy for the prevalent extravagance in dress, 

179. In the year 1386, two Parliaments were held. It is the Roll of the 
second of these, held at Cambridge during the twelfth year of Richard's 
reign, that has been lost. We know from, other sources, however, that 
it sat for thirty-nine days and "passed IS good acts". (Toulmin Srdth, 
English Gilds, introd. p. xxiv. ) 


of the Furliament of 138S has been lost, and it has consequently been 
found.up to the present to verify Knif^hton's statement, 

Howevf?r, it seems certain thst, v/hether a nev^ law was passed or an 
old one re-enacted at this time, the siimptuary lav/s vhich had already been 
passed were not more strictly enforced nor more productive of any general 
reform than thev had been in the orevious reign. Ti^e writers of the period 

do not aprear to have abated in the least their censures upon luxuries 
and superfluities of dress, in this oiy^+.i;e succeeding reign, nor do w^e y 

find in their pages or in any of the court records to vhich we have had 
access any references to concrete cases in which these laws v.'ere enforced, 
Moreoever, the fact that, as time v;ent on, other sumptuary laws, very 
similar to the ones which have already been discussed, were passed one 
after the other in rather rapid succession, seems to furnish additional 
evidence that it was found impossible to execute the statutes of apparel. 
In short, as Calthrop says "in spite of the sum.ptuary lavr." it was probably 

not at all unusual for persons^ oi-minp less then L 20 a vear to wear g-old 
and silver orders, although expressly forbidden, and. 'ladies of a lower 
estate than wives of knights-banneret" to wear "cloth of gold and velvet 

and gowns that reached and trailed uoon the ground, while their hus-ands 

It 180 
braved it in erm;ine and marten-lined sleeves which swept the road • 

Tve sub.iect of "unlawful gares" again engaged the attention of the 

English government in the reign of Pdchard II, In 136T', Parliam.ent 

passed an act providing that servants in husbandry, laborers, etc. should 

180, Calthrop, vol, ii, op. 5*7-58. In the records of the few English tovms 

which I have exam.ined^rjjrely^ London, Coventry, Manchester, Colchester, 
Cinque Pprtes, Mnci^ester and York^I have found no trace of the passage 
of sumptuary ordinances by the towns in the period of Edv/ard III or of 
Richard II. Of course, some of the towns which I did not have time 
to examine may have adopted such ordinances. 

use hows and arrows on Sundays and holidays and "leave all playing at 

tennis, or foot-hall, and other p;aT,es called coits, dice, casting- of the 

stone, kailes (skittles) and other such importune gabies"."' This law, 

like the regulations adopted in the preceding reign, was evidently 
intended to encourage the practice of archery. It was one indicr.tion 
of a feeling that it was important to maintain the rural populate on, not 
only for agricultural, htit also for military reasons. As time went cm, 
the desire to advance the national power hecame the ruling amhition of the 
English kings. The games mentioned above interfered virith military training 
and so it Vi/as decreed that they must go, but it ssems highly probable that 
the laws against games were not enforced any more strictly than vrere the 
sumptuary laws, since m.any similar acts were passed at later dates. 

The statutes of a police character directed against maintenance 
and the practice of keeping hordes of retainers which had been enacted 
v/hile Edward III was still alive had failed to effe.ct their purpose. 
Private v.'ars , riot and oppression continued. In 1377, in the first Par- 
liament of Richard II, the Commons drew up a peti!"'on stating that "divers 
persons. . .make great maintenance of quarrels and retinues of people, as 

v/ell of Esquires as of others, giving to them their liveries ... to 

■ . 1 1 • 1 II 183 
maintain them m quarrels , and thst the impoverishm.ent caused by the 

wars of Edward III had compelled even squires to wear the liveries of 
their wealthier neighbors, and asking that a stop be put to the practice. 
The king's response was to the effect that there were statutes and ordi- 
nances already in existence for dealing with the mischief. He added 

181. Stat. L., vol. ii, p. 202-l^ichard II, c. 6. Cunningham, vol. i, 

pp. 406, 40"^. This was the only lavr dealing; with this suh.iect v/hich 
was passed during the reign of Richard II, See also, however, the 
regulations as to bows - their length, strength and who may use them - 
in this and the succeeding reigns. 

162. Retainers usually received daily maintenance and occasional gratuities 
as well as a hood and a suit of clothes annually. 

183. Rot. Pari., vol. iii, p. 23. 


tbst there was also the common law. Nevertheless, an act was passed 
directing that all orevlous statutes dealing- with this subject should 
he "kept and duly executed" and forbidding the granting of hats or suits 

as livery "for maintenance of quarrels or other confederacies upon pain 

of imprisonment and grievous forfeiture to t^ie king". This act was 

known as a "statute of livery of hats" and was the first act directed 

primarily against the granting of liveries, those passed in the reign 

of Edward III having been concerned mainly with maintenance. The lav; of 

1388 ordered the .iustices of asr,ize to inquire into all offences of this 

class, and also into the assumption of liveries by i'raternities and to 

punish every man according to his deserts. By another act passed in the 

same year, it provided that the councillors of the king and all great 

men who shoxild sustain quarrels by maintenance should be punished as the 

king and the lords of his realm should advise, while ether less important 

officers and servants should lose their offices and he imorisoned. 

These statutes (like the acts against gaming) do not seem to have 

been any more rigidly enforced than the sumptuary laws, since several others 

dealing also v;ith live'-ies and maintenance had to be passed during the 


reign of Richard II. In 1383 an act confirminp- all previous laws 


1 87 
directed against maintenance was adopted, and six years later an ordinance 

intended to prevent maintenance in ^-judicial oroceedings was issued, but 

seems to have been ineffective, judging from a petition presented by the 

Commons in 1389. Its ineffectiveness was due possibly to the fact that it 

lacked full statutory authority. In the same session of 1389, the Commons 

complained that cloth liveries were being given. An attempt was made to 

184. Stat. L., vol. ii, p. 208 - 1 Richard II, c. ?. Selden Society, Select 
Cases in the Court of Star Chamber, vol. xvi, p^ xcvi ff. The earlier 
statutes did not hit the mischief, nor is it easy to see how the common 
law could be invoked unless there was an actual breach of the peace. 

185. Stat. L., vol. ii, p. 205 ff. - 1 Richard II, c. 4. See also i Richard II, 
c. 9, p. 209-10. 


suppress tMs practice by the issue of letters cf privy seal to the 
lords and of writs to the sheriffs. The result of this step was that 
people took to wearing the liveries of fraternities instead of those of 
great lords as they had formerly done. 

Three years later in 1^92, Parliament passed an act directing that 
"no yeoman no other of lower estate than an esquire from henceforth shall 
not use nor bear no livery, called of company, of any lord within the 
realm, if he to not irenial and familiar, continually dv/elling in the 
house of his said lord, and that the .iustices of peace shall have power 
to inquire of them which do to the contrary, and them to punish according 
to their discretion.' "" 

These same words, with very slight variations, were repeated in 

19C 1 

a law enacted in the twentieth year of Richard s reign - s law which also 

confirmed the statute cf liveries of hats which had been passed in 1577, 
None of the act a - j ^ri)j^ strictly enforced while Richard was on the throne. 
The frequent petitions asking that the evils arising out of maintenance 
and the granting of liveries si^ould be remedied and the lar^re number of 
acts passed prove that they were ineffective. How could it be otherwise, 
when the offence was tried before a country jury, frequently in sympath.y 
with the practice, from: which they derived the advantage of the protection 
of some powerful lord, and \vith tho offender their patron and neighbor? 
Even if the jury had no leaning towards the offender, it might well be the 

case that he was so powerful and had such a large number of retain-^rs that 

tV e local officials were afraid to execute the lav/ against him. "^ 

186. Ibid., p. 271 - 7 Pichard II, c. 15. 

187. Ibid., p. 322 ff. - 13 Richard II, st. o. 

188. Selden Society, Select Cases in the Star Cinamber, vol. xvi, pp. xcvi-xcvii. 

189. Stat. L., vol. ii, p. 350 - IC Richard II, c. 4. 

190. Ibid., p. 367 ff. - 20 Richard II, c. 1, 2. Sec also Rot. Pari., vol.iii, 
p. 345. 

IPl. Reeves, History of the English Law, vol. iii, p. 352 note. See also Sel- 
den Society, Star Chamber Cases, vol. xvi, pp. Ixv-lxvi. 


Niany suits are recorded in the court records and year-bco]^s of 
this period which directly or indirectly involved the question of 
maintenance. Owing to Isck of space, shall cite only one of these, 
the case of Ssturtny v. Courtenay which carre uu before the king's council 
in 1.'592. The Earl of Devonshire was tried by the council for I'laj ntaining 
one Kctert Yeo, his servant, who had instigated the murder of Vi'illiam 
Vkyke, a tenant of the Earl of Huntingdon, This was clearly a case of 
maintenance under the statutes 2C Edward III, c. 4 and 1 Richard II, c. 7. 
Thei-e had also been an attempt made by the Earl of Devonshire to corrupt 
the jury. The council condemned the earl to prison until he should pay 
a fine and ransom, but commended him to the king's mercy. The king 
granted him a full pardon for his, "Vvith such tolerance and 
leniency, it is not strange that the statutes of livery end mairitenance 
for the next century 'vere not enforced", though if they had been enforced 

at the start, the country magi-'t have been spared the civil -wars vfhich 


ravaged it for so many years. 

The custom, of fixing prices by law, which, as has been seen, was 
practiced in earlier times, v/as continued in the reign of Pichard II, 
To a great extent, the laws already in existence were er.foroed and con- 
firmed and but few new provisions were adopted. In the thirteenth year 
of this reign, the sheriffs, stewards of lords of franchises, miayors and 
bs-iliffs "and all other that have assize of bread arid ale to keep and 
correction of the same" were directed not to accept fines as penalties 
for offences in place of bodily puniKhmsnts. The price of wine was fi;:ed 
hy 5 Richard II, st. 1, c. 4 and 6 Richard II, st. 1, c. 7, as follows: 

192. Selden Society, Select Cases Before the King's Council (1243-14G2) 
vol.xxxvi, pp. ci-cii. Also Reeves, vol. iii, p. 352 note. 

193. Stat. L., vol. ii, p. 313 ff. - 13 Richard II, st. 1, c. 8. See also 
15 Richard II, c. 4, pp. 341-342. 


"a tun of the best -wine of Gascoine, of Osey, or of Spain, 100 6. and 
other tuns of co^r'Ton wines of the seme countries for less price acsorrtirg 
to the value , etc, ' Uoon the refus^il of a inerchant to sell, certain 
officials designated in the ?.ct mtii fldeliver the wines to t^.e buyer at the 
prices set. According to t^e first statu+^e mentiored, sweet wines might 
not be retailed, but this provision was subsequently repealed. 

Numerous statutes directed against forestallers, engroobors and 


ragrators '^ vjere passed during this and the preceding reigns. It ■■will 
suffice to mention the act of 1378, which confirmed a statute of Edward III 
directed against forestallers "of wines, victuals, wares end irerchandises. 

194. Stat. of Realm, vol. ii, pp. iri-19; Stat. L. , vol. ii, vo. 238-239, 
256 - 5 Richard II, st. 1, c. A^&nd 6 Richard II, st . 1, c. 7. For 
other statutes dealing with v;ines passed in this reign and in that 

of Edward III, see 4 Edward III, c. 12 (Strt. L., vol. i, p. 41^5 ff.); 
2 Richard II, St. 1, c. 1; altered by 11 Richard II, c. 7; also 
7 Richard II, c. 11 (ibid., vol. ii, pp. 215 ff; 268, 292 f f . ) In 
connection with wines, statutes regu.lating inns and taverns are also 
mentioned. Blackstone says tha-*-, according to the coirjpon lav/, inns 
m.ay be indicted, suppressed, etc. if they refuse to entertain a 
traveller without a very sufficient cause; and, in spite of the 
governm.ent 's attempts to check drunkenness, any effort on the part 
of the sellers to ciartail the amount of liquor due to customers vf&s 
regarded by the latter as a most heinous offence. (Blackstor.e, 
Book 4, vol. ii, p. 126 ff.J Ashdown, p. 218.) 

195. A forestaller was a man who bought or contracted for merchandise on 
its way to market with the intention of selling it again at a higher 
price or who dissuaded persons from bringing their goods to market, 
etc., thus anticiaating or preventing normal trading. An engrosser 
■■Aras one who purchased either the whole or large quantities of commod- 
ities, so as to control the market and make a monopoly profit. A 
regrater bought commodities in large quantities with the intention of 
reselling them, in or near the same place at a profit. 


v/hich aeme to the good towns within the realm by land or by water". 
Although this and similar acts are closely connected with the price- 
fixing statutes, inasmuch as they, too, were intended to prevent profiteering 
and as thev, too, exerrplified the mediaeval attitude with regard to the 
regulation of the life of the private citizen, it is impossible to go into 

them, here, as to do so might taVe us far from our subject, 


196, Stat. L,, vol,.ii, p. 220 - 2 Richard II, st. 1, c, 2. A good many 
statutes against forestallers, etc. had been passed previous to this 
time, and beginning with the reign of Henry III, See Stp.tute of the 
Pillory and Tum.brel, 51 Henry III, st. 6, paragraph 3, Stat. L, vol. i, 
p. 47 ff.; Stat. Incert. Temo., c. 10, pn. 393-7,94; 25 Edward III, 
St. 4, c. 2, 3, vol. ii, p. 46 ff,; 27 Edward III, St. 1, c. 5, p. 77; 
27 Edimrd III, st. 2, c. 11, p. 86; 28 Edward III, c. 13, paragraph 3, 
p. 106, partially repealed by 37 Edward III, c. 16, p. 167, 

For the fixing of wages, regulation of hours of labor, etc. by 
law during this reign, see 12 Richard II, c. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 89; petitions 
of Commons in Rot. Pari, vol, iii, pp. 17, 20; Selden Society, Select 
Cases in Chancery, vol. x, pp. 5-7; Biackstone, Book |, vol. I, p. 336, 

and_^in general index of Stat. L. under "Statutes of LaT^orers. Ai 
Reex-es, vol. v, p. lo;--: ff.; vol. iii, pp. 128, 365, 413. 



Chapter II 
The Lancastrian Period. 

The Lancastrian period saw the trial and failure of a great con- 
stitutional exoeriment. One feature of this experiment was an advance 
in the recognized Dosition of Parlianient. Freedom of speech was- boldly 
claiiT,ed and exercised. In 1407, the aoTrmons secured the exclusive 
right of initiating money grants. By deferring tV'eir grants till the 
ifte*.of the session, they t'.noui 'gdy^that redress of grievances should 
precede supply.. It was agreed that their petitions should be turned 
into statutes without alteration, and this led to the use of "bills", or 
petitions drafted in statute forn. This change affected the form in which 
the petitions with regard to dress were presented. 

Of the three Lancastrian sovereigns, Henry IV endeavored to encourage 
commerce and keep up the English navy, while Henry V, who took a warm 
interest in all that apoertained to navigation and commerce, let slip no 
opcort'.u; ity for increasing and improving his fleet and did his best to 
suppress piracy. Henry VI, however, neglected his navy and his seam.en 
and disgusted the merchants by h- s lawless treatment of them.. His naval 
and commercial policy led to tumults in 1-.he great cf)mriercial and shipping 
centers, and was the chief cause of his dov-nfall, inasmuch as it alienated 
the fleet and made it easy for the Yorkists. to corrupt part of the navy 
and to vanquis'-! the rest. The Yorkists, on their part, followed exactly 
the opposite olan. They showed distrust of strangers, and they cherished 
English seamen. 

1, For a complete description of conditions in England during the Lancas- 
trian period, see Traill, Social England, vol. ii, chap, vii, passim. 
See also what is said in Chapter III of this study about conditions in 
the fifteenth century as a v.'hole. In literature, Chaucer continued to 
he the sole source of inspiration for the poets, nrnirinent among whom were 
Thomas Occleve and John Lydgate. 


In the realrr of agriculture the fifteenth century ^vas a period 
of slow evolution, during vVich a sort of calm dulness settled over the 
country districts. In dealing with the agricultural classes, the 
evidence has been found to be very scanty and contradictory, hut a 
number of facts seet, to prove that a certain amount of prosperity must 
have marked iroFt years of the century, even though thpy ^lo^ior ■ Ifmnc i D may 
not alwe.ys have en;ioyed an enviable existence. One such fact is the 
proeperity of the upper classes, whose wealth vms in nearly every case 
derived from the profits of successful agri culture. "he wealth and 
ostention of the great nobles of the time is s^-ovm by the large troops of 
retainers v.hich they maintained. For instance, six hundred liveried 
servants follov;ed the Earl of ^jVarvdck to Parliament, while no fewer than 
tv/o hundred and ninety formed, in 144P, the retinue of a much less im- 
portant personage, the deputy- stev/ard of Kendal in Westm.oreland. Such 
practices necessitated the passage of new statutes directed against livery 
and maintenance. These laws incidentally testify to the prosperity of 
the gentlemen who could maintain such state and v/ho could not have sup- 
ported this magnificence vfithout a prosperous tenantry. 

Another evidence of the general proscerity of England during the 
Lancastrian period rcey be found in the luxury and extravagance (not as 
great, it is true, as that which had orevailed in the reign of Richard II) 
which manifested itself at court functions and entertainments, at tourna- 

mients and at the banquets, consisting of many and elaborate courses, which 


followed these iousts. The gross extravagance which had prevailed in 

the preceding reign in regard to dress and vrhich had been exemplified -fe^^x 
the case of Sir. John Arundell, who, in 1380, was drovmed off the coast of 

2, For the m.enus of several royal feasts, see Traill, vol. iii, p. 4?2 ff« 


Brittany and wbo is said to have possessed fifty-tvjo suits of cloth of 
gold, was not reproduced in the reigns of Henry IV and V. During these 
reigns, men's dress was much quieter than it had been uv.ring that of 
Richard II or vms to bo during that of Henry VI, when extravagance again 
ruled. However, fantastic styles still prevailed to some extent. 
The Prince of V.ales vore e very curious costume in 1412, when he vrent to 
visit his father Henry IV. It v.-as made of blue satin, full of ST^iall 
evelet holes, and at every hole hung the needle v-ith which it had been 

Similar extravagances, as well as the failure to enforce the sump- 
tuary ]ev;s of Edward III, caused Parliament again to attempt to regulate 
apparel, and drew forth complaints from, many of the writers of the period. 

Thomas Occleve, writing about this time, said that it vtas an evil 
"to see one v^'a.lking in gownes of scarlet twelve yards wide, v/ith sleeves 
reaching to the ground and lined with fur...; at the same time if he had 
only been master of v^tiat he paid for, he would not have had enough to 
have lined a hood . He condemned the lower classes of people for imi- 
tating the fast-iors and extravagances of the rich. "Now", he declares, 
"vre have little need of broomis in the land to sv^eep away the filth from 
the street, because tbe side-sleeves of pennyless grooms will gather it 
up." In another passage he asks: "if the master si^ould stumble as he 
walks, hov; can his servant afford him any assistance, while both his 
hands have full emDloyment in holding up the long sleeves v.'ith which his 

arms are encumber 'd?" 


As far^the styles in dress were concerned, few changes were i'^tro- 

duced during the reign of Henry IV. The only innovation in royal attire 

3. DieloguB inter Occliff et Medicum in Harlaian Ms. 48E6; quoted in Strutt, 
Dress and Habits, vol. ii, pp. 128-139. For a brief discussion of the 
English sumptuary laws and of comments by contemporary writers on the sub.iect 
of extravagant dress, etc., see Strutt, vol. ii, chaps, ii and iii particu- 


v;as a cape of ermine, reanhing to the girdle, which became the regulation 
dress for royalty, end in a nuch shorter forrr, for all superior officers 
of state. Over it or under it, as the case might he, Vi^as generally worn 
a cloak or mantle, so long that it trailed on the ground around the 
feet. The upper classes still v;ore the houppelande which had been so 
popular in the reign of Richard II. - The extremely high collar (sometimes 
reaching to the top of the head) and the gypciere were preserved, hut the 
belt was nov^r placed around the waist instead of around the hips. Now, 
as before, social status, rank and age, vfere indicated by the greater 
length of the gari^ents worn. The greatest innovation, which vres intro- 
duced about 1400, and v;hich remained in fashion for tvrenty or more years, 
was the bag-sleeve, which v/as buttoned at the wrist and tight at the arm- 
hole, but the rest of which was ncde as long andy^volurninous as possible. 
The high collar of the houppelande was sometiraes left unbuttoned and allov/ed 
to -fall on the shoulders. The almost universal color for houppelandes vreis 
scarlet, and they v*ere sometimes lined v;ith fur or worn with a cloak over 
them. Underneath the houppelande, civilians occasionally v/ore paltocks, 
which v;ere only visible at the neck or where the tight sleeves of the 
latter, reaching to the knuckles, shovred beneath the sleeves of the houppe- 
lande. The costume of the peasant generally consisted of a loose tunic, 

or an old-fas'^ioned cote-hardie, a hood and a vvride-brimmed straw hat, 

A Drofusion of ornament characterized the dress of the male sex 

about the year 1400. Fancy collars, highly decorated belts, many rings. 

4, The lov/er orders often twisted the liripipes of their hoods around the 
crowns of their heads and knotted then? behind. Padded hoods - padded 
around the face,- also were worn during this period. (Ashdown, pp. \AZ- 
144). The dresses worn by legal officials changed very little. Inno- 
vations in these were introduced only at long intervals. 


e.nd ornamental designs on garments, all v;ere worn. The 'Snglish people 
had become so imbued with a love of dress and so steeped in the passion 
for ostentation and display that we find the reigns of both Henry IV and 
his son but little different in this respect from the preceding reign. 
This was a transition period in ivhich the chief extravagances and riotous 
eXcespes \'tere undergoing modifications. The diatribes of ecclesiastics 
and contemporary satirists were especially directed against garments of the 
dagged or slashed variety and those possessing such fanciful devices as 
edges cut in t^e form of letters, rose-leaves, and posies of various kinds . 

Vfomen's dress underwent almost as few changes during the reign of 
Henry IV as did that of Fen, The super-cote-hardie costume ran side by 
side vfith the houppeland^ t.s tn cuter garment foi- ladies until the reign 
of Richard III. The houppelande as worn by vforaen, was generally high- 
necked, like that of the men, and fastened dov-n the front for a short 
distance with large buttons. The sleeves vrere usually of the bag«pattern, 
edged with fur at the wrist. The hands Vv-ere partially covered by the 
button-ornamented sleeves of the cote-hardie,or of the tunic, vorn under- 
neath the houppelande. The collar of the houppelande was often turned 
dovm, and the houppelande itself was occasionelly confined at the waist 
by a belt. The waist line vras always high, foreshadovdng the short- 
waisted govm of the later fifteenth century. The bodices of v.-omen s 

6. Ashdown, pp. 137-138. TVie reference to letters is explained by the fact 
that short sentences, mottoes and initials were commonly vforked on the 
borders of garments. 

8. In one brass jfound in an old church the sleeves were not of the bag 
variety, but were lined with som.e dark material and had pendant lawn 
cuffs. (Ashdown, pp. 145-147). For a description of a cote-hardie 
costume, as v.'orn hv Joan of Nsvarre, Oueen of Henry IV, see ibid., pp. 


dresses were in some cases laced down the front. The dress of country 

a^ 7 

women usTially consisted of an ill-fitting; gown, a hood and.cloak, 

ThoMrticle of female attire -which underwent most chungs during 
the period from the reign of !^ichard II to that of Richard III was 
probably the headdress. The crespine and veil headdress still continued 
to be fashionable in the reign of Henry IV. About 1400, the veil becsr.e 
n very iniportant article of dress, covering not only the back of the head, 
but at times hanging on either side of the face, and «ven partially 
covering the reticulated crespine in the period from 1400-1420, The 
veil wes novf beginning to be pleated across the forehead, a fashion v/hich 
lasted for twenty years. Later the square crespine came in and only 
the cauls were permitted to emerge from under the veil. The cauls^ 
themselveSi^ remained as large as before. In the period of Henry IV, they 

7. The/jacoJunr of the cost^onie of the reign of Henr7/ IV is taken from Ash- 
dovm, p. ISP ff.; Calthrop, vol. ii, ^p. 72 f f . ; end Clinch, p. 5S ff. 
"She garments of the 15th century, like those of the 14th, were often 
m.ade of sumotuous msteri^ls. Important information as to clothing, 
and especially as to materials and colors, may be found in 15th century 
wills. Individual pieces are often referred to, and a clear indication 
is given of the great value pieced on them. For bequests of clothing, 
see Clinch, p. 56 ff. 

As to the prices of articles of clothing and of materials for 
making clothes during the fifteenth century, we know thfjt, in 1418, a 
besver hat oost 2 s. 10 d.; in 1432, a beaver hat with marten skins 
12 s.; and, in 1457, a mayor's bat 10 s. 2 d. In 1424, five yards of 
tartan.m to line a mayor's hat cost 10 u. Tbo average price of 
frieze (a materiel not mentioned before 1431) was nearly 8 d. a yard 
up to 1540. The average price of fustian (which seems to have been a 
ribbed cloth) -was 10 d. befoi"e 1540. Camlet (generally red) was 4 s. 
a yard in 1481. Velvet (1401-1582) was used by the king, the royal 
family, the great nobles end the church. In 1474, it was priced at 
26 s. 8 d. In 1481, cloth of gold was 80 s. a yard. Blue satin 'ffas 
9 s. a yard in 1441, and red satin 8 s. in 1467. Dam.ask was 8 s. in 
1463. Crimson sarsnet cost 4 s. 4 d. in 1464. (See Rogers, Historir 
of Agriculture and Prices, vol. iii, pp. 494 f f . , 575, 577; vol. iv, 
p. 567 ff.) 


were beginning to sTiov/ an upward tendency. From this sprang the heart- 
shaped headdress, which rising higher and more pointedly on each side, 
finally fon^^ed, in Henry V's I'eipn, the copipletely horned headdress. 
The high steeple headdress, v.'hioh became so fashionable a little later on, 
was more worn by the French than by the English ladies, though sometimes 
used by the latter. A religious writer of the fifteenth century, 
declaiming against the various p.dornrr.ents of the hair, such as coloring 
it and tv.-ieting it into unnatural shapes, says: "To all these absurdities, 
they add tbe+- of supplying the defects of their ovm hair, by partially 
or totally adopting the harvest of other heads." Evidently, even with 
the elaborate headdresses described above, soTe ladies considered it 
necessary to enhance their charms by rp.eans of false hair. 

A very good brief description of the costume of the period of 
Henry IV mav be found in Y.illiam Staunton's "Visions of Purgatory", written 
about 1409. "l saw some there", he says, "with collars of gold about their 
necks, and some of silver, and some men I saw wit}) gay girdles of silver 
and gold..., some with m.ore jagges on their clothes than whole cloth, some 
had their clothes full of ginglss and belles of silver all overset, and 

8. The horned headdress was not used before the beginning of the fifteenth 
century. A fourteenth-century writer v;ho referred to the "elevated 
horns" of the ladies was evidently alluding to the pro.iections of the 
wimple at each side of the face. (Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii, 
pp. 128-129.) Refe'-ences to cauls may be found in "The Fomance of 
King Alexander": "Hire yelowe heer was faire atyred 

Y(ith ryche stringes of ^.olde wyred"; 

and in Chaucer's prologue to the legend of "Goode V.'omen", Vi'here he says: 
"a fret of golde she had next her heere", fArchaeologia, vol. xxvii, 
pp. 31, 54.) 


some v/it.h long pokes on th«ir sleeves; the worpen Virith povms trayling 

behind them a great space, and soife others v:ith gay chapelets on their 

heads of gold and pearls find other precious stones." 

In spite of the fact that ti»**love ofi> w pqoo and *>-<i^cassion for 
ostentation and display had become so general among the English people, v/ith 
the accession of Kenry IV.feeling towards dress totally different from 
that which had prevailed in the preceding reign had begun to develop in 
high quarters. There was no longer any s^/mprthy with the fantastical 
extravagance of the period of Pichard II. One is not sijrorised, therefore, 
to find that a petition dealing with apparel and purporting to have 
originated in the House of Coranions (though possibly inspired by the execu- 
tive department of the government) was presented to the crown in 1402, 
during the session of that Parliament v;hich met at VJestminster on Saturday, 
September 30. In this petition, the Comtnons asked tht.t an ordinance should 
be draivn up during that session of Parliament providing that no one, except 

9, Poy lis. 17 E xliii, quoted in Ashdovm, pp. 139-140. For pictures of the 
costumes worn during the reign of Henry IV, see Clinch, pp. 53, opp. p. 
54, p. 55, opp. p. 58, opp. p. 60, opo. p. 66; Strutt, Dress and Habits, 
vol. ii (15th century), plates 106-115, 117, 119-125 (headdresses » 125); 
(l5th and 16th centuries) plates 126-132, See also Ashdoi'vn, pp. 142 and 
opp. p. 142, next to 143^snd 143, opp. p. 144, 146, 147, 148, 14S, 150, 
151. Calthrop, vol. ii, opp. p, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79; Martin, 
Dlates 21, 22; and Green, vol. ii, pp. 510-11, 512. For clerical and 
collegiate costumeyin the 15th century, see Archaeologia, part 1, vol. 
liii, p. 229 ff. See plates 14, 15, 16, 17. For pictures of vromen's 
headdresses, from 1400 on, see ibid,, vol. xxvii, plates ?, 4, 5, 6, 7, 
8. For pictur'3S of boots and shoes, see Clinch, pp. 133, 134; cote- 
hardie, p. 137; gloves, opp. f. 140; ladies head^-dresses, p. 149, 150 
and opp. p. 150, 151, odc. p. 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157; turban 
hat, p. 1G6; mantle opp. p. 168, 1C9; widow's weeds, pp. 180, 181. 


bannerets and persons of higher rank than bannerets, should use cloth 

of gold, velvet, crimson cloth, cloth of velvet, "motley", great 

hanging sleeves, long gowns which touched the ground, ermine, ietuse or 

marten fur. Soldiers, when in fighting array, were to be exempted 

from the operation of this rule and might wear what they pleased. The 

Commons also asked that no member of the clergy should be allov/ed to 

wear great hoods, either furred or lined, extending beyond the points of 

the shoulders, except archbishops, bishops, archdeacons and a fevf others 

high in church or state. The clergy, with the exception of those just 

mentioned, were also to be forbidden to wear miniver and other expensive 

furs, as well as any kind of gilded harness. Squires were not to be 

allowed to deck themselves in costly furs, "except the 'Jiayors who are, 

have been, or for the time shall be in the cities of London and York or 

in the tovm of Bristol," Servants (yeomen) were to be permitted to wear 

only lamb, cony, otter and similar furs; while no one might presume to 

wear daggers, horns, harness, etc. of silver unless he had lands, tenements 

or rents to the value of fe 20 a year, or goods and chattels to the value 

of fo 200, the children of people having lands or tenements "in inheritance" 

to the value of 50 Harks a year, or goods and chattels to the value of 

h 500, alone excepted. The wives of squires, unless they were ladies, might 

10. Probably because crimson was considered a royal color and therefore 
reserved for the use of the king and the royal family, 

ll,"Drap3 de velwet motley" (Rot. Pari,, vol, iii, p. 506) 

12."Hernois" (ibid). As regards the prohibition of large hoods, we find 
that among the extravagant clothinj^ cornplained of by Chaucer, Occleve 
and others, there was nothing more remarkable than the enormous length 
of the tippets on the hoods. This clause therefore was a proper re- 
striction on the lovfer clergy. (Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii, p. 107) 

13. Rot. Pari., v. iii, p. 506. 

14. "En (or ou) enheritance" (ibid.) 


not use any ermine, letuse, miniver, etc., \vith the exception of the 
wives of the above-mentioned mayors, the gentlewomen of the queen, and 
the chief lady-in-waii ing of each princess, duchess or countess. The 
petition ended with a request th&t a method there outlined of enforcing 
the statutes of apparel through the agency of the ,iudicial and executive 
organs of the government should be put into effect - namely, that, as 
often as necessary, inquiry should be made - in the king's palace before 
the seneschal, in the country before the iustices of the peace, and in the 
cities and tovms before the mayor and bailiffs - as to those whoyybioKe'H 
the lav.'s with regard to apparel. Suit might be brought against these 
offenders either in the king's raiie or by a private individual, and if 
anyone should be convicted of having broken the law he" should forfeit 
to the king the forbidden cloth, fur or harness and pay a fine of 100 s,, 
of which one-half should go to the king and one-half to the person who 
sbovld bring suit. This method of enforcing the statutes of e.pparel seem.s 
to have been v/orked out for the first time, in all its details, in 1402. 
This petition did not apparently meet urith the entire approval of 
the king. He replied that he v/ished all the estates of his realm to 

"govern themselves in their array each one according to his degree, laying 

aside superfluities"." He also desired, so he said, that the members 

of his council should be empowered by Parliament to make ordinances, after 
due deliberation, v.-ith '"egard to the sub.iect of apparel. VJhether this 
power was granted to the council bv Parliam.ent and whether any such ordi- 
nances were issued, we do not know. The writer has not been able to find 
any informstion on that sub.iect. However, to make a law and to enforce 
it ere two totally different things, and the regulation of the people's 

15. Ibid. 

16. Ibid. 


dress by ordinances issued by the royal council was probably no rrore 
satisfactory thfin its regulation by statutes enacted by Parliament. 

At any rate, the arrangement proposed by the king does not seem 
to have proved acceptable to the House of Comjnons, for a few years later 
(in 1406) they drew up another petition very similar to the one just 
discussed. On Monday, March 1 of that year, in the Painted Chamber at 
ftestminster there assembled for the first tiriie the Parliament which was 
to be the longest and most continuous of Henry's reign. It sat for one 
hundred and fifty-eight business days - until December 22nd, in fact - with 
breaks for the Easter and midsummer vacations. The chancellor at this 
time wa^homas Langley, Dean of York. Bishop Beaufort had resigned the 
seals v,-her he had been translated to Winchester in the preceding year. 
Since 1405, a year crowded with desperate domestic treason, civil war and 
passages of arms with the French and Vielsh, the year also in which occurred 
Northumberland's unsuccessful rising, as the result of which he ;vas exiled 
and Scrope beheaded, the king's relations v/ith Archbishoo Arundel had been 
fer less cordial than before. Hov.-ever, when Parliament re-assembled in 


May after the Easter vacation, thov. found the i^ing disabled by disease. 
A fortnight later Henry becaire so ill that he made over to the Council 
the greater oart of his functions, only reserving to himself the right 
to pardon and to fill vacant offices. The Commons had now to deal with 
the Council, of which Archbishop Arundel was the senior member. Parlia- 
ment went over the sam.e old round of grievances, asking for more "good 
governance abounding". The Council was disposed to haggle over a good 
many of the oetitions. However, when the legislative body met for its 
third session on October IB, the king was forced to give a reluctant 
consent to a great scheme of constitu-^ional reform, which required, among 

17, Political History of Englsnd, vol. iv, po. 201-204. 


other thingi-, ■• hat notice of elections should he published Rt least 

fifteen days before the day of the returns, in order to prevent the 

packing of Parliament by the sheriffs. This regulation was adooted 

too late t c -€rt**ww*j- ' .Lr'isrpr.t of 1406, w-hir^h one may therefore 
suppose to have been^ aff aotod to some extentyw^^ executive Influences . 
(since the sheriffs in packing the Rouse of Commons acted in the in- 
terests of the crovm. ) Judging, howevei', from the tone of the petition 
concerning apparel adopted in that year and of the royal answer to it, 
one m^ay say that this measure, at least, does not seem to have been much 
affected by such influences. 

The petition of 1406 began almost exactly as had the one orssented 
in 1402: "The Corn^ions pray that it may please [the king] to by 
statute in this present Parliament, thet no man, if he is not a Banneret, 

or of greater estate, shall use cloth of gold", etc. as in the petition 

already discussed. As before, "people of arms", " v/nen they were erred 

and in the field, were to be permitted to use clothing of whatever sort 

they pleased. The provisions concerning the clergy were the same as in 

the earlier petition, except that ^hey were extended to cover other grand 

officers and clerks having offices in the courts of the king, and that the 

justices of both benches and the sergeants of the king were given perm.issi 

"to use their hoods as shall seem, best to them, for the honor of the king 

and of their estate". Chaplains were to be forbidden to use belts, 

or other "harness" trimm.ed v/ith silver. Apprentices at the law, clerks 

of the Exchequer, or of other courts, and one or tv/o other classes of 

people were navf, together v/ith squires, prohibited from, wearing expensive 

furs, etc. They were also forbidden to use precious stones or pearls. 


18. See ibid., p. 195 f f . ^ for a ful] account of this Parliament and of the 
political events of the tim.e, 

19. "Gentz d'armes" (Rot. Pari., vol. iii, p. 593) 

20. Ibid. 

21. The petitions savs: "Null chapellein nient avancez" (ibid.) 

oo Ibid, 


ouches or beads or other "harness' of gold or gilded, but the rnayors 
of London, York, and other good cities might wear fur of gray, Triniver, 
etc. No man, no matter v/hat his rank, might wear any gown or other 
garment ornamented with trimming cut in shapes like trefoils, roses or 
similar devices. All tailors were to he forbidden to make any such 
clothinp.on pain of imprisonment and pajTBent of a fine and ransom, at the 
will of the king. Spurs were added to the list of prohibited articles 
made of silver. The provisions as to women's dress were exactly the sar.e 
as in the earlier document. Yeom-en v.ere not to be allowed to wear ouches 

this peti+ion s'Hould be put into due execution and enforced as v.'ell as 

or beeds^of gold or gilded. In order that all the articles contained in 

possible, the Commons again proposed the oamo method of enforcem.ent ivhich 
they had previously recommended, only adding the cliancellor and treasurer 
of England, the .iustices of both benches and the sheriffs of the counties 
to the list of those who should Fiake "diligent inquisition of all those" 

unto i,u-chjiL. ylyu^>4uM^ 

fe-rw!riw-rnk the law or any article of it. These offenders, whether men or 
TBTom.en, if convicted, m.ust forfeit the prohibited articles and pay a fire 
of 100 s, to be divided as stated in the earlier petition. At the end 
of the petition of 14C6 one new provision is f ound^ -i o the effect thataXc- 
.«i«»^iip' archbishops and his'-or^ in their provinces and dioceses within the 
realm of England, should be required "openly to excommunicate" ' all those 
breaking the statutes of apparel. Evidently the secular government felt 
itself linable to enforce these statutes and was ready to cell upon the 
church for aid. 

23. A socket or bezel holding ^ precious stone, hence a iewel or ornament. 

24. Ibid. 

25. "Overtement excomenger" (ibid.) 

The king's as in 1402, was unfavorable. Hu rejected 
the petition, hut said that, Vv'ith the advice of his council, he would 
dra'vv up such an ordinance as should seem best to him under the circum- 
stances. He seems to have been unvallin^: to relinquish to Parliauent 
the power to regulate apparel. Vi/hether he kept his v;ord and issued an 
ordinance, and, if so, whether this ordinance v.'as ever enforced, there is 
no evidence to shov;. Neither the contemporary writers nor the court 
reports have any more to say on the subject than they had had in the 
preceding reigns. 

In the first year of Henry IV 's reign the question of maintenance 
and the granting of liveries again engaged the attention of Parliament; 
and, in accordance v;ith a petition presented by the House of Commons, a 
statute "to eschew maintenance and to nourish love, peace and quietness, 
of all parts through the realm" was passed. This law "ordained and 
established" among other things "that no lord of vrhat estate or condition 
soever he be shall use nor ordain any livery of sign of company, to no 
knight, esquire nor . .saving always that our sovereign lord the 
king shall give only His honorable liver;/ to his lords temporal, whom shall 
please him , and to his ki\Lghts and squires menial and»those v/ho were of 
his retinue. However, these knights and souires were not to wear their 
liveries anyvi'here except in the king's presence, under pain of forfeiting 
their liveries and the fees which they received from the king. Anyone 
other than the king who should be fourd guilty of granting liveries should 
be subject to fine and ransom. Ecclesiastical officials of all ranks 
v/ere also forbidden to grant liveries of cloth to anyone, except to their 
menial servants and officers and to a few other persons who are named in 
the statute, under pain of o similar punishment. 

26. Stat. 1., vol. ii, p. 3P1; Rot. Pari, vol. iii, p. 428 - i Henry IV, c. 7 

27. Ibid. 


About a year later, in 1400-01, f^s Con'Trons drew up a petition asking 

that a remedy shoTild be nrovided for "liveries called sif:ns and liveries 

of cloth by advice of Parliament" : namely^ that the uas of all kinds of 

liveries and si^ns should be entirely forbidden, but that certain specifi- 
cally naned persons mipht be allowed to wear the livery of the king, etc. 
A law was passed, embodying the terns of this petition, confirming the 
act of 1S99 and adding a few additional provisions, calculated to bring 
abcut a stricter enforcetrent of the law. Two petitions similar to the 

one jiust mentioned were drawn up and tvio other statutes resembling the two 

already alluded to wers enacted by parliament during the reign of Henry IV, 

but, judging by the large aomber of later acts dealing with the sam.e subject, 

they must have had very little effect. '^hese lavs, like those passed in 

preceding reigns, relied upon the justices of assize ftnd of the oeece for 

their erforce'^ent. The weakness of the central government, even though 

feudalism was sv.iftly falling into the discard, was still sufficient to 

prevent it from enforcing the laws which would have given it strength by 

breaking the power of the feudal lords. One example of the laxity with 

which the laws against maintenance were enforced may be found in the case 

of the Earl of Northumberland who, on the l£th of February, 1404, came into 

Parliament and pubjicly acknowledged thtt he had acted against his allegiance, 

"namely, for gathorjng of forces and giving liveries, for which he craved 

pardon". The king delivered his petition to the judges to be considered 

by them, but the Lords protested "that the ordering thereof belonged to 

26. Rot. Pari, vol. iii, p. 477 ff.; Stat. L., vol. ii, d. 420 ff. - 2 Henry 
IV, c. 21. 

29. See 7 and 8 Henry IV, c. 14, Rot. Pari, vol. iii, p. 600 and Stat. L., 
vol. ii, p. 469 ff. Also 15 Henry IV, c. 3, Stat. L. , vol. ii, p. 487 
ff., and Rot. Pgrl. vol.^ii, p/ 662. A law directed against forcible 
entry by maintenance waa^Dasssd^ 4 Henry IV, c. 8, Stat. L. vol. ii, 
p. 429 ff . 

30. Parliamentary History of England, vol. i, cp. 290-291, 


themselves" and adjudged that the earl's ci-ime vvas simply f\ tresoass 

finable to the king. The eerl was then required to sv/ear that he would 

be a true liegeman to the king. "'//hen he had taken this oath, the kinp 

remitted his fine and ransom. Vnhat was the use of passinp, laws to 

correct an evil which kept the country in an elnost perpetual state of 

civil war when the chief offenders, the great lords, were consistently 

pardoned? The reason for this ] enitv is obvious; the government was too 

much afraid of them to at-l-enpt seriously to punish them. 

Only one law regulating the playing of was passed during the 
period of Henry IV. That act, which became a law in 1409, confirmied the 
statute of 12 Richard II, c. £, directed that every servant or laborer 
who did not abide by it should be imprisoned for six days, gave power to 
the mayors, sheriffs, bailiffs, constables, and iustices of e.ssize to 
enforce it, and im.posed a fine upon these officials for failure to do so.^ 

No new statutes regulating the prices at which bread and ale should 
be sold we r e ^p a B o d - wh i 1 e Henry IV was on the throne, nor v;ere the orices 
of wines again fixed by act of Parliament. That efforts were still made 
to enforce the old price-fixing laws, however, was shown bv the fact that 

a charter conferred by that monarch upon London granted to the mayor end 

coirmonalty of the city power to enforce the assize of bread, beer, ale, 

victuals, or other things saleable in the city. Similar duties devolved 

31. Ibid. 

32. 11 Henry IV, c. 4 - Stat. L., vol. ii, p. 481 ff. 

33. The charter grants to f-e mayor and commonalty of London "the assize of 
bread, beer," etc. I take this to mean power to enforce the assize^ or 
supervision over the enforcement of the assize. For instances of the 
enforcement of the assizes of bread, beer, wine, etc. i ri London as well _ ^ / 
as the fixing of prices by gilds see Traill, vol. ii, pc. 436-427. a*«^^Wfct^^*^ 

34. Food was very abundant and cheap in ■^h? early fifteenth century - especiall;| \r^ 
from 1414 on - and was often thrOTi/n in with the wages of \ workrAn. The i (V^^ 
cost of a workman's maintenance v.'as garerally estimated at from 6 d. to 
8 d. a day, (See Rogers, Six Centirues of l/Vork and V^ages , o. 328, and , 
History of Agriculture and Prices, vol. iv, p. 752.) (nj 


upon the municiDO.l officers of Manchester and were imposed by the charters 
of severe! other toiims upon their offici&ls. 

In 1415, Henry IV died and was succeeded by his son, who took the 
title of Henry V. The latter, suooosed in his youth to have been the 
v/ild Prince Hal whom Shakespeare has portrayed for us, had nevertheless 
had soma experience in public affairs while he was still Prince of ^Vales. 
For soir.e years before his death, his father had been almost an invalid 

suffering from a complication of diseases. The party led by the Prince 
of VfeTes and his half-uncles, the Beauforts, had striven against the party 
led by Archbis'-op Arundel and Thonias, the king's second son, for dominance 
in the royal council. The king let them strive since there vi'as no 
difference between the constitutional views of f'^e two factions. First 
one and then the other was in control of the council and held the higher 
offices. In 1411, however, when the Prince of ".Vales had become discon- 
tented at his father s persistent clinging to the rayaii ? crovm, in spite 
of the fact that sickness made him. less and less able ^o discharge his royal 
duties, and when Bishoo Beaufort, had formally proposed to Henry IV that he 
should abdicate on account of his infirmity^ the king had not onlv refused 
but had dismissed the prince and his friends from, places of ministerial 
responsibility. Vihen Henry V carre to the throne he restored his 

35. Poll+inal History of England, vol. iv, p. 214 ff. 

36. In coni-iection vifith the coronation of Henry V, see a petition dated May 12, 
14J.3, drair/n up by "John Dalton, clerk to ThoDias Carnita, late guardian 

of the Grand Wardrobe" and asking for an a,llowpnce for clothes delivered 
by him for the king's coronation; namiely^) cloth, etc. delivered to the 
king and to various ]ords, chevaliers, clerks, squires, etc. for clothing 
for the coronation;, "to other knights and squi res. . .for their clothing 
to have of your gift;, together v;ith the livery of Saint George 
delivered to the knights and dames of the fraternity of St. George..." 
(See Rymer, Foedera, vol. ix, pp. 2-3.) Apparently the kings of England 
were in the habit of giving to some of their followers clothirg to be 
v/orn at the coronation ceremonies. They thus had a way of controlling, 
if they so pleased, the kind of clothing and fabrics which should be 
worn at their coronations, but it is hardly likely that they tried to 
suppress extravagance in dress at such a time. 


friends to positions of power and made Beaufort chancellor again. 

The reign of Henry V vms a trt^nsitional period as far as clothes 
were concerned. Since very little v.'as dene to regulate dress during that 
reign, it is onlv necessary to mention briefly a fevj of the s+-yles vhich 
were v/crn and in which vie find the ragged ends of the fashions of the time 
of Richard II >^rjd Heinry IV and the germs of soire new fes^ions which jlnowod- 
thlTTm"'Tr-'iji-^ "f 1 ni-^-1" in Henry VI 's time. The feshioaable gentlenen 
wore short tunics (hoijppelandes neatly pleated) with stiff collars having 
rolled dovrn tops. l7ith these tunics vere Torn trunk hose, general j.y of tvro 
colors, one to eac'" leg. The shoes, too, were often different colors. 
Henry V, himself, wore buskins in preference to long hoots or pointed 
shoes. Stuffed turbans trimmed with .-iewelled brooches and cocked at a 
jaunty angle, were oocular aimong the dandies of the time, as was also the 
"sugar-bag cap", v.'hich fell over to one side of the headf «m^ Hoods and 
peaked caps were sometimes worn. Sleeves were still generall;/ enormous 
in length and breadth and were either pendant or swollen like bag-pipes 
and slashed. The skirt of the tunic was occasionslly cut up the middle 
and in place of a collar a little hood v^as Eometirries worn around the neck. 
Chains and rings were much worn by those of high rank. The rren-at-arms 
were generally clothed, under their arm.or, in short tunics of leather 
and quilted waistcoats. The great niass of the people appeared in undis- 
tinguishable attire - voluninous cloaks and bundles of drapery. Circular 
cloaks, split at ore or both sides - on one side to the neck, on the other 
below t>^e shoalder - semi-circular cloaks, square cloaks, and oblong cloaks 
were all worn. Heraldic patterns, such as beasts, foliage and flowers, 
were still used as decorations for clothing. In short, this was an age 
in v/hich old fas'iions v^ore renovated or carried on, an age in v.-hich the 
styles of the two past reigns "were hopelessly garbled, cobbled and 


stitched together"."' 

In this reign, the enormous headdresses about v;hich the writers 
of the period had so much to say had their beginning. The caul headdress, 
which had been a n-ere close, gold-vjork can in the time of Edward III, nov; 
became something; like a g-reat orange which covered the ears, was cut 
straight across the forehead and bound all round with a stiff, ,iev/elled 
band. Tbe cauls themselves had grovvn from their circular shape into two 
box forms on either side of the heed. The uppermost points of the boxes 
formed horns from four to fourteen inches long- - the famous horned head- 
dress Vv^hich we shall have occasion to discuss at greater length in the 
next reign. Ladies also wore headdresses shaped like a fez or an 
inverted flower-rc+, with heev;y vrl.ijlss over them and horns (bags stuffed 
into the of horns) attached. Only a few of tbese elaborate head- 
dresses were worn during this reign. Surcoats over cote-hardie costumes 
were still worn b^/ many women, hut t'le surcoat 7.'as now more closely-fitting, 
the outlines of the figure being often accentuated by a band of heavy 
gold embroidery, fitted to it. The edges of the surcoat and the skirt 
were often furred. Sometimes a band of metallic embroidery ran across 
the chest and down the center of f-ie surcoat. Most dresses 'ver-^ made wdth 
full trains, and very rich metal and enamelled belts 7/ere worn round the 
waist. On the vfhole, very few changes had taken place in women's dress 
^ince the beginning of the preceding rejgn. 

The only law of a sumptuary character vfhich was passed during the 
reign of Kenry V was one enacted in 1420, in the eighth year of the reign. 

37. Calthrop, vol. ii%, pp. 84-85. 

36. For an account of the costume of the period of Henry V, see Calthrop, 
vol. ii, p. 81 ff. For pictures of these costumes, see ibid., pp. 81, 
83, 84, and opp. p. 84, 87, opp. p. 92, 93; MartJn, plates 21, ZT\ and 
Green, vol. ii, p. 517. 


At this time, the war with France which h?id recoirimsnced s few years 
earlier was still going on. The English had teiiporarily gained the 
upper hand tnd in f.iarch, 1420, a treaty was signed by Henry, the Duke of 
Burgundy, and the king of France. By the terrs of this treaty the Dauphin 
was disinherited, Henry was recognized as the heir to the throne of France, 
and it was agreed thst y-s should rrarry the Princess Katherine, daughter of 
the king cf that country. The wedding took place on June 2, but t^e 
fighting continued for a time. After the fall of iiielun, Henry entered 
Paris for the first tiiie. He remained there until after Cv,ristmas, then 
handed over the army to his bro1:her Clarence and, on December 27, set out 
for England,, on the twentieth of the same m^onth. Parliament had been 
summoned to meet by the lord lieutenant of the realm, Humphrey of Gloucester. 
Durinp this session of Parliament the House of Commons presented a 

petition to the crown praying that "no person in time to come shall gild 

any she-xths, nor metal, bu^; silver; nor silver any metal, except the spurs 

of knirhts and all the apparel that pertaineth to a baron and above that 

estate; upon pain of forfeiture of life and limibs, and his lands and 

tenements of fee simple, goods and chattels of the gilder or silverer 

aforesaid, as in the case of felony'.'... To this the king replied, "Let 

it be as is desired by the oeti-^-'on, except with regard to the penalties 

contained in the same".... He evidently considered the penrlties proposed 

too harsh and stioulatsd that an offender should only be compelled to 

forfeit to that Irirg "ten times as much as the thing so gilt is of value", 

and should be im.prisored for one year. It was provided that the jiustices 


of the peace should have power to inquire "thereof and that to determine", ' 

39. Political History cf England, vol. iv, pp. 257 ff. , 272 ff. 

40. "Des geynes appelez shethes" (Rot. Pari,, vol. iv, p. 126) 

41. Ibid. 

42. Ibid. 


and that the person who should sue the offender in the king's hehalf 
should receive one-third of the pecuniary penalty. A proviso v;as 
inserted to the effect that the ornaments of Holy Church might be gjlded, 

notwithstanding this ordinance. And in t> is amended form, the petition 

, 43 
became a lawo 

This statute, by its reference to the "apparel that pertaineth to a 

baron and above that estate", seems to confirm, or at least recognize as 

still in force, earlier laws. There is, hovever, no evidence tending 

to shov; that these laws were any moi'e successfully enforced at this period 

than they had beeni f i -^ ar nnrlTmr I in.*. . The chroniclers and -^he law reports 

are both silent on the sub.iect. No doubt the want of leisure during the 

busy reign of Henry VI and the troubles in that of his unfortunate son 

prevented proper attention from being paid to the application of the 

statutes of appare] , which had probably never been v^ry rip;orously enforced, 

anyway, or a^■ least not foi- any great length of time. 

No laws dealing wit'" livery and maintenance were passed during the 

period of Henry V, nor were the prices of bread, ale, beer, or wine again 

regulated by statute. A. petition was drawn up by the Comir.ons and accepted 

by the crown in 1414 fixing the maximum price vrhich goldsmiths might charge 

i'oT gilding one pc-and Troy of silver, in order to prevent them from charging 

double prices whfch, as the petition states, they had been in the habit of 

doing, and providing that any goldsmith who should charge more than the 

price fixed shoijld forfeit to the !:ing the ^alue of the thing sold. In 

the same year another petition was presented and an act passed similar to one 

enacted in the reign of Edward III, which had fixed the salaries of chaplains 

43. See Stat. L., vol. iii, p. 58 - 8 Henry V, c. 3. 

44. Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii, p. 108. 

45. See Rot, Pari., vol. iv, p. 52, 


who, it is stated, "because of their excessi\-e array and other charges" 

were not v.dlling to serve except at exorbitant salaries. In order to 

suDplement this earlier statute, to which the chaplains v/ere paying no 

attention because no penalties had been provided for its i nfringerrient, the 

CoiTOTons in 1414 proposed that all chaplpins who should disobe^^ljit in the 

future should be forced to pay to the king double the amount of money v/hich 

they received in excess of the sum fixed by law, and that the justices of 

the peace should have power to punish infractions cf the law. The king did 

not grant this petition, hut contented himself with replying: "Solent les 

Est.atutz faitz devaunt ces heures gardez , 

As far as the subject of unlawful games is concernsd, the writer has 

only been able to discover two proclamations dealing with the matter v/hich 

date from, this period. Both of these emanated from the officials of the 

city of London, One of these proclamations forbade "hoklpying on hokkedayes 


and the levying of m.oney for games called fote-ball and cokthresshying" 

on the occasion of marriages. The other,. dated May 4, 1414, forbade the 
playing of hand-ball, foot-ball, "co^^es, dyces", stone-throwing, skittles, 
and "other such fruitless games" and ordered that archery should be 
practiced, on pain of si:c days' imprisonment. Here one sees the old idea 
that t'-'e playing of games interfered v ith the practice cf archery cropping 
out again. 

Henry V, as we have seen above, had come back to England for a short 
time, but had been obliged to return to France in 1421, His absence he.d 
shov-od that his conquest v^as not complete and that the disinherited Dauphin ,Aw^ 
possessed the affection of the French nation. The duke of Clarence was 

46, Rot, Pari., vol. iv, o. 52. 

47, Fot. Fan., vol. iv, p, 1^1 (7 Henry V - 1419) 

48, London Letter - Book I (1400-22), p, 72, 

49, Ibid,, p. 1?5 

50, Ibid. 


defeated and killed at Bauge in Larch, 1421, and Henry, hastily returninyi, 
captured Dreux, but failed before Orleans. He passed the winter at Paris 
as king of France but was obi: gsd in the following year to besiege I.leaux, 
which only surrendered after a nost resolute resistance. Shortly after 
this he fell ill, and having been carried to the Bois de Vincennes, near 
Paris, died there on August 31, 1422, at the age of thirty-four and in the 
tenth year of his reign. He won a brilliant, though transitory si^ccess 
against France, vi-hich cau sed the yi.iustice of his attack on that country 
to be overlooked and. -Jiirr.r. oil" to bo regarded as one of the most eminent of 
the English kings. 

His infant sen, who was less than nine montbs old at the tin-e of 
h^s father's death, succeeded him and was proclaimed king as Henry VI both 
in England and France, the government ber'ng adrrdnistered by the child's 
uncles, the dukes of Bedford and Gloucester, and by the b.ishop of Winchester, 
During Henry VI s reign, probably because the attention of bo+h king and 
parliament was focused upon the war v.'ith France and the domestic troubles, 
no greater effort was mado to regulate apparel by statute than hsd been 
made in the preceding reign. "ATiether anv proclamations dealing v.'ith this 
sub.iect were issued by the king or his council is not known. No traces 
can be found of such proclamations having been issued, in spite of the 
fact that the need for laws regulating dress vas qi;ite as great as, if not 
greater than, it had been previously. Many absurd, fan+r.stic or extrav- 
agant styles reached their height in the period of Henry VI. 

The people of England were never more elaborately dressed than in 
this reign. It was a tire of lavish display, surpassed in quaintness, 
color and variety only by the time of Heniy Vill. The material on the 

•1, Calthrop, vol. ii, p. 9G ff. 



sub^ect is 30 vast and the fashions so corrplex, confusing and over- 
lapping, that it is almost impossible to ley dov/r. any bard or fast rules 
or make any definite statenients concerning the dress of this reign. 
One can only ?ay with regard to the costume of the period that it was "a 
fantastical phantasiriagoria of all the odds and ends cf garnients prevailing 
during the preceding, centurie% v-ith no prominent or salient features f-at 

rray be definitely 2;rasped, The boundless disorder and oivil dissensions 

of the reign showed in the hetercgeneous agglomeration of jumbled fashions." 

Henry himself (in his best known picture, which is that in which the 
Earl of Talbot is presenting a book to Margaret of Anjou, Henry's queen) 
wears a short tipoet of ermine, and a volviminous mantle open at the side 
and lined vith ermine, covering a houopelande v.-ith loose sleeves, which are 
open to show the tight sleeves of an undergarraEnt, The houppelande here 
portrayed i.' red, the usual color, but ir another picture the king is shov/n 
attired i;i a long, flowered, blue houppelande,'^^ A short mantle, termed 
the heuke, ivas very prevalent et the beginning of this reign. It was 
often made of vari-colored materia 1, bordered vjith gold embroidery and 
fastened on the shoulder by a jewelled brooch. 

The principal article of male attire during this reign was a loose 
tunic, usually with a v/ide neck open in front for a couole of inches, a 
full skirt, which might be slit up on one or both sides, and edged with 
fur, embroidery, etc. or dagged. This tunic was usually belted low and 
ordinarily had bag, or balloon sleeves, ending in a roll of cloth or a 
fur edge instead of a cuff. Among the upper classes the beg sleeve became 
peculiarly the sport of circumstances. It was often modified by the 

52. Ashdovm, pp. 152-153. 

5S. Ibid., pp. 153-154. 


addition of tv/o other exits for the am (hesfde? the ouff) higher up in 
the sleeve. Such sleeves were probable stuffed in order to m^ke them 
stand out. In p.rother type of bag sleeve, there v.-as only one opening 
half-way up the arm. The hag sleeve in its primitive fom was still 
prevalent among certain classes in 1440. At the beginning of the reign 
(when the influence of the houopelande v/as still felt) the sleeves of robes 
were cut very loose, but they grew somewhat sirialler as tirr.e went on, Ralf- 
sleeves, very wids like a shoulder cape, and allowing the tight sleeves of 
an undergarment, the collar of v/hich often sriowed above the tunic collar 
at the neck, to appear, were also worn, together with several other 
varieties of sleeves. The shoulder-cape sleeves varied in size from 
s"iall epa\ilettes to heavy capes falling belo^v the elbow. 

A new form o^ overcoat was worn by men in the period of Henry VI, 
an overcoat which was reallv nothing more than the tunic of the time, 
unbelted and without sleeves. Besides the mantle mentioned above, a 
circular cloak, split up the right side to the upper arm and with a hole 
in the center, edged with fur, for the head to pass through, was also w-orn. 
Velvet was often used for gowns, tuniT- r.r.:" hed-clcViJi. It was made in 
p11 sorts of beautiful patterns, %i:\ gw . over t* j'"" ^"-f^ of gold or silk. Pall, 
a beautiful gold or crimson web, knovm also as liandekin, v/as frequently 
worn, too. 

The roiindlet, which had developed out of the c'-ap^ron which, it had 
become customary to sew in order to save the trouble of tying it evsry tim.e 
it was worn, was at this period the most form of headgear for 
men. This was a little round hat vdth a heavily rolled and stuffed brim, 
pleated drapery hanging over one side ond a broad streamer over the other. 
The hat W8.s often slung over the shoi-lder by this vihen not in use. 


Mandarin hats, wit.h rolled brims, pointed crowns and a sort of "pompon' 
on top were also fairly common. T'^e hecoa., or streamer, depending from 
the hat, was often developed to an enormous length. Koods were still 
worn in the country or for riding in tov.Tis, snd were used hy aldermen." 
y/hen not in use, the capuchon or berretino v.'s.s frequently throvm over the 
rifht si^oulder with the openirj; of the hood behind and the long apoendage 
in front. Tall, conical hats of fur, v.ith high_^ fur brims, cut or scooped 
out in places, caps which fitted the head olosely and had long,, loose backs^ 
falling over the neck of the wearer and over this a roll or hoop of tvdsted 
stuff, sugar-loaf hats, like those 'vorn by clowns, and broad, f lat-brimjT'ed 
^ats v.ith round tops vfere also seen. As far as foot-wear was concerned, 
shoes v;-ith enorm.ously long toPs, longer than the entire length of the shoe 
itself, and clogs for bad weather were used by gentlemen throughout the 
reign of Henry VI. Towards the end of the reign, styles began to trend 
towards the fashions prevailing in the succeeding reif;n - turbans lined 

Vv'ith fur, pied ,iackets, dark hose and boots. The corn on people wore a 

variety of costumes throughout this period. 

The super-cote-hardie cost.vime and the cloak y;ere still great 

favorites with miany ladies. Hov;ever, a new forn^' of govm or robe, with a 

very high waist-lire, and a bodice opening very low in front, was more 

generally prevalent. At one oeriod, thes® govms had very wide belts and 

trains of great length, vith the front of the skirt cut almost as long as 

the back and capable of being spread out to a considerable distance^ -*»- 

front. Soon after the middle of the century, women, lofu oi'f v/ear«ftg- trains 

and substituted verv wide boi-ders around the bottoms of their skirts. 

54. John St owe, A Survey of London, o. 445. 

55. See Ashdcwn, fig. 199. 

56. At about the same time men began to wear shorter jackets than ever before, 
and more pointed shoes; and even boys wore doublets of silk, satin and 
velvet. (Strutt, vol. ii, pp. 137, 141). 


' /. 


The bodice was usually very tight-fitting and, as r.entioned e.bove, cut 
very low, generally to a V in front and often in the sair.e manner behind. 
Sometimes, however, such gowns had very large and wide collars, v%rith a 
thick fur edge on the shoulders, tapering into a ooint on the bosom. The 
sleeves vvere frequently tight down to the elbows, but ver;/ wide and long 
like wings from that point on, and edged -with fur, as was also the bottom 
of the gown. A short overgown vjas usually worn with this costume, the 
undergown showing only at the neck and below the skirt of the upoergoviri. 
New surcoats, with thsir bodioes made entiroly of fur, and little . jack ets j, 
very full and short, v/ere also worn. The lo.tter usually had ■i rui" if^f';ll U 

sleeves, tight at the wrist, and ^vere long-waisted, with a little skirt 
rrn nh^rt; only an inch or so below the belt. There >vere many fashions in 
sleeves p^'evalent at this period. The tight sleeves of the undergarments 
were sometimes laced from wrist to elbow, irstead of being buttoned. 
Maids, mer';hants* v/ives, etc. dressed in humbler imitation of the styles 
worn by the high-born - in simiple dresses with a purse, girdle and apron, 
and hoods or twisted wim.ples of coarse linen. 

The most fantastic and extravagant article of v/onen's dress at this 
period A«'as the headdress. All the weird fashions which the human brain 
could invont seemed to be concentrated there. The first of a startling 
series was the turban headdress v^hich rerained in vo|;;ue for a considerable 
period. It was probably Turkish^ in origin, and vv'as certainly based on 
an Oriental model. It was of light construction, f-^ough bulky, consisting 
of a round wire framev/ork, over which '.vas stretc'-^ed a covering, often of the 
richest descriction. Some turbans were very large, others smaller. One 

57, Its shape and the fact that it was not commonly m.ade of white cloth show 
that it was not of Indian orl^^,in. (Ashdown, pp. 159-160) 


variety had a hole in the center throuj-'-h lA'hich the hair flowed dov.Ti the 
hack. The turban headdress was a favorite -^iii^- and v/es vrorn occasionally 
as iate as t^^e early sixteenth century. 

The horned headdress vias the i-nost grotesque and bizarre of the period. 
It neither fitted the head ror s,dorned it. It vvas introduced into England, 
about 1420 from the continent, where it had been worn for some tine before. 
The horns viere attached on either side of the head, above the cauls, and a 
veil was soiretinies thrown over the horns and the head, and a coronet 
olaced on too of tVie veil. These headdresses -^vere also imitated at times 
in stiff linen. They vfere violently attacked hj the satirists and moralists 
of the time. Lydgate, the greatest pcet of the period, concocted a ballad 
on the sub^-ject, called "A Ditty of Y-'omen ' s Kerns", in which he tried to 
persuade the Ip-dies to lay asirlp their horns, which he said were no addition 
to their beauty. A certair; bishop declaiming from the pulpit against 
fashionable foibles, is said to have compared the ladies to horned snails, 
harts and ur.iccrns." Others coEpared them, still more disresoectfully, 
to the devil, but in spite of remonstrances from the pulpit and from moral 
wr-iters, the horned headdress maintained its ground during the reign of 
Henry VI and even reached such a preposteroiis size that, in France, when 
Isabel cf Bavaria, the consort of Charles VI, held her court at Vincennes, 
it was necessary to m.ake all the doors in the palace higher and wider in 
order to enable the ladies to pass through." 

Another style of headdress vr'^ich has been mentioned once before was 
heart-shaped. The cauls had grovvTi higher and higher and the pad resting 
on them, had been pushed up until the whole affair developed into an 

58. Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii, p. 129. 

5S. For contemporary descriptions of horned headdresses, see Strutt, Dress and 
Habits, vol. ii, p. 130, and Ashdown, pp. 162-162 



enormous, fat, heart-sliaped erection, covered w-ith a rich, falling 

drapery, snow-v/hite linen or gold tissue, and sometimes with streamers 

attached to t^e sides. The crescent headdress, i.'lich v/as seldom of 
unwieldy proportions, and the fo/ked headdress, were simply two varieties 
of the horned headdress. In the latter, tho horns stood up perpen- 
dicularly on the head, instead of curving out sideways, end had draoery 
hanging from their points. There were a vs.riety of other headdresses, 

which vfe have neither the time nor the space to describe here, v/ith tov/era 

and miinarets and excrescences of every shape jutting out from them. In 

short "about the middle of the fifteenth century, most of the old abuses 

in dress "vore revived and universally adop-^cd, with the addition of others 

It 62 

as superfluous, extravagant and expensi\'-e . ' It. was a wonder thpj- the 

interference of parliament was not again considered necsssary, but, doGpito yM^t--^^^'*^^ 
. luxury and ostentation, very little \/£s done to regulate dress until the 

next reign. 

It is interesting to note, hov»"ever, that aboi't th'-s tim.e a crusade 
v;as inaugurated on the continent against the extravagant headdresses v.hich 

60. For .'V picture of such a headdress, see Ashdown, fig. 210, opp. p. 166. 

61. See Calthrop, vol. ii, pp. 109-110. For pictures of the crescent head- 
dress, see fig. 213, p. 169, and fig. 202, no. 5, p. Ic9, 

62. Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii, p. 106. The aboi-e account of the 
costume of the Kenry VI period is taken from Strutt, vol. ii, pp. 106, ff., 
128 ff. ; Calthrop, vol. ii, p. 96 ff.j and Ashdown, p. 152 ff. For a 
pictvire of the complete costume of a lady (1450-70/, see Ashdown, plate 

p. 166. The lady in this picture is wearing a forked headdress, with a 

veil hanging down behind; a cloak of black velvet, sprinkled n'ith 

golden fleur-de-lis and edged vjith ermine; and a siiper-cote-hardie costume. 

For other pictures of the dress of this peiiod, see Green, vol. ii, pp. 

527, 531, 549; Martin, plates 24, 25; Calthrop, vol. ii, pp. 96, 97, S9, 

opp. p. IOC, 102, 104, 105, 107, 108, 109, 110, opp. p. 112, IIZ, 114, 

115, 116; Ashdown, opo, p. 152, 154 and opp. p. 154, fig. 195 (next to 

p. 1:5), figs. 193, 194, 197 (on next page), figs. 198, 199 ( next to p. 

156), fig 200 (opp. p/ 158) For pictures of ladies* headdresses, see 

frontispiece; figs. 202 (p. 359); 205 (p. 160); 204, 206 (opp. p. 160); 

205, 206 (p. 163); 207 (p. 164); pp. 165-166; fig. 210 (opo. p. 166); 

211, 216 (next to p. 169); 213 (1S9); also Calthrop, vol. ii, pp. 24, 25, 

28, 29, 30, 31, opp. p. 32, 36, 37, 38, 39, opo. p. 40. See it'id., g^^^^;;;;;^^^!^ 

p. 32 for manuscriots which give us the best pictorial idea of the>^.',, c. V 


have .lust been described. In 1428, Thomas Conecte, a v/anderi r.^; prsticher 
end a native of Brittany, preached in Flanders, Artois, Amiens, and 
Ponthieu. In his sermons, "he hlomed greatly the nob] e ladies and all 
others w>io dressed their beads in so ridiculous a manner and virho expended 
such large sums on the luxuries of apparel". The high headdresses vere 
known as "Jiennins" Conecte ordered little boys to plague and torment 
all vvbo wore them-.8.s they passed through the streets. His methods were 
temporarily eftective, and ladies no longer to attend his sermons 
in high headdresses. Instead they laid them aside and wore caps like 
peasants. At the close of his sermons, he would admonish his audience, on 
pein of excor'irunication and the eternal damnation of their sculs, to bring 
him backgammon boards, chess boards, and whatever other instruments for 
playing games they migb+ possess and tbese, together with the women's 
headdresses, he would hui-n in a great bonfire. His success was only 
temporary, hov/ever, for as soon as he had left a locality, the ladies 
there promptly made themselves new headdresses and wore them higher then 
evei' before. 

In 1429, some of the clergy took a step v/hich shoived that they 
realized that some of their number were quite as guilty of wearing extravagant 

63. Johnes (trans.) The Chronicle of Etiguerrand de t'onstrelet, vol. i, 
pp. 546-547. 

64. These were apparently the high steeple headdresses which were much more 
worn in France than in England and which were described by Paradin, 
writing in 1461, in these words, "The ladies ornamented their heads 
with certain rolls of linen, :ointed like steeples, general ly«,ha If and 
sometimes three-quarters of an ell in height". (Quoted in Strutt, vol. ii, 
D. 130) See ibid, foro-description r -^h^iBdresses worn by people of 
different ranks. In general,, the lower classes copied the headdresses 

of their betters. 


clothes as were the lait^'. Thst vms the year in which Jeanne D'Arc began 
her operations against the English and succeeded in having Charles VII 
crcvned at Rheims in defionce of the claims of the English king to the 
throne of France. On Noifemher fi. of t>ie sane year, the English coronation 
of Henry VI took place in-' rnnr:- tfiough only eight years old, was declared 
by the council to le no longer in need cf a "protector". Gloucester v.-as 
deprived of the office vdiich he had abused, but rerriained the king's chief 
councillor. Parliament, which had asserrbled for the first time on 
September 22, enacted an important law v-hich settled the character of the 
constituencies v.'hich were to choose the knights of the shire by providing 
that henceforth voters ir.ust ovm lands or tenements worth 40 s, a year. The 
reason for the passage of this law was the fear that the poverty-stricken 
rabble might swamp t>-e solid landed yeom.en. In reality, thj^yinri charged 
conditions venr little, since the local magnates possessed and continued 
to possess the real deciding voice at electjons, " V^ile these events 
were taking place, at a general chapter-meeting at Northampton "all use of 
splendid habits was forbidden to monks and wholly annulled", or to quote the 
Latin: "Cucullae splendidas interdictse sunt ab omni monachorum usu, penitus 
et adnullatae". This shows that the clergy realized that sone of their 
brethren v<-ere setting a bad example to the laity in the matter of dress and 
that something must be done to put a stop to***. V«hether this ordinance 
was enforced or not, is not known,- there is no evidence on this point. 

In the sixteenth or seventeenth year of Henry's reign (apparently 
in the latter, though there seems to be some doubt about the date ) "it v,-as 

65. Political History of England, vol. iv, p. 304 ff., 312 ff. See also Parl- 
iamentary History of England, vol. i, pp. 362-363. In 1452 (10 Henry VI ) 
it was decided that only 40 s. freeholders could vote at Parliamentary 

G6, Johannes Amundesham, Annales Monasterii S. Albani, vol. i, p. 40. 

67, See Jemes Gairdn,aji^ed. ), A Short English Chronicle in Camden Society 
Publ i cat i on s , ^. 6 2^]Mn . s . xxvi i if. 


ordeyned", seys the Short English Chronicle, "that all the comyn strompetes 


sholde were raye hodis and white roddis in her hondss". This is 

practically a repetition of the ordinance passed during the reign of 

Edward III to which reference ha& tiLieady been made. This ordinance 

v/"as not really sumptuary in character, but was intended to provide a means 

of distinguishing prostitutes from respectable women. 

No statute dealing wjth the subject of garies was passed during the 

reign of Henry VI, 'hut in 145 6, when danger threatened fron-i abroad, it 

apoears that a proclamation forbidding the olaying of tonnis vms issued. 

Among the a'^^nunts of the corporation oi" Lydd is found a payment made "to a 

man crying that the wache "was to be kept by the see side, and that no man 

shoulde playe at the tenys". Tennis was evidently so popular as a pastime 

that it interfered with the military exercises of the day. The sub,iect 

of unlawful games is again mentioned in a list of complaints drawn up by 

■•rhe bishop, dean and chapter and directed against the mayor, bailiffs J nd 

com^morelty of the city of Exeter. Article five of t^-is list of complaints 

recites that in the cloister of the cathredral, the doors to which were 

always s^ut "except times to goo in procession or to the chapitre House or 

to the said Library or any other such reasonable time, ungocdly yong people 

of the said Comjrinalte", especially vihile divine service was going on, have 

played unlawful games, such "as the toppe, queke, penny prykke, and most 

atte tenys, by the which the walles of the said Clbistre have be defowled 

and the glas viyndowes all to brost." The record does not s'i"^ow whether 

the miayor and bailiffs of Exeter heeded this complaint and from that tim.e 

OH enforced the lav's concerning games more strictly or kept the young people 

68, Striped 

69. Sde above, p. ^JTm 

VO. Andrew Hibbert, "Tennis", in The Antiquary, vol. xvi, pp. 71-72, 
71. Stuert A. Moore (ed,), Let+ers and Paoers of John Shillingrord , in 

Camden Society Publications, n.s., vol. ii, p. 101. Shillingford was 

mayor of Exeter from 1447-50, 


of the tovm out of the cloister. In Coventry, hovrever, one finds 
evidence that soF.e effort was made to carry out the statutes dealing v/ith 
this subject, since in the thirtieth year of tt-'e rei^rn of Henry VI, it 
■■vas ordained by the Easter Leet, which met on Saturday in Eestar week, that 
"an;/ servant playing at an illicit garie, or bettings on feast days shall 

be imprisoned for 3 days and pay 4 d . to the sheriffs; and every master 

shall have the same penalty and pay 12 d. to the sheriffs". 

Among the police regulations of the time, though not connected 
with the sumptuary lavfs, ore finds an act which was passed in 1429, as the 
result of ?. petition drawn up by the House of Com^mons and presented to the 
orovm, e.nd which reviev/ed the provisions of earlier acts concerning the 
giving of liveries and stated that these acts had "not bssn duly kept, 
because that -t-hey that do contrary to the said statutes and ordinances before 
the said Justices may not be indicted for great maintenances in this behalf..." 
In order to remedy this condition of affairs, it was ordained that the jus- 
tices should have power to issue various writs against all who should break 
the statutes of livery and maintenance and to enforce against all v/hom they 
should find guilty the penalties decreed by the earlier laws. All the 

statutes e.nd ordinances "before made and not repealed of liveries of cloth. 


by lords given or to be given" were confirmed and extended. By the 

terms of another act passed during the same year, it was provided that a 
feoffment of lands or gift of goods for maintenfnce should be void, and that, 
on forcible entry by maintenance, a special assir.e should lie, and a year's 

72. L!. D. Karris (ed.). The Coventry Leet Book, aart 2, p. 271. 

73. Stat. L., vol. iii, p. 114 - 8 Henry VI, c. 4 

74. Stat. L., vol. iii, p. 114 ff.; Rot. perl, vol. iv, pp. 348-349. 



imprisonment, and double damages should beAiiri^^osed on tne offender, ^ 
These were +he only two ].rws dealing with liveries and maintenance v^ich 
were passed during the reign of Henry VI, and their similarity to earlier 
law^s, as v/ell as the nositive statement to that effect contained : >-. the 
statute of 1429, shows that the government had not been able to enforce 
those earlier- levrs. 

No nev>r laws regulating the prices of bread, beer or ale were enacted 
during the period of Henry VI. However, various regailations were adopted 

with regard to Y-^ines, such as the acts requiring that v.'ires must be imported 

in pipes containing ore hundred and twenty-six gallons, regulating the 

sale of v/ines of Gasccr.y, . etc. Taverns and tavern-keepers in a certain 

ESftion of London were also regulated by an act passed in the eleventh year 

of Henry VI 's reign. 

75. Ibid., p. 12? ff. - 8 Henry VI, c. 9, paragraph 5. 

76. Stat. L., vol. iii, pp. 86-87 - ?. Henry VI, c. 11. 

77. Ibid., p. 286 ff. - 23 Henry VI, c. 18. 

78. Ibid., p. 181 - 11 Plenry VI, c. 1. (For other statutes dealing with wines, 
see the index to the Stat. L. under %/ines".) Drunkenness by no means 
played the part in the fifteenth centivy that 'it does in affrays of 
today (or did before the passage of the eighteenth amendm.ent), although 
riots were then everyd-ay occurrences. (Selden Society Publications, 

vol, xvi. Select Cases in the Star Chamber, p. cliv). Consequently the 
regulation of taverns was perhaps not so necessary at that tir? as it 
later becam^e. 

■■'Vith reference to the prohibition of the exportation of wool men- 
tioned above (see p.t2.l ) see the case of John Forde, mercer of London 
who in 143S -confessed before the king's council that he had sold to 
Gerard Ii/latscfn, a Diitchman, 26 store of wool and a large amount of woolen 
broadcloth and that he had concealed the wool between the pieces of 
broadcloth, so as to make it appear that the pack was m.ade up of broad- 
cloth only. For this, he was imprisoned and othervise punished, j_Selden 
Society Publications, vol. xxxvi. Select Cases Before the King's Council 
(1243-1482), p. 104] 


Chapter III 
The Yorkist Period, 

From about 1455 to 1485 England was torn by the Y.'ars of the Eoses, 
in which the rival houses of York and Lancaster contested for the cro^vn. 
Since this is not a political history, it is not necessary to fo into the 
causes which brought about the war, to describe its events, or to recount 
the fluctuations of fortune wbich put first one party and then the other in 
the ascendant. In 1451, the Yorkist faction gained the upper hand and its 
leader becarne king as Edward IV. His tenure of the throne was for some time 
precarious and he was frequently obliged to fight for his crov.n, but in the 
rather rare intervals of peace he gave England a strong, efficient rule. 

Although the Yorkist period was thus an epoch of almost continual war, 
it only brought to the front one general of the first class, Edward IV 
himself, and it did not on the whole bring about any great change in the 
art of war in England. However, the Wars of the Roses, looked at from one 
point of view, were struggles between a new order and the old feudal and 
ecclesiastical system, and v/ith their close the Middle Ages practically came 
to an end in the island kingdom. The next age saw as great a change in the 
composition of the English national forces as it did in their tactics and 
equipment. In naval matters, both Edward IJ and Richard III were active. 
Edward greatly improved his fleet and completely re-establisbed the naval 
power of his country. He also fully appreciated the value of an extension 
of commerce and spared no pains to encourage the niimerous English merchants 
who had settled in the Low Co'intries, besides making enlightened treaties 
with Denmark, Castile, Burgundy and the Hajise towns. Richard III, too, 
paid attention both to the royal and to the commercial navy of England and 
endeavored to promote trade and to preserve the English dominion over the 


soas, all of which measures benefited his subjects. Very little was done 
in the realm of exploration and discovery, however, before the time of the 
Cabots. During most of the fifteenth, as in the thirteenth and fourteenth 
centuries, the position of Catholic England, except for intervals of foreign 
conquest, was purely insular. 

In the field of architecture, the reign of Edward IV was the period 
of the Perpendicular, or decadent style of Gothic. The architects of the 
Lancastrian and Yorkist period deserve chiefly to be remembered for the 
towers vhich they built, one of which was the great central tower of Canter- 
bury, In domestic architecture, fortified manor houses v;ere fast replacing 
castles, very fevv of w'-^ich v/ere built in thetraipw of Edward IV, Architecture, 
however, even in its decline, remained the one art in which Englishmen 
exhibited anything like genius. Painting v/as still almost a foreign art; 
and few notable examples of sculpture date from_ this reign. In music, on the 
other hand, several English schools developed during the fifteenth century, 
of whose compositions some Rpecimens have been preserved. Sir Thomas 
Malory is the acknowledged master of the prose literature of the time; Sir 
John Fokteecue was well-known as a political writer. and Caxton was also coming 
into prominence. 

As far as agriculture and the condition of the rural classes were con- 
eerned, m.any conflicting opinions have been advanced,/as was said in the last 

chapter, the evidence seems to show (in spite of w^&t the sumptuary laws say 

about misery and poverty) that a certain amount of prosperity must have 

marked most years of the century, even though the lov/er classes may not always 

have enjoyed an enviable existence. In industry, a rising standard of comfort 

and increasing accumulations of capital led to the growth of commerce and 


inanufactures, especially of the woolen manufacture .which underwent a 
great development. Though competition had not yet supplanted custom 
as the mainspring of trade, its germ was already there and the mercantile 
ideas sometimes attributed to Edward IV probably helped to foster it. 

As we have seen, very little had been done to curb extravagance in 
dress during the three preceding reigns, Henry IV had apparently wished 

to keep the pov^er of regulating dress in his own hands end in those of his 


council instead of allowing Parliament to regialate the matter by statute. 

Foreign wars and domestic disorders had engaged the attention of Henry V 
and his son and had probably prevented the central government of England 
from, taking some m.uch-needed action with regard to apoarel. But with the 
beginning of the new reign, and in spite of the continued civil war, a 
determination to curb extravagance and luxury soon manifested itself and 
resulted in the passage of several statutes of eoparel. The first of these 
was enacted in 1463-64, 

The costume worn in the reign of Edward IV was in seme respects not 
so fantastic as that vAich had been fashionable during the period of his 
predecessor, but it was sufficiently costly and extravagant to ;iustify (at 
least in the opinion of the legislators of that day) the passage of laws 
intended to regulate it.'^ In a picture of Edward IV which has been preserved, 
the king is represented as wearing a velvet govm edged with fur. The neck 
of this garment is cut low to shov.' a silken vest underneath. Across the 
chest, the edges of the robe are held together by gold laces, running straight 
across the front of the opening and tapering to a point at the waist. The 
skirts of the gown reach approximately to the knees; the sleeves are full 
at the elbows, hut tight at the wrists. On his head, Edward wears a black 

1. H. D. Traill, Soci^al England, vol. ii, p. 321 ff. 

2. See above. 

iiii, boci^al 


velvet cap, and Viis costuire is completed hy high, red, Spanish leather 
boots, turned over at the top. 

The fashionable gentlemen of Edward^EJday affected velvet tunics 
edged with fur, belted in at -fhe waist, with full skirts, pleated both in 
front and behind. The sleeves were g;enerally long and either wide at the 
top and tight at tVie v.rist or slashed, sometimes at the elbow only, sometimes 
from the shoulder to the cuff, where they were sewn together again. The 
cuff and the border of the opening were often edged with fur. Frequently, 
the white sleeve of the shirt was allowed to ouff out at the elbow through 
the slash. Full undersleeves of rich silk were also used. The neck of 
the ,iacket was generally high, but without a collar. Handsome gold chains, 
elaborate in design, were hung around the neck. With the tunics were worn 
well-cut tights, m;ade of cloth of two different colors. Peaked 
hats or caos.v.'ith gold bands round athe crown, and another kind of hat, 
eqully tall but not peaked, aaftss»v*-"e fashionable hoad-gear of the day. A 
long feather was generally brooched into one side of such a hat. In addition 
to the tunics already mentionedj__wfhi ch extended to a short distance above 
the knees, li^"tle, shorty^ -Hiininn , usually loose at the waist and reaching but 
an inch or two below that point, and with loose, wide sleeves, not fastened 

at the wrist, and a small, standing collar, generally open in a slight V in 

the front, were also v.'orn. These iackets were so short, that the whole of 

the tights was revealed. They were prohibited as indecent by som]e of the 

statutes of aooarel. Shoes split at the sides, vii-^h a peak before and 

behind, and long, pointed toes, v.hich v;ere also forbidden by statute, were 

3. Calthrop, vol. ii, pp. 121-12?, , 
4. A jacket made of camlet (camelot) sold in 1470-71 for 12 s. 8 d. Originally, 

cam.let was a beautiful and costly Oriental fabric, made especially of the 

hair of goats and kids, such as the Angora goat. La*er the term was applied 

to any of various imitations or substitutes. (See Rogers, History of 

Agriculture and Prices, vol, iv, p. 577-578) 


still in vogue, though late in the reign a few broad-toecl shoes appeared. 

Older men Viore long, simple go^^^^[S, very much like a monk's habit, 
belted in at the waist with a stuff or leather belt, from v/hich often hung 
a bag-purse. These robes hsd wide sleeves - the sam.e width all the way 
down - and loose necks, so that they could be put on over f^e head. They 
v.-ere laced across the chest down to the waist over a vest of a different 
color from the gov.'n. The outer garment was sometimes cut low behind at 
the neck in order to shou' the undertunic and ahove it a piece of the white 
shirt. The vnde sleeves when cut open were often laced up loosely. Some 
sleeves were svelled out at the top in order to give an appearance of greater 
breadth to the shoulders, a practice forbidden in certain cases by the 
sumptuary laws of Edward IV's reign. Some men had designs sewn on one leg 
of their tights. In addition to the hats already mentioned, big fur hats, 
round in shape, with brims close to their crowns and pushed forvmrd over the 
eyes; black velvet caps; and strips of cloth wound around the neck and over 
the head, with one end hanging down, and surmounted by a round, steeple-crowned 
hat or by a sugar-loaf hat v.ith a flat top.were also seen. Dandies carried 
walking-sticks and v.^ore many rings. 

Merchants, citizens and others of similar rank still 7 ore the roundlet 
hat. Caps with little rolled brims with a button at the top, over which 
two laces passed from the back to the front, had peeping from under their 
brims the last sign of the liripipe, now jagged and now with tasselled ends. 
The poor wore very simple tunics, mere loose, stuff shirts (v/ith sleeves 
about eight inches wide, skirts to the knees, and a belt at the waist ), shape- 
less leather shoes, and woolen tights. 

The dresses worn by women during the reign of Edward IV vrere usually 
plain in cut fi : short-waisted, generally with a broad belt and deep borders 


around the bottorrs of the skirts, vhich were very full and often caught 
up on one side to show the underdress. The sleeves of such govms fre- 
quently had broad, turned back cuffs, often made of soire black material, 
but usually of the same color as the dress underneath. The V neck 
opening was coinron, but many variations of it were in vogue, Occasionalljr, 
it was covered by a gorget of cloth, pinned up to a steeple headdress or to 
a hood of thin stuff or silk, the cape of which was tucked into the neck of 
the dress. Square and round necks were also fashionable. The ladies, 
like the men, wore long-pointed shoes. Their jewelry included necklets of 
precious stones or gold chains with a cross or heraldic pendant attached 
to them.. Count ry-womien dressed very plainly, in gca-ms with their waists 
in the proper place, full skirts, turned-back cuffs, wimples or hoods on 
their heads, plain, foot-shaped shoes and wooden clogs strapoed on to them 
for outdoor wear. 

In a portrait of Margaret of Yo^k, dating from about 1468, she is 
represented as wearing a dress of orange-red velx'et. The square-cut neck 
is trimmed with a brown edging. Around t.heA »e e h is vorn a broad collar 
of gold, ornamented at intervals rows of pearls. From, this collar a 
large jewel is suspended on her breast, A gold chain vrith large, oblong links 
is also worn. With this costume, appears a steeple headdress - a tall, 
pointed affair which entirely conceals the hair and which is partly covered 
by a gauze veil, one end of which falls on to the right shoulder." Jane 
Shore, the mistress of Edward IV, has been painted in a similar costume - 
a steeple headdress vith a thin veil thrown over it and a frontlet or little 
loop of black velvet, such as is mentioned in some of the statutes of apparel, 

5. Clinch, pp. 53-54. 


on her forehead, Icng, peaked shoes and a high-waisted dress, open in a 
V from the shoulder to the vi-aist, with a square-necked undergown showing 
through the opening in the outer garment, which is laced up loosely across 
the chest. The overdress has a collar of fur or silk, a long train, 
broad cuffs (perhaps seven inches broad from the hase of the fingers) a 
wide, colored band around the waist, and a still wider trimrning of the 
same color round the hem of the skirt. 

The steeple headdresses already m.entioned were usually long, pointed, 
black-covered creations looking very much like dunce caps, and worn at an 
angle of 45" to the head. Around the bottom, of such a headdress ran a 
deep velvet band, with hanging sides reaching to the level of the chin. 
To the point of the steeple, a veil was attached which floated lightly down 
or was carried on to one shoiilder, as in the picture of Margaret of York 
described above. Som;etimes such steeple hats were worn over hoods, the 
capes of which were tucked into the necks of the dresses. Some few of 
these hats had a .iutting^up-turned framework of wire in front, covered with 
linen or with brightly-colored stuffs, but this was not very comjnon. Another 
new form of headdress consisted of a cylinder broader at the top than at 
the bottom and from eight to eighteen inches in height. The top of the 
cylinder was sometimes flat, sometimes rounded. This headdress was generally 
jewelled and covered with rich materials. A veil was often attached to 
it also, either to the center of the crown or to the base of the hat and 
supported by wires, so as to shade th^ face, making a sort of roof over it» 
This roof might either be pointedy\in front and behind, or flat across the 
front and bent into a point behind, or perfectly circular. The veil some- 
times fell completely over the headdress and down over the face, but was 
usually stiff enough to stand away from it. Towards the end of the reign. 

6, Calthrop, vol. ii, p. 127. 


tbe headdresses were not so hi;h nor so erect as they had been at an earlier 
peri od. 

The horned headdress of the previous reign was not ^y any means 
extinct. Another fasV-i-nable headdress, which lasted well into the reign 
of Henry VII, resembled an enormous sponge-bag. Still another consisted 
of a wimple which was kept on the head by means of a circular, stuffed hoop 
made of some kind of cloth, and which was plain and severe across the 

forehead, Wom.en of the lower classes wore hoods of linen with liripipes 


and wide ear-flaps attached. 

Such were sore of the styles in vogue when, in 1462, the Parliament 
which was to pass the first statute of apparel enacted in the reign of 
Edward IV assembled at London, The Wars of the Roses were still going on 
at the time. Parliament for the first time on the 29th of April, but 
had to be adjourned and prorogued several times because the king was 
employed in suppressing the rebels and could not be present. It continued 
in existence w^ith interruptions until January 21, 1464, "These interruptions 

and distant adiournments", says the "Parliamentary History", "were occasioned 

by the unsteadiness of the timies." It was thus under conditions of 

intermittent warfare and perpetual alarmiS that the House of Commons drew up 

and presented to the crown a petition which began as follows: 

"Prayen the Comjryns in this present Parlement assembled to calle to 

youre blessed remem.braunce that, in the dayes of youre moost noble Progenitours, 

there have been dyvers ordenauncez and statutes made in this youre reame, for 

t-be apparell and aray of the Comyns of the same, as well of men as of women. 

7, For a fuller account of dress ir. the reign of Edward IV, see Calthrop, 
vol, ii, p, 119 ff.; Clinch, p. 53 ff. For pictures of the costume^of 
this period, see Green, vol, ii, p, 582; Martin, plates 26, ?7 (tise of 
Richard III - plates 28, 29); Calthrop, vol, ii, p, 118, 120, opp. p, 120, 
122, 123, 124, 125, 128^ and opp, p. 128, 129, 130, 131. 

8, Parliamentary History of England, vol, i, p, 423. 


soo t>iat nocn of them shuld use nor were noon inordynat aray, but oonly 
accordyng to their degreez. Which sta+utee and ordenaunces notwithstanding, 
for lak of nunvshment and puttyng them in due execution, the Commyns of 
this your© seid reame, as well inen as women, have used, and daily usen, 
excessive and inordynat arrayes, to the grete displeasure of God, enpover- 
yshing of this youre seid reame and enriching of straunge reames and cuntrees, 
and fynall distroiying of the husbandrie of this youre seid reame," 

After thus alluding to the earlier acts of apparel and the failure 
of the government to enforce them, the petition goes on to ask that certain 
steps shall he taken in order to reriedy the condit'on of affairs set forth 
in the pream;ble. It is interesting to note that the reasons given for the 
enactment of a new statute of apparel, as stated in the passage quoted above, 
were twofold, i. e. both m.oral and economic. The legislators of the fifteenth 
century feared (or professed to fear) that the wearing of extravagant clothing 
would (l) bring down upon England the wrath of God; (2) impoverish their av.m. 
country and enrich foreign countries, presumably because so many articles of 
foreign manufacture were being worn and so much gold was flowing out of 
England to psy for them. Here we have the desire to protect domestic 
industries from foreign competition and the mercantilist idea that gold was 
wealth and must be kept at home, not sent abroad in return for foreign products, 
appearing ii li | iii i i n I i v"] y "■ i 1 . 1 i ' f iitf* ^H^*^-«~ , 

The king assented to this petition and to all the articles comprised 

in it. The petition was enacted into law and it was thereupon "ordained 


and established that no knight below the rank of a lord, except the 

children of a lord, nor the wife of any such knight, after the Feast of the 

9, Rot. Pari., vol. v, p, 504 ff. 

10, "Le Eoy ad graunte cest Petition !■• toutz les articles comprises en ycell". 

(Ibid,, p. 505,) 
11. Stat. R., vol, ii, p. 399 ff, - 3 Edward IV, c. 5. 


12 1"* 

Purification, 1465, should wear any cloth of gold, any corses ^ wrought 

with fold, or any sable fur. If any knight should v/ear any of the 

prohibited articles himself or allovr his wife or child, "the sarre child 

ti 15 

being under his rule or governance , to do so, he should forfeit h 20 

to the king for every offense. Knights bachelors and their wives, with 
the exception of knights who belonged to the Order of the Garter and their 

wives, were forbidden, after the day mentioned above, to wear "eny cloth 

II 16 

of velewet uppon velewet >» Anyone who disobeyed this provision would 

have to pay a fine of\2.0 ir.arks. These two provisions and others which 
will be mentioned Awere evidf^ntly intended to prevent the lesser nobility 
from wearing very costly materials, which were obviously to be reserved 
for the use of those of very high rank or of great wealth. 

The next section of the statute forbade all persons belov; the rank 
of a lord to wear any silken material which was purple in color, perhaps 

1?. From a letter of Sir John Fasten to John Paston (dated Jan. 17, 1476) 
we learn that cloth of gold was sometimes used at the funerals of the 
nobility as a "coveryng ffor hys bodye and herse". In another let-t-ei) 
dated Jan. 21, 1476 and written bv John Paston to his mother, Margaret 
Paston, cloth of gold is again mentioned, John ask^Miis mother whether 
she is willing to sell a piece of cloth of gold which she has in her 
possession. He does not state how large the piece is. He says he 
has been offered 20 marks for it, but knovrs he can get more. (See Paston 
Letters, vol, iii, pp. 148-149,) 

13, "Corse merely means body or stuff". (Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii, 
p. 108 note ). 

14. A sable is a small carnivorous anim,al belonging to the som.e genus as 
the martens and found in northern Europe and parts of northern Asia. 
Its fur, which is still worn today, is dark hrown with gray on the head 
and tavmy on the throat and under parts. 

15. Stat. R., vol. ii, p. 399; Rot. Pari,, vol. v, p. 504. 

16, Rot. Pari,, vol. v, p. 504. A knight bachelor was a knight who, in 
time of war, followed the standard of mother, either because of his 
youth or because he was poor and had few vassals of his own. A knight 
banneret was a knight who could lead vassals into battle under his own 
banner, ranking above other knights and next to a baron. 


because purple had long been regarded (in fact, froir very ancient times) 
as a "regal" color, to be worn only by those of high rank, or perhaps 
because purple dye v/as rrore expensive than other kinds. The penalty for 
disobeying this provision was to be a fine of h 10, Esquires, gentlemen, 
and all persons below the rank of a knight and their wives (with the excep- 
tion of the sons of lords and their wives, the daughters of lords, and 

"esquires for the king's tody" end their wives) were forbidden to wear any 

figured velvet, or satin, any silk fabric made in imitation of the same, 

any material "wrought like to"^ figured [branched] velvet or satin, or any 

ermine, upon pain of having to pay a fine of ten marks for every offence. 

It was also ordained that no squire nor gentleman nor anyone else below 

the rank mentioned above should wear any damask or satin. However, the 

menial squires, sergeants, officers of the king's household, yeomen of the 

crown, yeomen of the king's chamber, all squires and gentlemen who had 

possessions worth fe 40 a year and their wives and widows, as well as the 

unmarried daughters of persons who possessed incomes of L 100 a year, were 

all exempted from the operation of this rule. In order to secure the 

enforcement of this orovis^'on, a fine of 100 s. for failure to observe it 

was to be im.posed, "provided always that the stevmrd, chamberlain, treasurer 

and comptroller of the king's house (and his kervers), and knights for 


his body and their wives, may [use and] wear furrs of sables and ermine . 

The mayors of the city of London and their w^ives are given permission 
to dress like knights bachelors and their wives. The aldermen and recorders 
of London, as well as the mayors, bailiffs, sheriffs^*^, recorders and alder- 
men of the various cities, towns and boroughs of England «nd the barons of 

17. Stst. R., vol, ii, p. 399; Rot. Pari,, vol, v, p. 504. 

18. Ibid. 

19. Stat. R,, vol, ii, pp. 399-400, 

20. That is, the sheriffs of such tov.ns, cities or boroughs as were counties 


of the Five Ports", such as have been chosen and assigned or hereafter 
shall he cV'osen or assigned to do f^eir service at t>'e coronation of the 
king, our sovereign lord, or of [my lady] the queen", are authorized to 

wear" such array as before is limited to esquires and gentlemen before 

II 22 

specified, having possessions to the vearly value of forty pounds , 

The statute goes on to order that no man who does not possess an income of 
k 40 or more a year shall wear miniver, lattice or certain other costly 
furs which are mentioned end that the wives, minor children, and servants 
of such men, as well as "idows whose income is less than the sum nsned, 
shall not wear any of the furs alluded to, any girdles trimmed with gold 
or silver gilt, any silk fabric made outside of England, nor any kerchiefs 
"whereof the price of a plyght ^ shall exceed the sum of 3 s. 4 d.; upon 
pain to forfeit to the king for every default thereof five marks", * *»w 
Ifenial esquires, sergeants, mayors, recorders, etc. and their wives are as 
before exempted fror the operation of this provision and are given per- 
mission to wear the prohibited furs, gilded girdles and kerchiefs costing 
5 s. the plite. 

Having stated what clothing the lesser nobility and persons possessing 
moderate inco'nes might wear (or rat*^er having set forth what they might not 
wear) the act of 1463-64 next deals with people with very small incomes indeed. 

21. Stat. R,, vol. ii, p. 400. 

22. Ibid. 

23. Or "olite". A plite meant a fold or square, every one of which was pre- 
sumably a comolete kerchief. (Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii, p. 108 note,) 

24. Stnt. R., vol. ii, p. 400. The fines are stated in "marks" in the older 
versions of the statute, and in "pounds" in the later. In the version 
qxioted here, we have a mixture of merks and pounds indicating that it 
was written in a period of transition when the terms were used inter- 
changeably. (See Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii, p. 108, note.) 


namely, less than 40 s. a year. I-t- ordains that they shall not wear any 
f-astian'^=', hustian , fustian made in Naples, any scarlet cloth, nor any 
fur, except black or white lamb. All the municipal officers mientioned 
above and renial servants of the yeoman class^ serving gentlemen^ and others 
possessing incomes of J» 40 a year are again excepted. All others who 
disobey this section of the statute must pay a fine of 40 s. 

Following this section come some curious provisions which are clearly 
intended to give the monopoly of the newest fashions to the wealthy and 
nobly horn. ' Thus, for example, yeomen and all persons below that rank 
are forbidden, after the Feast of Saint Peter, in the year 1465, to use or 
wear in their clothing any stuffing of wool, cotton or other material, any 
padfi ("bolsters", as the act calls them), or anything more thon a lining 
in their doublets, under pain of having to pgy a fine of 6 s. 8 d. Knights 
below the rank of lords, as well as squires, gentlemen, etc. are prohibited 
from wearing, after a certain date, any govm^ jacket or coat which is so 
short that it does not extend below the hips. Jackets shorter than this, 
though very fashionable at the time," were apparently considered indecent 
by the legislators, and anyone below the rank of a lord who wore such garments 
was liable to a fine of 20 s. Tailors were forbidden to make for anyone any 
govm, etc. shorter than the prescribed length or any doublet stuffed contrary 
to the statute. The act also attempted to regulate the long, pointed shoes, 
which had been for so long in vogue and had called forth so many scathing 
remarks from, the satirists, by providing that no one lov/er in rank than a 
lord should wear any shoes or boots having pikes more thsn two inches long 

25, Fustian was a kind of coarse woolen or cotton cloth. (li-T rhinirr, p. h 

26, Bustian was a kind of cotton fabric formerly used for waistcoats, etc. 

27, Clinch, English Costume|, pp. 61-62. For a summary of the provisions of 
most of the English sumptuary laws, see Clinch, pp. 60-67. 

28, See above, p. -141^ 


and by forbidding shoemakers to make for any such persons shoes or hoots 
with points longer than the prescribed length. 

Agricultural laborers, common laborers and servants to artificers 

living outside of cities were forbidden to use any cloth costing more than 

2 s. the broad yard, any hose costing more than 14 d. a yard, or any 

girdles trimm.ed with silver. Their wives v;ere not to be allowed to 

wear any higher priced clothing than men of the same rank could wear /or 

any kerchiefs costing more t'nsn 12 d. the plite» "And because that 

[coverchiefsj daily brought into this realm do induce great charge and cost 

in the same' it was ordered that no one, after a specified date, should 

sell in any part of England any lawn, niefles or kerchiefs of any other kind 

costing more than 10 s. a plite, under pain of forfeiting 13 s. 4 d, to the 


As in the earlier acts of apparel the .justices of the peace and the 

mayors of cities and boroughs were given power to inquire into and ounish 

offences against the statute. Provision was made for apoeals to be taken 

from their decisions to "youre Juges of plees afore you to be holden".' 

In hearing cases arising under this act, the .justices were to determine them 

"by like processe, pnd in like manere and fourme... as is by them usually 

used of "tresoas doon with force and ar^^es ayens youre peax, and after 

•z •» 

atteyndre like execution". The fines mentioned in the act, so Parliament 
directed, were to be aoplied towards the expenses of the king's household. 

29. Compare v/ith 37 Edward III c, 8, where servants of artificers are for- 
bidden to wear clo+h costing more than 2 marks for the whole amount 
required to make a garment. 

30. Stat. P., vol, ii, up, 401-402. See also Pot. Pari., vol. v, d. 505. 

31. "Nifels" or "nyefles" - probably a sort of veil. (Strutt, Dress and Habits, 
vol. ii, p. lOP, note.) 

32. Pot. Pari., vol. v, p. 505, 
73, Ibid, 


The last paragraph of the act contains a long list of people, in addition 
to those already mentioned, to whom its orovisions are not to apply, as 
for example, persons engaged in performing divine service, the judges of the 
various courts, the keeper of the rolls and other officials, scholars at 
English and foreign universities, heralds, messengers, minstrels, "players in 
their interludes", etc.; "provided also, that this ordinance do in no 
wise extend to any manner of array necessarily to be [worn] in war or in 
[the feats] of the same".^^ 

The act of 1463-64 was, it should he noted, more detailed in its 
provisions than any of the earlier acts which we have discussed, with the 
exception of the statute passed exactly a hundred years before in the 
thirty-seventh year of Edward Ill's reign, _^ike the la+ter, the act^hich 
has just been discussed was negative* rather than positive^iin character. 
That is to s&y, it did not direct the English people to wear certain kinds of 
fabrics or certain styles of dress, hut simply told them what they must not 
wear. That policy was pursued in most of the English sumptuary laws, 
probably because it vm.s easier for the legislators to tell people what not 
to do than to think out and set up a positive standard of conduct in regard to 
dress for them to follow. The statute of 1463-64 also resem.bled several of 
the earlier laws in that it left the punishment of offences against the act, 
unfortunately, so it seems, mainly in the hands of justices of the peace and 
of municipal officers, - unfortunately, because, even if these officials kept 
any records of the cases coming before them, such records do not seem to be 
available in this country. A mine of possibly very valuable information 

34. Stat. R., vol. ii, p. 402. 

35. Ibid.; also Rot. Pari., rol. v, p. 505. 


bearing on the enforcement of the English sumptuary laws is thus closed to 


US* A slender bit of evidence tending to show that some attempt was made, 
at least in the period of Edward IV, to enforce these laws, may perhaps be 
fOTind in the statement made hy a secondary writer that, in 1463, a tailor 
was fined 20 s. for making a garment with very wide sleeves, supposedly 
bag sleeves. No authority is given for this statement, however, nor 
are we told hy whom the tailor was fined; these om.issions naturally 
made this piece of evidence less valuable than it might otherwise have been. 
One is as much in the dark with respect to the enforcement of the sumptuary 
laws passed during the reign of Edward IV as one is with regard to the 
earlier statutes. 

There is one respect in which the act of 1463-64 differs from some 
of the earlier and later acts of apparel. It does not apoly to all of 
the classes in the community, v/ith the exception perhaps of the highest one 
of all, as did some of the other acts, which ran right down the social scale, 
forbidding each class to wear certain fabrics or styles of dress. The law 
which has just been discussed apolies only to the lesser and poorer nobility 
and to the classes below them, and reserves to persons of means or of high 
birth the right to wear the more costly fabrics and the newer styles. 

The provision as to shoes with pointed toes, the wearing of which, as 
has been seen, was to be permitted so lonp as the pikes did not exceed two 
inches in length, seems to have been hard to enforce judging from the number 
of regulations issued with regard to the matter within the space of two or 
three years. Speaking of the act of 1462, the Parliamentary History of 
England says,", . .Notwithstanding the destruction and misery the Civil V.are 

36, Calthrop, vol. ii, p. 120-121, 

■ 127- 

had occasioned [the excessive vanity then used in dress or apparel] was 
grovm to a very great height. One thing in particular was the extravagant 
way the People then had got of adorning their feet. They wore the peaks 
or pikes of their shoes so long that it encumbered them in their walking, 
and they were forced to tie them up to their knees. The Gentlemen did it 
with chains of silver or silver gilt; and those who could not afford to 
be at that charge with silk laces. This ridiculous fashion had been in 
some measure used ever since Richard II 's time". It was still strongly 
entrenched at the beginning of Edvirard IV's reign and was apparently very 
hard to dislodge. 

The year after the passage of the statute of 146Z-64, it was ordained 
"that no person cordwainer or cobbler within the city of London or within 
three miles of any part of the same city, be he vithin franchise or without, 
do to be made after the feast of Easter...^ any shoes, galoches, or huseas, 
with any pike or poleyn that shall pass the length of tv/o inches, which shall 
be judged hy the wardens or governors of the same mystery". Shoemakers 
were also forbidden to sell any of their wares on Sundays or on certain other 
days, and the penalty for doing so, as well as for makinf shoes vnth pikes 
more than two inches long, was to be e fine of 20 s. The followinfr- year, 
according to Stotwij "it was proclaimed throughout England that the beaks 
or pikes of shoes or boots should not exceed two inches, upon pain of cursing 

by the clergy and forfeiting 20 s., one noble to the king, another to the 

II 41 

cordwainers of London and the third to the chamber of London . Evidently 

37. Parliamentary History of England, vol. 1, pp. 424-425. 

38. Easter, 1465. 

39. Buskins (Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii, p. IIO) 

40. Stat. L., vol. 115, p. 3P1 - 4 Edward IV, c. 7. This act was repealed by 
14 and 15 Henry VIII, c. 9. (Stat. L., vol. iv, p. 162) 

41. John Storre, Annales, p. 419 (quoted in S+rutt, Dress and Habits, vol, ii, 
pp. 110-111.) 


it was felt necessary in this case to call to the aid of Parliament the 
royal power. backed up by tho authority of the clergy, and to issue a 
proclamation in addit', on to the statutes already enacted, but apparently 
even this did not suffice to rout the obnoxious shoes, as v/e find them 
mentioned at a later date. 

Soon after the middle of the fifteenth century, soTiieV'?h8t of a change 
occurred in the prevailing styles of dress. In 1467, according to Mon- 
strelet, "the ladies and damsels laid aside their long trains to their gowns 

and in lieu of them had deep borders of furs of minever, marten and others, 

or of velvet, and var-"ous articles of a great breadth". The steeple 

headdresses, hov,-ever/ one-half or three-quarters of an ell in height 1 were 
still in fashion. Some wore them lower than this, with handkerchiefs 
(probably the kerchiefs mentioned in the acts of apparel) wreathed around 
them or draperies whose corners hung nearlv down to the ground. Silken 
girdles of greater breadth than -i-hose Vi-orn earlier in the same century and very 
rich shoes wer^ also much used, together with "golden necklaces much more 
trimly decked in divers fashions than they were accustomed to wear them. . 
At about the same time that these changes in women's dress v;ere introduced, 
men began to wear even shorter jackets than before and very tight-fitting hose. 
The tleeves of the outer dress were often slashed to show the fine, v,rhite 
shirts beneath. Cloth bon-ets, a quarter of an ell in height, were very 
fashionable. Knights and squires wore m.ost sumotuous golden chains and even 
servants had jackets of silk, satini or velvet, often stuffed at ^he shoulders 
to make them appear broad, k "the wearing of such padded jackets had been for- 
bidden by the act of 1463-64, "There was not any little gentleman", so the 
chronicler goes on to say, "but would ape the nobles and the rich, whether 

42. Wonstrelet, Chronicles, vol. ii, p. 345. 

43. Ibid., pp. 345-346. 


they dressed in long or short robes, never considering the great expense 
or how unbecoming it was to their situation". Of course, Monstrelet 
is speaking of conditions in France, hut his description mi^-ht equally 
well be applied to England, so the historians of costLimes tell us. 

Owing probably to the fact that the act of 1463-64 had not succeeded 
in checking extravagance in dress, the Parliament vfhich met in 1477 passed 
another statute of apparel. The king had sumirioned no Parliaments for three 
years before that date. The houses assembled on January 16, 1477, and 
remained in session for about five weeks. No grants were asked for; most 
of the session was devoted to the trial of the Duke of Clarence for con- 
spiracy. He was attainted and the Commons petitioned that he should be 

executed. On February 17, it was announced that he was dead. How he was 

killed, IS not known,' 

44, Ibid, p, 346, Although no attempt was made et this time to regulate the 
amount and kind of food that might be served, extravagance in the matter 
of food and drink was almost, if not auite, as prevalent as extravagance 
in dress and needed regulation quite as much as it had in the reign of 
Edward III, »hen^fi_s the reader will recall, an act was passed prescribing 
the numb o r^^wi^^Tmi gh t be served at dinner, (See above, p.IP/p) A des- 
cription of "a dinner of fle8h"(c. 1465) may be found in "T^e™Boke of 
Nurture", by John Russell (1460-70). This dinner consisted of three 
courses, each one com.prising many different dishes. The first course 
was comoosed of pottage, beef, mutton, stewed venison, swan, canon. Dig, 

a concoction of sugar and wax and several other delicacies. The other 
t7;o courses consisted of a similar number of edibles, (Bell's English 
Histoi-y Source Books, 1399-1485, pp. 85-86.) 

45. Political History of England, vol, iv, pp, 460-463. Thomas Rotherham, 
Bishop of Lincoln, made the speech setting forth the cause of the sum- 
moning of Parliament. William Allington was chosen as Speaker of the 

House of Comjnons, 


This Parliarrtent found tin© in the midst of state affairs for 
some other matters. "On the petitions of -t-be Commons some useful acts 
were made" among which was "a long; act for regulating apparel, which had 
then grown to a very great extravagance" The preamble to this statute 
declares "that where in your Parlement hegon and holden at V^estm', the 
29 day of Aurill, in the third yere of youre noble raigne, arionges other, 
an ordenaunce and statute, conteynyng certeyn articles for th ' apparell 
and arey of the cor;Ons of tv^is reame, as well men as women, was made; 
and for lak of due execution of the same statute and ordenaunce more in- 
ordynate, excessive and outeragious array hath be sithen used then before, 
to the grettest ympoverysshyng in that that ever grew in this reame and more 

gretter is like to growe, if it be not refourmed by putting in due execution 


the ordenaunce and statute aforesaid." 

If one takes this statement at its face value, with due allowance for 
exaggeration, it points orce m.ore to the difficulty of enforcement or 
laxity of execution already observed in regard to English sumptus^ry legis- 
lation. In order to remedy this condition of affairs, the Commons asked 
that the act of 1463-64, together with certain additional provisions con- 
tained in their petition, should be sent, under the Great Seal, to the 
sheriffs of every shire in England, "and other places necessarie," 

46. Parliamentary History of England, vol. i, p. 434. 

47. Rot. Pari, vol. vi, p. 188. 

48. Ibid. 


to be proclaimed throughout their bailiwicks. After the statutes had 
been thus proclaimed "for the contynuell reTrembraunce to he had of the 
same", the sheriffs were to deliver the copies of the acts sent to them 
to the justices of the peace in the various counties. The .iustices were 
then to "declare and proclayme the sar-e statute and ordenaunce, in every 
their four generall, severall sessions there to be holden, for the better 
execution therof to be had ." 

Owing to the fact that many of the English people had not obserred 
the act of 1463-64 end that that statute was a penal law and needed, so the 

legislators thought, "larger explanation, declaration and addition uppon the 


same, the House of Commons petitioned that it might be ordained that the 

act of 1463-64 (with the additions mentioned above) should not go in effect 
until the coming Feast of Saint Michael and that no one should be punished 
for violating anv of its provisions previous to that date. Since in the 
earlier ordinance nothing definite had been said about the kind of ao^^arel 
that mayors, aldermen, sheriffs, bailiffs and other municipal officers 
should wear after having served out their term.s of office, nor about the 
dress of the children of "honorable persones of this reame, havyng possessions 
to the yearly value of an C li. and above; nor what apparaill persons having 
possessions under XL li. yerely, to the sum of XL s., might certeynly without 
inpeachment use","" the petition of 1477 proceeded to rectify these omissions. 
Every person who had held, who was holding at that time or who might hold in 
in the future any of the municipal offices mentioned in the act of 1463-64 
was to be permitted, together with his wife, to wear clothing similar to that 

49, Ibid. 

50, I>>id, 

51. Ibid. 

52. Ibid., pp. 188-189. 


aspigned by the same law to persons who had possessions which produced an 
income of Is 40 a year. No one, with the exception of those mentioned 
above, who did not possess an income of at least fe 20 a year was to use 
or wear any camlet, or any other silken or woolen cloth made outside of 
England, upon pain of forfeiting forty shillings for every offense. The 
wives and unmarried daughters of persons having an income of felC and more 
wei'e to be allowed to use frontlets" of velvet or of any other silken 
material, so long as it was black in color. It was also to be lawful, 
after the date fixed for the ordinance to go into effect, for the wife and 
unmarried daughters of persons having possessions worth fe 20 a year to 
use on their collars, sleeves, etc. satin, camlet, sarcenet or tarteron." 
The wives and daughters of persons "worth" forty shillings or more a year 
might use in a similar way sarcenet or tarteron, anything in the act of 
1463 to the contrary notwithstanding. 

The justices of the peace and the chief, officers of cities, boroughs, 
the Cinq Portes and of all corporate tovms, were, as before, given authority 
to inquire into, try and pronounce sentence in cases arising under this law, 
as well as under the earlier act. Such cases might be appealed from the 
decision of the justices or of the municipal officers "to be had afore you 
in your benche ," but there, as in the court of first instance, they were 
to be determined in "like manor and is...usuelly used of tres- 
passe doon with force and armes ayenst your peas."'"° Hov/ever, instead of 
all the fines and forfeitures being applied, as had been previously ordained. 

53. See above p. i/(p 

54. For the meaning of 'bamlet", see above, p.l/V'note. Sarcenet was a kind 

of fine thin silken fabric, used especially for linings, Tarteron seemis 
to have been similar to the latter. 

55. Rot. Pari,, vol. vi, p. 189. 

56. Ibid. 


to the expenses of the king;'s household, the petition of 1477 requested 
that anyone who desired to bring suit in the king's behalf against any 
person who might disobey the act of acoarel should be allowed to do so 
and should receive half of the sum forfeited by the offender. In this way, 
the royal and municipal officers would be able to obtain private aid 
against persons who refused to o'^ey the sumptuary laws. This method of 
enforcement was later provided for in several of the laws of the Tudor 
period, when it seems to have met with at least som.e small degree of success. 

The petition of 1477 ended with the declaration that every lady and 
gentlev/oman, after the death of her husband, might "have her libertie to 
were and use all such and like aray, as she did or myght have doon in the 
life of her husband"," It is a notev/orthy fact that this act was one of 
tbft few English sumctusry laws which told people what they should wear or 
which gave them permission to wear certain things. This fact distin- # J— — 
guishes it from most of the other laws of the same kind, which were ^^(j^aLliiu 
rather thary> pouK.ive. in character," 

The king gave his assent to the petition dravm up by the Commons and 
it became a law on the date set for it to go into effect. During the sam:e 
session of Parliament, an ordinance was adopted to the effect that no 
goldsmith or other person, after a certain date, should melt or beat within 
the realm of England, F^ales, Calais "or the marches therof, any money of gold 
or svlver unbroken, sufficient to reune in ppyment, nor...breke any money of 
gold or sylver of this reame, able to reune in payment, to make any vessel 
or other thyng therof, or to overgilde any thyng therwith; nor that any 

57, Ibid. 

58, See above, p,|5.^ 


goldsmy+h nor othor persone, within this reame..., from +he said fest 

of Ester, p;ilde any inaner vessell, basyns, pottes, '■uppes, . . .or saltsalers 

of sylver; ornamentes of churches, stuff e for knyghtes made or to be 

made, and apparaill necessariely to be gilt for every such person dispensed 

by the Statute of Aray made in the third yere of your noble reigne, and in 

the ordenaunce of apparaill made in this present parlement, except..," The • 

penalty for disobeying these regulations was the forfeiture of the value 

of the money so molten, beaten or broken, or of -t-he value of the vessels or 

other objects v.'hich had been gilded contrary to law," This ordinance is 

inserted here because of the reference which it contains to two of the acts 

of apparel passed during the reign of Edward IV and because it shows that 

the later of these two statutes had not entirely superseded the provisions 

of the earlier one with regard to gilded clothing hut that certain classes 

were stili allovfed, under both laws, to wear costumes decorated in that 


In 1483, ovfing, once more, -t-o the failure of the government to enforce 
the earlier sum.ptuary laws, the Commons again felt impelled to present a 
petition dealing with the sub.iect of dress. Just about this time, Edward, 
who for the past seven years had been receiving a pension from France, saw 
that trouble with that country was coming sooner or later, in spite of his 
desire to keep the peace and thereby rets in his pension. The conflict 
finally came when the French king repudiated the match which had been 
arranged between his son and Edward's daughter, becfuse he had decided that 
France would reap greater advantages if the Dauphin should marry Margaret 
of Burgundy. The king of England was very angry at the slight thus put 
upon him and by writs of summons, dated at 'iVestminster, November 15, in the 

59, Rot, Pari,, vol, vi, p. 184. For otv^er provisions contained in this 
ordinance, see ibid. 


twenty-second yecr of Viis reign, he coinnianded Parliament to meet at the 
same place on J- nuary 20, 1483. About five years had elapsed since the 
last dissolution. On the appointed day, which chanced to be Monday, 
Parliament assembled in a room in the palace at V/estirinster known as the 
Chamber of St. Edward. The king; himself was present. The lord chancellor, 
Thomas Ro+:herhRm, Archbishop of York, made a speech setting forth the reason 
why Parliament had been summoned end John Wood was chosen Speaker of the 
House. The misdoings of the French g^overnment were then described, and 
the Houses voted money for the defense of the realm. In return for their 
complaisance, the Commons were allowed to pass acts dealing with matters of 
trade, livery and maintenance, etc. The king was set on conciliating all 
classes of his sub.iects because of the oncoming war in which he desired their 
support. Among the acts which Parliament was for this reason and 'J^or the 
advantage of the publid allowed to pass was another statute of apparel, 
the third enacted during this roign. 

This statute originated in a peti' ion drav.Ti up by the House of Commons 
in which they prayed "that it may please youre Highnes to calle to your 
gratious rem.embraunce that dyvers statutes touchyng the restreynte of the 
excessive apparell of the people of this realme v.ithin the same by longe 
tyme used, to the utterist impoveryshyng therof, aswell in the tyme of youre 
gratious reigne, as in the tyine of youre noble progenitours, hath ben made 
and ordeyned; for noun due execution of which Statutes, thys youre said 
Realme is brought into over grete mysery and povertie and like to reune to 
gretter, on lesse then remedy thcrfore be soner provided".^ This preamble 

60. Parliamentary History of England, vol. i, p. 438. See also Political History 
of England, vol, iv, p. 465 ff. 

61. Rot. Pari., vol. vi, p. 220 - 22 Edward IV, c. 1, See also Stat. Realm, 
vol, ii, p. 46P ff., and Stat. L. , vol. iii, p. 454. The preambles in the 
two latter differ from the preamble in the Rot. Pari, which, of course, 
contains the Commons' reasons for presenting such a petition; and in the 
body of the act there are some slight differences in wording, but the 
substance of the provisions is the same in all three. 


is verj"- similar to the preambles of the two earlier petitions dealing 
with the same subject which had been drawn up during this reign. Like 
them, it speaks of the failure of the executive to enforce the statutes of 
apparel and the misery and poverty resulting therefrom and expresses the 
fear tha'^ this misery will increase unless extravagance in dress is checked. 

The king gave his assent to the requests made by the Commons in the 
petition of 1483 and a statute was enacted which forbade all English 
subjects, no matter what their rank, with the exception of the king, the 
queen, and f^e king's mother, children, brothers and sisters (in other 
words, with the exception of the royal family) to wear any cloth of gold 
or purple silk, uoon pain of having to pay a fine of h 20 for every offence. 
As before, purple was evidently regarded as a roy^il color end reserved for 
the use of those high in rank. No one below the rank of a duke might 
wear cloth of gold of tissue and no one below the rank of a lord might wear 
plain cloth of gold. The fines for wearing these fabrice were to be 
twenty marks and ten marVs respectively. Men below the rank of knights 
were forbidden to wear any velvet in their doublets or any velvet, damask 
or satin in their govms (although squires of the king's body might do so). 
The fine in this case was forty shil'iings. No yeomen of the crown, nor 
anyone else below the rank of a squire or gentleman, v>rere to be allowed to 
wear in their doublets damask or satin, or camlet in their govms. The fine 
in this case also was to be fortv shillings. The use of woolen cloth of 
foreign manufacture or of sable furs by anyone lower in rank than a lord 
was also forbidden, as it had bean once or twice before, out of a desire 
apparently to protect and encourage the English woolen industry. A fine 
of is 10 was to be imposed for every failure to observe this provision. 

Servants in husbandry (in other words, agricultural laborers), cormnon 
laborers, servants to handicraftsmen living outside of cities or boroughs. 


and their wives, were prohibited from wearing any cloth which cost more 
than 2 s. the broad yard. The wives of such persons were also forbidden 
to wear any kerchiefs costing more than 20 d. the plight; and the nen 
themselves were conmanded not to wear any hose whose price should exceed 
18 d. the pair. The fine for disobeying these provisions was to he 40 d. 
In addition to the foregoing, it was alao ordained that the ^iustices 
of t^e peace in every shire and the chief officers of all cities, boroughs 
and towns corporate should have po'. er to enforce the acts in exactly the 
same manner and by the use of the same judicial process that had been 
provided for in the two preceding statutes of apparel enacted during the 
reign of Edward IV. As before, also, it was stated that cases arising 
under the act might be appealed to the royal courts. All the penalties 
and forfeitures, except those within -t-he county palatine of Chester, 
Exhamshire and the bishopric of Durham, for which special provision was made, 
were to go towards the expenses of the king's household, "orovided alwey 

that thys acte extende not nor be in any wise prejudiciall to or for any 

woman except the wifes and servaunts of laborers." In the two acts 

immediately preceding the act of 1482, the wives of the persons mentioned in 

the statutes had been included with their husbands and placed on a olane of 

equality with them in the matter of dress, so that this exemption of wom.en 

was a distinct change in oolicy. The reason for it is not clear, unless 

the legislators had come to believe that it was hopeless to attempt to put a 

curb on the feminine love of dress. 

By the statute of 1483, all other ordinances and statutes of apparel 

were repealed, and it was provided that this act should go into effect after 

62. Comoare this provision with similar provisions relating to the lowest class 
of people in the earlier_ and later acts of apparel. 

63. See above, p,\^:L Ai^^c^Z. 

64. Rot. Pari., vol. vi, p. 221. 


the coming Feast of the Epiphany, The last section, which seems almost 
as if it were an after-thought on the part of the legislators, is one 
which repeats the injunction of the earlier laws of Edward IV that no man 
shall wear any gown or cloaV, which is not long enough, irhen he is standing 
upright, to reach bel0T.r his hips, upon pain of having to pay a fine of 20 s. 
One of the most singular features of the act and one which distinguishes 
it from other English laws of the sarve class, is the fact that eleven persons, 
all of whom are mentioned by name, are given permission to wear what they 
please, "purpull and cloth of gold oonly except". Most of the men 
mentioned were knights, "and probably always candidates for ribbands upon 
every vacancy". One of them was the dean of the king's chapel, another 
the treasurer of his household, end a third his secretary. These three 
were probably specially favored because of the services which they rendered 
to their royal master. 

On the w^^ole, it may be said that the act of 1483 m.ade the regulations 
with regard to apparel more stringent than they had been earlier in the 
reign, or at least more wide-spread in their application, since its provisions 
extended to a larger nurrber of classes of people, one of them even applying 
to everybody in England, with the exception of the royal family. In this 
law, as in the other laws of Edward IV, a specific penalty is provided for 
each offense, not one general penalty for all offenses as had been done in 
the laws of some of the preceding reigns. The statements found in the 
preambles to the petitions drawn up by the Comirons, and the absence of any 
references to these laws in the chronicles of the period make it seem probable 
that, so far as enforcement went, the laws of Edward IV met with the same fate 

65. Pot. Pari., vol. vi, p. 221. 

66. Harrington, Observations on the More Ancient Stritutes, p. 424. 


as the statutes v.'hich had preceded them. There is no Trore evidence vith 
regard +o enforoemer.t in tv>e law-reports of this cer'od than there is in 
the chronicles, a state of affairs which naturally tends to substantiate 
the theory that the statutes were not enforced, since, wen though their 
enforcement was entrusted for the most part to justices of the peace and 
local officers, who perhaps did not keep any permanent records, provision 
was made for appeals to the royal courts. Surely if the statutes of 
apparel had be n executed as the legislators intended them to be, some of 
the cases arisinp under them would have been appealed to the hi-rher courts 
and some reports of them would have been preserved. And yet no such 
reports can be found. 

In addition to the sumptuary laws which we have been discussing other 
laws of a paternalistic character were enacted while Edward IV was on the 
throne. In 1477, the same year in which one of the acts of apparel was 
passed, a long statute regulating the playing of games became a law. 
Discharged soldiers, recently returned from France, had spread throughout 
England, perhaps more widely than ever before, the camp vice of gaming and 

betting. It is this fact which is supposed to have called forth the law 

67 ,, 

of 1477, which declared that whereas by the laws of this land no person 

should use any unlawful ga-es, as dice, coits, tennis, and such like games, 

but that every person strong and able of body should use his bow, because 

that the defence of this land was much hv archers, contrary to which laws, 

the games aforesaid and many new imagined games, called clossh, kailss, 

half-bowl, hand in and hand out and queckboard be daily used in divers 

parts of this land as v;ell by persons of good reputation, as of small 

67. Barrington, Observations on the !l ore Ancient Statutes, p. 421. 

68. Perhaps a kind of cricket. See ibid. 


having: and such evil disposed persons that douht not to offend God 
in not observing their holy days nor in breaking the laws of the lands 
to their own iippoverishment and by their ungracious procurement and 
encouraging do bring other to such games, till they be utterly undone and 
impoverished of their goods tothe pernicious example of divers of the 
king's liege people." In order to encourage the oractice of archery, 
^ust as the earlier acts dealing with games had attempted to do, and also 
to put a stop to the evil results of gambling as stated above, it was 
ordained that anyone who should permit other persons to play clossh, kailes, 
half-bowl, hand in and hand out or queckboard in his house, tenements, 
gardens, or any other place within his control should be imprisoned for three 
years and made to pay a fine of h 20 for every offence. Anyone who should 
play such games was to be subiect to two years im.prisonment and a fine. The 
stringent penalties attached to this act probably made it one of the most 
severe laws ever passed against gaming. 

It is interestiag to compare v^ith this law a statement made by Wargery 
Paston in a letter to John Paston, dated December 24, 1484, in whic'-' she 
describes the sports used in two noble households of her acquaintance. These 
sports did not include dysgysyngs, ner harpyng, ner lutyng, ner syngyn, ner 
non lowde d7/sports, but pleyng at the tabyllys and schesse and cards." Such 
pastimes and no others were the people in those households allowed to engage 
in. It must be remembered that the Pastons were (Puritans. Perhaps their 
friends were of a similar persuasion and therefore very careful about the 
games which they played. At any rate, none of the games forbidden by law 
appear in their list of amusements. 

69. Stat. L., vol. iii , p. 44c ff. - 17 Edward IV, c. 3. 


Only one statute with regard to victuals was passed during the 
reign of Edward IV, and that did not alter the old assize of bread and 

ale, but simply provided that the chief officers of every municipal 

corporation should have "the searching end surveying of victual" and 

annulled all letters patent previously granted to searchers and sur- 

veyors of articles of food and drink, etc. 

Among the police regulations of the time, one or two measures 

dealing with liveries and maintenance (measures which were intended to 

prevent conspiracy) must be mentioned. The subject of maintenance was 

of great importance during the Vi/ars of the Roses, because it was in this 

way that the armies of the contending factions were in the main raised. 

Clear-sighted statesmen saw that they must stamp out the practice of 

granting liveries if they wished to put an end to civil war. During 

the session of Parliament which was held at V^estminster beginning 

November 4, 1461, the lord chancellor, George, Bishop of Exeter, told 

the Houses that the k-'ng had issued s. proclamation against the giving of 

liveries and badges, contrary to law and against maintenances, robberies 

and murders, "all and every of which the bishops, lords and commons there 

n 7 ''5 
present promised to obey and to see observed ihroughout the kingdom . 

This promise was evidently not very well kept, since, in the eighth year 

70. Ibid., p. 422 ff. - 12 Edward IV, c. 8. For som.e of the duties per- 
forned by the mayor and oldermen of Bristol, see Robert P.icart, The 
H'aire of Eristowe Is Kalendar, pp. 96-97. 

71, Stat. L., vol. iii, p. 422 ff, - 12 Ed. IV, c. 8. An act regulating 
the length and breadth of certain kinds of cloth (8 Edward IV, c. l) 
and another regulating the exportation of wool and woolfels (12 Edward 

IV, c, 5) were also passed during this reign. See Stat. L., vol. iii, 
pp. 397 ff., 41". ff. and cf. above pp. See also Henry VI, c. 4. 

The latter was a law regulating t>ie brewers in Kent and providing that 
none should make m.ore than 100 quarters of malt in a year. (Stat. E,, 

V, ii, p. ?74.) 

72, Traill, Social England, vol. ii, p. 333-334, 

73. Parliamentary History of England, vol. i, p. 422-423, 


of Edward's reign, it was found necessary to enact a law which ccn- 
firned all the earlier statutes of livery and which stated in its 
preamble that many persons were constantly breaking the laws dealing 
with this sub,iect. The act of 7 and 8 Edvvard IV, like several of the 
law^s which had preceded it, ordered that no one should give liveries or 
badges to or retain, except in time of war, any persons except those who 
might be retained to serve by indenture or v.'ho were their menial servants, 
etc. This was probably the most vigorous act yet passed against the 
custom of granting liveries, since it did not rely entirely on the jus- 
tices of the peace or local magistrates for its enforcement, as had the 
earlier laws, but specified that cases arising under it might be tried 
by the Court of King's Bench, the Court of Comjtion Pleas, and commissions 
of oyer and terminer, as well as by the justices of the peace. It de- 
clared that every inforror should be admitted to sue in the courts both 
for the king and for himself, being only required to swear to the truth 

of his assertions, and such inform.ation was to stand instead of e bill or 

original writ. This provision went far to legitimatize extraordinary 

procedure by bill, information and examination, and thus made miore easy 
the enforcem.ent of laws which the local magistra-i-es had feared to execute 
because of the wealth and power of the offenders with, whom they had to 
deal. In studying these laws, it m.ust be remembered that the question 
of liveries formed but one detail in the statutes directed against main- 
tenance and intended to prevent conspiracy against the cro^^^^. Liveries 
were only a means to an end - a method of recruiting a small amy of 
retainers who would back one up in time of need. The dress details involved 
in t'-'is question were not in any sense connected with sumptuary legislation. 

74. Rot. Pari., vol. v, p. 633; Stat. L., vol. iii, p. 399 ff. - 8 Edward IV, 
c, 2. See also Selden Society, Select Cases Before the King's Council 
(1243-1482) vol, xxxvi, pp. xxi, xxxviii, xliii. 


8 Edward IV, c, 2, was followed, four years later, by another 
act which exempted the Pryice of "Wales from the operation of -ir^^-iZca— 
provisions^and left hin at liberty to retain followers and grant his 
liveries, signs and badges to them at >iis pleasure. This was the last>AfefcfeL 
l«w of the kind pasr.ed v.'hile Edward IV was on the throne. During the 
brief reign of his successor, Richard III, no acts pertinent to our 
subject were recorded in the statute books. 

75. Stat. L,, vol. iii, p. 413 - 12 Edward IV, c. 4. 



Henry VII (1485-1509), the first of the Tudor kings, not 
only founded a strong dynasty and set the key-note of a decided 
and successful policy; he was also the original possessor of the 
peculiar Tudor character, the union of immovable resoluteness 
with the highest degree of tact, by which those rulers accomplished 
so much. At the time of his death, he had the highest reputation 
in Europe for Y«isdom and wealth. Henry found England torn by 
factions, he left her peaceful, united, orderly; he found her 
isolated, he left her powerful and important in the councils of 
the nations. 

His reign, which is apt to be overshadowed by the tremendous 
issues of the next four reigns, has often been called dull, al- 
though it was, in reality, a time of varied and dramatic action. 
It was preeminently a period of transition. It was marked by 
new ideas and new influences - the beginnings of modern England; 
but these ideas and influences were as yet only in germ. The 
New Monarchy, which is the term applied by Green to the period 
when England was governed by kings who were practically absolute, 
was firmly established by Henry Vll. Its advent not only marks 
the beginning of a new develop|ment of kingship, which alone was 
able to cope with the turbulence of a widespread revolution in 
all departments of thought and life, but also involves the 
triumph of the new executive over the old legislative powers. 
Parliament recognized willingly the necessity of a strong monarchy, 
as a counterbalance to the overgrown pov/er of the great lords, 
and did all in its power to secure a vigorous succession to the 
throne. However, although, during the Tudor period, -the legislative 


branch of the government was In general subservient to the 
executive and the king, in theory, could do everything, in prac- 
tice he found it very difficult to carry on the work of government 
without the counsel and consent of the estates. Moreover, the 
rule of the Tudor kings, although undoubtedly absolute, was 
popular with the majority English people. 

During the Tudor period the position of crown. Parliament, 
and church was altered. A new era in foreign policy set in, 
a great expansion of commerce took place. The epoch saw a 
remarkable outburst of life and freedom in enterprise, learning, 
art, literature, and religion, and later on in politics, The 
New Monarchy was based on the new forces of a new age - on com- 
merce, which replaced feudalism, and on individualism which 
replaced the old ecclesiastical system. Henry VII crushed the 
old baronage, began tentatively the construction of a new 
nobility and aided in the growth, if not in the creation, of the 
middle classes. It was the definite aim of the Tudors to pose 
as social reformers. Their whole policy was marked by a system- 
atic care for trade, and for the middle and lower orders. In 
the sixteenth century, the commons for the first time assvimed a 
leading position in Parliament. 

In military matters, Henry VII 's policy was to destroy 
the system of maintenance which had superimposed itself upon 
the old national system, and to render the county levies free 
from all baronical influence and loyal to himself. He thus in- 
augurated a policy v/hlch was continued by all the Tudors. His 
aim was to provide a trustworthy national force. In order to 
effect his purpose, he revived the militia system, and compelled 
counties to supply a certain number of men, according to their 


means. He was more occupied with the suppression of the custom 
of maintenance than with schemes of foreign agression. Henry 
understood, however, that the best way to insure peace is 
to be prepared for war. He also comprehended the principles 
and realized the importance of commerce. England's sovereignty 
over the narrow seas was maintained while he was on the throne, 
and voyages of exploration and discovery were encouraged. 
These voyages were continued in greater numbers in the succeed- 
ing reigns . 

Turning to the industry and agriculture of the period, 
we find that farming remained absolutely stationary for a time 
and even tended to decay as a result of the beginning of the 
enclosure system and the continuous extension of sheep-farming. 
Though England was still mainly a farming country, the decay 
of agriculture resulted in the flocking of rural laborers to 
the towns and the consequent increase of manufactures. By 
the date of the accession of Henry VII, English artisans were 
able not only to supply much of the home demand, but also to 
sell their goods to foreigners. Although the conditions under 
which the laboring classes lived were, in some respects more 
unhealthy, dangerous, and disagreeable than those now endured 
by any but the very poorest, nevertheless it seems probable 
that the masses of the English people were better supplied with 
the bare necessaries of life in the relgi: of Henry VII than 
In any other reign before that of Victoria. Much of Henry's 
commercial legislation was based on the idea that the national 
wealth depended on the amount of gold and silver in the 


coxintry, that the drawing out of treasure for foreign products 
must be stopped, and that English manufactures must be pro- 
tected from foreign competition. These economic ideas some- 
times manifested themselves, just as they had done at an earlier 

time, in the clauses of some of the sumptuary laws enacted 

during the Tudor period . 

A man of mark in those days lived somewhat ostenta- 
tiously, and proclaimed to everyone his rank, by his dress, 

his house and his following. At the close of the fifteenth 

century, the dress of the English people was said to be so fan- 
tastic and absurd that it was difficult, at a little distance, 

to distinguish one sex from the other. Men v/ore petticoats 

over their lower clothing. Their doublets were laced in front 

over a stom.acher and their gowns were open down to the girdle 

and from the girdle down to the ground, which they generally 

touched. These gowns had tight sleeves, slashed 

at the elbows to show the shirt beneath, and sometimes loose, 

wide sleeves without any slashing. Soon after the accession 

of Henry VIII, the petticoats were laid aside and close hose 

and breeches were adopted. 

In a brass in the church of Brown CaRdover, Hants, 

dating from approximately the period of Henry VII, the male 

(1) The foregoing account of conditions in the time of Henry VII 
is taken from Traill, vol.11, chap. VIII, passim. 

(2) See Strutt, Cress and Habits, vol, 11, pp. 142-143, also 
The Antiquary, vol. xlx, p. 231. 

(3) This word came originally from pettl-f- coat, meaning a little 
coat, and was sometimes used to signify a waistcoat or 
short coat. 

(4)^ A stomacher was an ornamental covering for the chest and 
stomach, worn originally by both men and women. 


and female costumes of the time is portrayed. Monuments 

and tombstones furnish us with much of our Information with 

regard to clothing worn In this reign. In the brass just 

mentioned, the man is dressed In a brown undercoat, with a 

short, green tunic lined and edged with fur over it. Around 

his waist is a steel girdle and attached to it a gypciere - 

a large, red purse edged with steel. His shoes are very broad 

at the toes, instead of being vei'y long and narrow, as they 

had been during the preceding reign. His shirt is pleated 

and has a very low collar, which exposes the whole of the neck. 

The lady is arrayed in a long gown, apparently made of crimson 

or purple velvet, cut square at the neck, with tight sleeves, 

and small in the waist. She wears a rich girdle (with a long 

metal pendant, which hangs down in front and which is attached 

to the belt by a large buckle) and a low, pleated collar. 

Her headdress is a high stiff cap, covered v/ith net, which 

hangs down to the waist behind. Over this is an embroidered 

gold veil. 

At the meeting which took place in 1506, tv/o miles 

outside of Windsor, betv/een Henry and the King of Castile, 

it is said that the English king rode a bay horse, with 

trappings of needle work, and wore a gown of purple velvet, a 

chain with a figTAre of St. George hanging from it, and a hood 

(5) A.D.C., "An Unique, Unknown, Sepulchral Brass" in The 
Antiquary, vol.xix, p. 231. "* 


of purple velvet, in addition to a hat. The king of Castile 

was dressed entirely in black, with a black velvet gown, 

a black velvet hood, a black hat and a black horse-harness. 

One of the escort wore a coat which in color was lead-green 

and white. The body of the coat was covered with goldsmith's 

work and the sleeves were full of spangles. John Garr and 

Wllliajn Parr, who were also present, were dressed alike, in 

"coats of goldsmith's work on the bodies, the sleeves one 

stripe of silver, the other of gold," The clothing of another 

member of the party was "one half of green velvet, the other 

of white cloth of gold." The rooms prepared for the king 

of Castile were "seven chambers together, hanged with cloth 

of Arras, wrought with gold as thick as could be, and as for 

three beds of estate, no king christened can shew such three." 

Liixury and ostentation in dress and manner of living 

was not confined to the king and the nobles. Even the clergy 

were guilty of it. Skelton, the poet laureate of Henry VII 

reproached the ecclesiastics for their pride and immorality. 

He says the bishops 

"Ryde, with gold all trappy 'd 

In purpall and pall belapped. 

Some hattyd and some cappyd. 

Richly and warm wrapped, 

God wotte to their grete paynesl 

In rochetts of fynes reynes 

(6) Paston Letters, vol. ill, letter 953 (Jan. 17, 1506). 


And tabards of fyne sylke, 

And styroppes with gold beglozyd j 

Despite such extravagance, very fevif laws of a 

siMptuary character have come down to us from the time of 

Henry VII. A curious order or ordinance "for weai?ing of 

aparelle," drawn up by Margaret, Countess of Richmond, the 

mother of Henry VII has, hov/ever, survived. "Phis ordinance 

was intended to govern "princes and estates, with other Ladies 

and Gentlewomen, for the tyrae of mourning." yJhethev it was 

supposed to apply to the whole country or only to regulate 

the mourning to be worn at court is not stated, but presumably 

the latter was the case, as Margaret had no authority to 

legislate for England as a whole. 

The first section of the ordinance issued by the 

Countess directed "the greatest estate to have their surcott, 

with a trayne before and another behynde, and their mantells 

v/ith traynes, and the greatest estate the longest trayne, 

with hoodes and tippets, as hereafter appeareth; and that in 

no manner of wise beakes be used, for the deformity of the 

same". Evidently the long-toed shoes, which had so frequently 

attracted the attention of the legislators in the reign of 

Edward IV, were still worn, though they were fast going out 

7. Quoted in Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol.ii, p. 160. For 
pictures of the costumes worn in the reign of Henry VII, 
see Green, vol.ii, pp. 588, 590, 591, 597; Strutt, Dress and 
Habits, vol.ii, plates 155-139 (16th Century); and Martin, 
plates 30 and 31. 

8. Strutt, A Complete Viev/ of the Manners, Customs, Arras, Habits, 
etc, of the Inhabitants of England, vol.iii, pp. 165-167. 

9. Ibid, (quoted from Harleian M.S., 6064). 


of style. 

The ordinance proceeded to regulate the mourning 

apparel which might be worn by people of different ranks, 

beginning with the queen, who was to be permitted to wear a 

surcoat with longer trains, both in front and behind, than 

those of anyone else, and a plain hood "wythoute clokes" . 

The tippet attached to the queen's hood was to be "of a 
good length and in breadth one nail and an inch" . V/hen a 
certain period of mourning had elapsed, the qixeen might have 
her mantle lined with black satin or double sarcenet. If 
furred, it must be with ermine powdered with black according 
to the wearer's pleasure. The king's mother, as well as his 
unmarried daughters, sisters and aunts, were to dress exactly 
like the queen, though the latter must wear their trains and 
tippets shorter than those of the royal consort. 

The queen's sister, so Margaret of Richmond provided, 
must dress like a duchess, in a surcoat and plain hood re- 
sembling those of the royal family. The tippet worn by a 
duchess, however, was only to reach to the ground and to be 
but a nail plus half an inch in breadth. After the first 
three months of mourning were over, she might have her mantle 
lined or furred, but only with ermine powdered "at the ende 

of the ermyne, saving that between every powdering, must be 

as muche space as the lengthe of the ermyne" . The mourning 

10. Ibid. 

11. Ibid. 


costuines of all the other ladies at the court, such as, 

marchionesses, countesses, baronnesses, lord's daughters and 

knight's wives, down to all the queen's gentlewomen (except 

the chief ones) and "eaqulers wifes for the body", were also 

regulated. The lower one was In rank, the shorter and 

narrower must one's tippet be and the less fur was one allowed 

to wear. "All other, the quenes gentlewomen" were directed 

(13) (14) 

"to wear sloppes or cot harders and hoodes and clokes; the 

tipettes a yard longe, and an inche broad, to be pinned on 

the sydes of their hoodes. Every one, not beyng under the 

degree of baronesse, to weare a barbe above the chynne, and 

all other, as knvghtes wlefes, to were it under there throte, 

and other gentlewomen beneathe the throte roll" . 

Baronesses were forbidden to wear gowns made with 

a train behind. The trains attached to the fronts of their 

gowns were not to be more than eight inches v/ide and must 

12, Ibid. 

13, A sloppe was a mourning cassock which did not open in front 

14, Cote hardies. The references to tippets and cote-hardies 
sound as if, in mourning costumes, the fashions of the 
preceding reigns were being intit^ated, since those garments 
either had gone out or were fast going out of style in 

the reign of Henry VII. 

15, A barbe was a piece of linen pleated into folds, worn by 
widows or women in mourning, especially during the four- 
teenth and fifteenth centuries. It was worn either over 
or under the chin and falling straight dovm to the 
breast. (Clinch, pp, 130-131). 

16, Strutt, Manners and Customs, pp. 165-167 


be tucked up under the girdle or held over the left arm. 

All "chamberers were ordered to wear hoods with capes attached, 

but without tippets. After the first month of mourning, 
no one might wear a hood in the presence of her betters, ex- 
cept when working, etc. This singular ordinance was evidently 
a regulation of court dress, such as Victoria or the present 
Queen Mary might prescribe. Perhaps Margaret of Richmond 
acted somewhat in the capacity of a "mistress of ceremonies" 
at court after her son's accession to the throne of England 
and issued her instructions accordingly. 

The only statute dealing with apparel which was 

enacted during the reign of Henry VII, was an act relating 

to caps which was passed in 1487. The year in which it be- 
came a law was also the year in which a Yorkist uprising took 
place in Ireland. The rebels invaded England, brt were de- 
feated by Henry at Stoke. Parliament met at IVestminster on 
November 9, and passed a bill of attainder against the 
leaders of the late conspiracy. Among the many laws of lesser 
importance which this Parliament enacted was one which read 
as follows: "No hatter or capper shall sell any hat above the 
price of 20 d. the best, nor any cap above 2 s. 8 d. the 

17. A charaberer is one who attends in a chamber - a chamber- 

18. Stat. L., vol.iv, p. 41 - 4 Henry VII, c .9 -(-C c g r ' v.OKt page -^. 


best, upon pain to forfeit 40 s. for every hat or cap 

sold above." 

It might not be amiss to state here that the 

fashionable headgear for men during the reign of Henry VII 

consisted of broad, felt hats or caps, and of bonnets of 

velvet and fur, profusely trimmed with feathers. Sometimes 

this large, plumed hat or cap was worn slumg behind the 

back, while the head was covered with a smaller cap of vel- 

vet or gold network. Hoods were only used on official habits, 

Hats such as have been described were doubtless quite ex- 
pensive. No figures on this subject seem to be available for 
the latter part of the fifteenth century, but Thorold Rogers, 
in his "History of Agriculture and Prices", states that, in 

1418, a beaver hat sold for 2 s. 10 d., and that, in 1432, 

"a beaver hat with marten skins" brought 12s. Vtliether or 

not the price rose even higher as the century progressed, 

it is evident that quoted above was in the main an attempt 

19. Stat. L., vol. IV, p. 41 -- 4 Henry VII, c.9. A similar 
act fixing a maximum price for hats and caps of foreign 
manufacture was passed in 1529 (21 Henry VIII, c,9). 

The latter was confirmed by 1 Mary, Stat. II, c.ll, which 
also forbade anyone to buy more than a dozen hats or 
caps of foreign manufacture, evidently Vtrith the intention 
of protecting home Industries. The last two statutes 
were repealed by I James I, c,25, and the one first men- 
tioned by 21 James I, c.28, paragraph 11. 

20. Pictorial History of England, vol. II, p. 857. 

21. Rogers Agriculture and Prices, vol. Ill, pp. 575-577. 


at priceflxing, similar to the earlier laws regulating the 
prices of articles of food and drink which have been dis- 
cussed in preceding chapters and was passed with the in- 
tention of putting a stop to profiteering so far as hats 
and caps were concerned. It may perhaps, however, be said 
to have had, at least to some slight extent, the character 
of a sumptuary law (though whether its makers so intended 
it, there is no means of knowing). Inasmuch as it prevented 
the individual from paying more than a certain amo^^nt for 
his headgear, and thus, if he were in the habit of buying high- 
priced hats, curtailed one item of his expenditures. But 

it must be admitted that it did not limit the kind or nvunber 

of hats which anyone might possess. 

In addition to the regulations with regard to 

apparel, two statutes prohibiting the use of unlawful games 

were passed during the reign of Henry VII, one in 1494, and 

one in 1503-04. They proveded, among other things, that no 

apprentices, laborers, artificers or servants in husbandry 


should play at the Tables, tenys, dyse, cardes, bov;les, nor 

22, In 1436, another price-fixing law had been passed for- 
bidding the selling of long-bows for more than 3 s. 4 d. 

23, It Henry VII, c. 2, paragraph 4, and 19 Henry VII, c, 12, 
paragraph 2, (See Stat. L. vol. iv, pp. 55, 95). 

24, Sir Thomas Elyot in "The Governor" (1531) said: "Tenese 
seldorae used and for a little space is a good exercise 
for yonge men". In the sixteenth century, tennis courts 
wo^9 quite common in England. The game was popular with 
Henry VII and VIII, James I and Charles II. Henry VIII 
and Charles I and II had special costumes made for it. 
Charles I was told by his father to play "at the caltche, 
or tennise, although but moderately not making a craft 

of them". ("Tennis** by Andrew Hibbert, in The Antiqioary, 
vol. xvi, pp. 71,72) . 


eny other unlawful gamys but in Christmas." The primary 

purpose of these acts, like that of the earlier laws deal- 
ing with the same subject, seems to have been to encourage the 
practice of archery on Sundays and holidays. The long-bov/ 
was still the principal weapon of the English army during 
the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII, though in some 
quarters it was beginning to be felt that arrov/s were less 
effective than bullets. Nevertheless, the bow was not 
finally discarded until the time of Elizabeth, or even later, 
and it therefore seems fair to conclude that the two statutes 

with regard. to unlawful games were primarily dictated, by 

a desire to preserve the English skill in archery. The 

Parliamentary History of England in commenting on these laws, 
hov/ever, says that in the statutes of Henry VII "the punish- 
ment of vagabonds and the fcr bidding of unlawful games to 

servants ...and the suppressing of alehouses were coupled 

together, as strings of one root.»" This would seem to in- 
dicate that the laws dealing with unlawful games were also 
police regulations, intended to suppress idleness and disorder, 

25. Ibid., p. 95. Both of the acts mentioned above were re- 
pealed by 33 Henry VIII, c.9, paragraph 17. 19 Henry VII, 
C.4, forbade shooting with the crossbow, except under cer- 
tain conditions. This statute, too, was intended to 
encourage the use of the long-bov/. See Stat. R.,, 
pp. 649-50. 

26. By 1503, when the latter of these acts was passed, the 
old English statesmen were all either dying or dead, and 
new men were taking their places. Cardinal Morton died 
in 1500, and Sir Reginald Bray in 1503. The last par- 
liament of Henry's reign met in January, 1503. 

27. Parliamentary History of England, vol.i, pp. 466-467. 


No nev/ laws regulating the prices of bread and 

beer or ale were passed while Henry VII was on the throne, 

but, in the Customs of Hereford, we find evidence that efforts 

were still being made to enforce the old assizes, which had 

by nov/ been on the statute books for several hundred years . 

The Customs of Hereford were first placed on record in the 

reign of Henry V, but were rewritten in 1486. They formed 

a sort of charter for the tovm. ^ this docximent, it was 

stated that at the sessions of the town courts, especially 

the two "first courts holden after the feasts of Michaelmas 

and Easter... the assize of bread and beer shall be ordained, 

and keepers to keep the same assize" shall be appointed. 

Anyone who broke the assize was to be amerced for the first 

and second offences and for the third to be sent to the 

cucking stool. 

In the Parliament which is said to have begun on 

January 13, 1490, a law limiting the prices of coarse and 

fine cloth was enacted. This act wisely refrained from 

28. W. Garmon Jones (coiit>«)* English History Source Books - 
York and Lancaster, (1399-1485), pp. 19-22. See also 
Journal of British Archaeological Association, vol.xxvii, 
p, 460 ff . In the "Customs" may also be found regula- 
tions as to vagabonds and scolding women. Two laws pro- 
viding for the suppressing of alehouses by justices of 
the peace were passed during the reign of Henry VII, 
(See tJ Henry VII, c. 2., Stat. L.,, p. 55, and 

19 Henry VII, c. 12, ibid., p. 95). 

29. Parliamentary History of England, vol. i, p. 460. 


"prescribing prices" in detail and confined Itself to 

"stinting thein not to exceed a rate' In other words, the 

statute simply set a maximum price for cloth, a plan v/hlch 
was followed in most of the price-fixing regulations, in- 
stead of stating the exact price for which each article must 
be sold. 

Several years later in retaliation for a high cus- 
tom duty imposed upon English goods by the people of Venice, 

Parliament passed an act which provided that henceforth every 

butt of Malmsey Imported into England must pay custom, but 
that the price of Malmsey per butt was not to be more than 
L.4 sterling. This statute was only to remain in force until 
the Venetians should repeal their law. The price-fixing 
feature of the act was in this case merely Incidental to 
the retaliatory economic legislation. Such laws as this one 
are introduced here for the purpose of comparison with the 
sumptuary statutes and in order to indicate the spirit of 
the age. They must not be regarded as falling under the head 
of personal regulation. 

30. Ibid. See Stat. L.,, p. 41 - 4 Henry VII, c 8. 
The author (or compiler) of the "Parliamentary History" 
says that it was*a rare thing to set prices by statute, 
especially upon our home commodities" . This statement 
is not correct. As we have seen before, maximuin prices 
had several times been fixed by law. During the same 
session of Parliament, other acts were passed "providing 
for the maintenance of drapery, and the keeping of wools 
within the realm" (Ibid) For laws governing the export 
of wool, see above pp. II Henry VII, c.27 also dealt with 
cloth. It was directed against the "unlawfull and 
deceyptfull makinge of Fustyans" (Stat.R., vol. 11, pi 59l) 

31. 7 Henry VII, c 7, in Stat. R., vol. 11, p. 553; 7 Henry VII, 
c. 8, in Stat. L., vol. iv, p. 54. 


Several "statutes of livery" were enacted during 

the reign of Henry VII. One of these v/as passed in 1486-87, 

and another in 1503. These were, of course, not sumptuary 

laws, but ordinary police regulations. They prohibited the 

giving or taking of liveries in any part of the realm during 

the king's lifetime, and the retaining of the king's officers 

or tenants by any other person or persons. 

Henry VII 's policy with regard to maintenance was 

not formed at once. He remained more or less silent for 

several years taking stock of the difficulties to be faced and 

the instruments to be used. It was not until 1487 that he 

spoke out. He summoned Parliament and declared to it, through 

Chancellor Morton, his conviction that the great evil to be 

grappled with was the frequency of "riots and unlavifful 

assemblies of people and all combinations and confederacies 

of them by liveries, tokens and other badges of factious 

dependence . The king urged that laws should be passed to 

deal with these matters. The earlier laws on the subject 

had been poorly enforced and ineffective, as is proved by the 

petitions sent up to the king by the commons and by the 

large number of acts closely resembling one another which 

had been passed during a comparatively short space of time. 

32. Statutes at Large, vol. IV, p. 37 - 3 Henry VII, c 12. 

33. Ibid., p. 96 - 19 Henry VII, c.l4. For further details with 
regard to this law, see Stat. R.,vol.ii, pp. 658-659. 
A.F.Rilard, "Council Star Chamber, and Privy Council 
under the Tudors", in the English Historical Review, vol. 
xxxvii, pp. 356, 527. 

34. Lord Eustace Percy, The Privy Council Under the Tudors, 
p.l ff. 

35. Selden Society, Select Cases in the Court of Star Chamber, 
vol.xvi, p.xcvii. 


It was reserved for Henry VII to carry out the Intentions 

of his predecessors and really to check for the first time 

the practice of maintenance and the granting of liveries. 

The Commons complied with Henry's request by the 

passage of the act dealing with liveries v/hich has already 

been referred to (3 Henry VII, c. 12) and of another act 

which was long regarded as the original and sole statuary 

foundation of the Court of Star Chamber. Mr. Pollard, in a 

recent series of articles in "The English Historical Review", 
denies that the court was established by this act. He be- 
lieves that the Statute had little or nothing to do with the 

Star Chamber and that its provisions were inconsistent with 

what we know of the personnel, practice and procedure of 
that court. His views are too long to be set forth here. 
Suffice it to say that he comes to the conclusion, that the 
act of 1487 should probably be interpreted in the light of 
another act passed the same year (number 26 on the roll of 
Parliament) whose object was to give the steward, the treasurer 
and the comptroller of the king's household (or anyone of them) 
power to try, together with a jury composed of twelve members 
of the household, and to condemn for felony any members of 

36. Stat. L., vol.iv, p. 27 f f . 3 Henry VII, c.l 

37. The word "chamber"" is in itself misleading, for while 

we now talk about a house containing several chambers, it 
was possible in the Tudor period to talk about a chamber 
containing several houses. The star chamber was^ before 
the end of this period, a three story building with a 
kitchen and at least three other rooms in it: the large 
room generally indicated by the words "star chamber"when 
used alone; the inner star-chamber; and a third room. on 
the east side of the building overlooking the river_, m 
which suitors could wait and distinguished visitors v/atch 
the course of the proceedings. 


of the household under the estate of lords (who were, of 
course, entitled to be tried by their peers for felony) for 
confederacies, conspiracies, etc. The reason alleged for 
this act was the "destruction of the kings and the near un- 
doing of this realm", owing to quarrels among those in "great 
authority, office, and of council with the kings of this 
realm", and to the fact that "by the law of this land, if 

actual deeds be not bad, there is no remedy for such false 

compassings" . 

Henry VII 's foes were of his own household. In 

the first few days of his first Parliament, he had caused the 

members of his household, the peers, and the commons assem.bled 

in Parliament, solemnly to forswear retainers, maintenance, 

liveries, embraceries, riots and unlawful assemblies, which 

he regarded as the mainsprings of the civil wars by v/hich 

England had so long been torn. Shortly afterward he had 

seen some of these very men indulging in the practices they 

had forsworn. The so-called Star-Chamber Act was, so Pollard 

thinks, intended to strike at the heart of the evil, its 

entrenchment in the king's household. It was difficult 

to strike by means of the Council in the Star Chamber a huge, 

unwieldy body, which contained some of the v/orst offenders. 

Hence the small, but powerful personnel of the committee 

set up by that act, a committee which consisted of the 

Chancellor, treasurer, lord privy seal, two chief justices, 

38. Ibid., p. 526. 

152 ■ 

a bishop and a baron, who would be nominated by the king or 
at Ms dictation. Hence, too, the privacy of the proceed- 
ings and the absence of regular records . It was no part of 
Henry's design to advertise In a public court, like the star 
chamber, the misdemeanors of his household officials. The 
act establishing the household court did not deprive the 
court of Star Chamber of its jurisdiction over similar 
offences com.mitted outside the royal household. Its object 
was to bring the more intimate offenders before a more in- 
timate tribunal. No star chamber record has been found of 
the fine traditionally imposed on the Earl of Oxford for 
breaking the laws in the king's sight. "Oxford was not a 
person whom Henry could afford to traduce in public; it is pro- 
bable that the earl was fined by the Committee set up by 

the act of .487. 

How long this committee continued to act is uncer- 
tain. Except in the statute books, there are few traces of 

39. Ibid. The act of 1487, says Percy, which^^in accordance 
with the usual custom of the Tudor sovereigns, estab- 
lished on a statutory basis a jurisdiction long enjoyed 
by the council, dispelled all doubt as to the instrument 
of government which was to be used by the Tudors. Even 
before this time, there had been indications that the 
council was being employed to the full extent of its power. 
It was formed in the first days of Henry VII 's reign not 
so much of the nobility of the realm, as of "vigilant 
men and secret:" Morton^ Pox, Bray, Paynlngs, Edgcombe, 
and Guildford, The Tudor period v/as one of peculiar 
interest in the history of the council. It was not the 
time of its greatest power, but under Henry VIII it 
gained control over every department of government. The 
royal policy was carried out through the vast machinery 
of which it had come to be the center. (See Percy, p. 1 ff.) 

163 ■ 

its existence. However that may be, it seems fairly certain 

that the Court of Star Chamber did not exercise a juris- 
diction which was created for the first time in 1487, but one 
which had appertained to the king^ council in the mediaeval 
period. Though Parliament had carefully avoided designating 
the council by name and had only in vague language .recog- 
nized its authority in this class of cases, it had nevertheless 
for many years persistently turned over to it petitions deal- 
ing with maintenance and liveries. The law of 1487 stated, 
as an established fact, that cases involving maintenance and 

similar questions pertained to the jurisdiction of the 

council sitting in the Star Chamber, 

The definite legal recognition of this part of t he 
council's jurisdiction, which seems to have been due to 
long-felt need, rather than to any nev/ influence which made 
itself apparent after the accession of Henry VII, m.arked an 
important step forward in the enforcement of the laws re- 
lating to maintenance and liveries. From this time on, the 
Star Chamber handled more and more of the cases arising under 

40, No tribunal corresponding with this committee is men- 
tioned in the act of 1504. Possibly it had done its work 
and purged the king's household. More probably its 
inactivity after Morton's death in 1500 v/as due to the 
fact that the great Seal had fallen into the feebler 
hands of Deane and Warham. It is very probable that 
V/olsey, soon after he became chancelloJt- in 1515, trans- 
ferred to the Star Chamber jurisdiction over household 
misdemeanors. There was nothing in the act of 1487 to 
prevent this. (Pollard, pp. 527, 528). 

41, Selden Society, Select Cases Before the King's Council, 
(1245-1482), vol. xxxvi, p. xxxi . 


these acts .Unlike the ordinary courts, it was not afraid 

to punish great nobles for violations of the law. Backed 

up by the king, it was powerful enough to try and punish some 

of them for granting liveries contrary to the statutes, thus 

gradually putting an end to a dangerous practice and restoring 

law and order, "too long overset by the great baronial 

families" . 

Under Henry VIH, who came to the throne in 1509, the 
royal power grew stronger year by year and revealed Itself 
in more and more startling forms. Before his death, he 
was exercising, with no open breach in constitutional forms, 
over a nation still proud of its Instincts of freedom and 
jealous of political innovation, a self-v;illed authority 
that amounted to a real despotism. Prom 1485-1529, the date 
of the Reformation Parliament, the country was governed to a 
great extend without Parliaments. After that date, the king 
controlled the legislative body and used it as his mouthpiece. 

The changes from jyjediaeval to modern England now 
became apparent - the change from, the age of rights to that 
of powers, from the Catholic to the P.eformed system in 
church and state. The new condition of affairs was symbolized 

42. Political History of England, vol. v, p. 16 f f . In addition 
to the acts dealing with maintenance already mentioned 
as having been passed during the reign of Henry VII, the 
Parliament v/hich was svimmoned to meet at Westminster, 
Novem.ber 9, 1488, passed a law "for the better peace of 
the country; by which law the king's officers and farmers 
were to forfeit their places and holds in case of un- 
lav/ful retainer-; etc ." (Parliamentary History of Englajid, 
vol. i, p.457)?j^arliamentary History further says, 
"As for riot and retainers there passed scarce any 
parliament in this time" (the reign of Henry VII), "with- 
out a law against them, the king ever having an eye to 
might and multitude". (Ibid., pp. 466-467). 


by the revival of learning, by the legal recognition of 
the king as the head of the church and by the dissolution 
of the monasteries, though few changes in liturgy were made. 
Another irjiovation was the rise and Influence of the middle 
classes in the place of the gentry of race who, already 
impoverished by the" civil wars, were, to a great extent, 
ruined by the extravagance of the court of Henry VIII. They 
fell into debt, pavmed their estates, and were succeeded by 
their tenants or by the opulent merchant class. 

Trade owed much to the Tudor kings . Henry VII had 
encouraged the commercial classes; Henry VIII continued 
this policy. The king's extravagance tended at first to 
stimulate trade, by raising prices and encouraging many 
branches of industry. But, even at first, it probably in- 
jured the mass of the v/age- earners by raising the cost of 
living more than it raised average wages, and, in the long 
run, it v/as certainly disastrous to the nation. Taxes had to 
be levied to pay for the king's luxuries, and the war in 
v/hlch he became Involved added to the national burdens and 
Interrupted the growing commerce. Moreover, Henry's per- 
sistent reckless expenditures led him on to great confiscations 
and to the debasement of the currency, which produced terrible 
social evils and disorders. In fact, England passed, 
during his reign from a state of prosperity and content into 

one of industrial rnisery and confusion, indeed, almost of bank- 


43. As to social conditions under Henry VIII, see Traill, (i/j^,^) 
vol. ill, p. 1 ff. 


In the sixteenth century, sumptuary laws were 
everywhere multiplied. They were turned against all Inno- 
vations or enjoyments which people wished to forbid or re- 
strain. The use of tobacco, coffee and tea v/as forbidden In 
many European countries. Hygienic reasons for the passage 
of such laws were often Inextricably entangled with economic 
reasons. Svimptuary legislation was also frequently in- 
spired by commercial protectionist policies, as when in 

England, for examp4.e, the use of silk was forbidden In order 

to protect the domestic woolen Industry. 

Much of this new, or rather renewed Interest in 

sumptuary legislation was due to the Reformation and to the 

stricter viev/s with regard to personal conduct and to the 

duty of the state to regulate such conduct which grev/ out 

of that movement. The id ea of personal regulation was, of 

course, ^fter the Ref ormatlor^ not a novel one, bul^he 
daily habits and life of the people began to be more and more 
affected by moral laws and precepts. The reformers constantly 
invoked the aid of the law to keep the citizens in what 
they considered a healthy moral condition, with the result 
that old regulations were renewed and amplified and new ones 
enacted. In England, as has been seen, the beginning of 
sumptuary legislation had long antedated the Reformation, 
but there, too, the sixteenth century saw a fresh Impetus 
given to the passage of such lav/s, 

44. Baudrlllart, vol. ill, p. 445. 


During that century, the English monarchy reproduced 

the magnificence of the French court. "Henry VIII^ is in 

his fashion a British Francis I. Less of an artist, he is 

not less ostentatious. His bonnet of velvet, shaded with an 

ostrich plvime, his quest of. gaudy colors, of silk and velvet, 

his magnificent attitude on horseback in shining armor, his 

head shaded by white plumes, all that makes of him a magnif- 

icent roi de parade" . Great sums of money were wasted on 

his pleasures, and his elaborate court functions demanded 
large expenditures on dress and ornamentation. Consequently, 
the sixteenth century marks an epoch in the history of 
English costume. All of the Tudor kings were magnificent 
in dress, but Henry VIII and Elizabeth were two of the most 
gorgeously clad sovereigns England has ever isnov/n. 

In the chronicles of the time, there are numerous 
descriptions of public functions, at which costumes of the 
most costly kind were worn. Stowe, in describing the wed- 
ding of Prince Arthur and Katherine of Aragon (who later 
became the wife of Henry VIII) says, "Wonderful it was to be- 
hold the riches of apparel worn that day, with the poisant 

chains of gold.... Also the Duke of Buckingham wore a gov/n 

wrought of needle worke, and set upon cloth of tissue, furred 
with sables, the which gown was valued at L.1500. Sir Nicholas 
¥ause, knight, wore a gown of purple velvet, pight with 

45, Baudrillart, vol. ill, pp. 447-448. 

46. Stov/e mentions in particular two chains worn on this 
occasion, one of which was worth -fe. 1400 and the other 
worth -is. 1000. 


pieces of gold so thick and massle that It was valued irt 

golde, besides the silke and fur, a thousand pounde" . . ,-. . 

Tailors, embroiderers and goldsmiths prepared all 
sorts of wonderful garments for the coronation of Henry VIII. 
Lords and ladles, knights and esquires appeared on that oc- 
casion decked out in the finest clothes that money could buy. 
Henry himself wore a robe of crimson velvet, furred with 
ermine. His jacket or coat was of raised gold, embroidered 
with diamonds, rubles, emeralds, pearls and other stones. 
The Duke of Buckingham was again resplendent, in a gown 
made completely of goldsmith's work. The knights and squires 
wore» crimson velvet; the Trapper of the King's Horse shone 
in gold damask and ermine. There was no scarcity of cloth 
of tissue, cloth of gold and silver, embroidery, chains of 
gold, etc. The queen was dressed in embroidered white satin, 
with her hair down her back and a coronal around her head. 

Her ladies wore cloth of gold, cloth of silver, "tynselles", 

and velvet, everyone after their degrees . 

Dating from this period there are many descriptions 

of tournaments at which the knights were often dressed in 

velvets and cloth of gold. Shen the Emperor Charles V 

visited England, a very elaborate tournament and pag^nt was 

held in his honor. The trappings of the horses ridden by 

47. John Stowe, Annales or a General Chronicle of England, 

48. Hall, Chronicles, vol, 11, pp. 2,3,9. 

159 • 

two of the jousters were made of russet velvet, with knights 

embroidered on them riding up golden mountains, "and all 

the upper parte of the saam hardes powdyrd with clowdes 

purfylled and wroght with veuys golld and vetlys syllver" . 

At the masquerade ball which was held in the evening, after 
the tournament was over, blue and black velvet buskins, 
velvet bonnets, and crimson satin mantles were provided by 
Henry. These costumes were kept by the guests. 

V/hen Henry himself went abroad, he lived with no 
less magnificence than he did at home. Everyone knov/s where 
the famous Field of the Cloth of Gold got its name. In 
describing the scent which took place on that field. Hall 
says, "He were much wise that could have told or shewed of 
the riches of apparel that was amongst the lords and gentle- 
men of England - cloth of gold - cloth of silver - velvettes • 

tinsens - sattins embroidered - and crimson sattins. The 

marvellous thressor of golde that was worne in chaynes and 

baudericks so great, so weighty, some so manif olde . . . .that 

the golde was innumerable...; and every honest officer of 

the king, v/as richly apparelled and had chaynes of golde, 

great and marvellous welghtle" . The English ladies wore 

dresses made in the French mode, by v/hich, so the chronicler 

thinks, they lost in modesty more than they gained in grace. 

The French, he thinks were superior in magnificence, but 

the English surpassed them in taste. 

49. Tinsel. 

50. Archaeologia, vol. xlvil, p. 315 

51. Hall, Chronicles. 


Women were not less extravagant In regard to dress 

than were men in the reign of Henry VIII. Margaret, queen 

of Scotland, sister of the English king. Is said by Sir 

Christopher Garneys to have had with her when she escaped 

from Scotland, twenty-tv/o gowns made of cloth of gold and 

silks. She sent to Edinburgh for more and was "going to have 

in all haste" a gown of purple velvet, lined with cloth of 

gold, and a gov/n of crimson velvet furred with ermine, be- 
sides three other gowns and three satin klrtles. 

Some of the clergy, too, seem to have been very fond 
of display. Cardinal Wolsey is said to have surpassed all 
his predecessors in pomp and luxury. His household was 

very magnificent. He is supposed to have had a master cook 

"who went daily in satin and velvet, with a gold chain , 

and other followers who dressed in an equally costly manner. 
All the furnishings and fittings of his house resembled 
those of a king. 

With so much ostentation, it was no wonder that a 
foreigner, who visited England in the early part of the six- 
teenth century, wrote home, in regard to the English people, 

that "they all from time immemorial wear very fine clothes , 

Two distinct kinds of styles were worn, both by men and by 

52. C.F.Martin, "Sir John Daunce's Accounts of Money Received 
from the Treasurer of the King's Chamber," in Archaeologia, 
vol. XLVII, p. 304. 

53. Harleian Miscellany, p, 102, 

54. Charlotte A.Sneyd, (trans.)" A Relation of the Island of 
England", in Camden Society Publications, no.xxxvii. 


women, during the period of Henry VIII, namely the German- 
Swiss style and the English style. The German style was 
that slashed, extravagant-looking fashion, so often seen in 
the paintings of D^rer and Holbein. In most of these por- 
traits, the shirt is cut low in the neck and sewn with black 
embroidery. There is usually a little waistcoat, ending at 
the waist, cut straight across from shoulder to shoulder and 
tied with thongs of leather or colored laces to the breeches, 

thus leaving gaps which the shirt exposed. 

The sleeves, like the breeches, took a great variety 

of forms, were of any odd assortment of colors, were cut, 

puffed and slashed all over, so that the shirt might be 

pushed through the holes. This gave the entire costume a 

"blistered" look. Separate pairs of sleeves were often worn 

with waistcoats (or petti-cotes, as they were called). The 
favorite sleeve trimming was broad velvet bands. On the 
head were worn little, flat caps with the brim cut out at 
intervals or the large, flat hats of the previous reign cov- 
ered with feathers and curiously slashed. Clocks were worn 
over the German style of dress, also overcoats shaped much 
like the modern dressing gown. 

The English style of dress was hov/ever more commonly 

55, From the blistered, padded breeches of Henry VIII 's 
reign were derived the trunks of the Elizabethan period - 
garments in which the slashings had grovm into ribbon - 
like slits. 

56, The custom of wearing "blistered" clothing is said to have 
originated in 1477 when the Sv/iss routed the Duke of 
Burgundy at NaJites. The soldiers, whose clothes were in 
rags, cut and tore up his silk tents, banners, etc. and 
made themselves garments. Their clothes were still so 
torn and ragged, however, that their shirts puffed out 

of every rent. The courtiers copied this curious freak in 
clothes, and blistering became the fashion. (Gal throp, 
vol.lii, p. 31) I give this account for what it is worth. 


worn than the peculiar German style. In this style, the 
tendency of the shirt was to come close about the neck, 
where the hem of the shirt was drawn by laces into a frilled 
collar which took many different shapes. Bull-necked 
gentlemen usually wore the collars of their shirts turned 
down and tied with linen strings. 

The waistcoat was really a petti-cote or little coat 
(a waist-coat with sleeves) generally made of richly orna- 
mented material which was sometimes slashed and puffed. The 
waistcoat could be worn either with or without sleeves, 
v/hich were generally detachable. Over the waistcoat was 
worn a coat or doublet, usually made with skirts and of plain 
material, such as velvet, find cloth, silk, or satin. Such 
coats were cut in a variety of ways - open to the waist, open 
all the v/ay do\im the front, etc. Sometimes the coat had 
sleeves, sometimes the waistcoat sleeves were allowed to 
shov/. The doublet was held in at the waist by a sash of silk, 
tied in a bow with short ends . Towards the end of the reign 
of Henry VIII, coats with sleeves and high-necks and with 
their skirts cut shorter, in order to show the full trunks 
beneath, became more generally worn. The waistcoat was by 
this time almost entirely done away. The collar of the shirt 
grew as time went on and spread into a ruffle or sort of 
folded pleat around the neck. 

The overcoat of the period of Henry VIII was the 
loose gown of the previous reign, cut off usually not far be- 
low the knee, though it was still worn long by some. The 
collar of the overcoat was a wide affair, stretching well out 


over the shoulders and made of the materials with which the 

garment was lined, such as fur, satin, silk, cloth of gold, 

and other costly fabrics, the use of which was regulated by 

the sumptuary laws. The most fashionable sleeves were 

puffed and swollen, barred with applique designs or strips 

of fur, and generally reached only to the elbow where they 

ended in hems of fur or of some rich stuff. However, sleeves 

varied in every possible way. 

Doublets were frequently puffed out above the 

shoulders or provided with mahoitres or wing-like wadding. 

This dress was censured at the time as clumsy and inconvenient. 

Fitzherbert declares that "men's servants, to whom the fashions 

of their masters descenC with their clothes, have such 

pleytes upon theyr brestes and ruffes upon their sleeves 

above their elbowes that, yf theyr master or themselves hade 

never so great neede, they could not shoote one shote to 

hurt theyr enemyes, tyll they had caste of theyr cotes or 

cut of theyr sleeves" . 

Beneath the outer garments were worn trunks - loose 

little breeches, which were puffed, railed and slashed. The 

slashes were hardly ever straight but usually took the form 

of an elongated "S" or double "S" curve. Other slashes were 

squared at the top and bottom. Soon after the accession of 

Henry VIII, the custom of wearing petticoats over the lower 

garments was abolished. All men wore tight hose, in some 

cases puffed at the knee and slashed. It is generally believed 

57. Quoted in Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii, p. 143. 


that silk stockings were unknovm in England before the 

middle of the sixteenth century, but they were certainly 

known to Henry VIII, since several pairs were found in his 

wardrobe after his death. Shoes were very broad, sometimes 

stxiffed into a mound at the toes. They were frequently 

sewn with precious stones (especially seed pearls, a device 

much used in embroidering gowns) or cut and puffed with silk. 

The note of the times in v/omen's dress was the 
evolution of the hood. Bit by bit the plain fabric was en- 
riched, each succeeding step resulting in the elaboration of 
the simple form. The border next to the face was first 
turned back, then the hood was lined with fine stuff, which 
showed to advantage where it v/as turned back. Next the 
sides were split and the back made more full; then tags 
were sev/ed on the sides by which the cut pieces might be 
fastened off the shoulders . The front was nov/ stiffened 
shaped to an angle and sev/n with jewel'*'s. As the angle left 

58. In an inventory contained in a manuscript in the Harleian 
Library in the British Museum, we find the following 
articles listed: "One pair of short hose, of black silk 
and gold woven together; one pair of hose of purple and 
Venice gold, woven like unto a cawl, and lined with blue 
silver sarsenet, edged with a passemain of purple silk and 
of gold; one pair of hose of v/hlte silk and gold knit," 
etc.(Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii, p.l49). 

59. Holbein's portraits of Henry VIII furnish the best evidence 
as to the costume of that monarch which we possess. His 
most favored costume seems to have consisted of a richly 
ornamented doublet, sometimes made of cloth of gold, en- 
riched with jewels and slashed perpendicularly at frequent 
intervals, a surcoat of some crimson material or of cloth 
of gold embroidered with gold and lined, with ermine and 

a richly jewelled flat cap with a flowing feather. He 
iffore, in addition, chains, rings and a variety of other 
jev/ellery. Close-fitting hose and ver7y^ elaborate, 
square-toed shoes completed his dress. (Clinch, p. 68 f f . ) 


a gap between the forehead and the point of the hood, a pad 

was used to fill in the vacant space, with the result that 

the diamond- shaped headdress worn in this reign was finally 

evolved. This headdress was elaborated in almost every possible 

way. It was often made with a white lining and a jev/elled 

turnover. Jewels were used criss-cross, in small groups, and 

in great masses. Pendants hanging from jewelled chains, wound 

usually twice around the neck. were very fashionable. Large 

brooches with drop ornaments attached to them were pinned on 

bodices. Lawn shifts or partlets, worn with low-cut dresses 

as a partial or complete screen for the nec^R, and bosom, were 
often delicately embroidered with black silk or gold thread 
and decorated with a band of jewels. The shift was usually 
cut square, following the shape of the bodice and was some- 
times open in front, in order to display the necklace. 

The waists of women's gowns were generally cut square 
in the neck and stiffened to a box-like shape. The sleeves 
of the gown were narrow at the shoulders and fitted the arm 
down to about six inches below the shoulder. From there on, 
they widened gradually, until just below the elbow they became 
square and very full, and allowed a false undersleeve, generally 
made of the same rich patterned silk or brocade which formed 
the undergown, to show. Underneath this, in turn, was a very 
full lawn or cambric sleeve which showed in a Jtuffle at the 
wrist and in puffs under the forearm. The false undersleeve 

60, The partlet may originally have been a kerchief for the 
neck^worn by both sexes, but by the sixteenth century 
it had become the special property of the fair sex. 


was generally held together by buttoned tags . It might be 
puffed with colored silk, slashed, or perhaps plain. The 
sleeve of the gown was also subject to much alteration. Over 
it some ladies wore a false sleeve of gold net, studded with 
jewels. The sleeve proper was often turned back to form a 
deep square cuff, sometimes m.ade of black or colored velvet 
of fur. 

[Ehe German fashions in ladies' dress resemble silk 
pumpkins, blistered and puffed and slashed, ribbed, sv/ollen, 
and altogether fantastic. The ha^ was generally plaited, 
and, in curves and tv/ists, dropped into coarse gold-web nets 
or into nets with velvet pouches attached, so that the hair 
stuck out behind in a great knob or at the sides in two 
protuberances. Over all was placed a hat like a man's, or 
any ace of an infinite variety of caps of linen, with barbes, 
or linen cloths, over the chin. 

In the period of Henry VIII and later on in the six- 
teenth century, the ladies followed the example of the men' 
and donned a kind of doublet with high wings and puffed 
sleeves. This garment was still in fashion at the beginning 
of the reign of Elizabeth. Women's overcoats, and cloaks, too, 
like those of the men, were very voluminous and usually had 
fur collars or silk collars with facings to match. 

The upper part of the gown, towards the end of Henry's 

reign, was often made with a false top of contrasting material 

instead of an underdress. Changes also occurred in the hood, 

61. English ladies were at this time pre-eminent in needle- 
work and English embroidery was held in high esteem. In 
the sixteenth century, this art was exhibited in caps 
and hoods, purses and gauntlets, (The Antiquary,vol .iil, 
pp. 214-215.) 


which, by a process of evolution, finally disappeared. The 
cap was now placed far back on the head and its contour be- 
came circular instead of pointed. The velvet hanging piece 
at the back remained, but became smaller and was no longer 
pinned up. The entire shape of the hood gradually altered in- 
to the Mary, Queen of Scots type of headdress. The wide 
sleeves of the gown also underwent changes and at last be- 
came separate from the gown - more like a cuff than a sleeve. 

Lacing was by many carried to such extremes that 
their bodies had a hard roll-like appearance. Others laced 
loosely and allov/ed the color of the underdress to show beneath 
the lacing. Many varieties of girdles and belts were worn, 
from plain, silk sashes with tasselled ends to richly jewelled 
girdles ending in heavy ornaments. In short, the whole cos- 
tune of the period of Henry VIII exhibited a profusion of 

richness and costly follies. 

With such luxury and extravagance prevalent, it is 
no wonder that Henry's reign had scarcely begun before It 
was considered necessary to enact another svunptuary law. 
After the coronation of the king, v;hich took place at 
V/estminster on June 25, 1509, writs, dated October 17, were 
issued for the calling of a nev/ Parliament, v/hich was to meet 
on January 21, 1510. The Members assembled on the appointed 

62, The foregoing account of costume in the reign of Henry 
ViII, is taken from Calthrop, vol,iii, p. 27 ff; Clinch, 
p. 68 ff , For pictures of the costumes worn in this period, 
see Calthrop, vol,iii, pp,28 and opp . p, 28,29,30,33,35, 
36 and opp. p. 36,37,38,40,41,43,44 and opp. p, 44, 45, 46, 
49, Green, vol.ii, pp.603, 621; Strutt, Dress and Habits, 
vol, ii, plates, 139, 140 (sixteenth and seventeenth cen- 
turies); Clinch (sixteenth century), opp. p. 68 and opp. 
p. 69, opp. p. 70, opp, p, 71, opp. p, 72, p. 75, opp. p, 78, 
opp. p. 80, opp. p. 86, opp, p. 88; and Martin, plates 32,33,34,35, 


day, in one of the great chambers of the palace at 

Westminster. The king was present and seated on his throne. 

William Warham, archbishop of Canterbury, declared the cause 

of the sximmons . In his opening sermon, he &KpiotOQ . on the 

need of good lav/s . He said that Parliament had been svimnoned 

"to repeal such laws as were bad, to temper such as were 

rigorous, and to issue such as were useful." He desired, so 

he declared, that "good and useful statutes" should be enacted, 

and, when passed, "should be faithfully, honestly, and 

inviolably observed." In response to these adjnonitions. 

Parliament proceeded to enact the first real siimptuary law 

that was passed during the Tudor period. There was at this 

time, as in later reigns, an ev^er-increasing problem of 

poverty and crime, with which the legislative body had to 

deal. The wearing of costly apparel was regarded both as 

a cause of poverty and as an occasion for crime. The desire 

65, Political History of England, vol V, pp. 165-167. 

Warham played little part in shaping the nationsl pol- 
icy after the accession of Henry VIII. The chief place 
in the direction of affairs belonged at first to 
Richard Pox, who was Lord Privy Seal, His only serious 
rival during the early part of Henry's reign was 
Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey and Lord Treasurer. The 
other members of the council were the Bishop of Durham; 
Po\ynings, the Controller of the Household; Sir Thomas 
Lowell, Treasurer of the Household; the Earl of 
Shrewsbury, Lord Stev/ard; and Lord Herbert, who was 
Lord Chamberlain, There is no evidence that any of 
these men, except possibly Warham, influenced in the 
slightest degree the passage of I Henry VIII, c.l4 

In 1510, Wolsey was introduced to the particular 
notice of the king by Richard Fox, bishop of Winchester 
and soon became a favorite with Henry. 

64, Parliamentary History of England, vol, i, p. 475 ^f , 


to protect home Industries by prohibiting the use of 

foreign cloth may also have Influenced Parliament to pass 

the sumptuary law of 1510. However, this economic elem.ent 

was probably considerably stronger in the earlier sumptuary 

laws (especially in those of Edward III) than it was in 

those of Henry VIII. 

After the formalities incidental to the opening 

of Parliament had been gone through with, the Commons chose 

Thomas Inglefield as their Speaker, and the Lords agreed to 

meet every morning at nine o'clock in order to do business. 

On January 24, the Lords met again, on which occasion four 

bills were presented and read. One of these was directed 

against excess in apparel. This bill, together with others, 

was read twice on that day and turned over to the king's 

attorney and solicitor-general for amendments. This gave the 

king and his ministers a chance to insert in the bill such 

provisions as they desired. On the last day of the session, 

February 23, all the laws passed by this Parliament were 

read separately, for the royal assent. Among these was the 

statute of apparel, which began with these words: "Forasrauche 
as the greate and costly array and apparrell used wythin 
this realme, contrary to good statutes thereof made, hath be 
the occasion of grete impoverishing to divers of the Kings 
subjects and provoked many of them to robbe and to doo ex- 
tortion and other unlav/ful dedes to maynteyne therby ther 
costeley arrey: In eschewyng wherof , Be it ordeyned by the 
authority of this present Parliament that no persone of whate 

65, Ibid. 

■ 180 

estate, condiclon, or degre that he be, use in his apparel 

eny cloth of golde of purpoure coloure or sylke of purpoure 

coloure, but onely the Kyng, the Qwene, the Kyng's Moder, 

the Kyng's Chylder, the Kyng's Brothers and Susters, upon payne 

to forfett the seid aoparel, . . . .and for using the same to 

forfaite 20 pounds." 

The act, which Is a very long one, goes on to de- 
cree that no man "under the estate of a Duke" shall wear, or 
use in the trappings of his horses, any "cloth of gold of 
tissue", that no one under the estate of an Sari shall wear 

any "sables", and that no one below the rank of a baron shall 

use or Vy-ear any cloth of gold, cloth of silver, "tynsyn satten" 

or any other "sylke or clothe myxte or brodered wj'the golde 

or silver," upon pain of forfeiting the forbidden apparel 

and paying a fine of from ten to twenty marks. Such 

66. Statutes of the Realm, vol. Ill, p, 8 ff. In quoting 
this statute, I have not attempted to follow the 
punctuation and spelling of the original exactly, and I 
have also omitted the abreviations and signs used in- 
stead of letters, which are to be found in the printed 
document. The same thing has been done with regard to 
the later laws, which have been quoted. Compare the 
provision relating to the wearing of purple to similar 
provisions contained in earlier laws. 

67. Evidently satin shot with silver or gold threads. 

68. Stat, of Realm, vol. Ill, p. 8 ff . - I Henry VIII, c.l4. 
The fine of twenty marks was to be collected in case 
"cloth of gold of tissue" (gold tissue) was worn, and 
that of ten marks in case the other prohibited fabrics 
were used. Eo fine for the wearing of sable furs v/as 


prohibitions can hardly have been vitally necessary, since 

the prices of the forbidden fabrics were generally so high 

that only the very greatest nobles, the richest merchants, or 

the royal family could afford to wear them. To mention 

only one instance, cloth of gold is said to have sold on an 

average, during the period from 1401-1582, for 80 s . a yard, 

an exorbitant price for that time . 

The act of 1510 next provides that no one who does 
not possess the title of a lord, and who is not a Knight of 
the Garter, may wear any woolen cloth manufactured outside of 
England, -Ireland, Wales, Calais or Berwick, "or the marches 
of the same." The penalty for disobeying this provision in- 
cludes the forfeiture of the cloth and the payment of a fine 
of L.IO. It can readily be seen that this paragraph differs 
from the two preceding ones in that its purpose is primarily 
economic, rather than sumptuary. It is a piece of "protect- 
ionism", and for that reason seems somewhat out of place in 
such an act as the one now under discussion. The legislators 
of the time apparently did not see that it was not feasible 
to mix economic regulations with sujnptuary legislation. They 
do not seem to have realized that siimptuary laws, by discourag- 
ing domestic consumption, would check domestic production also 
and would thus defeat their economic aims. 

The next paragraph of the statute forbade all 
Englishmen under the rank of knights to wear in their govms or 
coats, or any other portions of their apparel, any crimson 
or blue velvet. Such apparel was to be seized if worn, and 

69. Rogers, vol. IV, p. 567 ff. 


a fine of 40 s. was to be collected. The law went on to 

provide that. If any of the prohibited apparel should be worn 

by anyone below the prescribed rank, it should be forfeited 

to that one of the ushers of the king's chamber who should 

first bring an action of detinue for it" . If, however, 

none of the ushers should bring suit within fifteen days, 

"in the term next after the said forfeiture", then the king's 

chamberlain might bring a similar suit. If the clothing 

were condemned, the king and his heirs were to get one half 

of the fine Imposed, and the chamberlain was to receive the 

other half. In case the forfeited clothing belonged to nay 

of the queen's servants, "being in her cheker roule, then 

the ushers of her chamber, and, in their default, her chamber- 
lain, were to have the same right of action as the king's 
ushers and chamberlain were to have in other cases. 

Having settled the question as to who should obtain 
the clothing forfeited by the upper classes of society, the 
legislators next turned their attention to those lower dovm 
In the social scale and foi'bade all persons below the rank of 

70. Doubtless the reason v/hy the wearing of crimson and blue 
was not allowed, was because these colors approached 
"royal purple" in shade. Moreover, such gay colors were 
probably not considered suitable for the staid and sober 

'bourgeois", who seem generally to have worn dark clothes. 

Velvet, during the period of Henry VIII, seems to have 
been considerably cheaper than it had been during the pre- 
ceding period. In 1520, it sold for 8 s. 4d. a yard. In 
1534, tawny satin cost 7 s. 6 d. a yard; in 1526, white 
daihask cpstT^^S d., red damask, 5.s; and in 1565, crimson 
sarsnel:^rougf^4 s. 6 d. Of the cheaper materials, frlege 
sold after 1540, on an average, for 1 s-^1^ d; Camlet , 
(generally red) cost 2 s . 8 d in 1520.{(A9iOi^, (2puiM/(u^vc^t^^(3i^^ 

71. Stat. of Realm, vol. Ill, p.8 - I Henry VIIl", c.l4». An action I -MH^/i 
of detinue is a common-law form of action for the recovery/ ^J*--,^ 
of a personal chattel (or its value) wrongfully detained. / -^. 

72. Ibid. This phrase evidently means "on her pay-roll", or / ^CC_^ 
Exchequer roll. / ^7lT 


a knight, "excepts esquyers for the kyngs body, hys cuppe 

berers, carvours and sewers, havyng the ordynarie fee for the 

same, and all other esquyers for the body, havyng possession 

of landes and tenements or other hereditaments in theyr handes 

or to ther use to the yerely value of three hunderd marke, 

and lordes ' sonnes and heyres, justices of the one benche 

or of the other, the Maister of the Rolls, and Barons of the 

Eschequer and all others of the kyngs councell, and mayres 

of the citle of London," to wear gowns or riding-coats made 

or trimmed with velvet or "furres of martron. The penalty for 

disobedience was, as usual, the forfeiture of the apparel and 

the payment of a fine of forty shillings. The same class of 

persons, with the exception of those listed above, was also 

forbidden to wear any doublets, either made of, or trimmed with 

velvet, or any gowns or coats made of satin or damask. The 

property qualification necessary to enable one to wear such 

garments was, hov/ever, only one hundred pounds a year in this 

case, in contrast to the three hundred pounds required in the 


It is evident from the provision following the one 

which has just been quoted that even people who v/ere barely 

73. Ibid. The mayors and aldermen and other dignitaries, 
especially of the larger cities, wore very gorgeous apparel 
on public occasions. The ceremonial dress of the officials 
of one tovm consisted of scarlet gov/ns and tippets of 
velvet .(State Papers, part 3, vol.ii, p. 283). Most of the 
members of the middlefclass, however, as has been stated 
above, usually wore dark clothing. 

74. Ibid. Marten fur is probably meant. 

75. Satin was cheaper during the fifteenth and sixteenth cen- 
turies than almost any other fine fabric. Blue satin 
averaged about 9 s. a yard, and red satin 8 s.(See Rogers, 
vol. IV, p. 567 ff., and above, note 70. 


comfortably off must have attempted, on accasion, to vie \.T/*i jj 
magnificence of dress with the nobility, since persons who "• Jb' 
possess an income of less than -ir. 20 a year are here forbidden ; • "^ 


to wear satin, damask, silk or camlet, unless they are yeomen '^^■~ 

of the king's guard, or grooms of the king's or queen's ^"' M^ 

chambers. Such a prohibition would hardly have been necessary ' ... * 

if some members of the lower middle class had hot been in- a^'JU- 

(V6) ,' 

clined to extravagance in dress. 

The remaining sections of the law of 1510 may be ,; 

briefly summarized. The use of more than four broad yards of ^-t-U'j.. 

cloth in the making of any long gown, and of more than three ';;■"' ' 

yards in the making of a riding-gown or coat is prohibited 

to all persons under the rank of knight, with the exception of 

"spiritual men", lawyers and graduates of the universities. 

The same class of persons is warned not to wear in the future 

any"pinched or guarded" shirt or partlet of linen, the penalty 

for such use to be forfeiture of the clothing and the payment 

76. As illustrating the contagious effect of fashion upon the 
lov/er classes, it is interesting to recall the story told 
about John Drake, a shoemaker of Norwich who ordered his 
tailor to make him a gown exactly like that v/hich he was 
then making for a knight named Sir PhiliB Calthrop. V/hen 
Sir Philip heard what the shoemaker had done, he gave orders 
that his gown should be made with as many slits in it as 
the shears could cut. The tailor finished Drakes robe in 
the same way. When the latter saw it, horrified by the 
waste of cloth, he is said to have exclaimed: "l will never 
wear a gentleman's fashion again." (Strutt, Dress and Habits, 
vol. ii, pp. 160-161, quoting Camden's Remains, p. 198) 

77. Stat, of Realm, vol. Ill, p. 8. 

78. Ibid. A "pinched and guarded" shirt was evidently a fancy 
shirt of some kind. "Pinched" seems to have meant pleated, 
and "guarded" trimmed with lace or embroidery. 


of a fine of ten shillings. No one who cannot lay claim to 
the title of "gentleman" is to be allov/ed henceforth to use 
or wear any furs imported from abroad, "whereof there ys no 
kynde grov/ing in this lande or in any lands under the kyngs 
obeysaunce." This clause was probably partly intended, to 
protect the domestic fur industry and therefore has an economic 
significance similar to that of the provision prohibiting the 
use of foreign cloth. The only exceptions to the rule laid 
down in this section are university graduates, yeomen and 
grooms of the king's and queen's chambers, and all persons 
v/ho have a yearly income of -ir.lO assured to them for life, 
or goods worth -fc.lOO, Serving-men (except those who are gentle- 
men servitors) are forbidden to use more than two and a half 
yards of cloth in any of their short gowns or coats, and 

more than three yards in any long gown, and are not allowed to 

wear any kind of fur at all. They are furthermore told that 

they are not to wear any guarded hose or any hose made of 

cloth which has cost more than 20 d. a yard, unless such hose 

have been given to them, b^^ their masters. Servants, shepards, 

common laborers, servants to artificers living outside of 

any city or borough, and all farmers whose possessions do not 

amount to more than -Er.lO in value, are not to v/ear cloth 

costing more than lO^d, a yard. The punishment for disobedience 

79, No doubt they would be allov/ed to v/ear sheepskins, which 
are not, strictly speaking fur. 

80. If this provision were strictly carried out, servants, 
v/orkmen, etc., could still dress in frieze, which, up 

to 1540, sold on an average for 8 d. a yard, or fustian, 
which averaged 10 d. before 1540 and 1 s. 1 d. after 
1540. Compare this with similar provisions in earlier 
laws . 


In the case of these latter offenders is to be Imprisonment 
In the stocks for three days. Perhaps, the legislators felt 
more than doubtful of their ability to pay a fine, or thought 
they were prescribing a punishment which would have the great- 
est effect on that class. 

The last paragraph of the act stated that anyone 
who would sue for the clothing forfeited by any person under 
the rank of a Knight of the Garter might have the forfeited 

apparel and half of the fine imposed, the other half e-oine to 

the king. None of the provisions of the act were to apply to 

ecclesiastics, laymen wearing church ornaments, mayors, re- 
corders, aldermen, sheriffs, baillifs and other municipal 
officers, ambassadors, heralds, m.instrels, players in inter- 
ludes, or men wearing liveries given to them by the king 
during the time of their attendance upon his court. Women 
and other miscellaneous persons almost too numerous to mention 
were also exempt. In conclusion, it v/as stated that all former 
statutes of apparel, v/ith their penalties, were repealed by 
this law, which was to take effect at Michaelmas and to remain 
in force until the meeting of the next Parliament, during 
which period the king might license the wearing of any apparel 

that he pleased, anything in the act to the contrary notwith- 


From the above description of the statute of 1510, 

81. For those who were to obtain the apparel forfeited by 
persons of higher rank, see above, p.lfcZ- 

82. The reason why this act has been discussed so fully is 
because it Y/as the first one of its kind passed during 
the Tudor period, and because several later acts were 
based upon it. This act repealed, in particular, 

22 Edward IV, c.l. 

It will be seen that It was extremely detailed and that it 
ran the gamut of the social scale, as several of the earlier 
laws had done, forbidding nearly every class In society to 
wear certain fabrics or articles of dress. The fact that the 
act was prohibitive throughout rather than permissive or 
prescriptive is at once clearly apparent to anyone who 
studies it. This characteristic, to which attention has al- 
ready been called, was the distinguishing feature of the 
majority of the English sumptuary laws. 

Several years elapsed before another similar act was 
passed, and, during those year§, a new star was rising in 
Henry's court, a nevi man v/as making his power felt in the 
administration of national affairs. Thomas Wolsey, who had 
entered the king's council in 1511, was more pliant than 
Warham, more vigorous than Fox and more capable than Surrey. 
He spared no art to win the good opinion of the king, and, by 
1514, he was firmly in power and his reputation was fast growing. 
In that year, he became Bishop of Lincoln and Archbishop of 
York, and in 1515, through Henry's influence, he obtained his 
cardinal's hat on September 11, and was made lord chancellor 
on December 22. He was described at this timt) as being all- 
powerful with Henry, and as bearing the m.ain burden of public 

affairs on his shoulders. Prom later evidence, it is natural 

to suppose that it was v/lth his approval, at least, that a 
second act of apparel was passed In 1514. 

Writs summoning a newr Parllam.ent had been issued on 

S3. Political History of England, vol. V, p. 193. 


November 23, in the sixth year of Henry's reign. Parliament 
was commanded, to meet at Westminster on February 5, 1514. 
It assembled on that day in the Painted Chamber. William, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, preached the opening sermon and ex- 
pressed the hope that "what wanted reformation in the state.. 

would be amended in this present parliament . The Commons 

chose Thomas Nevile as their Speaker and proceeded to business. 

In this Parliament "divers laws. were made, but two most 

spoken of; one for apparel, another for laborers". Lord Herbert* 

in drawing up a list of the "most remarkable statutes" passed 

during this session, declares, "One of their chief cares was 

to put into better order the former laws concerning apparel; 

which yet was not so well digested but that the year follow- 

ing even the law itself changed fashion." The fact that these 

acts attracted so much attention at the time and were con- 
sidered so important is an indication of the state of public 
opinion with regard to sumptuary laws during this period. 

The preamble to act of apparel of 1514 is word for 
word the same as that to the act of 1510, and many of the same 
provisions are to be found in both acts, though sometimes 
differently worded and arranged in a different order. The 
wearing of biack genet, as well as of sable fur, is forbidden 
to all persons below the rank of an earl by the later act, 
while the earlier one merely prohibits the wearing of sailes. 
Sons of dukes, marquises and earls are added to the number 

84. Parliamentary History of England, vol. 1, pp. 481-482. 

85. Baker, Chronicle, p. 314. 

86. Quoted in Parliamentary History of England, vol .1, pp. 481-482, 


of those who are allowed to wear cloth of gold or silver or 

any apparel "myxte, garded or embrowdred v/lth gold or silver," 

as the act of 1514 puts it, and these are also permitted to 

appear dressed in foreign woolen cloth. It is specifically 
stated in the later act that servants may wear garments 
trimmed or lined with lamb's v/ool, though they are still not 
allowed to wear any other kind of fur. These, however, are 
all minor differences. 

The statute of 1514 contains every one of the pro- 
visions foimd in the act of 1510, and several new clauses in 
addition. For example, all persons under the rank of a lord 
or of the son of a duke or an earl are forbidden to wear any 
clothing trimmed or embroidered with gold, silver, goldsmith's 
work, or silken cloth. No one who is not a knight at the very 
least is to be permitted in the future to wear any chain "or 

other thing of gold, gilt or the color of gold about his neck 

or bracelets of the same", and no one but gentlemen may appear 

vi/ith any silken points, or points with aglets of gold, silver, 

or silver gilt, or buttons or brooches of the same materials 

attached to their garments. The penalty for disobedience is 

in this case merely forfeiture of the clothing. Only the 

clothing forfeited by those living at coLirt is to go to 

the king's or queen's ushers or chamberlains, or, in case they 

fail to sue, to the king. Clothing forfeited elsewhere is to 

87. Stat, of Realm, vol. Ill, p. 121 f f . - 6 Henry VIII, c I. 

88. Ibid. Vol. Ill, p. 122. 

89. Aglets were tags or pendant ornaments attached to the 


go to anyone who will sue for it, together with half of the 

fine. Ecclesiastics, merchants, ambassadors, etc., are 

exempted from the operation of this act, as also from that 

of 1510. Former city officials are to be allowed to wear the 

same kind of clothing that they wore during their period of 

office, while knights' sons and heirs apparent may dress 

similarly to the barons of the king's exchequer. The king 

may, as before, license anyone to wear any kind of apparel. 

The duration of the act is not to he temporary and limited 

like that of the earlier one, but in the words of the statute, 

is to be permanent, to "last for ever". 

In spite of this optimistic declaration, hov/ever, 

the act was destined to be in operation but a very short time, 

for only a few months later, in 1515, it was repealed and 

another lav/ passed in its stead, "in the month of November," 

says Hall, "the Kyng assembled his hygh courte of Parllamane 

at Westm.inster, and diverse actes made in the Parliament the 

VI year amended and altered, especially the acte of apparell." 

The preamble to the new act is exactly similar to 

those of the two which have already been discussed, and many 

90. Stat, of Realm, vol. Ill, p. 123. The practical reenact- 
m.ent, in 1514, of the act of 1510 seems to point to the 
fact that the earlier act was not enforced v/hile it was in 
operation, though, of course, its duration was limited, 
and it would have been necessary, anyhow, for Parliament 
to pass another act. However, little evidence tending 

to prove that any of these acts were strictly enforced 
has been found. 

91. Stat, of Realm, vol. Ill, p. 179 - 7 Henry VIII, c.6. 

92. Edv/ard Hall, The Union of the Two Koble and Illustre 
Families of Lancaster and York, vol. ii, p. 57. 


of the provisions are also identical. Other sections contain 

minor differences. For example, the nixxnber of those who 

are allowed to wear gold tissue is increased by the addition 

of the king's children and the children of marquises, and 

of those who may wear sable furs by the addition of the king's 

children and of dukes and their sons and heirs, as well as of 

marquises. In almost evei-y section of this statute, the 

number of those who are permitted to wear certain fabrics is 

augmented by the Introduction of several classes of persons 

not mentioned in the earlier acts. In one or two cases, fines 

different from those previously imposed are ordered to be 

levied. For example, a fine of 10 marks is to be collected 

when foreign woolen cloth is worn contrary to the statute, 

instead of -ib.lO as before. 

Among the new provisions found in the act of 1515 are 

the following: sons and heirs apparent of all barons and 

knights are to be permitted to use tinsel, and crimson and 

black velvet in their doublets, and In their gowns, jackets, 

etc, damask of a black, russet or tawny color, as well as camlet 

The coferer (or cofferer) of the king's household, the clerks 

of the Greencloth, the controller, the gentlemen ushers, and 

certain other members of the king's, queen's and prince's 

households may wear velvet, satin and damask (black, tawny or 

93, The keeper of the coffer, or treasurer of the household. 

94, The Greencloth was a court or board of justice held in 
the counting house of the palace, composed of the 

lord steward and his officers, and having cognizance of 
matters of justice in the household, with power to correct 
offenders and keep the peace, within the verge of 
the palace, which e:^tended two hundred yards beyond 
the gates. 

russet In color) in their doublets, jackets, or coats, and 

damask and camlet in their gowns. ^ They may also put on 

chains of gold, and the coferer m.ay have his gowns trimmed 

v/ith or made of satin, as well as of damask and camlet, 

and may in addition wear marten fur; all the other officers 

of the king's household, among whom the master cooks are 

especially mentioned, are forbidden to use any velvet, damask 

or cam.let in their doublets, any damask or camlet in their 

Jackets and coats, and any camlet in their gowns, except such 

as is black. The yeomen of the king's guard and the gueen's 

chamber are also restricted to the use of black velvet, satin 

or damask in their doublets, and black camlet in their gowns, 

but the yeom.en and grooms of the royal table may use all 

of the above-mentioned materials in their doublets and jackets, 

without any restriction as to color. All servants are 

allov/ed to wear ornaments of gold, silver, or goldsmith's 

work, if such ornaments are the badges of their lords and 

masters, and servants in husbandry are permitted for the 

future to wear cloth which costs not more than 2 s. 4 d. a 

broad yard. 

Further changes in this act are found in the clauses 
providing for the recovery of forfeited apparel and fines. 
The fact that each of the acts which have so far been dis- 
cussed made changes in these clauses, while most of the other 

95. Stat, of Realm, vol. Ill, p. 181 - 7 Henry VIII, c.6. 


clauses were reenacted without change, would seem to in- 
dicate that the measures proposed for the enforcement of the 

various lav/s relating to apparel had not proved effective. 

Otherwise, why were these measures constantly changed and 
added to? 

The act of 1515 provided that the apparel forfeited 
in the courts of the king, queen and Prince of Wales should 
be sued for by the royal ushers, as set forth in the two 
former acts, but that the marshals of the king's, queen's 
and prince's halls were to share this right with regard to 
all clothing forfeited anywhere within the houses, palaces, 
etc. of the sovereign, except within the private suites of 
the royal family. If, however, the ushers or the marshals did 
not exercise these rights, any other person v/ho was an English 
subject might obtain the forfeited clothing by bringing an 
action of detinu.e and an action of debt for the fine. Articles 
of dress forfeited in households other than that of the king 
might be obtained by the head of the household or anyone 
appointed by hlra, but if neither of these persons seized the 
clothing or brought suit within fifteen days after. the for- 
feiture, anyone else might bring suit to obtain the apparel 
and half of the fine, the other half going to the king as 
before. The Warden of the Fleet, the Marshal of the King's 
Bench, and their deputies, were given the privilege of suing 
for forfeitures incurred in V/estminster Hall and in the palace 

96, People were probably reluctant to go to the trouble and 
expense of bringing a law- suit, in order to obtain 
nothing more valuable than a comparatively small sum of 
money and some clothing. 


at Westminster, outside of the king's Immediate household; was provided that forfeitures incurred within cities 

and tov/ns corporate were to go to the municipal officers . 

In cotinties, forbidden apparel might be sued for by sheriffs, 

undersheriff s and escheators, and in every hundred by the 

chief constables. If any of these persons failed to sue, 

anyone else might bring suit. If any person resisted the 

seizure of forbidden clothing by the officers of the lav/, 

he would have to pay a fine twice as large as that provided 

for by the act. The same classes of subjects as before were 

exempted from the operation of the act, which, like that of 

1514, was to "last forever", and the king was again permitted 

to issue licenses authorizing the wearing of prohibited 


That both Henry VIII and V/olsey were Interested in 

the passage of the act of 1515 seems to be evidenced by a 

letter written by Wolsey to Henry in that year, probably while 

the act was still before Parliament. In this letter, the 

cardinal mentioned the fact that he was sending to the king, 

at the latter 's request, a copy of the statute of apparel, 

with an abstract of it, for Henry's examination and correction. 

Since Henry had requested his chancellor to send him a copy 

97. It is not clear just who was to seize the forbidden 
clothing. From certain expressions contained in the act, 
it seems as if the persons who were appointed by the 
statute to sue for the forfeitures wer e^fto sei ze the 
clothing themselves, at least in some ^uppos e^ instances. 

98. Stat, of Realm, vol. Ill, p. 182 - 7 Henry VIII, c.6. 


of this particular law, and . since V/olsey had thought the 

matter important enough to refer to i't in one of his letters, 

we may feel reasonably sure that the king, as well as 

Parliament, was interested in the subject of the regulation 

of apparel . 

At the end of the Parliament of 1515, the Archbishop 

of Canterbury, seeing that the Archbishop of York "meddled 

in Ms office of chancellor", that he himself was getting 

old, and that the archbishop of York wanted to "beare all the 

rule", resigned his office, which the king thereupon conferred 

upon Wolsey, From the time that the latter became lord 
chancellor, he appears to have governed the kingdom almost 
at his pleasure. One of his first acts in his new office was 
to send out commissions into all the shires, "for to put the 
statute of apparell and the statute of labourers in execution. 
And he hymselfe one daye called a gentelman named Syman 
Fitz Richard and toke from hym an olde jacket of crymosyn vel- 
vet and diverse broches, which extreme doinge caused hym 
greatly to be hated, and by his example many cruell officers 
for malice evill intreated dyverse of the kyngs subjects, 

in so muche that one Shynnyng, Mayre of Rochester, set a young 

man on the pill#ry for weryng of a ryven shert . 

This statement, made by a contemporary chronicler 

99, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign 
of Henry VIII, part I, vol. II, p. 321. 

100. Hall, Chronicles, vol. ii, p. 57. 

101. Ibid. 


whose work Is a glorification of the House of Tudor, is of 
great interest because it is practically the best evidence 
that has been found shov/ing that at one period in English 
history, at least, some attempts v/ere made to enforce the 
sujnptuary laws. That such attempts were regarded as "extreme 
doinge" and caused the authors of them "greatly to be hated" 
proves that the strict enforcement of such laws was an un- 
popular if not a new thing. 

Wolsey, though very fond of luxury and extravagance 
himself, seems to have been determined that others should 
"keep their places" and abide by the letter of the law with 
regard to dress. For example, in the college that he founded, 
he laid down rules enjoining the clergy who officiated there 
to use only" plain and decent" garments and ornaments, and 

forbidding them particularly to adorn their clothing with 

curious or costly furs. 

Additional evidence that the provisions of the three 

foregoing acts of apparel were carried out (at least to some 

extent) is furnished by the licenses granted by the crown to 

persons desiring to v/ear forbidden clothing. One such license 

is dated May 12, 1517, and reads as follows: "For V/illiara 

Bedell and Richard Rokeby. License to use any garments and 

chains and to keep and shoot with crossbows and hand-guns, 

102. Stat. Card. Wolsey, Coll.Oxon., A. D. 1525. M.S. in 
Cottonian Library marked Titus, F.3, quoted in Strutt, 
Dress and Habits, vol. ii, pp. 160-161. 

103. A number of acts forbidding the use of such weapons, in 
order to encourage the use of the long-bow by all who 
owned land which was v/orth less than a certain amount, were 
passed during the reigns of both Henry VII and Henry VIII 



having an Income of ^,300 a year." 

Another license, issued in the same year to Henry 

Conway of Bermondsey, and dated at Windsor October the 

twenty-first, authorized Conv/ay "to wear camlet, velvet, 

sarcenet, satin and damask of green, black or russet color in 

his clothing, except in cloaks of the fur of genets, sables 

or martens." 

A curious instance of the exterifto which the govern- 
ments of sovereign states still carried their practice of 
regulating minute details, even in international affairs, may 
be found in the document by which the king of France confirmed 
the treaty providing for his marriage with Princess Mary, the 
sister of Henry VIII. In this doctiment and in a letter, both 
of which were addressed to Wolsey, Louis thanked the cardinal 
for h'i-g *pains he had taken with regard to the apparel and 
other things necessary for his bride. Princess Mary's ward- 
robe, so it is stated, was to be arrayed "a la mode de Prance". 
Wolsey had retained the Seigneur de Marigny to aid him in 
fitting out the bride- with a trousseau correct according to 
French ideas. This pleased king Louis, and he expressed his 
approval of V;/olsey's action. Apparently the bride was not 

104. Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, part 2, vol. II, p. 1041. 
Few such licenses have survived. The reasons for their 
scarcity are not clear. 

105. Sarcenet was a silken fabric which seems to have sold ^g^ 
for about 5 s. a yard (Rogers, vol .'|V p. 567 ff.See above, p.^^) 

106. Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, part 2, vol.11, p. 1180. 


allowed to choose her own clothes. That mattei-" seems to have 

( 107 ) 
been arranged by international agreement . 

During the rather long interval between the passage 

of the act of 1515 and the enactment of another sumptuary 

law in 1532-33, an ordinance with regard to dress was passed 

by the leet of Coventry, Evidence with regard to action of 

this kind, taken by the governing body of an English city, is 

extremely scarce. The English cities differed from the German 

and Swiss tovms in that they were seemingly content to leaife 

the regulations of many of the smaller details in the lives 

of their citizens to the control of the central government, 

instead of regulating such matters themselves. In 1522, hov/- 

Gver, the leet of the ancient town of Coventry, a place famous 

for its Industry, its gilds and its mystery plays, took affiairs 

into its own hands and enacted that "all commoners within this 

cytte under the degre of a Scheryffe shall were in ther 

govmdes effore of fox, schankes, or lambe, and none other 

107. This difference between the English and continental towns 
was probably due to the greater power and efficiency of 
the central government of England. 

108. Rymer, Foedera, vol. xiii, pp. 1, 455 f f . The documents 
are dated September, 1514. 

The clothing of at least one of Henry's queens seems 
to have been picked out for her by others, "And to the 
quenes grace ye must appoqpite 6 f renchehoodes . .with edges 
of goldsmythes worke, so there be no stone nor perle in 
the same; and likewise as many paire of sleeves, 6 gownes, 
and 6 kyrtelles of saten damask and velvet., except alwayes 
stone and perle". (Sadleyr to Cranmer, 1541. See State 
Papers, parts 1,2 of Henry VIII, vol. i, p. 695). 

109 . Fur of animal ' s legs . 

f fores, and In ther dublettes or jakettes bott chamlet, 
saten of Bruges or wolsted, and morre other sylkes, oules 

he be notyd and knowyn to be of the valure and substauns of 

C li, and abowe." The penalty for disobedience of this pro- 
vision was to be a fine of ^.10. 

The same ordinance also provided that no servants 

should v/ear velvet in any of their apparel, and that no 


sheriffs nowe chosen and hereafter to be chosen" should v/ear 

in their govms the fur of ffoyndes or of martens, nor any 

velvet in their doublets or jerkins, unless they possessed 

an income of -£r.300 a year or more. In the case of the sheriffs, 

the penalty was to be a fine of twenty marks; and in the case 

of the servants the forfeiture of the forbidden clothing to 

the use of "the common box of the cytte and ... imprisonment*' 

was decreed. 

Eight years after the passage of this ordinance, 
John Longland, Bishop of Lincoln, wrote a letter to the abbess 
and convent of Vliiestowe (Elstow, Elnstow, or Helenstow), in 
v/hich he ordered "undre payne of disobedience ... that noo 
ladye ne eny religious sister within the said monasterye pre- 
sume to were ther apparells upon ther hedes undre suche lay 


110. M. D. Harris, (ed.). The Coventry Leet Book, part3*ff-, 
p. 680-681 

111. Ibid. This ordinance was obviously modelled after the 
laws passed by Parliament, though, of course, it was much 
shorter and less detailed than the latter. 

112. Fur of beech-martens. 

113. Harris, The Coventry Leet Book, part3i-?'3^ 4^u\: -i^iiii'ii: ijiji'-j 

4 pp. GSO-681. 


fashiorx as they have now off late dpon with cornered crests, 

nether undre such manour of hlght shewing ther forehedes, moore 

like lay people then religious, but that they use them without 

suche crestes ... and a lower sorte, and that ther vayle come 

as lowe as ther yye ledes", except when engaged in manuel labor. 

He also commanded them not to wear crested, or sD ashed shoes, 

or gowns and kirtles which were low in the neck, and "noo more 

to use rede stomachers, but other sadder colers in the same". 

Several other injunctions similar to this one, issued during 
the period of Henry VIII by the higher clergy have been encountered 
in the course of the investigations undertaken preparatory to 
this study. 'ATiile these were not laws, they were ordinances 
of a s\imptuary nature, and indicate that the worldiness which 
furnished a pretext for Henry VIII 's dissolution of the monas- 
teries was in fact to be found, to some extent^ at least, in those 

During the winter of 1532-35, after a lapse of 
approximately seventeen years since the passage of the last 
sumptuary lav/. Parliament again turned its attention to the 
regulation of dress. This Parliament hady^,&«* before. It 
reassembled on January 15, 1532, after sometime was prorooued to 
April 10, and later because of an outbreak of the plague at 
V/estminster, was again proroaued to the next year, when it met 
in April, 1533. It had been summoned principally to help on 

114. Archaeologia, vol. XEVII, p. 53 f f . The letter is dated 
October 1, 1530. 

115. Ibid. An injunction with regard to veils, similar to that 
quoted above, v/as sent to the Prioress of Studley. 


the cause of the king's divorce, by attacking the prerogatives 

of the Roman Catholic Church in England, and to raise money 

for the needs of the crown. Cranrner, who was made Archbishop 

of Canterbury in 1533, had already acquired great influence 

with Henry in religious matters, and Thomas Cromwell was coming 

forviTard to take the place of IVolsey, who had been dismissed in 

disgrace in 1529 because of his failure to secure the Pope's 

consent to Henry's divorce from Katherine, and who died in 1530, 

perhaps just in time to same himself from the scaffold. Through 

the agency of Cromwell and Cranmer, the king v/as divorced from 

his first wife and married to Anne Boleyn in 1533, and, on 

September 7 of that year, their daughter, afterwards Queen 

Elizabeth, was born. 

1/Vhile these events of national importance were taking 

place, a bill regulating apparel was Introduced into the House 

of Commons. This bill seems to have been projected and probably 

prepared by the executive department of the government long 

before Parliament assembled. Henry, writing, in 1551, to 

Cromwell and giving him instructions for the council, directed 

that "the bill of apparel may also be studied, Ingrossed and 

put in a redynes, agenst the begynnyng of the next Parliament" 

The "bill of apparel" does not seem to have been ready,-«^<.'«o'*^ 

until the session of 1532-33. After presentation it was read 

116. Political History of England, vol v, pp. 310-321. 

117. State Papers, vol. i,p.382. Note that by this time the 
petition to the king, which had been the form taken by 
laws proposed in Parliament in earlier times, had been 
superaeded by the bill. 


once, early In the session, but, before it could be read again. 
Parliament was prorogued by the king. IVhen Parliament re- 
assembled, however, the bill was taken up again and finally 

passed in 1533. The preamble to this act begins with these 

interesting words: "Before this tyme dyvers lawes, ordynances 
and statutes have been with greate deliberacion and advyce 
provided, established and devysed, for the necessarie repressing, 
avoydyng and expelling of the inordynate excesse dailye more 
and more used in the sumptuous and costly arraye and apparell 
accustomablye worne in this realme ; which, good lawes 

notwithstanding, the outrageous excesse therein is rather frome 

tyme to tyme increased than diminyshed." It is therefore or- 
dained that after the Feast of the Purification in that same 
year the clothing forbidden by the other sections of the act 
shall not be worn. 

The first tv/o provisions following the preamble deal 
with the wearing of cloth of gold, or silk of a purple color and 
of "cloth of gold of tissue", and closely resemble similar 
provisions to be found in the earlier acts, except that dukes 
and marquises are in the future to be allowed to wear cloth of 
gold viTOrth not more than -ir.5 a yard in their doublets and 
sleeveless coats, and that the vi^ord "purple" Is not to be inter- 
preted as applying to the mantles worn by the members of the 
Order of the Garter. Viscounts, barons, and the prior of 

lie. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of Henry VIII, 

vol. VI, p. 52, Under date of 1533, we find this memorandum, 
"Bills dependyng in the Comen Rous syns the last prorogacion: 
once read - the statute of apparel." 

119. Stat, of Realm, vol. lii, p. 430, - 24 Henry VIII, C.13. 

■ 203 

St. John's of Jerusalem are also permittees to wear cloth of 
gold, cloth of silver and tinsel in their sleeveless coats 
and doublets. The use of foreign woolen cloth is forbidden 
except to the classes enumerated in the earlier acts, and to 
marquises and the children of dukes, marquises and earls. How- 
ever, anyone may wear a bonnet made of such foreign cloth, if 
he or she wishes. Only those classes of persons' enumerated 
in the provision concerning foreign woolen cloth are to be 
permitted to wear crimson, scarlet or blue velvet or em- 
broidery. No one under the rank of a baron's son or a knight, 

except those who have lands, rents or tenements in their ovm 

or in their wives' right, worth -4r, 2 00 a year, may use any 

chain, bracelet or other ornament of gold, "excepte every 

such cheyne, jev/eJ^J^, ouche or ornam.ent be in weight one unce 

of fynne golde or above" with the exception of rings to be 

worn on the fingers, and no one except a knight may wear a 

120. The property qualifications required of persons desiring 
to wear certain kinds of clothing reminds one of the 
property qualifications sometimes required of voters in 
more modern times. The object of such provisions in 

a sumptuary law was evidently to preserve distinctions 
in dress between the wealthy, or moderately wealthy, 
and the poor, as well as betv/een the noble and non-noble 
classes . 

121. Stat. R., vol iii, p. 430. The object of this provision 
is not clear. It would seem more logical to prohibit 
people possessing less than L,200 a year from weating 
ornaments containing more than one ounce of gold. 

■ 204 

particular klndi of gold collar known as a collar of S" , Nor 

shall anyone except those mentioned in the previous provision 

and those who have an income of -fT.lOO a year v/ear any satin, 

damask, silk or camlet in their gowns, coats with sleeves or 

other outer clothing, nor velvet except in their sleeveless 

jackets, doublets, or purses, nor any foreign fur except grey 

genet or bugey. Persons of the above mentioned rank, as well 

as the sons and heirs apparent of knights and of men who 

possess an income of 500 marks a year, and such persons as 

themselves have an income of L,40, may make use in their outer 

clothing of camlet and silk and of satin damask, taffeta and 

sarcenet in their doublets, of sarcenet, camlet or taffeta in 

the lining of their gowns, and of the same fabrics or of 

velvet in their sleeveless coats and jerkins. They will not 

be permitted, however, to wear any fabric which is scarlet, 

crimson or blue in color, nor any foreign furs. Several 

similar clauses follov/ this one, prescribing what kind of 

silken or woolen fabrics persons with incomes of 'ir.20 and of 

122, A Collar of S.S., S's or Esses was an ornamental chain con- 
sisting of a series of S's either joined together side by 
side, or fastened in a row upon a band or ribbon. It was 
originally made of leather with golden S's sewn on to it. 
In 1485, the chief judges of King's Bench, Common Pleas and 
the Exchequer were decorated with this collar. It was not 
a badge of personal dignity, like the Carter, but an in- 
signia- of livery attached to certain offices, entitling the 
holder to wear the collar, so long as he retained the 
office to which the dignity attached. It is thought to 
have originated with John of Gaunt. It still forms part of 
the official dress of various officers. (The Antiquary, 
vol. XLIV, p. 480) . 

125, As has been mentioned above, such govms or robes were 
usually lined either with some kind of silk, or with 
russet or buckram. Very coarse woolen cloth was used to 
• stiffen the collars of these gov/ns . 


■£.5 a year may use In the various parts of their clothing, 
but it is unnecessary to go into the details of these provis- 
ions since they resemble very closely those which have 

already been discussed. 

After dealing with the upper and middle classes of 
society, the statute next ordains that servants, yeomen and 
all persons with incomes of less than 40 s . a year, shall 
not wear hose made of cloth worth more than 2 s. a yard, or 
of more than one kind of cloth, nor any other article of dress 
made of fabrics costing more than 3 s. 4d. a broad yard, 
except their master's livery, nor any fur except coney and 
black and white lamb, all of which must be grown in Great 
Britain. The shirts, coiffes, bonnets, hats, etc., worn by 
servants and yeomen must not, according to the law of 1533, be 
embroidered or trimmed with silk, gold or silver, and their 
bonnets and shirt-bands must have been made in England. They 
are permitted, however, to wear silken ribbons, the badges of 
their lords, or prizes won at wrestling as ornaments in their 
bonnets, and sailors are allowed to wear silver whistles 
hanging on silver chains around their necks. 

Small farmers are the next people on the legislative 
list. Their hose must not cost more than 2 s. a yard, accord- 
ing to the act, the cloth for their gowns not more than 4 s., 
and that for their coats and jackets not more than 2 s. 8 d. 

124, Dress was regulated in this act more strictly on a 

property basis than in the earlier statutes. A graduated 
list of incomes was set down and clothing regulated in 
accordance with this list, the wearing of certain fabrics 
or articles of apparel being forbidden to persons having 
less than a given income. 


The only foreign cloths of which their doublets may be made 

are fustian and canvas. The servants of such farmers 

("servants in husbandry", as the statute calls them) and all 

journeymen handicraft workers are forbidden to use hose made 

of cloth costing more than 15 d . a yard, or other articles 

of dress made of cloth worth more than 2 s. S d. Their 

doublets may only be made of fustian, canvas, leather, or 

coarse woolen cloth. The servants and all other persons em- 
ployed by the royal family may, however, be licensed by the 
king to wear any of the apparel forbidden by the statute. 

Jumping rather abruptly from servants and journeymen 
back again to the upper classes, the law of 1533 provided that 
the Lord Chancellor, Lord Treasurer, etc., might v/ear velvet, 

satin and silk of any color, except purple, and furs of any 

kind, except black genet. The clergy, whose clothing had not 

been regulated by the earlier acts, were now forbidden, (with the 

exception of those who were bishops, abbots or priors) to wear 

any foreign cloth or fabrics. However, archdeacons, deans, 

masters and wardens of cathedrals or collegiate churches, 

doctors and bachelors in divinity, and doctors of law and 

science were given permission to use sarcenet as the lining 

of their gowns, black satin or camlet in their doublets and 

sleeveless coats, black velvet, sarcenet and satin in their 

125. Fustian was a kind of coarse woolen cloth. See above, note 
on p.iy^also p./<^3. 

126. Black genet seems to have replaced miniver during the Tudor 
period, as the most costly and desirable kind of fur. 

For m.iniver, see above, p. olj/fi.. Genet was the fur af a 
small animal allied to a civet oat. The fur was grey, 
spotted vi/ith black, and the long tail was black banded 
v;ith white , 



tippets, riding-hhods and girdles, and scarlet, murrey, or 

violet-colored cloth and black bugey, miniver or foynes in 

their gowns and sleeveless coats. None of the clergy v/ere to 

be allowed to wear any kind of fur, except black and grey coney, 

grey biche, fox, lamb, otter, beaver and one or tv/o other 

varieties. Bishops, abbots and priors were, however, excepted 

from this rule, and they, together with masters of arts, 

bachelors of science and such other members of the clergy as 

possessed an income of-ir.20 a year, were given permission to 

wear any kind of silk in their tippets. Judges, sergeants, 

mayors and other public officers, as ambassadors, heralds, 

players, soldiers, etc., were exempted from the operation of 

this act, as well as of the earlier ones. It was also 

specifically stated that the act was not to extend to any or- 

naments or garments worn by the clergy in divine services or 

to the habits worn by officials or graduates of the universities. 

Any Englishman might wear any foreign linen cloth and anyone 

v;ho was a gentleman might wear shirts embroidered in thread 

or silk, so long as the embroidery was vtrought in Great Britain. 

The privilege of licensing the wearing of forbidden 

apparel, which had been granted to the king by the three earlier 

statutes, was now taken away froir him, except with regard to 

those persons who served the royal family. Another difference 

between the act of 1535 and those enacted previously was the 

fact that, in the former, forfeiture of the forbidden apparel 

127. Dark crimson. 

128. See above note on p.lf^for definition of foynes. 

129. A tippet was a scarf, muffler or scarf -like garment used 
for covering the nect and shoulders. 

and the payment of a fine of S s. 4 d. ( a much lov/er fine 
than any imposed by the earlier laws) was made the penalty for 
disobeying any of the provisions of the statute, instead of 
fixing a different penalty for non-compliance with every 
separate provision. In order to aid In the enforcement of 
the law, it was provided that justices of the peace, sheriffs 
in their courts, and aldermen in their wards might punish- 
off enders and, as before, all previous acts regarding apparel 

were declared to be repealed. 

TThe acfc of 1533 was the last statute of apparel, 

properly so called, which was passed during the reign of Henry 

VIII. However, certain regulations governing the dress of the 

people of Ireland were also issued during this period. In 

1536, King Henry, writing to the town of Galway, ordered that 

"every Inhabitant, as well within the sayde towne, as the sub- 

urbis.of the same, doo shave their over llppes... and suffer 

-bid- (132) 

the here of their heddys to grow i$a=4r^lt cover their earys" 

The people of Galway were also forbidden to wear mantles in 

the streets and were commanded to wear cloaks, gowns, doublets 

and hose made in the English style, as well as English caps. 

No garments dyed^ with saffron might be worn and no more than 

five standard ells of cloth might be used in shirts or smocks. 

These prohibitions were further enforced by the 
Irish Act, by which the people of all Ireland were forbidden 

131. Stat, of Realm, vol. ill, p. 432 - 24 Henry VIII, c.l3. 

part 3 

132. State Papers^^vol. 11, p. 309. 

133. 28 Henry VIII, c.l5. 


to wear shirts, smocks, kerchiefs, neckerchiefs, handkerchiefs, 

linen caps, and other specifically named garments dyed or wJLiluli' 

colored-saffron or to use in their shirts or smocks more than 
n I 

seven yards of cloth. Women were ordered not to wear any 
kirtle or coat tucked up or embroidered, or garnished with silk, 
etc., after the Irish fashion and both sexes were directed not 
to use any mantle, coat or hood made to the Irish 

The use of the Irish style of dress was prohibited, 
apparently, not only because it was regarded by the English as 
barbarixis and uncouth, but also because It seemed to them the 
symbol of Irish nationalism which the conquerors of Ireland 
were desirous of suppressing and because the difference in 
dress made it apparent that the Irish were of a race alien to 
the English. The latter sought to wipe out all outv/ard signs 
of the disparity between the tv/o races and to make the Irish 
Anglo-Saxon in appearance if not in heart. Hence the requirement 
that the inhabitants of Galway should shave off their mustaches. 

The regulations issued with regard to Irish dress 

seem to have had some effect, though perhaps not as much as 

the English government fondly believed. In 1537, in a document 

containing, information for the use of the king's com.missioners 

in Ireland, it was stated that every Irishman who possessed 

one plough of his own wore a coat, gown or cloak made in the 

( 134 ) 
English fashion. Three years later the Lord Deputy and Council 

of Ireland, in a letter to Henry VIII, said, speaking of the people 
134, State Papers, part 3, vol. 11, p. 486 f f . 


of the county of Lelnster, "They have submytted themselves 

not onlie to your obedience, but holly contented to leve their 

names ... and he now moche desierous to weare the Englishe 

apparell . 

The acts relating to dress which v/ere passed by 

Parliament during the reign of Henry VIII were supplemented by 

royal proclamations. These are the earliest proclamations 

dealing vvith clothing of v;hich any record has been found, though 

similar royal orders may, perhaps, have been issued at an 

darlier date. The first proclamation of this kind of which 

anythibg is known was one issued "before November," 1511. 

The text of this order has not been found, but we know that it 

vms directed against excess in apparel. A Venetian merchant, 

Lorenzo Pasqualigo, writing to his brother, Francesco, from L6ndon, 

on November .12, mentioned the proclamation v/hich, he said, for- 
bade all Englishmen except lords and knights, to wear silk. 
It also ordered that doublets should not be made of any 
material except camlet. It was to go into effect at Christmas. 
Certain penalties for its infraction were ordained. In order 
to set a good example to the lov.'er classes, so Pasqualigo 
declared, the king and the whole House of Lords had dressed 
themselves in long, grey cloth gowns. This was done in order 
that the gentry might save up their money and purchase arms and 

135. Ibid; part 3, vol. iii, p. 269, IVe have, dating from 1541 a 
description of how an Irish chieftain, dressed in his best, 
looked. This man, O'Donnel Is said to have worn a coat of 
crimson velvet, v/ith aglets of gold, a great double cloak 
of crimson satin, trimmed with black velvet, and a bonnet 
with a feather full of aglets of gold .This sounds as if he 
had adopted English dress. (Ibid., p. 320.) 

136. Calendar of Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, vol.i, p. 7 

137. Calendar Venetian State Papers, vol. ii, p. 54. See also ibid .p. II] 


horses, in preparation for the war with France. Nothing else 
was talked about, declared the Venetian, but this proclamation. 
Illvotild, he feared, prove very injurious to the Genoese and 
Tuscans, who had come to London with silk to sell. If the pro- 
clamation remained in force, they would probably be unable to 

The proclamation of 1511 seems, according to this 
account at least, to have been issued as a war measure. Another 
royal order, put forth by the king himself in 1533, and entitled 
"a proclamation concerninge punyshment of transgressours and 

offenders agaynste the lawes and statutes of this realm in this 

boke recyted," seems to have had more of the earmarks of an 

ordinary sumptuary regulation. It referred to acts made by the 
king and his predecessors in order to secure the conservation 
of "good peax" , especially acts directed against publishing false 
news, idle beggars and vagabonds, unlawful games, the refor- 
mation of excess in apparel, etc. All these statutes were now 
to be put in execution (indicating that they had not been 
previously enforced). All justices, commissioners and other 
officers were ordered to execute them without partiality, and to 
have at vigilant eye and "sure pryson" for all sowers of sedition. 
The king declared that he would reward faithful service in the 
execution of the laws, but would punish negligent officers. 
All English subjects were also commanded to obey the laws re- 
ferred to, on pain of full penalties being exacted. In February, 
1533-34, a royal order in respect to this subject was issued. 

138. Tudor and Stuart Proclamation? , vol. i, p. 15. See also 
Dibdi>«-Ames, vol. iii, p. 346 (1816), cited in ibid. 



beginning with the words "Whereas in the act of reformation of 

, ( 139 ) 
excesse of apparell passed in this present Parliament etc. 

Again on May 27, 1534, there appeared a "Proclamation Qoncerning 

Apparell" countersigned, by Vi/illiam Pltzv/illiam and William 

Paulett . Both of these proclamations are preserved, in manuscripts 

which riter (so faAha^been unable to consult, but they 
indicate the continued efforts toward enforcement, and point 
out the authorities upon whom that burden lay, namely, the king 
and the priv7/ council. 

The fact that matters, such as the regulation of 
apparel, which had, in earlier times, been controlled mainly, 
if not entirely by statutes, were, during the sixteenth century, 
dealt with to a great extent" by proclamations falls in line 
with the absolutism of. the Tudor sovereigns v/ho dispensed v/ith 
Parliament whenever it suited their purposes to do so. The 
issuing of proclamations by the crown, hov/ever, was not without 
legal sanction. In 1539, 31 Plenry VIII, c.8 formally empowered 
the king to legislate by means of proclamations. "The King for 
the time being, with the advice of his council, or the more 
part of them, may set forth proclamations under such penalties 
and pains as to him and them shall seem necessary, which shall 
be observed as though they werf;^ made by^ Act of Parliamant; but 
this shall not be prejudicial to any person's inheritance, 
offices, liberties, goods, chattels, or life; and v/hosoever shall 
willingly offend any article contained in the said proclamations; 

139. Tudor and Stuar^ Proclamations, vol. i, p. 15, no. 138. See 
also Cal.S.P. 7, 256; B.M. Harl. 442^86; AntiCL.1 (67); 
P.R.O. Ex. T.R.Miss. 231.194. *' 

140 Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, vol. i, p. 16; cites B.M. 
Harl. 442.90. Antiq. 1 (70) Cal.S.P. 7, 721. 


and if any offending will depart the realm, to the Intent he 

will not answer his said offence, he shall be adjudged a traitor." 

In addition to the royal proclamations, we have an 

ordinance on the subject of dress passed by an English city 
even more ancient than Coventry. Mr. Ady Kept on, in the twenty- 
seventh volume of the "Archaeologia" , quotes Lyson's "Cheshire" 
to the effect that in the thirty-second year of Henry VIII, 
the mayor^'Chester, In order to distinguish married from un- 
married women, ordered that "no urjnarried woman should v/ear white 
or other colored caps, and that no woman should wear any hat, 

unless when she rides or goes abroad into the country (except 

sick or aged persons) on pain of paying 3 s. 4 d." 

This appears to be unique in this reign in that it 
refers to women's dress alone. The statutes of apparel usually 
regulated both men's and women's dress, though more stress was 
generally laid on the subject of male attire than that of female 
attire. Judging from contemporary pictures and descriptions of 
the costumes worn by the great ladies of the time, this neglect 
of women's dress can hardly have been caused by a conviction 
that the women were less extravagant than the men. 

One result of the passage by Parliament of the act 
of 1533 was the issuance by the king, in accordance with the 

141, See Stat .R. -31 Henry VIII, c.8. Quoted in A. V. Dicey, 
Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, pp. 
43-49. See 34-35 Henry VIII, c. 23 for the way in which the pro- 
clamations issued by the king and the council were to be duly 
enforced and executed (Stat. R., vol. ill, p. 923) 

142, The manuscripts of most of these proclamations are, according 
to a list possessed by the Library of Congress, to be found 
in the Library of the Society of Antiquaries of London. 

143, Quoted in Pictorial History of England, vol. 11, p. 362. 


powers given him by that act, of two proclamations somewhat 
different from those already alluded to. Both were put forth 
in 1534. The first one licensed the officers and servants of 
the king, queen, and princess to continue to wear whatever 
apparel they then possessed until Palm Sunday, notvi/ithstanding 

the statute of apparel. The second proclamation extended the 

term of the license until All Saints. These were in the in- 
terest of economy and made easier the transition to the new 

That the law was probably not strictly enforced in 
regard to any class in society Is shown by various other bits 
of evidence. In part two of an Imaginary dialogue between 
Cardinal Pole and one Lupaet, written by Thomas Starkey, Pole 
and his companion are discussing various means of remedying the 

evils of the time. They decide among other things that a 

(145 )^a^ 
"statute of apparel must be put in execution" , y^as if it had not 

been enforced in the past. In April, 1537, in a deposition be- 
fore Sir Thomas Nevell, Justice of the Peace, Adam Lewes, a 
schoolmaster of Westmallyn, Kent, stated that he had gone to 
a certain shop, "where lay certain acts concerning apparel, 
artillery and unlawful games." Upon seeing these acts, one of 

his com.panions expressed the hope that they would be better en- 

forced after the king had disposed of other matters in hand. 

144. Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic of Henry VIII, 
vol. vil, pp. 105, 279. 

145 Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of Henry VIII, 
vol. vill, p. 84 (1535). 

146. Ibid, part 1, vol.xli, p. 447. The subject of the d4|- 

posltion was a speech made by a priest, who was accused of 


The writer has been unable to find any reports or 
even mentions of lav/ cases Involving the wearing of forbidden 
clothing. This is not conclusive evidence that there were no 
such suits, but it is strange that the abundant records of the 
privy council are silent on the subject. For a tine, under 
pressure from Wolsey, the statutes seem to have been put into 
execution, but after his death, attempts at enforcement were 
probably dropped. Internal evidence found in the acts them- 
selves leads one to the same conclusion. All four of the statutes 
of apparel enacted during the reign of Henry VIII were very much 
alike in their provisions and even in their wording. \''/hy should 
practically the same act have been reenacted again and again, 
if not to keep the subject of extravagance .in dress constantly 
before the minds of the pecple and thus make up for the lax en- 
forcement of the laws? 

As to the question of why it was found impossible to 
enforce these laws, that is a problem with regard to which 
there is very little evidence. All that can be said is that, 
if Hall's account is correct, the people keenly resented Wolsey's 
attempt to enforce the laws and even hated him because of it. 
This would seem to indicate that enforcement was not supported' 
by public opinion, and as everyone knov/s, it is almost a hope- 
less task to try to carry out a law when public opinion is 
not back of it . 

In addition to the acts of apparel, sumptuary re- 
gulations of another kind re-appeared in the first half of the 
sixteenth century. In 1517, a proclamation intended to provide 
against excessive fare at feasts was issued. It decreed that 


the nvunber of dishes served should be "regulated according 

to the rank of the highest person present. Thus, if a 

cardinal was guest or host, there might be nine courses, if a 

lord of Parliament six, for a citizen v/ith an income of five 

hundred pounds a year, three" . 

It is interesting to compare with this^ a description 

of a banquet contained in a report sent in to Henry VIII, in 

1538, by Wriothesley. "At dynner the Duke gave me al the 

prehemynence, ... the basons appoynted to me being covered ... 

after the most solempne facion. I had the chief place with 

the covered salt .... We had greate fare at this dynner, fowre 

courses, and at every at the least tenne dishes, all served 

in silver, with covers of silver". V/hen such luxury prevailed, 

it is no wonder that it was thought necessary to regulate 

banquets. It will be noticed that the number of courses did 

not exceed that permitted by the proclamation, but that each 

course consisted of a large number of dishes. 

In 1542, Parliam.ent assembled on November 3, but was 

prorogued to January 22, 1543, from which time it sat until 

May 12, when it v;as again prorogued to the following November. 

During this session, a peculiar sui:.^ y law was passed "by 

occasion of a dearth of victuals, ... whereby the mayor and 

147, Cited by Preserved Smith, p. 484. 

148. State Papers, part V, vol. viii, pp. 96-97. That the six- 
teenth century English were great consumers of food is 
shown by P. V.B.Jones in his book. The Household of a Tudor 
Nobleman, p..64 ff . See also the daily allowance of food 
for a maid of honor at court during the Tudor period. ?;9^h 
maid was allowed 4-| ga: 
Mk her strenuous dutle; 

, court during the Tudor period. Each 
illons of ale daily to sustain he^'XAt^>cca^ 
is (Calthrop, vol.iii, p. 47). (/ 


sheriffs of Lorxdon, as also the Serjeants and yeomen of their 

houses, were limited to a certain number of dishes: they were 

also forbidden to buy certain l^inds of fowl. Nevertheless, in 

regard of the ^. ..r^t confluence of people in this pa. :.^^,..jnt 

time and the scarcity of fish, the king, by proclamation, 

dispensed with the eating of white meats in Lent, forbidd-ing 

yet the eating of flesh so strictly that Henry, Earl of 

Surrey, with divers lords, knights and gentlemen were imprisoned 

for offending herein . A famine measure of this kind of course 

bears a different social aspect from, the regulation of personal 

expenditure upon lujcurles. 

The subject of unlawful games again engaged the 

attention of the authorities during the reign of the first 

"Defender of the Faith." For exaiuple, the leet of Coventry, 

becoming disquieted at the reckless lives and illicit amusements 

of those over v/hom they raled, in 1509 charged the aldermen of 

the several wards to make search "for all them that keep 

misrule" and to commit them to ward, or, if they persisted in 

their evil ways, to banish them from the city. In 1516 at a 

meeting held on the feast of the Translation of St . Edward 

another ordinance was passed^ enjoining the aldermen to make 

inquiry for vagabonds, suspected alehouse^, unlawful games, 

etc, and tg "suffre no onlav/ful games to be usid; also to se 

the exersysyng of shotyng in long bowes" . In spite of these 

149, Parliamentary History, vol. i, pp. 556-557. 

150. Mary D. Harris, Life in an Old English Town, p. 329-30. 

151, The Covent'i^y Leet Book, part ili, p. 652, 


ordinances, however, the evil appeared to increase as the 

century advanced. In 154S, v/e learn that many passed their 

time drinking in taverns, and "playinge at the cardes and 

tables and spende all that they can gett prodigally upon theyrn 

selfes to the highe displeasure of God and theyre own yinpov- 

ershyng." It was forthv/ith decreed that any of these prodigals 

who should be found resorting to any ale-house on a workday 

should be imprisoned for a day and a night . 

In the third year of Henry's reign. Parliament too, 

began to devote itself to the consideration of unlawful games. 

The Houses had assembled on February 4, 1512 in the Painted 

Chamber, with the king on the throne. William, Archbishop 

of Canterbury, who was still lord chancellor, told Parliament 

that it had been "called in order to correct and amend all the 

statutes and ordinances which v;ere found to be contrary to the 

comjnon course of justice and the laws" . Because certain games 

were supposed to prevent' the practice of archery, an act was 

passed ordering all servants in husbandry, all laborers, etc, 

under the age of forty, to use bows and arrov/a on Sundays and 

152, Playing the game of draughts. 

155. Harris, p. 350. 

.154, Parliamentary History, vol. i, p. 478 ff. 


holy-days, and "leave all playing at tennis, foots-ball, 

coits, dice.^and other- such importune games." It was also pro- 
vided by this act that mujnmers should be imprisoned and finefl[, 
but that provision was subsequently expunged, "Por the better 

understanding of which act, another v/as passed, whereby the 

iise of the cross bow was also forbidden" The first-mentioned 

law Y/as confirmed and made perpetual by another act passed 

three years later. A similar law, prohibiting the use of the 

games called closse, half bowl, kayles, quick-board, etc., and 

the keeping of houses v/here such games could be played, was 

enacted in 1535, by the Reformation Parliament which had al- 
ready severed the English Church from its legal connection v/ith 
Rome, and v^rhich subsequently passed the act providing for the 
dissolution of the monasteries. The act of 1535 remained in the 
Statute book until 1597. 

The most important law dealing vi,'ith unlawful games 

which was enacted under Henry VIII was the act passed in 1541-42 

155. Stat. L.,vol. xxlv, p. 443, and vol.iv, p. Ill - 3 Henry VIII, 

156. Parliamentary History, vol. i, p. 478 ff. 

157. Stat. L. vol.iv, p. 154 - 6 Henry VIII, c,2. See also 
Parliamentary History, vol. i. pp. 481-82. The use of 

. hand-guns and. cross-bows was forbidden, under certain 

penalties to all whose incom.e was less than 300 marks a year, 

158. Stat. L. p. 388 - 27 Henry VIII, c.25, sec. 5. By this time, 
Wolsey was dead and Cromwell had succeeded him in power. 

159. Ibid, vol. V, p. 79, ff. - 33 Henry VIII, c.9. 


which repealed all three of the laws enacted earlier during 
the same reign. The first part of this act provided that every 
able-bodied person under sixty years of age (except the 
clergy) should practice shooting with the long-bov; and keep a 
bov/ and arrows in his house for that purppse. Several other 
provisions v/ith regard to archery followed this one, and then 
came regulations with regard to unlawful games, regulations 
v/hich forbade anyone "for his gain, livery, or living, to 
keep, have, or hold any common-house, alley or place of bowl- 
ing, coyting, half -bowl, tennis, dicing, carding or any other 

unlawful game," on pain of forfeiting 40 s. for every day of 

keeping such a place or allowing such a game to be played. 
Every person playing at such houses was to be fined 6 s. 8 d. 
for every offence. Justices, mayors and other headiof fleers 
of tovi/ns and cities were authorized to enter houses where 
games were suspected to be "exercised" contrary to this act, 
and to arrest the keepers and players, and keep them, in prison 
until they found sureties not to offend again. Such ]aiii ir^ tlixM^otLeUi 
■s&x^csssas- were directed to make search for gaming-houses at 
least once a month. I f they neglected to do so, they were 
to forfeit 40 s. Ko artificer, husbandman, apprentice, journey- 
man, laborer, or serving-man was to be permitted to play at the 
tables, tennis, dice, cards, bowls or any other unlawful games, 
except at Christmas, on pain of paying a fine of 20 s. for 
every offence. At Christmas time, they were only to play in 

160. ReevBs, vol. iv, p. 446 f f . 

the houses or in the presence of their masters. They were 
never to play bowls in any open place outside of a garden or 
orchard. All leases of houses where unlawful games were 
played were declared void. Masters were given permission, how- 
ever, to license their servants to play at cards, dice or 
tables, with them or with any other gentlemen, in their master's 
house or presence; and any nobleman or person having an income 
of *.100 a year might license his servants or family to play 

"within the precinct" of their houses, gardens and orchards 

at cards, dice, tables, bowls or tennis. 

Prom the great emphases placed by this act on the 

practice of archery, it is obvious that the main reason why the 

playing of games was hedged about with so many restrictions 

was because, as in earlier times, it was feardd that such 

playing might interfere with acquirement of skill in shooting 

with the long bow. In fact, it is said that archery had fallen 

into disuse in 1542 and that a desire to revive it was the sole 

motive behind the passage of this act. It seems probable, 

however, that a desire to prevent the poorer classes from 

wasting their money on gambling furnished an additional reason 

for its enactment. 

At least one proclamation forbidding the use of 

unlawful games was issued, in addition to the statutes, while 

Kenry VIII was on the throne. This occurred in the eighteenth 

year of his reign, and commissions were sent into every shire 

161. Ibid. 

162, William Jerdan (ed.). Rutland Papers, in Camden Society 
Publications, no. 21, p. 217. 


in order to execute it. Everywhere "tables", dice, , and 

bowls were seized and burnt. "V/herefore the people murmurred 

against the Cardynall, saying that he grudged at every mannes 

pleasure, savyng his owne, but this Proclarnacion small time 

endured: And when yovmg men were forbidden boules and suche 

other games: same fell to drinking •«. and stealyng of dere in 

parkes, and other unthriftlness ." On November IS, 1527, 

commissions were directed to the leading men of various counties, 
authorizing them to put into effect, among other things, the 
statutes against vagabonds and unlawful games. Justices of 
the peace were instructed to enforce these laws and also to 
put down disorderly inns and ale-houses. Out of these com- 
missions arose the case of Bareth et Al . v, Newby (January, 
1528). Nev/by was charged with several crimes. One of the charges 
v/as that he had indulged in the forbidden games of tables, dice 
and cards. The commissioners ordered hira to appear before the 

Court of Star Chamber. V/hat fate he met v/lth there is not 

recorded. Let us hope he was brought to see the error of his ways. 

Ten years later (in January or February, 1538), we 

find it noted dovm in Cromwell's "remembrances" that the Lord 

Chancellor was to have all the justices of the peace before him 

on the next day "in the Starred Chamber, specially giving 

them charge for bruiting of news, vagabonds and unlawful games." 

On the 4th of May, in the same year. Sir Launcelot 

163, Hall, Chronicles, vol. ii, p. 149. 

164, Select Cases Before the Court of Star Chamber, Selden 
Society Publications, vol. xxv, pp. xxlii and xxlv 
(Introduction) . 

165, Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, part 2, vol xill, p. 541 


Pooke, a curate at Hunt on, Kent, v/as brought up before John 

Colepeper, commissioner of the place. It was charged that 

this priest generally slept in the alehouse and *^used" unlawful 

games. Whether this charge was proved or not is not stated. 

The clergy, as well as the civil authorities, seem 

to have been determined to put an end to gaming, which was 

apparently very common, both among their own number and among 

their parishicjners . John Voysey, Bishop of Exeter, in May, 

1538, exhorted the clerg^^ to avoid taverns, alehouses, and other 

such places, and "the playing at cards, dice, tables, or any 

other damned or unlawful games", language which indicates that 

the good bishop felt very strongly on the subject. Another 

ecclesiastic, Roland, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, directed 

his clergy to publish every Sunday from the pulpit, certain 

regulations, among which were some prohibiting gaming during 

divine services. Evidently the gambling-houses had been luring 

away the parishioners even on Siindays and holidays, when they 

should have been in church. 

: • 

166. Ibid, part 1, vol. xiii, p. 341. 

167. Ibid, p. 404. 

168. Ibid, part 2, vol.xiii, p. 549. 

169. For statutes relating to maintenance and liveries, passed 
during the reign of Henry VIII, see the index to the 
Statutes at Large; also Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, 
part 1, vol.ii, p. 595; State Papers, part 4, vol.iv, 

p. 52; vol. V, p. 408. 

All these efforts to put a stop to gaming and en- 
courage the healthful sport of archery seem to have met with 
little success, so far, at least, as the latter object was con- 
cerned. In 1544, Roger Ascham sav/ that archery had fallen so 
greatly into disuse that he tried to encourage it by his pen. 
He counselled the gentlemen of England not to exchange the 
bow for any other weapon. In 1549, Latimer, Bishop of Worcester, 
in a sermon preached before Edward VI, protested against the 

gradual deterioration which v/as taking place in the English 

skill with the long-bow. However, the use of fire-arms had 

gained too much headv/ay for expostulations to stop it. It was 

continually on the increase and the long-bow was doom.ed. 

Gaming, too, seems not to have been seriously affected by the 

laws directed against it. It is said that card playing was 

very prevalent at the court of Henry VIII, However, that may 

be, it is certain that gambling was not rooted out at this tim.e, 

since a number of later acts were directed against it. 

The price-fixing regulations v/hich had been so com- 
mon in the Middle Ages had not yet died out. These v;ere, of 
course, neither sumptuary laws nor attempts at personal regu- 
lation, but it is interesting to study a few of them for pur- 
poses of comparison and as affording indications of the spirit 
of the age. During the twenty-third year of Henry's reign, 
a law was passed authorizing the fixing of the prices of ale 

170, The Antiquary, vol. xl, p.lC4. 

171. See Cal. Spanish State Papers, index. One of the reasons 
given for the passage of the act which removed the sanctuary 
from Manchester was that it occasioned idleness, unlav/ful 
games, unthriftiness, and other enormities in the servants, 
laborers and other inhabitants of the tovm.(R.Hollingworth, 
Mancuniensis, p.62). 


and beer outside of the cities by justices of the peace and 

in the towns by the mayors and sheriffs, and penalties were 

imposed on any one v/ho sold beer or ale for a greater price than 

that established by these officers. In pursuance of this law, 

ordinances r-^--'' -iting the sale of food and drin'' - - ■ ■ „:. ---^.^ 

in a number of towns. In 1535, Thomas Audeley, at t' ' '-me 

lord chancellor, in a letter to Cromwell, advised that a 

reasonable price for wheat and rye should be set by proclamation. 

Those who had bought in order to sell again should, he thought, 

be allowed a profit of from 12 d. to 16 d. in the quarter- not 

more . 

One finds a number of Instances in the State Papers 

and elsewhere of similar attempts to fix prices or suggestions 

that prices should be fixed. The Privy Counci]^ at a meeting 

held at Hampton Court on January 2, 1541, directed that a 

letter should be sent to the mayor of London to inquire how 

sugar and- spices v^ere sold at "Llxbour and Andviferpe," ir. order 

that the coiancil might fix the price of cert^.in siigars and spices 

172. Statl., vol. iv, p. 220 -23 Henry VIII, c.4. During the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the older English 
towns were decaying so much and there were so few sub- 
stantial householders tiho were not concerned In the 
victualling business and eligible for the duty of re- 
gulating the assize of bread and ale that the regvilations 
of the statutes were relaxed in their favor in 1512 
(Cunningham, vol 1, p. 520). 

175. State Papers, vol. 1, pp. 447-448, 

■ 226 

( 174 ) 
brought to England '"by Portillgalles in 4 ships" . 

A year or so later, a statute was passed (1542-43) 

which authorized the lords who hr. j..-- 1 -ly teen ordered to 

set wholesale prices for wines to raise and lower the . "3 

of wines, when sold at retail, as time and occasion should 

reqixire. In 1545, the mayor and sheriffs of London were ordered 

to publish a proclamaticn liiriiting the retail price of wines 

in London, Q- nO ^ - .. u .—y ^ ines were to be sold for 12 d. 

a gallon, sack or Rum.. 3r 10 d., - \henish or i/ialmesey 

for 12 d. 

Henry VIII lef t_ at his death, instead of the f irm o.^^ 

orderly progress - ^ ^'.-.M:', , ' ' '-^ /^'jy his father, a country almost 

bankrupt from an economic point of view, bvit with an enormously 

rich government. Despite the deptession in trade and manufac- 
tures, however, the English people still remained extravagant 

174. Letters and Papei's'. of Henry- YIII, vol, xvi, p. 211. 
Wriothesley, in a letter to Cromwell, dated 1536, Incloses 
a copy of false and ^a^^'^^^^surmises, which have been re- 
ported in Yorkshire an. a ''ugnl about a rebellion there. 
Among these surmises ia the report "that noo man shall 
ete in hip house white bred, pigge, goose, nor capon, 

but that he shold paye a certaine sum to the kynges grace", 
in other words , that the king intended to lay a tax on 
certain articles of food. This, says the writer, is false 
(State Papers, vol.1, p»482. See also ibid., part 3,vo2).ii,p.3C 

175. By 28 Henry VIII, c,14 

175. 34-35 Hehry VIII, c .7 (See Stat.L. vol.iv, p. 145) 

177. Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, part 1, vol.xxi,p,519 . 

It is interesting to note what a foreigner visiting England 
had to sav about the English consiimption of v/ines and other 
liquors. ^Few people", he declares, "keep wine in their 
own houses, but buy it for the most part at a tavern; and 
when they mean to drink a great deal, they go to the tavern, 
and this is done not only by the men, but by the women <yf 
distinction". At home, they drink an abundance of ale and 
beer (A Relation of the Island of England, p,21) 

For other statutes fixing the prices of wines during the 
reign of Henry VIII, see 24 Henry VIII, c,6;37 Henry VIII, 0.23^ 


)aragraphs„2.3:28 Henry VIII,c .14 :34-35 Henry VIII,c .7-Stat .L. 

fO^.-fe bp.255,439; vol-; iv.p_6.143;240 

'althrCfe. vol; Ixl. -nn . 27 . !?Q . f 


in tlieir habits. Robert Crowley, in c his v/ritlngs, thus 
touches upon the evils of his ov/n day: "For, as your Lordship 
knoweth, reformat ion of manners and amendment of life was never 
n.ore needful; for was pride ... ever so ripe? Do not both men 
and women, ... every one in general, go attired in silks, vel- 
vets, damasks, satins, and what not? l^'.'hich are attire only for 
the nobility and gentry, and not for the other at any hand. 

Are not unlawful games, plays, interludes, and the like, every- 

where frequented?" 

In his poem, "Of Nice "/yves," he criticizes the dress 

of the women of London. If, as the Bible says "gait and garment 

do declare the mynde" what must we think, he asks, of the 

attire of the London ladies, v/ho wear- 

"Fyne geare on the foreheads, 

sette after the new trycke; 

Though it coste a crovme or two, 

vVhat then? they may not stycke . 

If theyr heyre wjl not take colour, 

then must they by newe. 

And laye io ou^e in tussockis: : .... 

At ech syde a tussocke, as bygge as a ball ... 

Hyr face faire paynted, to make it shyne bryght. 

And hyr bosome all bare .... 

Hyr mydle braced in, as smal as a wande; 

wyth whoopes at the skyrte; 

Hyr shoes of such stuffe that may touche no dyrte; 

179. J.M.Cowpsr (ed.) "The Select Works of Robert Crowley", in 

Early English Text Society Publications, no.xv, pp.xxvii-xxvlii 



Upon hyp whyte fyngers, inanye rynges of golde, 

Wytli suche maner stones as are most dearlye solde" 

The robes of St. Michael, worn by Edward VI and pre- 
served for fifty years after his reign in the royal wardrobe, 
exemplify the magnificence of regal dress In the middle of the 
sixteenth century, i ,, .;ere bordered with a broad band of 
embroidery "with wreath of Venice gold, and the scallop shell, 
and a frenge of the same golde, and a small border aboute that; 
the gro-unde beings blewe vellat, embrodered v^rlth half-moanes 
of silver J with a whoode and tippet of crymsen vellat, v/ith a 

like embroderie and a coate of clothe of silver, with deml- 

sleeves, with a frenge of Venice gold". 

Although this costume had a feood attached to it, th^L 

form of head covering had now almost entirely gone out of 

fashion, except among the laboring classes. Flat caps, with the 

lower parts of their crowns often richly ornamented with jewels, 

were nov/ generally worn. This was the period of the jerkin, 

jacket, doublet or coat, and hose. With this costume were usually 

worn trunks, nov/ puffed, short knlgkerbockers . The skirts of 

the coat were cut long or shott according to the v/earer's taste. 

The enormously broad shouldered appearance of the preceding 

reign still remained in vogue to some extsrie". Collars, however, 

were not so wide as they had prexriously been. Often they 

allowed the puffed shoulder of the. sleeve to shov/. Sometimes the 

180. Ibid . pp. 44-45 

131. J.G.Nichols (ed.) "The Diary of Henry Machyn" , in Camden 
Society Publications, no.XLII, p. 397. The livery of the 
Tudors was white and green" ," guarded with white, velvet, 
satin, taffety and cloth, according to their qualities" 
(Ibid). Thus we see that even the royal liveries varied 
in their trimmings according to the rank of the wearers. 
Queen Elizabeth's own livery was crimsor 


collar was quite small and the puff at the shoulders less 
rotund . 

The doublet shov/ed no change, but the collar of the 
shirt, which was frequently left untied and with the strings 
hanging, began to show signs of the ruff of later years. Dress, 
on the whole, was much plainer than it had been in the reign 
of Henry VIII, The sleeves fitted more closely and were not 
so full of cuts and slashes. The materials of which the garments 
were made were rich, but the ornamentation was perhaps not so 
lavish. Shoes were still broad in the toe. 

In spite of v/hat Crov/ley has to say, there was an 
even more marked change towards simplicity in women's dress 
than there was in men's costume. The elaborate headdress, the 
diamond- shaped French hood, had almost entirely disappeared. 
The rich wore a half -hoop, set back from the forehead, and 
with a streamer of velvet or silk, which was allowed to hang 
down the back, attached to it. Later on, this hoop became 
pointed in the center. Women also wore rather baggy, cap-like 
cloth hoods, v/lth a hanging piece behind. 

The most notable change in women's dress v/as in the 
collar of the govm which suddenly sprang into existence - high 
behind and very open in front, shov/lng a piece of the under- 
dress. On this collar, was sewn embroidery or other trimming. 
It was often detachable and later became a separate article - 
the ruff - underpropped with wires to hold it out stiffly. The 
ladles preserved the same stiff - bodied appearance v/hich they 
had had in the previous reign, though, in the simpler dresses, 
the skirts were not quite as voluninous as they had been here- 
tofore, "hen overcoats v/ere v/orn, they usually had liangihg 


sleeves, the arm of the v/earer coming-out just belov/ the puffed 

shoulder-pi see . 

One of the foreign ambassadors, Jehan Scheyfl^e, re- 
sident in England and writing home about the middle of the 
sixteenth century, declared that "the subjects of this realm 
(are) wont to live in pleasure-seeking and intemperance, haunt 
taverns and become wholly idle and disorderly, while the French 
dravi/ out money from the country, buy no goods here in return, 
nor do any real business here" . He added, implying apparently 
that these laws were proposed as partial remedies for the 

state of affairs which he had described "Certain other bills 

concerning dres^brought before Parliament, but afterwards 


It is a curious fact that, in spite of what the contem- 
porary writers had to say about the extravagance of the period, 
no sumptuary laws^ properly so-called, were enacted during the 
reign of Edward VI. Perhaps the writers were exaggerating, 
intentionally or unintentional!;/, or possibly the evil was not 
30 v/ide spread as they supposed. What seems more probable is 
that the government was too busy with other more important pro- 
blems to concern itself just then with sumptuary legislation. 
At any rate, only a few acts were passed during Edward's reign 
which seem worthy of mention in connection with our subject. 

One of these v/as a statute enacted in 1548, about 

182. Calthrop, vol.iii, p. 53 f f . For pictures of the costumes of 
the Edv/ard VI period, see pp. 52, 54 opp. p. 56, 57, 59 .Martin, 
plates 36 and 37. ^ 

183. Calendar of Spanish State Papers, vol. xi, p. 32, 


a year after the young king came to the throne. After a 
preamble setting forth that dlfferenc kinds of food are In- 
different before God, it nevertheless commands all men to eat 
fish as heretofore on fast days. This is not ordered as a 
religious duty or for sumptuary reasons, but in order to en- 
courage fishermen, give them a livelihood and thus train men 
for the navy. Here v/e have economic and military motives 

again playing their part in the regulation of the daily habits 

and life of the English people . 

Some time later an act of a totally different character 

was passed by the Parliament which met at Westminster on the 

thirtieth of January, in the fifth year of Edward's reign, 

and v/hich continued in session until April 15 of the following 

year. Just about this time, the government was beginning to 

experience considerable difficulty because of the increase of 

drunkenness. Crovifley says that in his day there were many 

tipplers in England, who drank "lustily muche of the night", 

and that, instead of avoiding the company of these drur'-'' ■•'''' s, 

many curates "do all their parishioners in drynckyng excell," 

184, Stat.L. vol.v, p. 514 - 2 and 3 Edward VI, c,19. See also a 
similar act, 5 and 6 Edward VI, c.3.p,35, ff . We have a 
description of the kind of food eaten in Lent, later on 
in the same century, in "The Expenses of the Judges of 
Assize Riding the IVestern and Oxford §iu?cults, 1595-1601", 
in the Camden Miscellany, vol.iv. It is stated that, it 
the assizes held at Exeter Castle on Monday in the second 
week of Lent, the judges had "2 pieces of ling, 1 eel, 4 
herrings, 2 small carp., 1 stockfish, and a tart, for 
Monday's supper" . Compare this with the menu for an or- 
dinary accaslon (not a fast-day): "...For Sunday's supper, 
1 turkep-pie, 1 neat's tongue-pie, 3 joints of mutton, 1 
capon, a breast of veal, a loin of veal, ^ a lamb, a gull, 
4 chickens, a chicken-pie, a calves' foot-pie, a lamb's 
purtenances, and a tart",,, (pp. 33, 35, 36). 


and are also very fond of gambling. The same v/riter, in his 

poem on alehouses, declares that, in each hamlet and town, 

taverns have become places of waste. Instead of going to 

church on Sunday, 

"Such as lone not to hear theyr fautes tolde 

Do turne into the alehouse and let the church go" . 

Both food and drink were commonly sold at alehouses on Sunday. 

E-owling, greens, fairs and theaters wers also open, "all full 

and profanely occupied and this chiefly on the Saboth day". 

London was somewhat better in this respect than the rest of 

England, for there alehouses were shut up while divine service 

was going on. Crovv'ley thinks that in this, the country ought 

to follOY/ ths example of the metropolis. 

In order to put a stop to drunkenness, but chiefly 

perhaps to prevent disorder, by taking av;ay some of the 

temptations to idleness and thus guarding against the Inc- 

of beggars and vagabonds. Parliament passed a law authorizing 

the justices in all parts of the country to put a stop to 

the selling of ale and beer in common ale-houses and tippling- 

houses in whatever towns or places they thought meet. Ko 

persons were to be allowed to keep such houseg, unless they 

•.vere licensed to do so in open sessions, or by two justices. 

The persons licensed were also required to give a recognizance not 

to permit the use of unlawful games, and to promise to ^lin 

185. Crowlev, Works, pp. xvll, 23,24,71. In "The Learned Man's 
Lesson , the ahthcr implies that such men frequently led 
dissolute lives and needed to reform quite as nr'H''^ ^s others. 
They seem, to have sometimes been extravagant ii ;, also. 

186. Ibid. pp. 8-9 

187. Ibid, pp^xxiv, S-9 . 


fOOd order. Ti _ -s to be certified to at i'_... ...... quarter 

sessions, where the justices might inquire if the alehouse- 

keeperr- " broken their recognizance. Persons ' '.ng liquors 

Vt'ithout a license might be committed to Jail for three days, 

or until they entered into a recognizance not tc '-:--- any 

alehouses in the future. A certificate of this recognizance 

and of the offense committed v;as ordered to be made at the next 

quarter sessions, and, if the recognizance vvas broken, the 

Justices might fine the offender 20 s, for every offense. Any 

person, however, was allowed to sell ale and beer at fair- 

times without a license. 

Closely connected with the subject of alehouses and 

the disorder caused by the large number. of such drinking-places 

which were then in existence is that of ujilav/ful games and 

gaming-houses. Many alehouses were both taverns and gambling 

dens at the same time. Although no new laws deali" i::.h this 

matter were passed during the reign of Edward VI, we read that, 

during his lifetime "dicing and earding are forbidden, but 

dicing and carding - houses are unholden. Some in their own 

houses and in the king's majesty's court ... give ensample 

to his subjects to break his statutes and laws. Prisons in 

( 189 ) 
London, where men lie for debt, be dicing - houses." There 

were also many bowling alleys In the metropolis, where, so 

Crowley tells us, men wasted their goods, in spite of the fact 

IBS. Stat. L. vol.v, p. 391 ff. - 5 & 6 Edward VI, c,25. 

189 .From an epistle addressed to Crammer, prefixed by Roger 
Hutchinson to "The Image of God, or Laie Kan's Books" 
( J. G. Nichols, Narfatives of the Days of the Reformation, 
Cam.den Society Publications, no. LXXVII jlYY^TT^ p. 174. 


that bowling v/-^- .,■ ." iden: 

"...In London (alasl) some men a^ " jllllshelye 

Suffered to prof esse it as an arte tctyve by". 

"...Such as lyve so. 

And officers that suffer them, shall toglt'"" -o 

To Satan their sire". 

This verse v/ou.ld seem to Indicate that the officials 
charged with the ..r.r-- cement of the laws against gaming winked 
at their Infrac':' ' ermltted profess:'. ^ gamblers to ply 
their trade in Ic- This was not always the case, however, 
for we are told that, in September, 1550, "my Lord Mayor, 
viTith both the sheriffes, rode to the bowlin^e allyes and 
play-houses at Pawles wharf e and by Aldgate, and theAfc findinge 
divers simple persons and vagabonds play Inge at tables and 
bowles sent a Ix or more of them to warde ..., and brake theyr 
playinge tables in peeces, and bound divers of them by recog- 
nisance that they would never more haunt such places, ere 

he would release them. 

The regulation of prices by law ' -^ " . '■ --dg so deep- 
rooted a part of the policy of the English government that it 
"continued to be practicea, during the Tudor period. 

An act passed in 1555 declared that, from that time on, 
no ordinary wine should be sold for more than 12 d. a gallon, 
no French wines for more than 8 d. a gallon with other prices 

190. Crowley, Works, pp. 9, 10. See p. 73 for the kind of 
sports of which Crowley approves for scholars. Among 
these are tennis, ball, and bowling, all forbidden by 

191, Charles IVriothesley, A Chronicle of England During the- 
Reigns of the Tudors, vol. li, p,43. 


in proportion, under penalty of ^,5 fine. This same law also 

provided, among other things, that no one except the son of 

a duke, marquis, ■ earl, viscount or baron, or such persons as 

possessed prop '- .vorth one thousand marks or "shall and may 

di spend ... the sum' of one hundred marks of lawful money in 

England per year, should keep in his house or eu^,.^^.y more 

than ten gallons of wine from Gascony, h.ochelle, Guyon or any 
part of France, with the intent of using the same in his house, 
ujider pain of forfeiting L.IO. Moreover, no one v/as allowed 
to retail any kind of wine "to he drunk or spent in his or 
their mansion house or houses, or other place in his or 

their tenure or occupation, bv any color, craft, engine or 

means." Merchants, sheriffs, bailiffs, and mayors were, how- 
ever, permitted to keep as much v;ine as they chose in their 
houses, and to offer it so their friends, so long as they did 
not charge anything for it. This provision was evidently in- 
tended to prevent the turning of priizate houses into places 
where wines were sold v/ithout licenses. 

The law as a whole was concerned, not with the moral, 
but with the economic .aspect of drinking. Z" as on why the 

purchasing of large quantities of French wine was forbidden 
was evidently because the buying of such liquors was supposed 
to drain England of money. Jehan Scheyfve, in writing home 
on April 10, 15B3, mentioned that this law, together v/ith others 

192. Stat. L., vol. v, p. 405 f f . - 7 Edward VI, c.£. This act 
was repealed by 1 James I, c.25, paragraph 43. It contained 
a number of other provisions as to v/ine taverns in Oxford 
and Cambridge, etc. 

193. Ibid. p. 408. 


had been passed during tV ' - 3t session -of Parliament and 

had been ratified -and sanctioned by the king. The customs 

recards proved, he said, that an excessive quantity of wfine, 

especially French wine, vi/as annually consumed ini^ngland. This 

apparently caused the government, obsessed by mercantilist 

ideas to fear that all England's wealth would flov; into the 

coffers of France, For that reason it tri^d to check the 

consiimption of French liquors. 

Shortly after the passage of this act, Edward VI, 

from whom so much had been hoped when he came to the throne, died, 

and was succeeded by his half-sister, Mary, who soon married 

Philip of Spain. The elections to Mary's third Parliament, 

v;hich met shortly after her marriage, were held during the 

latter half of October and the first week of November, 1554. 

Dissatisfied v/ith the composition of her first two Parliaments , 

Mary sent around private letters to the Lord Lieutenant and 

sheriffs of the counties, requiring them to admonish the 

electors to choose representatives "of their inhabitants, as the 

old laws require, and of the wise, grave and catholic sort," 

in short, such as she thought would do her work. She did not 

apparently suggest any names, but the lord lieutenants seem 

194. Cal. Spanish State Papers, vol. xi, p. 32. In the reign 
of Edward VI, laws forbidding the engrossing of various 
things to eat and wear v/ere passed. The rise in prices v/as 
thought to be due to combination, and these acts were in- 
tended to render food cheap by preventing middlemen from 
reaping speculative profits ( Cvmningham, vol.i, p. 544). 

195, On August 8, 1553 writs had been issued for a Parliament 
to meet at Westminster on the following October 5. John 
Pollard was elected Speaker of the House of Commons. This 
Parliament was as obsequiour as possible to the court, ec- 
cept in the affair of the queen's marriage. Its obsequious- 


ness ... 
at ^ the 

raainea _.. -_ -_,_- -._ -^ ^- 

therefore dissolved on December 6. (Parliamentary History of 

England, vol. 1, pp. 606-612). 

196. Parliament a,ry History, vol.i, pp. 616-617, also Political 
History, vol. Vt, p. 126 ff/ The sheriffs were instructed 
to assure the people that it was not the .queen's in- 
tention to take av/ay any of the possessions obtained 
. by them as the result of the dissolution of the monasteries, 

to have supplied this omission. The new House of Commons 
v/as, from i^iary's point of view, the least unsatisfactory 
House with which fehe had had to deal, since, although nearly 
forty per cent of the old members were returned, very few 
of them were Protestants. The session was opened on 
November 12 with unusual solemnity by the king and queen, who 
rode dovm to the meeting place on horseback, but very little 
was accomplished for a week or so. Althoiigh Parliament was 
quite subservient to the queen and her minister, Gardiner, it 
refused to sanction a war w^ith Prance on behalf of* the emperor 

Charles V, Philip's father, and was therefore dissolved on 

January 16. During its short life, this Parliament, not satis- 
fied v/ith what had been done during the reign of Henry VIII, 
enacted another statute of apparel. 

Since the passage of the last act de'^'^'^ ■ with this 
subject, new fashions in dress had been introduced into England. 
After Mary's accession, she suddenly changed the sober dress 
adapted to her former retired and serious habits for garments 
of the gayest description. Numerous accounts of her entrance 
into London, in 1553, have been preserved and these furnish us 
with a good picture of the costujne of the time which, though 
not so magnificent as that of the period of Henry VIII, was 
still very liucuricus. From the Antiquarian Repertory comes this, 
description of the royal procession: "First, the citizen's 
children walked before her, magnificently dressed; after followed 
gentlemen habited in velvets of all sorts, some blackr , others 

197. Political History, vol. vi, p. 126 ff. 

in white, yellov/, violet and carnation, others wore satins 

or taffety, and some damasks of all colors, having plenty of 

gold buttons; afterwards follov/ed the Mayor with the city 

companies ..«; next came the ladles married and single in the 

midst of whom was the Queen herself, mounted on a small white 

amuling nag,..; abovit her •■■--: six lacqueys, habited in vests 

of gold. The Queen herself was dressed in violet velvet ..." 

Another account adds that she had "on her head a kail of cloth 

of tinsell beeset with pearle and stone and above the same 

upon her head a round circlet of golde heeset so richly v/ith 

pretious stones that the value thereof was inestimable; the 

same kail and circle being so massie and ponderous that she was 

( 199 ) 
faine to bear up her head v;ith her hand ...." 

On this occasion. Queen Mary was attended by lawyers 
dressed in black and by sheriffs ^ Idermen in furred gowns 
with satin sleeves. The sltizens who looked on were attired 
in brovm cloaks, the laborers in cloth or leather doublets, the 
citizen's servants in blue liveries, and the gentlemen's servants 
in gorgeous liveries of their master's colors. In the procession 
which wound its way from the Tower to '.Vestminster on the day pre- 
ceding Mary's coronation (September 30, 1555) "went at the 
head many gentlemen of the court and kingdom., all arrayed in 
suits of silk with beautiful linings, mounted on very fine 
horses, richly caparisoned, the greater part of which were 

198. Qu&tfed-in Calthrop, vol. iii. pp. 61-62, 

199, Holinshed, quoted by J . A j^^-p-p**, "Observations on Female 
Headdress in England", in Archaeologla, xxvli, pp, 34-35, 


covered with velvet trappings dovm to the ground: after v/hora 

Vv-ent all the Barons and Princes, richly and superbly adorned, 

some with gold, some with embroidery ... ^'^rnorg ■••--' " "^^-t . , . 

merchants in superb costume, wearing suits of black velvet lined, 

beautifully trimmed with many points of gold at. nished all 

round with embroidery of more than a palm in width. And they 

also lYore mantles of black velvet in the same manner as the 

suits, fully the half covered with embroidery ... And behind, 

these went four Spanish cavaliers, attired in cloaks of mulberry 

colored velvet, lined with cloth of silver, with a very fine 

fringe of gold all about and wearing breeches and doublet and 

collars in the Spanish fashion ... Next came her: Ma jesty in 

a chariot open on all sides, save for the canopy, "' '- 'sly covered 

v/ith gold, and the trappings of the horses which drew it were 

also of gold ... Her Majesty was marvellously/ adorned, her 

mantle of silver, a- " " - headdress of gold with many and 

precious jev/els of great worth." The Princess Elizabeth was 

dressed in cloth of silver, while even the least important of 

the courtiers wore a velvet suit and chain, "ard others were 

arrayed sumptuously." 

The splendid costumes worn by ladies during the latter 

part of the Tudor period are v/ell-represented in the portraits 

of '.'lary and Elizabeth. In a picture of Mary painted by Lucas 

de Here, the queen is attired in a salmon-colored gown with 

an embroidered collar of some brown material. ^^ . r gown 

200, Antonio De Guaras, The Accession of Queen Mary (ed. by 

Richar<4 Garnett ) , pp. 99,100,117. De Guaras was a Spanish 
merchant resident in London at the time of Mary's coron- 


has a loose, open collar of a dark brovm or reddish hue, 

edged and trimmed with gold lace. Her outside or false 

sleeves are trimmed with deep brown fur. Her headdress is a 

jewelled French hood. 

In general, women's gowns retained the same appear- 
ance that they had had in the reigns immediately preceding 
this one - full skirts, no trains, and big sleeves. The dress 
Yi'.as often split, in order to a;: . ^he undergo^ show. The 
top part of the bodice was now frequently made of a different 
kind of material from the rest of the dress. Thus, some gowr^s 
had collars and yokes of velvet. Many women wore neat linen 
caps, very plain and close-fitting, with small ear-pieces. It 
was also fashionable to v-' l.erchiefs of li - - :r silk, v/hioe 
as a rule, over the shoulders. Women's hair was still gener- 
ally worn parted in the middle, but was nov; more puffed out 
at the sides than it had been. Most frocks v/ere trimmed with 
a profusion of gold buttons; and the wearing of gold chains 
around the neck and as girdles, was very common. 

The rSignsof Edward VI and Mary were wonderful as 

shov/ing the quiet change that co^ild take place in dress in a 

few years and that could alter a man's exterior from the stiff 

square, "blob-footed" creature that he had been in the reign 

of Henry VIII, to the doublet and hose Elizabethan with his 

cartwheel ruff. The Spaniards who came over with Philip brought 

with them many innovations in dress. The most noticeable was 

the high-peaked hat, made usually of velvet, a : ' " ith 

201. Clinch, pp. 72-73. S'or a aescripti..'n of another pictui'e 
of Mary, see ibid, p. 71 ff.j and for an actual portrait. 
Green, vol. li, p,717. 

202, Calthrop, vol. il, p.65gf. 


a narrow brim, worn on one side of the head , The hard- 
crovmed hat was also new. Its crown was generally round, 
and around the t'- " it was " ' i gold cord clasped by a 
jewel. A feather was often stuck into the side. The great 
mass of citizens, however, still wore flat caps, occasionally 
over a coif ti "■ " • the chin. Some of the ." ^ ■ Tien favored 
black velvet siaill caps. 

With the Spaniards, the ruff, at first quite small 
and neat, made its first appearance. The ovom - ' of Henry's 
and Sdv/ard's reigns still formed the principal -ir- 
ments, thotigh the short Spanish cloak, cut in full folds and 
reaching not far below the waist, had also come in. Another 
kind of cloak vv'ith a turned-up high collar was nov/ becoming 
popular. Some gentlemen had their capes made with sleeves. 

Shoes now fitted the shape of the ^ _ „ „ more closely 
than they had previously done, thoiigh square toes we -' 111 
worn to some extent. High boots, strappe ^ jvsr the knee, 
and half -boot 3, with their tops turned over, were^ u 
travelling and sport. Often, too, the hose were turned down 
at the point where they met the trunks. Doublets were nov/ 
shaped to follow the lines of the body, but they still re- 
tained some of the characteristics of earlier times - the long 
skirt and the opening at the neck, in order to shov/ the collar 
of the shirt or the partlet strip. 

A good description of English costume in the reign 
of "Bloody i.iary" , as seen through foreign eyes, is contained 
in a report sent to the Duke of I.'antua and Karquis of Montferrat. 
on June 20, 1557. The representative of the a. . 


asss*^ . :, ' ..icture of the dress of all classes of the English 
people. He says: "The dress of the judges is a long, black 
cloth gown, dovm to the feet, lined with valr, the sleeves 
being wide, and the gown has a cape; a their heads they 
wear a cloth cap In the ducal fashion . . . The men usually v/ear 
a doublet with a long cloth govm lined with fur dovm to the 
ground. Those v/ho wear cape and jerkin used heretofore to 
dress in the Italian fashion and they are nov; commencing that 
of Spain..." 

" The costume of the female nobility is almost in the 
French fashion, bvit the others differ most especially in dress- 
ing their heads, which they, cover, even below the ears, v/ith 
linen cloth, over which they wear a coif or cap of white woolen 

cloth, either round or triangular, or ; ^ -^ '^-hey wear a large 

( 203 ) 
hat of shaggy velvet". The servants, so the writer adds, all 

dress in doublets without any kirth or cloak. 

Another ambassador reported to the Senate of Venice 

that "the English, ... according to their station, are as well 

^4i- w- _ -^-----^ v>ntever." ^':^^^-_--,bility he declared. 

11 other nations "bv reason of theii 

exceed all other nations bv reason of their numerous. wards 

(204) ^ 

of 1000 clad in his ovm livery." 

It was doubtless r-.-i--- to this extravagance in dress 

and in manner of living that Farliaraent considered it necessary 

203, Cql. Venetian State Papers, part 3, vol. vi, p. 1669 f f . 

204, Ibid., vol. v, p. 544. This report was made by Giocomo 
Soranzo, "lateV ambassador to Edward VI and Mary". For 
further information as to the costumes worn during the 
reign of Mary, see Clinch, p. 71 ff; Calthrop, vol. iii, 

p. 61 f f . , and illustrations on pp. 64 and opp, p. 64, 65. 
66, 67 and opp. p. 68. 



to pass another sta:, - ..f apparel in 1554. This act was not 

prefaced by a long preatable, explaining the reasons for its 

enactment, as were the earlier ones, but began as follov/s: 

"No native of England or its dominions, other than the son and 

heir apparent of a knight or such persons as have L.20 a year 

OX' goods worth L.200", may wear silk upon his hats, bonnets, 

nightcaps, girdles, hose, shoes, scabbards or spur leathers. 

The penalty for disobedience of this provision was three months 

imprisonment and the forfeiture of L.IO for every day that the 

forbidden apparel was worn. If anyone should keep :' 

employ* servant s who had offended against this act for more 

than fourteen days after he had knowledge of their offense, 

or should take them into his service again within a year after 

the offense v/as committed, such person should forfeit L.IOO. 

However, no one was to be compelled by this act "to put away 

his prentice or hired servants before thende of the terme 

before agreed between them," and no one should be fined for so 

keeping his apprentice of hired servant. Persons above the 
rank of knight's children and their wives, mayors, bailiffs, 
aldermen and other city officers and their v/ives and the ser- 
vants of the king and queen were not to be affected by the 
provisions of this act, and it was specifically stated that 
women might wear whatever they could lawfully wear before 

205, Stat.R., part 1, vol. iv, p. 239 - 1 Philip and 
¥ary, c.2 

206. Stat.R., part 1, vol. iv , p. 239. 


the passage of this law. 

It v;as provided that justices of the peace, sheriffs 

and stewards in the counties and, in the tovms, mayors, 

sheriffs ^ >ailiffs might try offenders against the statute; 

and that anyone who brought a suit against the of. ^ should 

receive one half of the forfeiture, if the forfeiture occurred 

in a town, and that the officers of the town should get the 

other half. If the forfeiture occurred outside of a town, 

however, the king was to get one half of the forfeiture, and 

the person bringing suit the other half; and if it occurred 

in a leet or lawday, the owner of the leet or lawday was to get 

one half. The offender was to be kept in jail until he had 

paid his forfeiture. This act, as can readily be seen, was 

much shorter and less detailed than th ssed during the 

reign of Henry VIII. It applied only to the wearing of a 

single fabric - silk — and affected, with a few exceptions, the 

lower and poorer classes of society alone. The upper classes 

were still kept in check by the statutes of Henry VIII. 

Just as it had been found necessary in the time of 

Edward IV to pass several laws regulating the use of longtoed 

shoes, so now, we are told, an attempt was made to do the 

same thing v/ith regard to the new style of footv/ear. Bulvvrer 

207. A leet was the district within the jurisdiction of a 

court -leet, which v/as a court by means of which the lord 
of a manor exercised the criminal jurisdiction granted 
to him by royal franchise. It was a police court of 
record, presided over by the lord's steward and coordinate 
with the sheriff's turn (or tJOTirn), with jurisdiction 
over affairs of a public nature, and pov/er to present 
offenses and punish offenses below the grade of felony. 
A law-day meant a day for holding court, especially a 
sheriff's court or a court-leet. The term was also applied 
to the session of a court. 


In his "Pedigree of An English Gallant"^ tells us that In "the 
time of Queen Mary square toes v/ere grown into fashion. In- 
somuch that men wore shoes of so prodigious a breadth that, 
if I remember rightly, there was a proclamation came out that 
no man should wear his shoes above six. Inches square at the 

toe. If the reduction and moderation allowed such a latitude, 

^ (208) 

what was the extertlTof the transgression and extravagancy? 

The writer has found no other mention of such a proclamation, 

but possibly one was issued and has since been lost. 

The licenses to keep gaming-houses, which had been 

sanctioned by the laws of Mary's father, had been so greatly 

abused, and had become a source of so much evil, that every 

license for the keeping of unlawful games was declared null and 

void by the Parliament which was svunmoned to meet at Westminster 

in October, 1555. Loranzo states that no members were returned 

to this Parliament save such as were known to be of the queen's 

mind, but no evidence has been found to substantiate this 

sweeping statement. At any rate, it is certain that 'about 

one third of the old members were returned, and that some of 

these were not distinguished for devotion to Mary's cause. 

Even before the passage of the act of 1555, which 

rendered the gaming-house licenses granted under the laws of 

2 08, Quoted in Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. 11, ^.151 

209. Reeves, vol. v, pp. 36, 37 tjg 

210. See 2 & 3 Philip and Mary, c.f, Stat. L.,, p ^; 
"^rz. . Also the report of Giovanni Michiel, Venetian ambassador 

to England, in Cal. Venetian State Papers, part 1, vol. 
vi, pp. 276-277. 

211. Political History, vol. vl, pp. 117-21. 


Henry VIII null and void and v/hlch together with other 

statutes was confirmed by the queen, on December 9, some 

attempts seem to have been made to put a stop to gambling. 

The playing of unlawful games was apparently nov/ forbidden, 

not so much because it Interfered with archery, which v/as fast 

dying ou.t, as because It was regarded both as an evil in it- 
self and as furnishing an opportunity for sedition. The 
Venetian ambassador reported to his government that on the 
removal of the royal househ:: . . Hampton Court, "they did 
not fail to give orders for th„ - L....oval of all those ordinaries 
where gentlemen usually assembled to eat and gamble, and in 
which many persons got together and talked seditiously; the 

masters of these places having been commanded, under heavy 

penalties, never for V " t-ure to give adiai - * to anyone". 

The courtiers themselves seem to have been specially 

privileged with regard to games, as well as in other respects. 

The same ambassador who wrote the passage just quoted, a 

trained and careful observor like most of those who held that? 

office mentions that there was one official in the royal 

household who had charge of providing cards and dice for - ...;^- 

ling at court and who received the profits derived from the 

the sale of these articles. The man v/ho held this position 

during the reign of '.'ary, one Leukner (or Lewkner) was 

212, In Mary's reign, "the statutes of Henry VIII for the pro- 
motion of archery were much commended, v;ith directions to 
enforce them."' Archaeologia, vol. vii, p. 55. 

213. Cal. Venetian State Papers, part 1, vol. vi, p. 45. 


subsequently condemned to death for having plotted against 

the queen. 

An effort seems to have ' " during Mary's 

reign to put a stop to the use of profane and indecent language, 

at least in public. This is shown by a letter of thanks 

written by the queen in 1557 to John Fuller, mayor of 

Canterbury, in v/hlch she commends him for his diligence in 

arresting and imprisoning the players who had acted a "profane" 

play in that tovm. He v/as commanded to keep these players 

in prison until he received further orders. The book of the 

play was to be submitted to the consideration of the queen's 

council, "v'/ho are v;ylled to declare what the same wayeth 

unto in the law," VJhat the decision of the council v/as in 

this matter is, unfortunately^ not stated. 

214. Ibid., part 1, vol vi, pp.475, 484 (June 2-,\ 1556). 

215. Acts of the Privy Council of England, vol. xi, p. 110. 
The suppression of profanity does not, of course, come 
under the head of sumptuary legistation, but it seems to 
be a clear attempt at personal regulation, and it is 
for that reason that it is mentioned here. 

Cviapter V 

The Feigr- of Elizabeth. 

In 1558jMary's unhappy and bloody reign came to an end, and 
Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, became queen of 
England, The period from her accession to her death in 1603 was 
one of great activity in the matter of sumptuary legislation and 
for that reason deserves to be treated in a separate chapter, 
Elizabeth was much more popular as a ruler than any of her iirimediate 
predecessors had been, and, under her, England becaire m.ore powerful 
among the nations of the world, and more prosperous than it had 
been for many years. She was a believer in strong government, and, 
like all of the Tudors, was iricl:ned to be an autocratic sovereign, 
though she v.'as forced to recognize the growing importance of the House 
of Commons. In spite, however, of her tendency towards absolutism, 
the great mass of the English people were quite content with her rule, 
because of the prosperity %vhich they en,ioyed, and because they knew 
that she had the interests of the country, and not merely her own 
selfish desires, at heart. Under Elizabeth the British isles enjoyed 
more abundance and lighter taxation ■'-ban existed at that time in any 
other country of equal extent. There was also a great improvement 
in dom.estic comforts, the town dwellers and the substantial yeoman now 
living in a style superior in many respects to that of the nobility 

1. After the failure of the Amiada Elizabeth's years of triumph and the 
expansion of her kingdom began. The country advanced in wealth and 
prosperity, manufactures increased, the growing of corn again becam.e 
profitable. Till the end of the century, the Queen, freed from all 
fear of attack, was able to carry on a successful foreign policy and 
to give her attention to religious matters. The destruction of 
the Armada enormously enhanceri the reputation of England in Europe. 


a century earlier. 

A new chapter in English industrial history now opened. The 
mediaeval and feudal organization of society had broken dov;n during 
the Renaissance and Reformation periods, and the human mind with its 
increased activity was no longer content to work under the restrictions 
which custom, tradition and law had built up. Various forces had 
co-operated to destroy those organizations which had in some measure 
protected the working classes, and, in the three preceding reigns, 
little had been done to biaild up any new institutions adapted to the 
changed order of things. 

The period of transition had been one of g:reat disorder and 
misery. Of the coming economic revival, there were few signs at the 
time of Elizabeth's accession. The Treasury was bankrupt and the 
credit of the government very low. Every branch of the administration 
v/as rotten. Domestic trade was stagnant. The spread of vagrancy 
and pauperism had scarcely been checked by the laws of Henry VIII, 
and the currency had been utterly disorganized ■ by the fraudulent 
policy of successive governments, and the increase of clipping and of 
false coinage on the part of the public. 

It was reserved for the reign of Elizabeth to usher in an epoch 
of economic well-being for all except the poorest classes, and to lay 
the foundations of England's commercial and industrial supremacy. The 
whole of this period was one of progressive amelioration, though there 
was a good deal of pauperism and suffering among the agricultural 
laborers, owing to the spread of the inclosure system. The extension 

2, By the middle of the reign of Elizabeth sheep-farming had prospered; 
prices of agricultural produce were rising, and a new interest was 
being taken in arable farming. The most disastrous feature of the 
period was the condition of the agricultural laborer; and in the 
increase of farming lay his chief hope of em.ployment. For a des- 
cription of the developments in arts, religion, literature, etc.. 


of trade and iranufaotures caused the rise of v.-ages and of prices, 
and, together with the inclosing of the open fields for the purposes 
of sheep-raising, was responsible for the drifting of a large part 
of the agricultural population to the to^vns (a movement which had 
begun in the early part of the sixteenth century) and the consequent 
formation of a middle class, destined to wield the power formerly 
held by the feudal nobility. The Tudor period in England was par- 
ticularly the age of the advancement of the middle classes. 

Almost all ranks of society, however, seem to have shared in 
the general prosperity. The nobility and gentry displayed a magnifi- 
cence in their mansions, dress, and entertainments surpassing all that 
had yet been known in England. Queen Elizabeth herself was perhaps 
the most noteworthy of the English leaders of fashion prior to the 
eighteenth century. Her personal vanity, her great fondness for 
elaborate and costly clothirg and her enormous wardrobe (she is said 
to have had upwards of two thousand dresses) made her, in a period when 
splendid costumes were seen on every hand, "the glass of fashion and 
the mold of form . She conducted the government as economically as 
possible, however, and did her best, not always with success, to live 
\vithin her income. 

William Harrison, in his "Description of England", speaks of the 
frequent changes vhich took place in English styles during the 
Elizabethan period. "No form, of apparel liketh us longer than the 
first garment is in the wearing, if it continue so long.... Such is 

as well as in social life, in the reign of Elizabeth, see Traill, 

vol. iii, p. 417 ff. (illus. edition). 

3. Political History of England, vol. vii, p. 1. The laboring classes 
were probablv less prosperous than any of the others. They fed a 
constantly widening torrent of pauperism and crime. 


our imitBbility that today there is none like to the Spanish 
guise, tomnrrov/ the French toys are most fine and delectable..,. 
And as these fasi^ions are diverse so likewise it is a v/orld to see 
the costliness and the curiovsity, the excess and the vanity, the 
poir.p and the bravery, the change and the variety, and finally the 
fickleness and the folly that is in all degrees. Oh, how much cost 
is bestowed nowadays upon our bodies and how little upon our souls J,. , 
Certes the commonwealth cannot be said to flourish where these abuses 
reign, but is rather oppressed by unreasonable exactions made upon 
rich farmers and of poor tenants where v/ith to maintain the same." 

The incipient Puritanism of Elizabeth's time expended much 
abuse upon the extravagant dress and the extraordinary, even som.etimes 
actually hideous, clothing of the period. Since this was the golden 
age of literary prodtiction, the epoch in which England produced m.ore 
and greater writers than she had ever done before, it was natural 
that many of the a^-tacks made on the costume of the day s^iould find 
their way into print. One of the most outstanding examples of such 
censorious literature was the "Anatomde of Abuses", by Philip Stxibbs, 
the first edition of which ^n-as published in 1583. This book v;as 
written in the form, of a dialogue between two men, Philoponus and 
Spudeus. Philoponus described to his friend the islend of Ailgna 
(England) where, he said, he had spent seven years, and told him. about 
the "heinous inormities" which "doe raigne and rage" there. Of these 
enormities, "the greatest abuse which, in my judgmient both offendeth 
God most and is there not a little advanced, is the execrable sinne of 

4. Vfilliam Harrison, "a Description of England", in Holinshed's 
Chronicles, published in the Camielot Series under the title of 
"Elizabethan England", pp. 107-113. 


pride and excess in aoparel.... The pride of apparel, objects to 
the sight, as an exemplsrie o^ euill, induceth the whole man to 
wickednesse and sinne. 

Spudeus, How is pride of apparel committed? 

Philoponus. By wearing of apparell more gorgeous, sumpteous 
and precious than our state, calling or condition of life requireth, 
wherby we are puffed up into pride, and inforced to think of our selues 
more than we ought.... This sin of excess in apparell rem«ineth as 
an example of euil before our eyes and is a provocative to sin ,..." 

From this extract, it will be seen that the author is attacking 
extravagance in dress mainly on moral grounds - as offensive to God 
and as causing men to sin. He goes on to say that he is sure that 
there is no country in t^e world "so oisoned \vith this arsneke of 
pride or that hath drunke so deepe of this impotionate cup as Ailgna 
hath.... All nations [are] inferior to Ailgna in pride of apparel", 
"For it is manifest that all other nations under the sunne, how straunge, 
how newe, how fine, or hov; comely soever they think their fast^ions to be 
when they be compared with the diverse fashions and aondrie forms of 
apparell in Ailgna, are most unhandsome, brutish and monstrous. And 
hereby it appeareth that no people in the world are so curi ous in new 
fangles as they of Ailgna bee," 

V/hen asVed >-y Spudeus whether he considered it lav/ful for anybody 
to wear silks, velvets and other costly fabrics, Philoponus replied, 
"l doubt not but it is lawfull for the nobilitie, the gentrie and the 
magisterie, to v.'eare rich attire.... The nobility and gentrie to 

5, Philip Stubbs, Anatomic of Abuses, pp. 8 ff, 

6, Ibid., p. 13 ff. 


innoble, garnish and set forth their birthes, dignities and estates. 
The magisterie to dignifie their callynges, and to deir.onstrate the 
excellencie, the maiestie, and worthinesse of their offices and 
funct^o-^5;, thereby to strike a terrour... into the hartes of the 
people...." "And as for priuate subiectes, it is not at any hande 
lav/ful that they should weare silkes, veluets, satens, damaskes, gold, 
siluer, and what they list (though they be never so able to maintaine 
it) except they beyng in some kinde of office in the commonwealth..,; 
or.., for some speciall consideration or purpose. But now there is 
such a confuse mingle mangle of apparell in Ailgna and suche prepos- 
terous excesse thereof, as ever;/ one is permitted to flaunt it out in 
what apparell he lusteth himself, or can get by any kinde of meanes. 
So that it is very hard to \movr who is noble who is worshipfull, who is 
a gentleman, who is not; for you shall have those which are neither 
of the nohilitie, gentilitie, nor yeomanrie... go daiely in silkes, 
velvettes, satens, damaskes, taffaties and suche like; notwithstanding 
that they be bothe base by birthe, meane by estate and servile by 

Here we see the old idea that class distinctions ought to bo 
denoted by differences in costume re-appearing once more. Stubbs, in 
the passage quoted, goes so far as to say that nobody ought to be per- 
mitted to wear costly fabrics unless he is a magistrate or belongs ^o 
the nobility or gentry. Things have come to such a pass, he cries, 
that one can no longer tell a lord from a commoner by his dress. It 
is well to remember that, throughout the course of English history, it 

7, Ibid., pp. 16-17. 


is almost exclusively in the pages of contemporary writers, like 
Stubbs, that one finds complaints of class distinctions in dress. are 
not being preserved. The sumptuary laws themselves say little or 
nothing about this angle of the question, though many of their 
provisions were obviously intended to prevent the common people from 
imitating the dress of their betters, 


Niimerous portraits of "Good Queen Bess" have come down to us 
and are of interest because of the light which they throv; on the cos- 
time of the day. In one of her pictures, she is wearing a stiff 
bodice of some figured material and over this an aooarently sleeveless 
iacket of black. Her skirt is of a whitish color, covered with 
heraldic devices. Scattered over the waist and sleeves of the dress 

are brooches, square in shape, of red and white enamel. Around her 

neck is a large organ-pipe ruff, xvhich reaches halfway up her head 

behind. Her sleeves have small lace frills attached to the cuffs, 

and around her neck are wound several strings of pearls. The frontlet 

of her French hood is of some red material, richly .iewelled. The hood 

80 In 1563, a procla::;ation was issued stating that many attempts had been 
made to make portraits of the Queen in "paynting, graving and pryntyng, 
wherein is evidently shown thet hyther to none hath sufficiently 
expressed the natural representation of her Liajestie's person, favor 
or grace." Therefore, yielding to the importunities of her mdnisters, 
the queen had agreed that "some coning person, mete therefor" should 
paint her portrait, and in the meantime all other persons were ordered 
to refrain frorr making portraits of her, though they might copy her 
picture when it vre.s painted, 

9. A character in one of Heywood's plays says, "The set of my ruff 

looked like so many organ pipes". (Archaeologia, vol. ii, p. 214) 


itself is of black velvet, tbrovm forward over the head as if blown 
over by a v;ind from behind. 

The ladies of England were not slovv' to follow the example of 
their queen in the matter of dress and personal adornment. Cosmetics, 
hair-dyes and similar aids to beauty were much used at this period, 
Stubbs says, "The -"'Onien of Ailgna (many of them) use to colour their 
faces wit>^ certaine oyles, liquors, ungents and waters made to that 
end, whereby they thinke their beautie is greatly decored", 

"Hamlet", although the scene is laid in Denmark, is full of 
allusions to the England of Shakespeare's time. For example, his 
criticism of the ladies clearly had a contemporary applications "l 
have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God hath given you one 

face, and you make yourselves another: you ,iig, you amble, and you 

1 2 
lisp.... Go to, I'll no more on't." 

Another allusion to the general use of cosmetics may be found in 

Marston's "Scourge of Villanie" (1599), where he says: 

10. Harold Dillon, "Queen Elizabeth and her Portraits", in The Antiquary, 
vol, xxi, p. 142. See also a description of a portrait of the 

queen at the age of thirteen (Clinch, p. 73 f f . ) and another painted 
in her sixtieth year, in which she wears a gown Vvrith a pointed, 
triangular stomacher, literally covered with precious stones. The 
latter is reproduced in Archaeologie, vol. ii> opp. p. 214. 

11. Stubbs, p. 55. 

12. Hamlet, act iii, scene 1. 

.*« Her iraske so hinders me 

I cannot see her beauties deitie. 

Now that is off, she is so vizarded. 

So steept in lemones ^iuyce... 

I cannot see her face." ^^ 

The women of the Elizabethan period are thus apostrophized 
by another contemporary writer: "Draw neare, you wanton woorms, that 
leane your lofty heades uoon the dainty pyllowes of pride; you that 
have periwigs to curio your haire, colours to paint your face, art 
to square your shoulders, bolsters to fashion your waste.... Your 
washing in sweet waters, your anoynting with sweete odours, your 
muske, your civite, your baulme, and a number of devises to make the 
body sweete.... ^ All this only succeeded in arousing the critic's 

A detailed account of the headdresses v/orn by women at this 
period is given by Stubbs, who says that the hair was "curled, fristed, 
and crisped, laid out ... on wreathes and borders, from one eare to 
another." These towers of hair were underpropped with "forks, wiers", 
etc, "like grim sterne monsters, rather than chaste Christian matrons". 
The hair was often ouffed or "bolstered" and allowed to hang over the 
face. Around the temples were y.orn great wreaths of gold and silver, 
and from the head hung "bugles, ouches, rynges, gold, silver and other 
trinkets. Perukes and false hair were much worn by the court belles 
of the day. Elizabeth is said to have appeared in hair of various 
shades. Fair hair was especially popular and hair-dyes and bleaches 
were used in order to obtain this much desired color. 

13. Quoted in "the Antiquary", vol. xv, p. 162. 

14. Langorous perfumes and scents were much in vogue. 

15. Quoted by Andrew Hibbert, "Extravagance in Dress in the Days of Queen 
Bess", in Archaeologia, vol. xv, p. 163. 

16. Stubbs, pp. 60-62, 


In Tjuippes for Upstart, New-Fangled Gentleworr.en" (1595), an 

dUlusion is made to 

"These flaming- heades with staring haire. 
These wyers turnde like horns of ram. 


These glittering caules of golden plate." 

Over their elaborately arranged hair women wore French hoods, 
hats, caus, and kerchiefs, of velvet, taffeta, wool, etc. According 
to Stubbs, even artificers' wives wore velvet hats every day, merchants' 
wives and "mean gentlewomen" French hoods, and poor cottagers'* daughters 
woolen or taffeta hats, lined with silk or velvet. Cauls, made of 
openwork, so that the cloth of gold, silver or tinsel, with which the 
head was covered, might show through, were also fashionable, as well 
as "lattice cappes with three homes or corners, like forked cenpes of 

Popish priests". 

The caul, or cap, did not apparently prevent bonnets from being 

worn over thom^ and wor^ still quite fashionable, l^'ary. Queen of Scots, 

is said to have vorn a caul at the time of her execution, A letter 

written to Lord Burleigh described her costiome on that occasion and 

stated that "on her head she had a dressing of lawne edged with bone 

lace.., a vail of lawne fastened to the caule, bowed out with wyre and 


edged round about with bone lace." 

VJomen, as well as men, wore ruffs, also neckerchiefs of holland, 
lawn, cambric and similar fabrics, so fine that "the greatest threed 

17, Quoted by J. A. Repton, "Observations on Female Headdress in England", 
in Archaeologia, vol, xxvii, pp, 34-35, 

18, Stubbs, p, 62 ff, 

19, In the time of Henry VIII, a black velvet bonnet cost 17 s., a 
frontlet of blue velvet 7s. 6 d,, and a Milan bonnet, "dressed with 
agletts", 11 s, Kilan bonnets were also worn by gentlemen. The 
difference between the French and English hoods is not clear. The 
former was vorn from tbe time of Henry VIII to that of Charles I. 
(Archaeologia, vol. xxvii, p. 37 f f . ) 

20, Ibid., pp. 25-36. For other liberary allusions to cauls, see ihid., 
p. 25 ff. 


2 1 

shall not he s o hig as the least haire that is". The ruff as an 

article of female attire belongs especially to the period of Queen 
Elizabeth, The first suggestion of this form of neckwear may be 
found in the small frills worn as decorations on collars by both 
men and women during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary, 
Elizabeth had not been long on the throne before much larger ruffs 
became fashionable. The in-l-roduction of the art of clear-starching 
from Holland (an art w^hich Stubbs regards as an invention of the 
devil) and the use of poking-sticks for the arrangement of the folds 
favored their growth, with the result that they soon increased to an 
astonishing size. Not only were they starched, hut it was often 
necessary to prop them up hy what was knovm as a supportasse, a kind of 

Ruffs of many different styles and forms were worn more or less 
contemporaneously. The shape depended upon the w*^im. or caprice of 
each individual wearer. Generally, the ruff was foiiried hy arranging 
the material in close convolutions or quillings, som.etimes like a number 
of radiating pipes. In the earlier stages of the evolution of this 
article of dress, the circular shape was the most comm-on. Later on, a 
small opening apceared in the front. Sometimes the ruff did not 
entirely encircle the neck, hut vas attached to the s'^oulders and rose 
high behind the head, Stubbs says that three or four minor ruffs were 
frequently worn, one below the other, and all beneath "the m.ayster 
devilruffe . ' Many such neckpieces were not onlv pleated, but 
trimmed with gold, silver or silk lace, or wrought all over v.ith needle- 
work. "Some are wrought with open worke dov>;ne to the midst of the ruffe 

21, Stubbs, pp, 62-64, 
2?. Ibid., p. 65. 


snd further; some vn.^h close woorke, sorie v/ith purled lace and 

other gewgaws," Occasionally ruffs were fastened to the ears of 

their wearers; soroetiines they were allov/ed to han^ loose over their 


'^'Vomen also -f-here have dublets and ,ierkins, as men have,.., 

huttoned up to tho breast, and made with winges, weltes, and pinions 


on the shoulder poyntes, as mannes apparel is for all the v/orlde." 

They have no-f" the slightest hesitancy, exclaims the horrified Puritan, 

about wearing "such wanton and lewd attire, which is proper only to 



Vv'omen's gowns were usually made, in the Elizabethan period, of 
silks, velvet, grograin, taffeta, or of other fine fabrics, the 

wearing of which had been forbidden by earlier sumptuary laws. Such 

materials, according to Stubbs, cost from 10 to 40 s, a yard. If the 

23. Ibid, 

24. Ibid,, p. 68, 

25. Ibid. 

26. From 1583 to 1702, velvet was used chiefly for the clothing of wealthy 
men, sometimes of women, and for church purposes. Its average price 
during this period was 23 s. 11 3/4 d. Satin was next in price to 
velvet. It generally cost betv/een 10 s. and 17 s. a yard, Sarsr^et 
varied from 4 s. 6 d, to 10 s. Taffeta, a corroner silk fabric, 
varied so much in price that probably a v/oolen fabric v»as also known 
by this name. It sold for from 5 to 20 s. Damask, which appears 

to have been a silken fabric, cost from 6 to 16 s. 

There was not much ready-mjide clothing during this period. Cloth 
was generally purchased by -^he consiimers an:: m.ade up by men's and 
women's tailors. In 1558, a cloth sack cost 26 s,,8 d,, and, in 
1566, 27 s. In 1583, a doublet sold for 50 s.; in 1600, a similar 
article brought only 4 s. 10 d. From 1596-1598, points cost 2 - 3 d, 
a doz. Gilt buttons, in 1587, were 2 s. 4 d. Cloaks varied from 
23 s, to 70 s,; hose from 2 s. to 12 s.; stockings (netherstocks) from 
2 s. to 7 s, Jersey stockings sold for 8 s. 8 d,, the higher 
priced being described as Spanish, Boots averaged 8 s. 10 1/4 d, 
A shirt cost 3 s, 2^ d, in 1603, and a frieze .^erkin 4 s. l-g- d, 
(Rogers, Agriculture and Prices, vols, iii, pp, 494 ff,, 575-577; 
V, pp, 579-80, 730 ff, ; vi, p, 731 f f . ) See also a summary of the 
charges fop apparel wi+h rapier snd daggers for the Earl of Oxford, 
from. September 3, 1565, to the quarter ending March 22, 1567. (Cal, 
S, P, Dom, Eliz,, vol, xlii, no, 38,) 


whole gown was not made of silk or velvet, then it was alnost certain 
to be "layd" v/ith lace two or three fingers broad, or trimmed with velvet, 
edged with lace. I'.any styles v^ere worn, "some with sleeves hanging 
downe to the skirtes, trailing on the ground, and cast ovoi- the shoulders 
like cowe tsiles", ' Others had much shorter sleeves, which v;ere slit 
up, laced with ribbons and tied v/ith love knots. SoiT^etimes capes, 
reaching down to the middle of the back, faced with velvet or taffeta, 
and fringed, were used as outer garments. Petticoats and kirtles were 
frequently made o^ cloth, taffeta, etc., fringed at the bottom, or trimmed 
with lace. Even yeomenfe and cottagers' daughters wore such clothes, 
"whereby it coinm;eth to passe, that one can scarslv know who is a noble 

woman, who is an honorable or worshipfJfed woman, from them of the meaner 

. .. 28 
sorte . 

The farthingale (or fardingale) was practically contemporary in 

origin wi+h the ruff, having first appeared about or a little before the 

date of the accession of Elizabeth, It was a hoop-like arrangement, 

intended to be worn inside of wide skirts. At first, it was bell-shaped, 

small at the hips and broadening ou<- as it d'escended. By the end of the 

sixteenth century, howevei', it had taken on a wheel shape and was very 

large on the hips. It vfas worn in its most exaggerated form in the 

time of James I. Vv'hen fully developed, i-^ wasanvariably accompanied by 


a long, stiff, and pointed stomacher, which emphasized the breadth and 

bulk of the fartViingale. 

27, Stuhbs, p. 69, 

28, Ibid,, pp. 69-70. 

29, The use of the stom.acher was not limited to the time of Elizebeth, 
Towards the end of the fifteenth century, the stomiacher was worn by 
both sexes. (Clinch, p. 174.) 



During the reign of Elizabeth both worsted and silk stockings 

began to be knitted""' in England in great quentities. Three years 

after her accession the queen was presented by distress Montague with 

a pair of black knit silk stockings, which pleased her so much that 

she would never wear cloth hose again. Both gold and silver clocks 

on stockings were fashionable and frequently alluded to in both 

Elizabethan and Jacobean literhture. In fact, they continued to he 

favorite adornments down through the eighteenth century. Stubbs says 

that, in his day, women wore netherstocks of silk, worsted, fine yarn 

thread or cloth, dyed all sorts of colors, such as green, red, white, 

russet, or tawny. Their shoes and slippers were of black, white, 

green or yellow velvet, or of English or Spanish leather, stitched 

with silk and embroidered ^'dth gold and silver. Such shoes were 

corked and apparently had high-heels or some attempt in that direction. 

An Elizabethan poem, mentions 

"These worsted stockes of bravest die. 
And silken garters fring'd with geld; 
These corked shooes to beare them hie. 
Makes them to trip it on the molds. 
They mince it r/ith a pace so strange. 
Like untam'd heifers, when they range,"'' 

Ornaments and .iewellery, such as rings, bracelets, and armlets 

of gold, were much in vogue. Both ladies and gallants felt the constant 

need of consulting m.irrors. Men wore them as brooches or ornaments in 

their hats, women at their girdles"^ and in the centers of thoir fans. 

30. It is said that a silk-stocking frame was invented by I'illiam Lee in 
1599. (Stow, Annales, p. 869.) 

31. St. Gasson, "Pleasent Quippes for Upstart Wew-Fangled Gentlewomen", 
quoted in The Antiquary, vol. xv, pp. 162-163. 

32. The practice of vrearinp knives and purses at tho girdle was pretty 
general among European v.omen at the end of the sixteenth century. 
Knives were formerly part of the accoutrements of brides. It is 
supposed that they were presented vrith particularly splendid ones 

■ 263- 

They thus carried looking-glasses around with them wherever they v.'ent. 
Courtiers of both sexes often wore earrings. 

VJilliam Harrison, like Stubbs, lamented the fact that the ladies 
of the Elizabethan period dressed with little regard for rank or 
fitness. "Such staring attire", he says, "as in time past was supposed 
meet for none but light housewives only is novi become a habit for chaste 
and sober matrons. What should I say of their- doublets... v.'ith sleeves 
of sundry colors, their fardingals, and diversely colored nether stocks 
of silk, jerdsey and such like, whereby their bodies are rather deformed 

than coT^mended. It ... is now come to pass that '.vomen are become men; 


and the men transform^ed into monsters." 

Although the m,en may not actually have been monsters, they were 
certainly no better than the women in the matter of dress, Stubbs 
pours out all the vials of his Vv'rath and scorn upon them. He begins 
with their hats, some of which, he says, have pointed croims, like 
steeples, rising a quarter of a yard or more above the tops of their heads. 
Others are flat and broad in the crown, and still others have rounded 
tops, T.ith bands of various colors twisted about them. The hats them- 
selves are made of m.any different me.terials - silk, velvet, sarcenet, wooll, 
and a certain kind of fine hair (beaver). The latter cost from tvrenty to 
forty shillings. "And so common a thing it is that every wervyng man, 
countrieman and other, even all indifferently, dooe weare of these hattes. 

at the time of the wedding. (Francis Douce, "Observatiors on Certain 
Ornaments of Female Dress", in Archaeologia, vol. xii, pp. 215-216.) 
Perfumed gloves, embroidered in gold and silver, and masks of black velvet, 
used to protect the complexion, also cam.e into fashion about this period. 
33. Harrison, pp. 107-113. For an admirable descrio+ion of the ward- 
robe of a lady, about the middle of Elizabeth's reign, see "A New 
Courtly Sonnet of the Lady Greensleves", qv.oted in Clinch, p. 89. 


For he is of no account or estimation amongst men if he have not a 
velvet or taffatie hat, and that rrvust be pincked and cunningly 
carved of the best fashion.,.. And an otht^r sort... are content 
with no kind of hat withoute a great bunche of feathers of divers and 
sondrie colours, peakyng on top of their heades.... Every child hath 
them in his hat or cap." 

Many men wore enormous ruffs, "a full quarter of a yearde (and 
more) from their necks", made frequently of the most costly materials, 
"and whether they have argent to maintaine this geare withall or not, 

it is not greatly materiall, for t^hey will have it by one meane or 

II 35 
other.... Their sViirts were made of the finest materials, em- 
broidered, stitched and worked all over, so that some of them, "which is 
horrible to hears",' cost as much as h 10. The use of such shirts 
and of the costly materials, such as silks, velvets and satins, for- 
bidden by the sumptuary laws, not confined to the nobility hut was 
general among all classes and, according to Stubbs, not only made the 
Englishmen of his day physically weaker than their forefathers, who, so 

he t>iought, had dressed irore simply than they did, but "hath and doeth 

make many s ' housand. . .to beg their bread." 

The doublets of the period were fairly long (reaching down to 

the»dddle of the thigh) and ver.- quilted, bombasted and sewed, so that 

their wearers could "neither worke, nor yet well play© in them through 

the excessive heat thereof","- They were made of satin, camlet, cloth 

34. Stubbs, pp. 39-40, Some of the different kinds of caps v/orn during 
the reign of Elizabeth are mentioned in "A Ballad of Caps", quoted in 
Clinch, pp. 90-91, See also Stowe, Survey of London, for the changes 
in male headgear which took place from the reign of Henry VII on. 
(Pp. 445-446). 

35. Stubbs, p. 40 ff. 

36. Ibid,, op. 42-43. 


of gold, cloth of silver, and similar fabrics, and were slashed, cut, 
carved, pinked and triimned with lace. At first they fitted the hody 
closely, ^nit the waist line kept get+:ing; lower and loviev , until, 
towards the end of the reign, they assumed the shape which Punch v/ears 
to the present day. 

The fashionable leg-coverings for men consisted of trunk-hose, 
or breeches (particularly the padded variety) and netherstocks (the 
modern stockings), Tbe two were fastened together by a number of 
decorated ties called points. Long hose, covering the entire leg, 
were fastened to the jacket or doublet by means of a species of points 
called herlots. There were several varieties of trunk hose in style 
in the rei;-',n of Elizabeth, namely, the French, the Gallic and the 
Venetian. The Gallic hosen were very large and wide and reached only 
to the knee. The French were not so large, but were ornamented in a 
very costlv manner and ended in rolls of cloth, ovj^un.'- jiiij, below the kneoi 
There was also another variety of French hosen, which it is not necessary 
to describe here. The Venetian style reached below the knee, where they 
were tied with silk points. S^jch trunk breeches were often stuffed with 
rags, wool, tovk, or hair and thus swelled to an enormous size. A 
memorandum in the Harleian *S^ states "that over the seats in the Par- 
liament House there were certain holes, some two inches square, in the 
walls, in which were placed posts to uphold a scaffold round about the 
House within, for them to sit upon who used the wearing of great breeches 
stuffed with hair like woolsacks; which fas>iion being left the eighth 

37. Ibid. Stubbs said that the disuse of fabrics made in England, together 
with the wearing of fine foreign stuffs, had •^-hro^^'n thousands out 

of work, 

38. Ibid., pp. 44-45. 

39. Clinch, p. 163. 

year of Elizabeth, the scaffolds v.ere taken dowr hv& never since 

. it40 
put up. 

Men's netherstocks and shoes were much like those of women. 
Even people having incomes of only 40 s, a year possessed, according 
to Stubbs, several pairs of silk or fine v>'Ool netherstocks, which 
cost 20 s. or inore a pair. Silk stockings were often interwoven 
with gold and silver threads. The corked shoes and slippers, or 
pantoffles, of the period, bore their wearers up a fingerbreadt*-- from 
the ground, but v;ere hard to keep on the fee-t,, uncomfortable because of 
their high heels, and no'*' handsome, because they flopoed up and dovm 
in the dirt and gathered heaps of clay. 

Coats and jerkins, of many colors and styles, were used as outer 
garments. Some had collars; others had not. Some were tight; others, 
like the mandilian, v.rhich reached dovm to the thigh, were loose and 
somewhat resembled a bag or sack. These coats buttoned down the back, 
front or side, had big sleeves, small sleeves, or no sleeves at all, 
and v.ere pleated, "crested' , or gathered. Closks, made in many 
styles, colors, and materials, v;ere very fashionable. Some had sleeves 
and hoods attached to them, others were trimmed with points and tassels 
of gold, silver and silk. The elaborate workmanship on them often 
made them very expensive. "Thus", says Stubbs, summing up his remarks 
on the sub.iect of Elizabethan costume, "be this people a laughing stocke 
to all the worlde for +heir pride, and very caterpillars to +-bemselves 

in wasting and consuming their goods and treasures upon vanities and 

. . „, II 41 

trifles • 

40. Quoted in Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii, pp. 14Z-144, 

41. Stubbs, p, 86. His sarcastic remarks do not seem to have effected any 
change in dress, as many of the abuses vhich he attacked continued to 
flourish. For the costume of a gentleman of rank in the latter part 

of the sixteenth oenturv, sfiP- the portrait of Lord Delaware in Clinch, 
described on p. P8, See also Green, vol, iii, PP. 944, 978, and opp, 
p, 996; Iv'.artin, plates 38, 39, 40, 


In order to put a stop to sunh wastefulness, a new act of 
aoparel was passed by the Parliament which met for the first tiir.e on 
January 11, 1563, After having assembled the houses were prorogued 
to the next day, because the queen v/as indisposed. On the twelfth, 
she rode dov/n in great state to Vvestminster Abbey, clad in a crimson 
velvet robe. At the abbey, she listened to a sermon preached by Dr. 
Nowell, dean of St. Paul's, and then went into the Parliament House. 
The lord keeper. Sir Nicholas Bacon, announced the cause of the summons, 
the real reason for which was the need of money to carry on the war 
with France, Sir Nicholas said that there were "faults in the imper- 
fection and want of execut-'on" of the laws, "which imperfection must 
be looked unto; and want of laws v.-hich needeth to be provided for and 
made; and to consider, if there be not too many laws for one thing; 
and those so large and ^^usy, thst neither the cor-^ons can understand 
the same, nor yet v:ell the lawyer, which would be brought into some 
briefer and better order".,,, "it is necessary to take care to have 

good ministers thereof; and second, to banish all fearfulness for 


prosecuting the same. 

On January 15, Yi^illiams was elected Speaker of the House 
of Comn'ons. In his speech after the election, Williams said: 

Necessity is grovm among ourselves so that no man is contented w^ith his 
degree, though he hath never so much," 

42. Parliamentary History, vol. i, p. 677 ff. 

43. Ibid,, p, 682 ff. This Parliam^ent was prorogued several times and 
remained in session for a number of years. During the term of this 
Parliament, the lord chief justice of comjnon pleas was appointed 

to execute the office of lord keeper, because the treasurer was very 
old and the lord keeper was apparently ill. (ibid., p. 703 f f . ) 


The usual proportion of old rrembers had, been returned to the 
Parliament of 1563 and representatives were also elected by seven new 
constituencies. In 1559, Elizabeth had had trouble v.'ith the House of 
Lords, but the substitution of Protestant for Poman Catholic bishops 
had given the queen an assured majority. The new Parliament passed a 
poor law, which was the first of a long series of such laws, and regulated 
the conditions of apprenticeship and labor, by enforcing a seven year 
period of apprenticeship in the trades and crafts and compulsory 
service in husbandry, empowered the justices of the peace to settle 
labor disputes and fix irages, ordered that laborers should work at least 
twelve hours in sumirer, and imposed heavy fines on masters w'lo paid and 
men who received wages higher than the legal rate. Before Parliament 

was prorogued on April 10, it also passed the statute of apparel v.'hich 


has been referred to above. 

"On Tuesday, the second day of March", says D'Swes, "ten bills 
of no great moment had each of them one reading.,,. The second, against 
such as sell ?/ares for Apparel without ready money, to persons under 
h 200 Lands or fees", was "read prima vice". This sam.e bill and others 
were read "secunda vice", on Thursday, Warch 4, "but no mention is made 
that they were either ordered to be ingrossed or referred to Committees, 
because they had been formerly sent from the Lords." The following 
Monday the bill of apparel, "together with one touching true fulling 

44. Political History, vol, vi, p. 250-252, Elizabeth's chief minister 
at this time, as during most of her reign, was Sir William Cecil, 
afterwards Lord Burleigh, Robert Dudley, later Earl of Leicester, was 
admitted to + he Privy Council in 1562, Somewhat later. Sir Francis 
■Walsingham entered the council and becem.e almost as influential as 


and thioking of caps, vere each of them read the third time and 

concluded: Et una cur. alia Billa. . .comrrissae sunt Attorn. Dom. 

Reginae, et Doctori Hinok in Dom. Communem deferond." 

A later entry states that the statute in a modified form 
(amended, doubtless, by the queen's attorney and by the Commons) was 
returned to the Lords. "Three bills were brought up to the Lords from 
the House of Commons, of which the first, being the bill against such 
as shall sell any 'ftares for apparel vdthout ready money, to persons 
under k 3000 lands or fees, was returned conclus." 

This act in its final form pro\'ided that "whosoever shall sell or 
deliver to any person (having not in possession lands or fees to the 
clear yearly value of h 3000) any foreign wares, not first grovm or 
first wrought within the queen's dominions, appertaining to the clothing 
or adorning of the body, for which wares, or the workmanship thereof, the 
seller shall not have received the whole money or satisfaction in hand, 
or within eight and twenty days after the making or delivery thereof, 
shall be without all remedy by order of any law, custom or degree, to 
recover any recompense for such wares or the workmanship thereof, v.hat- 
soever assurance he shall have by bond, surety, promise or pain of the 
party or any other: and all assurances and bonds in that case shall be 
void." The question of v/hether the person to whom the goods had been 
sold possessed an income of h 3000 a year was to be "tryable by bookes 

45. Sir Simonds D'Ewes (coll.) Journals of All the Parliaments during the 
Reign of Queen Elizabeth, Journal of Lords, pp. 69-70. These are 
the earliest printed journals of Parliament to which the writer has 
had access. They throw light not only on the circumstances sur- 
rounding •'-he enactment of the sumptuary laws, but also on the rules 
and procedure of Parliament, the relative positions of the two houses 
in the Elizabethan period, etc. 

46. Ibid. 


of subsidies or hy any other sufficient^ true way or means. This 

is the first bit of information which ve have as ■'"O the method by 

which the incoines mentioned in the siunptuary laws were to be ascertained. 

The law of 1563 was only intended to remain in force until the end of +he 

next Parliament. 

Two years later another act was passed, one section of which 

provided that "no man under the degree of e knipht, or of a lord's son, 

shell, after the first day of April next, wear any hat or upper 

cap of velvet, or covered with velvet", and that no caps si^ould be made 

of "felt or woolen not knit, nor died black v/ith bark, nor fulled 

in a mill", etc. If anyone si-^ould disobey this statute, he was to forfeit 

for "every hat, cap or thing to be made, dyed, thicked, fulled, sold, or 

worn, contrary to the meaning of this act, ten shillings, whereof the one 

moiety shall be to the Queen's Ma,iesty and the other moiety to such person 

47. 5 Elizabeth, c. 6. Stst. L., vol. vi, p. 187, also Stat. Realm, 
part 1, vol. iv, p. 428. This act seems to have been intended to 
prevent the selling of foreign clothes and ornaments, -Ahich were 
probably more expensive than domeatic wares, to any but the wealthy. 
The desire to lessen the sale of foreign goods snd to protect home 
industries was apparently the main motive for the passage of the 
act, though the wish to prevent the poorer classes from buying 
clothes beyond their means may have been an additional reason, 

48. On Januery 5, 1563, Thomas Randolph, writing to Sir Vv'illiam Cecil, 
from Edinburgh, mentioned +he nesw Scotch laws "about wines, great 
hose and costly cpparel". Evidently the Scotch legislators had 
to deal with conditions similar to those in England, (Cal. Scotch 
State Papers, vol. i, p. 187) See also Preserved Smith, p. 4R4, 
for a refer nee to a Scotch sumptuary law. 

49. For some of the details conrected " ith its passage, see D'Ewes, 
Journal of Commons, pp. 133-134 j Journal of Lords, p. 112. 


tben using the feat of cap-making as will sue, for the same in any 

court of record, wherein no essoin, protection or wager of law for the 

defendant shall he admitted or allowed," 

Although the paragraph as to the wearing of velvet caps is 
listed among the statutes of apparel, it is merely one provision of an 
act regulating hat and cap-making. There is no evidence to show how 
such a provision ca" e to be tucked av^ay in such a place. However, its 
presence there proves that it was not always the case that entire 
laws were sumptuary in character. Sometimes only one provision of an 
act might be of this nature, while the rest of the statute dealt with 
something quite different. In this particular case, the wearing of 
velvet hats was apparently prohibited in order to encourage the 
English hat-making industry, as well as to prevent extravagance and 
preserve class distinctions. 

In 1571, Parliament again turned its attention to tbe suh;iect of 
caps. It had been sumjnoned to meet on April 2 of thet year. On the 
opening day, a gorgeous procession wound its way down to the House, The 
queen wore her royal i-obes and a gnld coronet, set with pearls, on her 
head. The Bishop of Lincoln preached before Her V.ajesty in Westminster 
Abbey, and then the royal party proceeded to the House of Lords. Sir 
Nicholas Bacon, the lord keeper, again made the opening speech. He 
directed Parliament to inquire whether any of the laws "already miade be 
too sharp or too sore or over hurthenous to the subject; or whether any 
of them be too loose or too soft, and so over perilous to the state,... 

50, 8 Elizabeth, c. 11, paragraph 5, Stat. L, , vol. vi, p. 247, and Stat, 
Piealm, part 1, vol. iv, p. 494, In march of the same year, in two 
letters, one written by the Earl of Murray and '.■illiam kaitland to 
the Earl of Leicester and Vvilliam Cecil, and another from Randolph to 
Cecil, reference is made to an act respecting the aooarel of ministers. 
As the letters were written from Edinburgh, the act' mentioned was 
probably a Scotch act. (Cal. of Scotch State Papers, vol. i, p, 207,) 


You are also to examine the want and superfluity of laws." 

Elizabeth had summoned Parliairent because she needed money end 
wanted protection from the papal hulls v/ith which she -v^fas threatened. 
Nine new constituencies returned representatives, who were adri'^ted 
to the ?Iouse of CorrunonE after a committee had examined their claims. 
The ministers who represented Elizabeth at this time were almost all 
new men. The old influences had nearly disappeared from her privy 
council - Norfolk, Arundel, Pembroke, Northhampton and V/inchester, 
were either dead or in prison. Cecil hnd been created Baron Burleigh, 
Smith had succeeded him as secretary of the council, and V»alsingham 
"was fast forging to the front. The nobles in th3 council were all of 
Tudor creation. Hardly one of the men who wrought the greatness of 
Elizabethan England was of noble parentage. The control of English 
affairs had passed into the hands of men vrho were prepared to give 
full play to new forces. Since 1569, however, a storm had been 
brewing, v-hich threatened to end Cecil's career. He had risen to 
povfer solely by his own capacity and royal favor. His design was the 
same as that of Thomas Cromwell, the prime minister of Henry VIII during 
the English Reformation, namely - "the delivery of the English sovereign, 

by the help of Parliament, from the competition of rival jurisdictions,.., 


and the centralization of the state by means of a personal monarchy. 

This policy encountered opoosition from, the Catholics, from the holders 
of mediaeval frenohispis and from the nobles, who disliked a monarchy 
served by upstarts independent of their svipport. These forces united 

51, Parliamentary History, vol. i, p. 723 ff. 

52. Political History, vol. vi, p. 277 ff. 


in 1569 and 1570 in a Roman Catholic rebellion in the north of 
England, in Decre's revolt and in the Ridolfi plot. It is not 
necessary to go info the details of the struggle. Suffice it to say 
that the monarchy won and Cecil remained in pov/er. 

When Parliament met in April, 1571, the lord keeper, in behalf 
of the queen, warned the Commons "to meddle with no matters of State 
but such as should be propounded unto them and to occupy themselves 
in other matters concerning the commonwealth"," After receiving 
this admonition. Parliament proceeded to pass several ecclesiastical 
laws, and also an act to remedy "the evils arising from the decay of 
the trade of cap-making, by the disuse of caps,"" all of which (if we 
may supoose Parliament to have heeded the queen's warning) must have been 
acceptable to the crov.m. In fact, the aueen was said by the Speaker 
of the House, Christopher Wray, to have "as good liking of this Parlia- 
ment as ever she had of any Parliament since Her Ma.jesty's reign",' 
The act dealing with caps provided that every person above the age of 
six years, residing in any of the cities, toiMis , villages or hamlets'' 
of England, should wear on Sundays and holidays (except when they were 
travelling outside of their places of residence) "a cap of wool knit, 
thicked and dressed in England, made v.-ithin this realm, and only dressed 

and finished by some of the trade of cappers, upon pain to forfeit for 


every day of not wearing 3 s, 4 d." 

53, Ibid,, pp. 362, 363; also Parliamentary History, vol. i, p. 730 ff, 

54. 13 Elizabeth, c. 19, Stat. Eealm, part 1, vol. iv, p, 555; and 
Stat. L., vol, vi, p. 268. 

55. Parliamentary History, vol, i, p. 760 ff. In spite of her fondness 
for this Parliament, the queen checked it v^^henever it touched upon 
her prerogative. It vms dissolved on May 29. 

56, Seven years of age is given as the minimum age in the Statutes at 
Large, six in the Statutes of the Realm. 

57, "Why inhabitants of the open country were not included is not clear, 

58. Stat. L., vol. vi, p, 288, 


'W Justices, sheriffs, etc., were given power to try and determine 

offences against this act, and parents, guardians and masters were made 
liable for the forfeitures incurred by their children and servants 
under tvj^enty-one years of age. Maids, ladies, gentlewomen, noble 
personages, "and every lord, knight and gentleman of twenty marks land 
and their heirs, and such as have borne office of worship in any city, 

borough, town, hamlet or shire and the wardens of the worshipful com- 


panics of London were all exempted from the operation of the rule 

laid down as to the wearing of woolen caps. The noteworthy thing 
about this act was that it was the first positive pronouncement on the 
subject of dress issued by Parliament during the Tudor period. The 
earlier laws, as has already been mentioned, were all negative or 
prohibitive in character. They informed the public what they must 
not do and wear. This statute told all Englishmen, v^ith certain 
exceptions, v^^nat they must wear on their heads on certain days, that is 
to say, it was prescriptive rather than prohibitive in character. It 
is scarcely necessary to point out that the real reason for the passage 
of the laviT, as was stated in its title, ^'vas an economic one - the desire 
to revive the English cap-making industry, which was falling into decay, 

and to protect it from the encroachments of foreign cap manufacturers. 

The idea that caps were less costlv than hats and that the expenses of 

the citizens would therefore be lessened by making them wear caps, seems 

to have entered only inoidentally into the calculations of Parliament, 

if indeed it entered at all. The statute was repealed and declared void 

59. Ibid. 

60. The expenses of some citizens may have been increased by the passage 
of this law (if it v;as ever enforced) since some persons who would not 
ordinari].y have worn woolen caps may have been obliged to purchase 
them, in addition to the headgear v/hich they already possessed. 


in 1597, about six years before the end of Elizabeth's reii^n. 

This was the last act of its kind which was oassed by Parlia- 
ment during the reign of Elizabeth, but several other statutes were 
proposed and discussed. During the session of 1565-66, the House of 
Lords, on Thursday, December 19, read for the third tiir,e and passed 
a new bill "for reformation of excess of apparel".. This bill was sent 
to the House of Commons by Serjeant Oarus and the Attorney General, 
It was read once by the Commons and, on Deceraber 21, under the title 
of "bill for avoiding excess in apparel" had its second and third 
reading, but "no mention is made that it passed the house". The 

following Monday, however, "report being made upon the bill..., it was 

„ 62 

upon the question dashed , This measure had apparently originated 

in the House of Lords. Probably the queen and Privy Council, through 
the attorney general, had had some hand in framing it. Just why the 
Commons rejected it is not explained; perhaps it was an aristocratic 
measure and favored the uoper classes too much in the matter of dress. 
Such laws had proved very unpopular in the reign of Henry VIII, 

In 1571, an attempt was apparently made to renew the act of 1563 
prohibiting- the selling of foreign wares to anyone with an income of less 
than h 3000. On Thursday, M^y 24, 1671, "the bill for not naying for 
Wares sold for Apparel without ready money was, upon the Question, 
ordered ho be rejected, and not to be revived or an:/- longer continued". 

After various prorogations. Parliament met again on February 8, 
1575, There '/vas scarcely another reign in English history in which 
Parliament met so seldom as it did in the reign of Elizabeth, The queen 

61, 39 Elizabeth, c. 18, paragraph 45. Stat. Realm, part 2, vol. iv, p. 918; 
Stat. L., vol. vii, p. 17. 

62, D'Ev<-es, Journal of Lords, p. 112; Journal of Commons, pp, 133-134, 

63, D'Ewes, Journal of Commons, p. 188, 


apparently meant to show her subjects th&t she could reign v/ithout 
their assistance. Almost the first thing the Lords did after re- 
assembling was to read a bill for reformation of apparel, Camden 
mentions that, the year before, Elizabeth had issued a proclamation 
intended to put an end to modish luxury, "Observing that, to maintain 
thic! shining vanity, a great quantity of money was yearly carried 
out of the land, to buy silks and other foreign fineries, to the inpov- 
erishm.ent of the Commonwealth and the almost ruin of several noble 
families, who strove to vie with one another in this kind of extrava- 
gance,.,. And now the Quean's proclamation being little regarded, an 

Act of Parliament was designed to enforce the observance." 

On Monday, February IS, the proposed statute was read for the 
first time. A former bill to the sane effect had been referred to a 
com;nittee on February 9, It was aoparently never reported out again, 
end a nev; bil] had to be brought in, which had its second reading on 
Wednesday, February 15, and its third and last reading on Thursday^ 
The same day that it passed the Lords, it was sent to the Commons, ■^^'ho 
never returned it, "probably because an act of this nature might be a 
hindrance to trade" and very oppressive if strictly enforced. 

During the session of 15PS-89, another attempt was made to enact 
a statute of apparel. On February 27, a bill for reformation of excess 
in apparel was read for the second time in the House of Lords and 
"comissa uni Comiti et 4 Baronibus", The proposed law was not read for 

64. Parliamentary History, vol.iv, p. 185, 

65, Ibid.; see also D'Evtos, Journal of Lords, p. 2r8, 


the third time iintf^l Saturday, March 8, v;hen it was passed and sent dovm 
to the Commons hy Kr. Serjeant Shuttleworth and Mr. Doctor Awbery, 

Vl/hat fate it met with in the lower house is not known; at any rate, it 

, 66 
never reappeared. 

Same years later the need for supplies compelled the summoning of a 

new Parliament, to meet at Vvestminster on October 24, 1597. Its activity, 

apart from, finance was devoted to questions of social reform. Tv^e new 

lord-keeper. Sir Thomas Egerton, made the opening speech. On October 27, 

Serjeant Yelverton was elected Speaker of the House of Commons. In his 

speech at the dissolution of Parliament (which took place on February 9, 

1598) Yelverton declared that thir Parliament had been called "for the 

preservation of some laws, amending of others, cutting off unnecessary 

statutes and the making of new, never before enacted." 

Jars between the two houses v;ere frequent and each rejected 
bills passed by the other. On Tuesday, February 7, "Mr. Serjeant 
Drew and Iilr. Doctor Carew did bring word from the Lords that their Lord- 
ships do desire a Conference of a convenient number of the l»lembers of this 
House", i. e. the House of Commons, "with twenty of their Lordships this 
Afternoon in the Chamber next the Upper House, touching the Bill lately 
passed in this House Intituled an Act Against the Excess of Apparel. 
lA/liereupoil it was ordered that the former Committees of this House in 
the sam.e Bill (who vrere appointed on Thureday the 19th day of January 
foregoing) shall attend their lordships accordingly.' 

In the afternoon of the same day, "Wr. Comptroller", who v;as one 
of the members of the comm.ittee which conferred with the Lords, reported 

66. D'Bwes, Journal of Lords, p. 424. 

67. Parliamentary History, vol. i, pp. 893, 895, 904, 905. 


what had happened at the meeting of the .joint conference corartittee, 
as it v/ould be called nowadays, and "that their Lordships have no 
g-ood liking of the said bill for sundry imperfections in the sair.e, 
not answerable to her Majestie's Proclaination touching the degrees 
and qualities of persons; And that their Lordships shewing themselves 
•"^ery courteously and kindly towards the said Committees of this House 
could been well pleased to have proceeding with a more convenient 
bill for the said purpose, if the expected shortness of the Parliairent 

could so have permitted. ■V.'hereupon the House resolved not to deal any 

further touching that matter this Parliam.ent. At about the same 

time, a proposal to limit the size of ruffs was dropped in the Commons, 


perhaps out of deference to the queen, who wore enormous ones. 

This was apparently the last attempt made during the Elizabethan 
period to pass a statute of aoparel. It is an interesting fact that 
almost all of the proposed acts originated in the House of Lords and 
were rejected by the Com.rrons. Perhaps the Lords tried by these measures 
to bolster up aristocratic privileges in regard to dress, as well as in 
other rescects. Such attempts would naturally meet v;ith no s^/mpathy 
from the Commons, At any rate, despite the number of bills dealing 
with apoarel which were presented and the importance which was apparently 
attached to them, the fact that most of them were rejected would seem to 
indicate that they were not popular with the mass of the people. 

68, D'Swes, Journal of ConiiT^ons, p, 594. 

69, Pol. History, vol. vi, p. 468. In 1601, a bill for "the restraint 
of the excessive and superfluous use of Coaches within the Realm 

of England" was read twice and rejected. (o'Ewes, Journal of Lords, 
p. 602.) 


In addition to the svurptuary laws which were actually enacted 
and those which vfere proposed during the Elizabethan period, a nuraber 
of proclamations dealing with dress were issued. On October 20, 1559, 
the year after Elizabeth's accession, the Priiry Council, at a meeting 
at 7vestiriinster, drew up a decree containing certain "articles agreed 
upon by the Lordes and other of the Quenes Maiesties pryvy counsayle 
for a reformation of their serveuntes in certayne abuses of apparell, 
thereby to gave example to al other Lordes, noble men and gentlemen." 
Every lord end master was directed to examine the clothing of his 
servants in the city and to note the costumes of those assessed for 
purposes of taxation at t 20 a year or h 200 in poods. All who possessed 
unlawful apparel would be obliged to give it up immediately, if they 
could afford to do so. Some auitable person was to take a view of the 
dress of all the servants and to enter in a book all unlawful garmients. 
No more such garments were to be bought or worn, but those already pur- 
chased might be worn out, if the servant could not afford to give them up. 
The books in which the garments were registered were to be handed into 
the royal Counting House or to the gentlemen ushers of the court for the 
prot action of servants wearing out unlav/ful garments. Care should be 
taken to prevent servants from, devising ways of miaking legal ge.rments as 
expensive as their present apparel. Gentlemen and servants who possess 
furs and embroideries beyond their stations in life must hand in a list 
of the forbidden articles to the lord chamberlain if they wish to wear 
them in the royal chambers, or to the Counting House if they want to use 
them, elsewhere at court. Tailors are ordered to be moderate in their 

70. Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, vol. i, p. 54, 


charges, and not. to charge poor men as rruch as rich ones. The original 

of this order bears the signatures of Viiincbester, Penbroke, Thonas 

Parry, Knollys, Cecil and four other leading members of the Go\ircil, 

This proclamation was followed the very next day bv one issued 
by the queen and entitled "A Proclamation for the Redress of Inordinate 
Apparel", It declared that "although the Quenes most excellent Waiestie 
might levy great sums of mony at this present by due execution of sundry 
wholsome laws upon great numbers of her subjects, for wearing of such 
excessive and inordinate apparel, as in no age had beer seen the like: 
whereby also shou3.d ensue such notable benefit to the commonwealth, as 
hard it were by any other vays to devise the like: yet the singular 
goodness of Her Majestic^ nature '.vas such to forbear the extending of 
any sudden and unlocked for extremity. That in these cases her Vejesty 
thought rather by this proclamation to notify her Highnes determination 
v^^ith her privy council..., for this that followeth, than suddenly to 
extend the penalties of her laws," 

The Privy Council is directed to see that the statutes of 1 and 2 
Philip and ^ary and parts of 24 Henry VIII are enforced both at court 
and in the houses of its members, in the hope that "the example shall 
induce the rest of her subjects to reform their disordorf. ." The pro- 
clamation charges all mayors and governing officials of cities and 
corporate tovms, all sheriffs and justices of the peace in counties, all 
noblem.en "of the state of barons", and all heads of any societies and 

71, Ibid. MS. of this in Fuh. Rec. Off, S^e references in Cal. Tudor 
and Stuart Proclamations, also Cal, State Papers Domestic Eliz,, 
vol. vii, nos. l.r, 14, 15, 

72, John Strype, Annals of the Reformation during Queen Elizabeth's Kappy 
Reign, vol. II (2), pp. 563-64, 



companies, whether ecclesiastical or temporal, within tv;elve days 
after the publication of the order to take meesures for the execution 
of the statutes referred to above, "so as her Ma.iesty may take some 
comfort of her toleration, and the commonwealth some relief of the 
great damage hereby sustained". 

Breaches of 1 and 2 Philip and Mary would not, so the proclam- 
ation declared, be tolerated after December 20 of the sairie year, nor of 
24 Henry VIII after January 31, except in the case of certain costly furs 
and rich embroideries bought by gentlemen before the order was issued, 
"with a certain favorable proceeding touching such as cannot without 

their over great loss change their unlawful apparel, which they 

presently have." 

To the proclamation was appended a schedule, giving, in outline 

form, 'the briefe content of certayne actes of Parliament." Because the 

schedule is the earliest docuirient of its kind on record in England, it 

is reproduced hoi e in full. 

73. Ibid. 

74. Ibid. See also Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, vol, i, p. 54, 
and references given there. 


"Anno XXIV, Henry VIII 







Cloth of 




satin, sylke, or cloth 
ir.yxte with golde or sylverj 
nor any sables. 

Wollen cloth made out of the Realme" 

fEarles, and all of superior 
degrees, and Viscountes and 
Barons in theyr doblets 
and sleveless coates. 

> Velvet 


Scarlet or 

Black Jenets 


Velvet in f Govmes 

jCoates or uttermost 

)Furre of Libardes 

Prickyng or 

^with golde, 
< sylver, or 


Damaske, or 
,Silke chamlet in 

his uttermost 

Earles or 


Barons and Knyghtes 
or thorder 

Barons sonnes, 
Knyghtes, or men 
that m^y di spend 
CC. li . by yere 

/Velvet, otherwyse then 
in ,iackets, doblets, etc, 
Furre whereof the kynde 
groweth not within the 
Queenes dominions 

Gray Je-l ( A man that may 

Except nettes, I Except ^ dispend one hun- 
Bodge I ) dred pounde by 


None shal 
weare anye 
sylke in 

Anno i et ii Philippi et Mariae 

iHatte. Bonet 
Nyghtcappe. / 
Gyrdell. Scabardet 
Hosen, Shoes. \ 
Spur re lethers ^ 

/The Sonne and heyre, or 
\ daughter of a knight, or 
^the wyfe of the sayd sonnc, 
jk man that may dispende 
/ XX. li. by yere, or is 
j worth two hundred poundes 
y in goods. 


"These be the briefe contentes but of certayno partes of the 
lawes nowe remaynyng in force, to the observation v.-hereof, her Majestie 
thinketh best to induce her sub;iects by this shorte memoriall, and yet 
neverthelesse wysheth that al] of inferior estates, should not neglect 
the rest of the same lawes, lest if they shalbe found to contemne these 
orders here rnencioned, they may feele the peyne of the rest. 

There be certaine other exceptions in the statutes: as for such 
as have licence by the Quenes Majestic, or such as shall runne in any 
Justes or shall serve in warre, or shell have apparel given them to be 
worne by her Maiestie, and such lyke. All -which are well to be con- 
sidered by them that wyll' clayrr.e any privilege thereby, and that at 
theyr peryll. 

"And V'-'here there is mention made of values of yerely lyvelodes 
and goodes, the best accompt therof is to be made by the taxations of 
this last subsedie, so as if any v/\-ll be excused by pretence of his 

livelode or substance, to offende, it is an neete that he aunsv-ere to 

the Prince in subsedye for that Talue, as seeke defence to breake 

any good lawe, whereof her Majestic geveth to all men admonition. 

Anno M. D. LIX 

Mense Ootobris." 

75» This vas a clever move on the part of the queen, which was calculated 
to redound to her financial advantage as well as to aid in the en- 
forcement of the sumptuary lews. If the suhiect claimed that he had 
a large enough income to permit him to wear certain fabrics, he 
would have to pay taxes in accordance with that income. If or the 
other hand, he dressed more richly than his rank and income wari'anted, 
he would have to pay a fine to the queen for breaking the law. Either 
way. Her Majesty would be the gainer. 

76, Quoted from original collection of proclamations in P. M. G. 6463. 


Althouf,h this proclamation issued on October 21, 155P, it v,-as 
apparently not made public for several days. Perhaps some titr.e was 
required to print it end despatch it to the various parts of Englend. 
Henry Machyn states in his diary that on "the XXV day of October was 

proclaymed in ... Westnynster of apparell of all kyndes, and the 

morovf in London • V/hether the proclamation referred to by jllachyn 

was the one issued by the Privy Council (which, according to Lord 

Burghleigh's "Memorie Mortuorum", was published, the day after it was 

issued, in the library of the Society of Antiquaries) or the one put 

forth by the queen is not clear. It might have been either. 

Frequent mandates went forth from the Privy Council to the chief 

magistrates of London (and probably of other towns) coirjnanding them to 

enforce the penal statutes and to use everv means that the lav/ put into 

their hands to suppress such abuses. A letter of this kind was sent 

by the lords of the Privy Council, in the first year of the reign of 

Elizabeth, to the lord mayor of London "+o the end that he might cause 

enormities in the said city; and first, the use and weafing of excessive 


and inordinate apparel contrarie to the lav/es of the re8,lm"o 

Similar proclamations were promulgated from tine to tirre throughout 

the kingdom, especially when any new abuse came into fashion. More 

royal orders dealing with dress seem to have been issued during Elizabeth's 

reign than at any other period in English history; at least, more of 

77, Diary of Henry l.ach^Ti, p. 216. This proclamation was printed by 
Jugge and Cawood. A copy of it has been preserved in the library 
of the Society of Antiquaries of London, (ibid. p. 376). See also 
Egerton, Papers, p. 247; Strype, Annsl?, vol. i, 186. 

78, Quoted by Strutt , Dress and Habits, vol. ii, p. 114, 

79, Ibid. 


them have been preserved* EvQry few years a nav/ one was put forth. 
On May 6, 1562, appeared "articles for the due execution of the statutes 
of apparell and for the reformation of the outragious excesse thereof, 
growon of late tine within the realme," These articles were "deuysed upon 
the Quenes Maiesties comnaundement, by eduise of her counsell", and 
issued at V/estminster, This decree ordered that the laws of Henry VIII 
and Mary should be observed, and that "the meaner sort" should be 
especially punished, and that measures looking to that end should be 
taken at court by the lord chamberlain and lord steward. All offenders 
were to be examined as to their masters' knowledge of their extravagance 
and the masters were to be punished by fines. The same sort of an 
examination was to be made in the city of London, and in the Ini)s of Court 
and of Chancery, in suburbs, cities, towns, and villages, and in the 
"Countie Palentine". Certificates of examination were to be sent in 
(apparently to the Prixn/- Council every fortnight for two months and 
every six weeks for the rest of the year. Justices of assize were com- 
manded to inquire into the execution of this order. 

The same proclamation also regulated the size, material, and linings 
of hose and ordered that tailors and hosiers should be put under bond. 
After a fortnight no one T;as to be allov;ed to wear hose containing "in 
the nether stockes and upper stockes" more then a yard and three quarters 
of the broadest/kersey, nor a shirt with double ruffs, nor (if he is below 
the rank of a knight) gilt spurs, or damascened or gilt swords, rapiers. 

80. Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, vol. i, p. 60, Henry Machyn in his 
diary mentions this proclamation. He says, "The VIII day of l.'ay was 
a proclamacion of the aht (act) of a-ray and grett ruffes and grett 
brechys, and that no man to have butt a yerd and a halff of kersey; 
that no swerd to be btitt a yerd and a quarter of lenth the blad and 
dagars butt XII ynche the blad, and that buckelles shall not have 
longe pykes, but of a sysse" (of assize or fixed length), (Diary of 
Henry Ma chyn, p. 281). 


or daggers, on pain of forfeiture. No man might wear a sword or rapier 
longer in the blade than one and one eighth yards, dagger longer than 
twelve inches, or a buckler wi+h the point sharpened or rore than two 
inches long, on pain of forfeiture and imprisonment. Cutlers who 
should sell any of the forbidden weapons v.'ould be imprisoned and fined. 
Ladies and gentlemen at court were directed to follow "the ancient order". 
At Oxford and Cambridge, the heads of the colleges and halls T-ere to see 


that the laws were obeyed. 

The very next day after this order was issued, the queen followed 
the council's lead and promulgated a proclamation which stated that 
because of the good effect produced by the "abbreviat of statutes" 
published by order of the council, -t-hese v/ere again to be taken in hand. 
The statutes and the ordinances issued by the council were to be strictly 
observed. It was declared that commissions would be sent to every county 
to inquire into their execution, °^ This order was supplemented by two 
others issued by the council on the same day. TV|e first contained "a 
note of certaine necessarie actes mencioned in the Quenes Kaiestyes 
Proclamacion, besyde a collection or certayne others, publyshed the last 
yeare, and nowe all to be executed", and an abridgement of 1 and 2 Philip 
H,nd Mary, c. 2, The second proclamation was werely a fuller and some- 
what amended repetition of t>ie schedules issued in 1559, 

In 1563, another royal order, which complained of slackness in the 
enforcement of various laws, especially those relating to superfluous 
clothing and the decty of horses, is said to have been promulgated. The 

81. Ibid, See references given there, 

82. Ibid. 

83. Ibid. 


proclamation of "last year" is referred to, and a short abridgment of 
the statutes dealing with clothing, with the regulation of arms and 
with the keeping of horses is appended to it. The tabular view of the 
statutes of apoarel is given again, this time a little more fully. There 

is some doubt about the date of this proclamation; possibly it was 


simply another edition of one of those issued in 1562, 

Several years later, the queen issued another proclamation which 
was siibscribed to by the lords of the council and some of the nobility. 
In this document, it was stated that "the Qijcenes ma.jestie, consydering 
to what extremityes a great nombre of her subiects are grovme by exoesse 
in apparell, both contrary to the lawes of the realm and to the disordre 
and confusion of the degrees of all states... and fynally to the sub- 
version of all good ordre by reason of remisness and impunity, hath, 
with th' advice of her counsell, upon good deliberation thought meete, 
for some degree tcnvards a rei*ormation herof, to cause a summary of som^e 
things necessary to this purpose to be extracted out of certen acts of 
parlement". This svimmary, containing ten clauses from 24 Henry VIII, 
three clauses from 1 and E Philip and Mary, and seven clauses from the 
proclamation of 4 Elizabeth, was to be published and duly observed. 
No hosier was to be allowed to make hose containing more than a yard 
and a quarter of carsey or other stuff in the upperstocks, v/hich were 
not to exceed one yard and an eighth in compass. This size was con- 
sidered sufficient for the tallest persons. Shorter people must wear 

84. B. K. G 6463. 

85. Strype, Annals, vol. i(2), p. 52? ff. 


smaller upperstocks. The linings of the hose, ^no, were cur^fully 
regulated. Trimmings and linings which show through slits in the leg 
coverings must be made of cloth manufactured in the queen's dominions. 
No one, except barons' eldest sons and persons above that rank, members 
of the Order of the Garter, and men possessing incomes of at least 500 
marks a year, was to be allov;ed to wear satin or velvet in his upper- 
stocks. A maximum length was again fixed for swords, and it vms ordered 
that fencing masters s^^ould be licensed by the city authorities. No 
favor was to be shown to officers remiss in executing these provisions, 
nor to any persons found guilty of violating their \-ithin fifteen days 
after their publication. Hosiers were to be bound "in good simmes 
of money" to observe these orders. This proclamation was dated at 
Greenwich, February 12, 1565-66 and was signed by N. Bacon, Northampton, 
Sussex, Leicester, Knollys, Cecil and others* 

On April 29, 1572, an order concerning hats and caps was issued 


at V/estminster bv the queen, T'-'is has only been preserved in m.anu- 
script form, to which the writer has not yet been able to obtain access. 
Possibly this was the proclamation referred to by secondary writers, 
which forbade the wearing of caps or bonnets of lattice or ermine by 
any person belovif the rank "of a gentlewoman born and having the right 

. DO 

to bear arms , Evidently the general extravagance among women in 
the matter of hats, v;hich Stubbs had remarked upon had not decreased, 
but had perhaps even grown worse. 

86, Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, vol, i, p. 66; Strype, Annals, vol. i 
(2), p. 533 ff.; Cal. S. P. Dom,, vol, xxxix, p, 30. 

87, Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, vol. i, p. 72. 

88, Harleian i:S. 1776. 


Only a few yeers elapsed before the publication of another 
proclamation, which like all the earlier ones, complained of the 
"excess of apparel and the superfluity of unnecessary foreign wares 
thereto belonging, now of late years, , .grovm by sufferance" to an 
alarming extent. This state of affairs, so the government thought, 
was likely to result in : (1) the decay of a great part of the v/ealth 
of England through the bringing in of so many silks, and of other costly 
fabrics, to pay for which the money and treasure of the realm must be 
annually sent f.broad; (2) "the wasting and undoing" of young gentlemen 
and of those who v'ould like to be esteemed gentlemen, since, in order to 
buy fine clothes, they consume their poods and lands and run into debt. 
The queen therefore ordered the enforcement of certain clauses of the 
statutes of Henry VIII, and Mary, with some modifications. Women's 
clothing v/as placed in a separate and additional list; o^•her«vise, the 
articles to be observed were arranged exactly as they had been in the 
proclamation of 4 Elizabeth, though much fuller details were given in 
all the lists. A note at the end of the proclamation forbade all 
persons below a certain specified rank to wear any trimming or "welt of 

silk, upon their petticoats, cloaks, or "save-gardes". This order 

was promulgated en June 15, 1574, 

Nearly three years later (February 16, 1576-77) another attempt 
was made to out a stop to extravagance. The same oft-reiterated com- 
plaints about the failure to enforce the sumptuary laws was repeated, 
T^e contents of t^e proclamation vere similar to those of the one issued 

89. Strype, Annals, vol, ii (l) p. 527. 

90. Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, vol. i, p. "4. 


in 1574. The Queen especially stressed the fact that correction of 
abuses should begin at court. Fuller details v.ere given as to the 
method of calling persons to account for disobedience and challenging 
their right to wear fine clothes. All justices and other officials 
to whom the execution of t^e laws was entrusted were directed, after 
lilarch 31, to cause all offenders to be apprehended and coircnitted for a 
month, unless they should find bail to appear at the quarter sessions 
or assize. The subsidy book was to be used as the test for income, 
unless the accused should assert that his income was larger than it was 
there recorded, in which case the subsidy coTnmissioners would re.te him 
accordingly. Persons not assessed for the subsidy must prove their 
estate. Schedules, with "necessary addition^', were appended to the 
proclamation. It was commanded that it should not be "an occasion of 
private malioe" indicating that some of Elizabeth's subjects had been 
taking advantage of the siomptuary laws to "get back" at their enemies. 

This proclamation was "renewed" by another, dated February 12, 
1579-80, and entitled "a Commandement given by the Queens most excellent 
Majestie". The latter repeated the provisions of the order of February 
16, 1577, including the clauses from the statutes and the "necessary 
additions". It was also "declared and published '•ly the lord chancelor, 
and other Lordes of her Majesties Councell in the Starre Cham'^er, that her 
Majesties pleasure was, by advice of her said Councell, that from the 
one and twentieth of this month, no person shal use or weare such excessive 
long clokes, being in common sight monstrous, as novje of late are begonne 
to be used, and before two yeeres past hath not bene used in this Fealme, 

91. Ibid., p. 77. 


Neyther also should any person use or -weare such great and excessive 
ruffles in or about the uppermost part of their neckes,,,. but that 
all persons shoild in modest and coirely sort leave off such fond 
disguised and monstrous maner of attyring themselves, as both was 
unsupportable for charges, and undecent to be worne. 

And this her Majestie commanded to be observed , upon paine 
of her high indignation, and the paines thereto due, and willed all 
officers to see to the reformation and redresse thereof, to the punish- 
ment of any offending in these cases, as persons wilfully disobeying 

or contemning her Majesties command em ent," 

Even the queen's "high indignation" was not sufficient to terrify 

offenders against the sumptuary laws and prevent infractions of them. 

On February 13, 1587-8, another "declaration of the Queenes Kajestie, 

Hill and Commaundement to have certain lawes and orders put in execution 

against the excesse of Apparell" was proclaimed in the Star Chamber, 

This decree repeated the provisions of earlier proclamations, and 

contained certain clauses from 24 Henry VIII, 1 and 2 Philip and l^'ary, 

and other "meete orders", as well as schedules and certain notes for 


92, B. v.. G, 6463 (196) See Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, vol, i, 

p. 80; Strype, Annals, vol. ii (2) p. 294 ff. The Proclam.ation of 
8 Elizabeth (Feb, 12, 1566) regulating the length of swords, daggers, 
rapiers and bucklers, etc., together with an additional provision that, 
for a second offense against this decree, a cutler should be ban- 
ished from the pjace and town where he dwelt, was repeated in the 
royal order of 1580. 

93. Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, vol. i, p. 87, 


Perhaps greater success attended the efforts made to enforce 
the proclamation of 15P8 than had accoinpanied similar attempts made at 
an earlier time. At any rate, no rnore royal orders were issued for 
about a decade. On July 6, 1597, however, a proclamation was published 
which began as follows: 

"Whereas the Quenes Majestie, for avoyding of the great inconven- 
ience that hath growen and daily doth increase within this her relm by 
the inordinate excess in aooarel, hath by sondry former proclamations 
strictly charged and comaunded those in autorite under her to see her 
'lawes provided in that behalfe duely executed: Wherof notwithstanding, 
partly through their negligence and partly by the m.anifest contempt and 

disobedience of the parties offending, no reformation at all hath 


The results of this state of affairs were (l) the decay of hos- 
pitality, owing to the large sums spent on dress; (2) the "confusion of 
degrees, where the meanest are as richly dressed as their betters";^ 
(3) the increase of crime. Pride in their fine clothes was supDOsed to 
have driven the poorer classes to robbery and theft. This, Elizabeth 
felt, could not be allowed to go on. At the end of Trinity term, in 
the Court of Starre Chamber, at a m.eeting of the Privy Council, she 

expressed her intention of reforming this "intollerable abuse and un- 

measurable disorder." She declared, however, that she would not charge 

"eyther kind of the said offenders for any offence already paste, unlesse 
it be against such as shall heerafter offend or not observe the speciall 
partes and branches of the lawes now standing in force and articles here- 
after following: 

94, Viilliam Jerdan (ed.) "The Rutland Papers", in Camden Society Publications 
no, xxii, p. 247, 

95. Ibid, 


Cloth of gold, 
Sylver tissued, < 
Si Ike of purple) 

"Men's Apparel 


'Cloth of gold or 
silver, tinselled satin, 
silk or cloth mixed 
or erehroidered v.dth gold 
or silver. Foreign "vVoolenl 

'Any lace of gold or 
silver, mixed with 
gold and silver, or 
with gold or silver 
and silk, 

I Spurs, swords, ~\ 
rapiers, daggers,/ 
buckles or studds| 
of girdles, etc, \ 


Gilt or 
with gold] 
or silver I 



Coats and 
upper garments 

JErpbroidery with silk 
I lie 


Netherstocks of silk 

Earls and above that 
rank J and Knights of 
Garter in their purple 

Barons and above that 
rank. Knights of Garter, 
and Privy Councillors, 

'Barons' sons and all 
above that rank, Gentlo- 

imen attending upon the queen 
in house or chairber. Those 
Except <( who have been employed in 
embassies* Those with net 
income cf 500 marks per 
year for life* Knights 
(as regards daggers, spvirs, 
etc.); Captains. 

Knights, and all above 
that rank; their heirs 
apparent; those with 
net income of k .200, 
and all excepted in 
preceding article. 

Velvet in 




Satin ~) 
Damask ( . 
Taffeta \^ ^^ 

or other 




j Cloaks 
/ Coats, etc] 



'and all 
of horse 

r Knights' eldest sons, 
J and all above that rank. 
I Those with net income of 
V L 100, Those excepted above. 

Barons' sons and all above 
that rank; Knights; Men 
with incomes of 
Except / 500 marks etc, 
as above. 


Yiomen's Apparel 


of gold 
I tissued 



Countesses and 
all above 
that rank. 

(Viscountesses may wear cloth of gold or silver tissued 
only in thair kirtles) 

'Silk or 
cloth, r.ixed 
or embroidered^ 
with pearl, 
gold or silver 

Cloth of gold and 
silver only in 
linings of garments,^ 

Cloth of silver in kirtles 

Embroideries of gold 

or silver 

Lace of gold or silver/ 

or mixed with gold, 

silver or silk. 


trimjned with 


'Velvet in 
upper garments 
Embroider;/ vdth 

Netherstocks of 






(Velvet in 


■( Petti coats 
r Gowns 
N Cloaks and 
] other outer\ 
I garments 



Satin in 

Tufte taffeta 
Plain " 

i rt 1 e d 

in Gowns 


Baronesses and all 
above that 

TJives of Barons' eldest 
sons and all above that 
rank. Barons' daughters^ 

Knights' wives 
and all above 
thet rank, 

Yi'ives of Barons' eldest 
sons and all above that 
rank. Barons' daughters. 
T/ives of Knights of Garter 
of Pri\'y Councillors. 
Maids of Honor Ladies, etc, 
of Privy Chamber. Those with 
income of 500 marks a year. 

Knights' wives and all 
above that rank, except as 
above. Those v/ith incomes 
of h 200. 

Y^ives of knights' eldest sons, 
and all above that rank, 
Gentlewom.en attendant upon 
countesses, viscountesses, etc. 
Those with incomes of h 100, 

Gentlemens' wives, 
bearing arr.s and 
all above that 
rank, etc» 


There were certain other except' ons to these rules, such as 
that officers and servants of the queen jnight be licensed by her to , 
wear any kind of apparel they wished. This proclamation was not in- 
tended to prevent the wearing of liveries. If it should be found to 

conflict v.ith any statute, it vss ordered that the statute should be 

followed. The proclamation was to go into effect on August 13, 1597, 

Before that time arrived, however, another order had been put 

forth by the queen, contsining "certaine notes out of the statutes for 

dispensations with sundry persons not being in any certaintie before 

expressed, whereof all such persons, as thereby are to be dispensed withall, 

may be better enformed by perusall of the said statutes unto which they 

are to be referred," Among the persons exempted from the operation of 

the lav/s regulating apparel vrere officers of the royal household, who 

might wear any clothing licensed by the lord steward. Special rules 

were laid dov.r. for lawyers and university students. Gifts of old 

clothes to servants v.ere permitted. Henchmen, heralds end other servants 

might be licensed by the queen to wear any kind of dress. This decree, 

w^Mch was to go into effect on August 24, 1597, seems to have been the 

last of its kind published before the death of Elizabeth, At any rate, 

there is no record of any later proclamation dealing with dress having 

been issued during this reign, 

Many local sumptuary regulations and ordinances were prom.ulgated 

during the Elizabethan period. In London, the apprentices in the Iron- 

m.ongers Company were ordered to dress "in such wise that it be no dishonesty 

97, Rutland Papers, p, 246 ff. See also Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, 
vol. i, p. 100, 

98, Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, vol. i, p. 100 

99, Several proclamations forbidding the use of Irish dress and v,'eapons 
were issued in Elizabeth'^s reign. Seeihid., index, and vol. ii, p. 8. 


to the company, but that they be apparelled reasonable and honest, 
that is to say, for the holy days, hose, shirts, doublets, coats, 
gowrs or clceks, vith other necessaries such as may be conveniently 
honest and clean", end on the "worki^.g ^^'Vt such as may be honest and 
profitable to keep them from cold and wet," "They shall not suffer 
their hair to grow long." 

The Fishmongers apprentices were directed by their company to 
v;ear gov.ns in the fish-markets, but not out of them.. In the books 
of the Merchant Tailors' Company, we find that, in 1574, a member was 
committed to prison "for that he came to f^is house in a cloak of 
pepadore, a pair of hose lined with taffety, and a r.hirt edged with 
silver contrary to the ordinances," Another member v;as warned that 
he had on "apparel not fit for his abilities to v/ear" and was ad- 
monished to reform. 

In 1582, the luxury of the times "having greatly prevailed among 
people of all degrees in their apoarel", particularly apprentices, "the 
lord mayor and ccmjrion-council j_of London] enacted. That no apprentice 
whatsoever should presume • "to wear (l) any clothing except what he 
received from his master; (2) a hat, or anyth'ng except a woolen cap, 
without any silk in or about it; (S) ruffles, cuffs, loose collars, 
or anything except a ruff around his neck, and that m.ust not be more than 
a yard and a half long; (4) anyt.hing except canvas, fustian, sackcloth. 

IOC. Charles Er.ipht, ed., London, vol, v, p, IIV. 

101. A silken iSsibric. 

102. London, vol, v, p. 117, 

103. Ibid. 

104. B. Lambert, History and Survey of London, vol. ii, pp. 15 and 16. 


English leather, oi- woolen doublets, without any silvei' or silk 
trimming; (5) anything but white, blue, or russet kersey or cloth in his 
hose or stockings; (s) breeches made of any other materials than those 
of which the doublet was made, or stitched, leced, or bordered; (7) 
upper coats made of anything except plain cloth or leather, without 
pinking, stitching, edging or silk trimming; (8) any surtouts except 
cloth gowns or cloaks, lined or faced with cloth, cotton or baize, with 
fixed, round collprs, without stitching, guarding, lace or silk; (9) 
pumps, slippers or shoes not made of English leather, or pinked, edged 
or stitched, and girdles and garters made of anything except untrimrred 
crewel," wool, thread or leather; (lO)-sv,'crds, daggers, or other weapons, 
except knives, rings, "jewels of gold nor silver", or silk in an;/ of 
his apparel. If any apprentice should violate any of these rules, he 
might be punished, at the discretion of his master, for the first offence* 
For the second, he v^as to be piiblicly whipped at the hall of his company, 
and for the third, he v/ould have to serve six months longer than was 
specified in his indenture. Apprentices were also forbidden to attend 
any dancing, fencing or musical schools. 

Elizabeth issued many precepts to the London com.panies on the 
subject cf dress. As a result of this, two members of the Ironmongers' 
and two of the Grocers' Companies were found stationed at seven o'clock 
one morning at Bishopsgate, examining the dress of everyone who passed by, 
Vrhat they did if they discovered anybody wearing forbidden clothing is 
not stated, and can only be surmised. 

105. Made of a thin woolen yarn of two threads, used for tapestry and em- 

106. London, vol, v, p. 117, 


Other cities besides London adopted regulations with regard 
to clothing. In the archives of Vif'inchester, there are several items 
of interest in this connection, Tv,e first reads: ""Yt ys agreed that 
evry frnnchisman of this cyty from hencforth shall have and weare at 
every assemble within the soicle city... a decen+e govvne, uppon payne 
of forfeiture, ,,5 s. to be levied by distress to the use of the chamber." 

This order was repeated on October 31, 1656, with the remark that 
the custom har: lately been much neglected. In September, 1584, it was 
provided th&t "noe citizen of this citie that hath byn elected bayliffe 
of the same, or to anie office above that degree, shall from, hence- 
forth Trere in the strete -within this citie anie hose cr stockings of 
white, green, yellowe, redde, blewe,,..or oringe color " nor at any 
assem.bly, boroughmoot, court session or sennon a white, green, yellow 
or red doublet. This rule v/as evidently intended to regulate the 
official dress of the office-holders of the town and to secure dignity 
and uniformity in their attire, even m.ore than to prevent extravagance. 
The penalty for its violation was a fine of ? s. 6 d, for every offence, 

to be levied by the mayor's ser,ieant, for the use of the poor of the 

1 08 

In Bristol, Michael Pepwall was mayor in 1593-4, when the Corpor- 
ation stood upon their dignity in the m.atter of robes of office. Points, 
laces, and slashed .ierkins, together with barrel-breeches, v.'ere disallowed, 
and it was ordained that "if any alderman shall come to the place of 
audience or to the place of .justice, at the Tolzey or the Guildhall, in 

107. Charles Bailey, Transcripts from the Municipal Archives of Winchester, 
pp, 44-45. 

108, Ibid,, pp. 46, 53. 

V r 


any other fashion govm than an alderman's gov.ii of the gravest sort, 
he shall forfeit and pay to the irayor and commonalty, or to the cham- 
berlain, to their use, 6 s. 8 d. And, in like manner, every of the 
Common Council, which shall come to the assombly in the council-house 

in any other go\-.n than of the gravest fashion, worn commonly of those 

that have been sheriffs, shall forfeit and pay 6 s. 8 d," 

In the time of Elizabeth, very strict rules were laid dovm as 
to the costumes to be worn at the universities. A+ Oxford, no graduate, 
scholar or fellov; of a college in holy orders was allowed to wear a ruff 
around his neck or ruffles on his sleeves voider than the breadth of one 
finger, "and that vdthout any work of sylke. Further, it was ordered 
that hose should not be lined vith n^ore than one lining of any stuff to 
make theni Bwell", or puff out. Sijch hose were to be m.ade "without 
slyppe, cut, powTice, wslte, or sylke, savynge the styckynge of the stocks 
or the clocks of the same". 

In many of the colleges, the dress which should be vrorn by the 
inmates was prescribed by the founder. Complaints were constantly made, 
however, of undue smartness of dress on the part of some of the students 
and professors. In 1565, a report to the crown stated that there were 

great disorders in regard to apparel and surplices in St. John's Collage, 
Cambridge, which have arisen by the disorderly acting ard preaching of 

109. J. F. Nicholls and John Taylor, Bristol, Past and Present, vol, i, 
p, 264, In a number of tovms, the official dress of the mayor and 
aldermen and of their wives, was regulated apparently in order to 
secure uniformity and to prevent the wearing of extravagant styles. 
See J. S. Davies, A History of Southampton, pp, 152, 1S3-194; end 

F. J. C. and D. M, Hearnshaw, Southampton Court Leet Records, part 1, 
vol. i, p. 141 ff. 

110, Quoted by G. L. Apoerson, "Stocking Clocks", in Tv^e Antiquary, vol, 
xxxvii, pp. 109-112, 


Mr, Fulke and others, making Robin Hoodes penny-worthes of their 
copes and other vestments." On December 12 of tbe same year, 
Richard Coortesse, who had been sent to Cambridge to investigate 
matters, sent Sir Vi/illiami Cecil an account of his proceedings there 

and enclosed articles against William. Fulke "for disorderly conduct, 


particularly in the article of apparel," About a week later, Coor- 

tesse wrote again to Cecil, stating f^at there vms now "^ood conformity 
of the college in the matter of apparel", but a year afterwards, 
Cecil sent a letter to Dr. Beaumont, vice-chancellor of the university, 
srd to the heads of the various colleges in Cam.bridge, asking that "the 
irregularities of the students respecting apparel may be suppressed," 
Apparently they were suppressed; at least nothing more was heard about 
them at that time. 

The central government made some attempt during Elizabeth's reign 
to enforce its own precepts concerning apparel. One rather extraor- 
dinary method of doing this which was adopted by the queen, was to oblige 

tailors to enter into a recognisance that they would not make "cloaths" 

contrary to the statutes. Thus, for example, on May 9, 1562, a 

bond was exacted of Nicholas Pevell and eight others, tailors of St, 

Kartin-le-Grand, "not to put more thrn one yard and three-quarters of 

kersey into any one oeir of hosen; and to cut the seine so as 'to lye 

close to the legges end not loose or bolstred as in anncyent tyme'". On 

the sexre date, similar bonds were executed by William Vaughan and forty-nine 

111. Ca. S. P. Dom. Eliz., vol, i, p. 262, 

112. Ibid, 

113. Ibid., p, 263, 

114. Ibid., p, 282. 

115. Harrington, p. 424, quoting Phillipps' treatise on purveyance, p. 393. 


1 T fi 
others, hosiers in T'estminster, to the same effect. 

In 1564, or thereabouts, Cecil Vvrote a letter to the Earl of 

Bedford, in -which he gave hinn advice on his conduct in the government 

of Berwick, and said, "Let your hovisehold be an example of order. A] low 

no excess of apparel.... Be hospitable but avoid excess" In 

the postscript fco another letter written in 1565 by the Archbishop of 

York to the queen, the subject of apparel was again mentioned. "The 

cause of the inconstancy and rcurmurring of the people in the north", said 

the archbishop, touching the alteration of religion, arises through the 

execution against Mr. Sairpson and others for uniformity of apparel in 

1 18 

the deanery • In the "injunctions Concerning the Clergy and the 

Laity", issued in 1559, ministers were ordered to wear seemly habits, 
garments and square caps, "as were most comir.only. . . received in the latter 
year of the raigne" of Edward VI "for the worthiness of the ministries", " 

That the clergy, as well as the laity, were sometimes guilty of 
wearing clothing regarded as improper, both in the performance of church 
services and in their everyday life, is evidenced by the foregoing quo- 
tations. In order to put a stop to this, Edmund Grindell, Bishop of 
London, enjoined the clergy under him to use ' such mode of apparel as is 
ordained by the queen's authority". Some of the clergy must have 
neglected this advice, since, in a private letter, written not long after 
Bishop Grindell's injunction to the clergy v.'as published, it was stated 

116. Ibid., vol, i, p. 200. The queen also sent out a number of commissions 
into the counties to inquire into the enforcement of the statutes of 
apparel. The reports of these commissions are unfortunately not 
available in this country. (See No, 1, Exchequer, Special Commissions, 
Index in 38th report, Dep. Keeper P. R.) 

117. Ibid., vol, vi, p. 555. Quoted from a quarto printed in London in 
1642, along with Robert Cecil's essay on the place of a Secretary. 

118. Ibid., p. 5G7. 

119. Lord Somers ' Tracts, vol. i, p. 64 ff. 

120. Cal. S. P. Dom. Eliz., p. 272, 273. IHrV 21, 1566. 


that the pi'Ooaodings had been begun ag;ainst certain ministers for 
refusing to wear crossed caps. ' The obiect of these proceedings, 
however, as vvell as of those against the colleges, -was probably to 
secure uniformity in cleri cal costume rather than to suporess extrav- 

Bishop Grindell was evidently much interested in the subject 
of dress regulation, for, in Noveriber, 1566, he ^Arrote (probably to 
Sir V'Jilliajn Cecil): "The Archbishop of Centerbury ho;;;es to meet the 
Lord Keeper, you and others of t>^e council tomorrow on this mstter of 
apparel. I have moved ny Lord Keeper and I find him very willing." As 
the result of the efforts of Bishop Grindell and others, three bills 

relating to apoarel were introduced into Parliament in December, 1566, 

but not one of them seems to have been Jjassed. 

At the very end of Elizabeth's reign, attempts were still being 
mado to enforce the s'onptuary lav.'s. In 1600, John Chamberlain wrote 
to Dudley Carleton at Y/itham. on June 13: "l was yesterday at the Star 
Chamber...; the Lord Keeper made a very grave speech, oharging the judges 
to ].ook to the idle justices of the peace; to the vanity and excess of 
women's apparel; to forestallers and regrators of markets," eto,^ "^ it 
is interesting to rote that, in this case, women are mentioned as the 
chief offenders in the matter of dress. Usually no distinction is m8de 
between the sexes. 

Licenses to wear clothing forbidden by the statutes were issued 
by Queen Elizabeth und'^r the pov/ers granted to the crov.Ti by the statutes 

121, Ibid., Thomas Fitzwilliejn to Hugh Fitzwilliam, May 27, 1566. 

122, Ibid., vol. vii, p. 20, See above, p. 

123, Ibid., vol. v, p. 441, 


passed during the reign of Henry VIII, On February 20, 1566, she issued 
a permissicn to her servants "to wear such apparel as they shall have of 
her gift out of the Great lYardrobe."^^* February 21, a list of the 

persons licensed by the queen, "being officers and servants of her 


household, to vear certain apparel according to the degree of rank," 

was published. Nearly tv^enty years later, in 1585, the aldernen of London 
and Sir Thorias Pullyson, the Lord Mayor, applied to the council for a 
license mitigating the statutes of apparel in favor of the city, and 
"desiring that the alterations proposed by them for the dress of the 


citizens should be gr8.nted." The reply which the council made to 
this request has, unf ortuna''"ely, not been preserved* 

Not only did the English municipalities issue occasional sumptuary 
regulations of their own in the reign of Elizabeth, btit, in one or two 
cases, at least, there is evidence that they attempted ■'"O perform the 
duties imposed upon them by the statutes adopted by the central govern- 
ment. For example, in 1576, the court leet of Southampton presented 
"dyvers women in this tovme", who "doo not weare whyte cappes, hut hatts 
contrarie to the statute, as yt may appeere by the churchwardens their 
presentments every weecke, as bones wiffe, paulle elliots wyffe, Robt, 
Crosses wiff, and Lawrence Crosse's v.dfe." 

The next year the same body indicted various persons guilty of 
offences against the statute of apparel, "item, we present that concerning 
the statute of apparell we fynde waiter sarle to ware gardes of velvat on 

124. Ibid., vol. i, p. 269. 

125. Ibid, 

126. Cal. S. P. Dom. Eliz., vol. ii, (or CLXXVl) p, 227 

127. Court Leet Records (Southampton), vol. i, p. 138, par. 7G, 



•t op 
on his hoEse, John delylls wyffe a peticot gardid with vellat, 

martyne howes a gowne of norv«yg i/'orsl-ed v.ith h brode byllyment (habili- 

msnt) Lace of sylke and his wyffe a hatte of taffitie lyned with 

vellat, - - broughton a hatt Lynid vdth vellat, John goddardes wyffe a 

hatt of taffitie lynid vdth vellat, John rriylls wyffe a cape of vellat 

and gardes in her go-v/ne, John haptens wyffe a taffytie hatt, Roger mylls 

wyffe a hatt of vellat, Andro harris a cloke Lynid v/ith tufte taffitie, 

John inarkes a cloke with cape of vellat with divers others as we suppose 

offendeth the statutes in that behalf e providid." In indicting these 

offenders, the court leet was acting as the agent of the central govern- 
ment for the enforcerpent of the acts of apparel, as those very acts had 
commanded the municipal governments of England to do. 

Besides the absence of court reports of oases brought up undpr 
the sumptuary laws, there are several other bits of evidence which help 
to prove that, ir Gnite of the efforts of the government and of other 
agencies, " these laws were poorly enforced in the reign of Queen 

128. Adorned, or trinned. 

129. Court Leet Records (Southampton), vol. i, p, 161, par. 98. 

130. The execution of the statute relating to the wearing of caps seems 
to have been intrusted to certain cap-makers who "by Her Iv'anesty's 
letters patent were authorized to make inquirie and use all good 

means for the recoverie of such sonmas of money as should be 
founde due to Her '.;a,iestie upon the forfeiture of the Statute for 
wearing woolen caps on the Saboatte daies." Ibid., vol, xi, op. 
26, 580. 


Elizabeth, as well as in the reigns of her predecessors. On June 19, 
1560, Sir T/illiam Cecil, v.Titing to Her Ma^iestie from Edinburgh, des- 
cribed the state of her army there. He said that excess of apparel 

'was very prevalent there, and that some captains carried "twenty and 

fourty soldiers in their hose". 

One of the earliest literary allusions to the statutes of apparel 

occurs in the interlude of "Godly Queene Hester", which was orinted for 

the first time in 1561, but was acted before that date. In this play, 

'pride', poorly arrayed, complained that, since Kanan had bouj';ht up 

all the good cloth, no one could procure fine clothes: 

"And any man in the towne 
Doe by him a good govme 
He is very wrothe. 
And will him strayte tell 
The statute of aoparell 

Yi/herefore, by this day 
I dare not goe gay." ^^ 

If any of the English officials had acted as the imaginary Haman 
was supposed to have done, there would have been less extravagance in 
England, but apparently they were not zealous in carrying out their duties. 

In Noveraber, 1566, Sir Viilliam Cecil noted down "a device how to 
have the penal statutes relating to usury, tillage, apparel, unlawful games, 
etc., better executed," Cecil's olan was that a certificate should be 
sent by the custos rotulorum in every shire to the council. This cer- 
tificate was to contain the niraber and names of all the divisions and 
parishes of the shire, all the resident justices of the peace and all 

151, Cal. Scotch State Papers, vol. i, p. 154. 

132, Rutland Papers, p. 489. The only copy of this interlude that has been 
preserved is in the Duke of Devonshire's collection. 



the coroners and clerks. The council was to choose two or three 
justices in each di^'ision and order them to call before them the 
coroner and clerk of the peace for that district and warn five "sub- 
stantial" men of every parish, one or tvro of whom must be chief con- 
stables, end also tvro of t^e mo t "substantial" inhabitants of every perish 
to appear at a prescribed day and place, Tfhen they had so appeared, the 
justices were to charge them to inquiry "concerning the material points 
of the saii^. statutes." Having miade their inquiry, the five substantial 
men and the inhabitants of each parish were to certify to the justices 
within a period of three weeks or a month, all offences "against any 
of the said statutes committed within their parish or hundred", and the 

justices were thereuoon to comm.and all offenders to appear at the next 

quarter sessions, etc. The plsn v/as carefully and elaborately worked 

out. Vvhether it was ever put into effect, no evidence has yet been 

found to shoi.v. But, at any rate, it is farily obvious that such a 

plan v.'ould not have been needed if the ordinary method of enforcing the 

laws had proved successful. 

This conclusion is strenejiened by a statement made by Stephen 

Gosson in his "School of Abuses" (London, 1579). "How often", he asks, 

"hath her majesty, with the grave advice of her honorable council, 

sette down the limits of apparel to every degree and how soone againe hath 

that pride of our hearts overflowen the channel?... Overlashing in 

apparel is so eommon a fault that the very hyerlings of some of our 

133. Ibid., \'ol. vii, pp. 20, 21, The w'-ole plan is given there. 


players, v^c stand at the reversion of 6 s. by the vraeke, jet vmder 
gentlemen's noses in suit^ of si Ike...." 

The failure of the English government to enforce the sumptuary 
laws may perhaps be partially sxpleined ^y some remarks which were 
made in the House of Commons in 1601 in the debate uuon a bill forbidding 
"usual and common swearirig' . A Mr« Gascock, one of the members, made a 
speech with reference to certain amendments to the bill. One portion 
of this speech is significant. He said, "if f^od forbid us to sv:ear and 
we fear not his Commandements, think you a pain of 10 s. as is here set 
down, will make us refrain this iniquity? ... T/e had as good make no 
law, for we give a penalty, and to be taken upon condition before a 
Justice of Peace; ... first mark v^hat a Justice of Peace is, and we 
shall easily find a gap in our Law, A Justice of Peace..., for lialf 
a dozen of chickens, will dispense with a whole dozer of penal statutes 
..• Unless you offer sacrifice to the Idol - Justices of Sheep and Oxen, 
they know you not. 

If the justices of the peace Avere reall;/- as venal and as Ielx in 
their enforcem.ent of the statutes as this speaker declared them to be, 
the oroblem of why the sumptuary laws were not more strictly executed 
is at least partially solved. One has only to remember that for a 
long time most of the burden of enforcing these laws fell on the justices 
and the twon officials, and one will be surprised that, ivith so iruch 
bribery and cornjption prevalent, they were ever executed at all. 

134, Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii, p. 114, 
155, D'Ewes, Journal of Commons, p, 660-661, 


In the fifth year of Elizabeth's reign, a l«w of a paternalistic, 
though not a sumptuary, character, was passed. The fasts of the Roman 
Catholic Church v.'ere continued in Protestant England fcr the purpose of 
helping on the fisheries and increasing the number of sailors. Among 
the state papers are many documents relating to this subject. In 1563, 
a bill for better observance of fast days and regulating how many dishes 
of flesh shall be at table" was rejected. This act provided that "every 
Yvednesday in every week throughout the whole year, which heretofore hath 
not by the laws or custons of this realm been used and observed as a 
fishday, and which shall not happen to fall in Christmas week or in 
Easter week", should henceforth be observed as a fish-dey. On these days, 
no one, except persons who had obtained special licenses, was to eat any 
meat on pain of having to pay a fine of forty shillings. The Fishmongers 
company looked after the butchers to see that they did not sell meat on 
prohibited days, and the justices of the h\indreds had strict orders to 
appoint searchers to detect persons eating or dressing fish on fast 
days." " The primary purpose of the law of 1563 was to bring about 
"the increase of provision of fish by the more usual and common eating 
thereof" and to aid "the growth and maintenance of the navy", rather than 

to make English people less extravagant in their manner of living. This 

portion of the statute was expunged in 1585, 

No laws concerning unlawful games vrere passed during the reign of 

Elizabeth, " but efforts were made to enforce those which had previously 

136, The Antiquary, vol. iii, p, 268, ff. See ibid, for a literary reference 
to the enforcement of this law, 

137, 5 Elizabeth, c, 5, paragraphs 14-23. Stat. L,, vol. vi, p. 179 ff. 
Expunged by 27 Elizabeth, c. 11. Stat. L., vol. vi, p. 371. 

138, One act was passed which forbade the acting of plays by any but 
licensed players, and which declared common players of interludes, 
mJnstrels, etc., except those belonging to some nobleman, to be 

rogues and vagabonds, but the main purpose of this act seems to 
have been to lessfjn the number of beggars and vagabonds. See. 
39 Elizabeth, c. 4, 




been passed. 

That such action was necessary in order to repress a grov<ing evil 
is shown by what Sttihbs says on this sub.iect. "Especially in Xinas tyme 
there is nothing els used but cardes, dice, tables, maskyng, TruTQirdng, 
bowling, and such like fooleries." Bearbaiting, cockfighting, hawking, 
hunting and other sports v^ere engaged in on the Sabbath. I^'arkets and 
fairs y^ere held on that day. Crowds of people flocked thick and fast 
to cockfights ind theaters. Some even pla7/ed football on Sunday - 
"e friendly kind of fight" rather "then a plaie or recreation"* ''' 

At court, matters were even vrorse. John Chamberlain tells us 
that "they pile the tables hard in t^e presence chamber, and play so 
round game as if Ireland were to be recovered at Irish." In the 
"injunctions Concerning the Clergy and Laity", ecclesiastics were for- 
bidden to haunt taverns or ale-houses, drink or play any unlawful games. 
Holy days v/ere to be spent in going to church services, visiting the 
sick, etc. 

In 1565, the Privy Council sent a m.essage to the University of 
Cam.bridge saying that "being informed of some pttempts of light persons, 
for filthy lucre, to set up places of shows for unlawful games near 
Cambridge, the council forbids the holding of such shows", on the ground 
that students "may thus be enticed to ho beholders and practicers of 
unlawful acts", and that the plague, which was raging at that time, 
might be spread by such assemblies. 

139. Stubbs, p. 205 ff. 

140. Letters of John Chamberlain, p. 34. Irish was a game very much like 
backgammon. At this period special efforts were being made by the 
English to subdue Ireland and establish complete control over it. 

141. Lord Som.ers' Tracts, vol. i, pp. 64-75. These injunctions went on to 
order that "no man, woman or child should be otherwise busied in the 
time of the service than in quiet to the service. All 
inn and alehouse keepers were forbidden to sell meat or drink while 
the services were going on. (ibid.) 


Three years earlier, Stephen Tucker, a yeoman of Westminster, 
had been required to give bond, "in e sum of h 80',' that he would not 

"play at dice, cards, nor any other unlawful game for the rest of his 

life . Not content with trying to stop gambling among private 

citizens and et the universities, Cecil wrote to V/alsingham in 1574 that 


he intended to prohibit unlawful gaming among the Queen's Guard, 

In 1579, the Earl of Derby, the Earl of Huntingdon, and other 
high commissioners assembled at Manchester gave orders thet pipers and 
minstrels should not play on Sunday and that bear and bull-baiting, 
■wakes or common feasts, haunting of alehouses and drunkenness should be 
forbidden, especially on the Sabbath. 

The lord keeper was authorized by the Privy Council in 1596 to 
issue commissions to the toxvns or counties, in order to encourage archery. 
The commissioners were to report the names and addresses of the diso- 
bedient to the lord keeper. The purpose of this provision was apparently 
at least as much to restrain unlawful games as to maintain skill with 
the bow. At about the sai^e date, the city of Bristol adopted an 
ordinance ordering that "no taverner nor vintner shall suffer any person 
to spend his time in drinking, or in any unlawfull exercises, in any 
of their houses, after the Bov/-Bell ceaseth ringing noine of the clock 
at night at St, Nicholas church in the winter, or after the hour of 
ten.., in the summer season", under penalty of having to pay a fine 
of 10 s. 

142, Calendar of State Papers, vol. i, p. 192, 
142, Ibid., p, 484. 

144, Hollingworth, Lancuniensis, p, 88. 

145, Rutland Papers, p, 217. 

J46. Srittol, Past and Present, vol. i, pp. 2GS-264. The ordinance was 

adopted during the mayoralty of Thomas Aidworth, who was elected for 
fehe second time in 1592, 

, .f_j : ^ 


The .iudicial department of the government also tcol<- a hand in 
the m.atter and, in 1600, Attornoy General Coke drew up a list of 
"articles which the constables of each hundred are to observe and 
answer unto at the beginning of every assize." Among other things, 

the constables were instructed to report "all unlawful games, drunkenness, 

etc., in private far-ilies, as or their good government the common- 
wealth depends,' They were also to inquire "ivhat recusants core not 
to church according to law, how many alehouses have been licensed, 
and whether licensed alehouses observe the prescribed articles, etc." 

T/v'ith the growth of Puritanism in the reign of Elizabeth, stricter 
supervision, not only over the games, but over all the amusements of the 
people, was introduced. Though the theater did not suffer much until 
the time of Cromvv'ell, plays were forbidden in the precincts of the 
City of London, because "by the daily and disorderlie exercies of a 
number of players and playing-houses erected r-ithin this citie, t*iie 
youth thereof is greatly corrupted and their manners infected. "■'• 

Tippling was the subject of occasional e.nimadversions by the 
government, but there seemiS to have been little real sentiment against 
it until the opening of the following century. Although it was still 
rife in England, little was dcre to regulate it during the Elizabethan 
period. It is said that the English soldiers drank inordinately while 

in the field, and that it was that fact that caused the plague to begin 

among iihem, Stubbs exclaims despairingly that the vice of drunkenness 

147. This is the first tine I have encountered even a suggestion that 
drunkenness in private houses was prohibited by the government. Before 
this. Parliament had confined itself to tr^/ing to put a stop to 
drunkenness in inns and taverns, v/hether licensed or unlicensed, 

148. Calendar of State papers, vol. v, p. EIS. 

149. Eemembrancia (Archives of the City of London) Kalono Society, Collec- 
tions, vol. i (l) p. 68, (2), p. 146. 

150. Stowe, Annales, (ed. of 16? l) p. 753. 


i6 "-t-oo, too Kuch used :n Ailgna; every countrev, cittio, tovvn, village, 
end other places, hath abundance of ale-houses, taverns and innes, 

v.'hich are so fraught vriLth maultwormeG, night and day that you -woulde 

v.onder to see them," All day and ir.ost of the night was frequently 

spent in oaronsing. 

In order to remedy this state of affairs, a bill "to reform the 

excess and disorders used in inns and victualling houses" introduced 

into Parliament and read for the first time on November 2, 1601, It was 

read again the next, day, when its committal was refused. On November 4 

a bill 'against excessive and oom.mon drunkenness", had had two 

earlier readings (February 7, 1585, and October 31, 1601 ) had its 

second reading and was committed. Later on in the same month, another 

act. "for the reformation of abuses in inns, taverns, alehouses", etc., 

was read, committed, amended, and finally ordered to be engrossed, " 

Vfhat became of it after thst time, the records do not show. On Thursday, 

December 10, a proposed law for suppressing alehouses and tippling-houses 

(apparently not identical with the one just mentioned) was read for the 

second time in the House of Comjiions, "and upon the question for committing 

, , jii 155 
dashed . 

151. Stubbs, p. 3.07 ff. passim. Stubbs also said that there was "much 
gluttony and excess in delicate fare in Ailgna' in his day, and 
that "delicate meate of sundrie sorts" loaded the dining tables, 
Fe also declared that the English people were "above all thinges 
inclined tc s\vearing", and that some of them could scarcely U'^ter 
a few words without interlarding them with oaths, (ibid.) 

152. Ca. S. P. Dom. Eliz,, vol. vi, pp. 120, 123, 

153. D'Ewes, Journal of Com' on s, p. 676. 


Th&t the media«v8l spirit of regulation had not yet entirely- 
died out even as late as the reipn of Elizabeth is indicated by the 
fact that at least one price-fixing law v^as passed during that period. 
This statute directed that -wines should be sold at such prices as should 
be fixed by royal proclajnation, ° 

Looking back on the sumptuary legislation of the Tudor period, one 
sees that the most numerous and iiiportant la-ws of this charactenC.hich 
were passed during the sixteenth century, were the statutes of apparel, 
the earliest of which v;ere very long and detailed and dealt with every 
rung in the social ladder, from the highest nobles down to the lowest 
pease.nt, prohibiting to each class the wearing of certain kinds of clothing. 
The acts passed during the later part of the period, in the reigns of 
Mary and Elizabeth, generally had economic motives behind them, were much 
shorter than those passed during the reign of Henry VIII, and usually 
forbade the wearing of only one special fabric or article of dress. Most 
of these lews were negative or prohibitive in character, though some of 
them did contain statements as to "vvhat certain classes of oersons might 
virear, and one, passed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, declared 
definitely that all English subjects, with a few exceptions, must wear 
v/oolen caps on Sundays and holy-days. Besides s\ippressing extravagance, 
m.any of the statutes were evidently intended to maintain and perpetuate 

154. Stat. L», vol. vi, p. lBl-5 Elizabeth, c. 5, par. 25, For other laws 
relating to -(vines, see 1 Elizabeth, c, 11, par. 9, 5 Elizabeth, 
c. 5, par, 11, 46. For the laws as to *ke maintenance passed in 
this reign, see 5 Elizabeth, c. 9, par, 3 and the queen's proclamation 
of 15f^3 against retainers, (Strype, Annals, vol, iii,(2), p. 255 f f , ) 
The nobles -Aere now obliged to cu^t^.i] their retinues to svAt the 
altered spirit of the time. The change had only gradually beer 
brought about, but, by the period of Elizabeth, no nobleman would 
be granted a license to maintain mors than one hundred followers. 
For laws fixing the wages, etc. of laborers (statutes of laborers) 
see Stat. L, (index,) 


class distinctions by preserving the ancient distinctions in dress 
between the classes. 

As regards the enforcernent of these laws, judging from internal 
evidence, from the large nmber of lavi's and procle-FfAtions, all very 
much alike, which were issued within a comparatively short space of time, 
from the absence of reported cases of infractions of their provisions 
brought up before the courts (though that may be accounted for by the 
fact that the majority of such cases may have been tried by justices 
of the peace who do not seem to have kept any records) and from con- 
tem.porary statements as to their lax execution, it m^ay be surmised that 
they were not carried out as they v.ere intended to be. IThy detailed 
laws like those of Henry VIII --vere not passed during the reign of Elizabeth 
is a matter for speculation. Probably the numerous royal proclamations 
made the passage of new statutes unnecessary. Greater efforts were 
apoarently made undarHenry VIII and Elizabeth than under the other 
Tudor sovereigns to enforce the laws that ^vere passed. At any rate, 
we have more eTidence as to enforcement during their reigns, but no more 
evidence as to the success of the attempts at enforcement. By the end 
of Queen Elizabeth's reign, numerous writers were beginning to criticize 
the policy of enacting sumptuary laws and to argue that high living is 
advantageous to a nation, so long as it takes the form of using luxuries 

manufactured at home, since it thus encourages domestic manufactures and 


155. Cunningham, The Growth of English Industry and Commerce, vol. ii, 
p. 239. 


Cbapter VI 

The Decline of Sumptuary Legislation. 

The reign of Elizabeth irarked the zenith of sumptuary legislation 
in England. Very soon after her death. Parliament passed an act which 
in one short paragraph undid all ths V'Ork of the preceding centuries. 
On July 25, 1603, Elizabeth's successor, the son of her old rival, Mary, 
Queen of Scots, was crovined )ci rg as James I, Shortly after the coro- 
nation a dreadful plague broke out in London, and the calling of a new 
Parliament had to be postponed for that reason until March 19, 1604» 
Y»'hen the houses were at length siirmnoned to meet, James bade the electors 
to choose "no bankrupts or outlaws but men of known good behavior and 
sufficient livelihood." All election returns were to be ^rade to the 
chancery and, if found not to conform to the proclamation, were to be 
■rejected as unlawful. The elections were uneventf?il, but the first 
meeting of a new sovereign '.vith his estates was boi;nd to arouse expectation. 

Never had so many members attended on the first day of any session as 


when Parliament finally assembled. 

The king himself, contrary to the custom of the sovereigns who 
had preceded him, delivered the opening speech, which was not without 
dignity. He promised to prefer the comimon advantage to private ends, 
in making laws, but said nothing which implied a wish to know m.ore about 
the thoughts and feelings of his new subjects or a readiness to yield to 

1, Political History, vol. vii, p. 1?.. See also Rvtier, Foedera, vol, 
- xvi, p. 561, 

2, Ibid, 

3, For a summary of this speech, see ibid. 


their wishes. The lord chancellor also irade a short address. In 

the House of Corranons, there was scarcely anyone entitled to claim 
even the inforrial and precarious leadership which alone was possible at 
the time, yet the House showed no want of decision. Sir Edward Phillips 
was elected Speaker, and the legislative body, animated by a reforming 
spirit, proceeded to try to remedy certain evils which the mixture of 
fear and affection that the late queen had inspired had withheld her 
Parliaments from touching, but which were becorring more and m.ore 
acutely felt owing to the general progress of society, 

'Whether because they had been fojnd to be oppressive or because 
they had become a dead letter is uncertain, but at any rate the Par- 
liament of 1604 seems to have been resolved to wipe out the ststutes of 
apparel. As Blackstone puts it, "Formerly there were a multitude of 
penal laws existing to restrain excess of apparel,..; all of which 
were repealed by 1 James I, c. 25." This statute ordered "that an 
act made in the four and twentieth year of the late King Henry the 
Eighth for reformation in excess of apparel; together vfith another act 
bearing the same title, made in the first and second years of the reign 

of the late King Philip and Queei^^ Mary, and all other acts heretofore 


made concerning apparel... shall... henceforth be repealed and void. 

4. James had raised Egerton to be chanc"llor. His chief minister at this 
time was Sir Robert Cecil, whom, in 1603, he had created Baron Cecil of 
Essenden, He also rewe.rded the Howards for their supcort and ordered 
the release of the Eprl of Southampton and the other accomplices of 
Essex. Dorset was lord treasurer in 1605-06, at the time of the 
Gunpowder Plot end the resulting anti-Catholic agitation. 

5. Blackstone, book 4, vol. ii, p, 129. 

6. Stat, L,, vol. vii, p. 132; Stat. E. part 2, vol. iv, p. 1052. In 
Stat. L,, the provision in question may he found in paragraphs 45 and 
47; and in Stat. E,, in the last part of the seventh section of the 


This act proved to be a death-blov,' to English sumptuary 
legislation. After its passage, not a single statute of apparel was 
enacted, though occasional regulations of various kinds were issued in 
an effort to curb extravagsnce. These grew fewer end feiA/er, hov^evor, 
as the years passed by, until finally they disappeared altogether. 
The reasons for this steady decline of interest in sumptuary legislation, 
one can, in the absence of positive evidence on this point, only surmise. 
It seems probable, however, that such legislation was essentially 
mediaeval in its spirit - a manifestation of the mediaeval fondness for 
regulation. By the beginning of the seventeenth century, this spirit 
was commencing to die out. Perhaps the legislators had learned that 
such laws were very difficult to enforce. Some far-sighted writers 
seem to have recognized that acts like the statutes of apr.arel not only 
interfered too much with the daily life of the ceople and were burden- 
some, oppressive, and therefore liable to stir up discontent, but also 
that they might prove a positive hindrance and discouragement to trade 
and m.anufactures. Probably some such train of reasoning on the part 
of the lawmakers was responsible for the gradual decline of sumptuary 
legislation in England after the close of the Tudor period. 

Certainly that decline cannot be accounted for by any decrease in 
extravagance, or by tbe disappearance of fantastic fashions. On the 
contrary, as far as dress was concerned, its story during the reign of 
James I was practically a continuation of that of the letter part of 
Elizabeth's roign. James favored the wearing of quiltad and stuffed 
doublets and breeches and himself set this fashion. Towards the end 
cf his life, short .iackets or doubl<5ts, with tabs and false sleeves, 
haTiting behind, took the place of the old long-waisted doublets. The 


hoso, instead of being slashed or laced, ^vere now covered with loose, 
broad straps, adorned with buttons or embroidery. The silk or velvet 
trunks beneath v/ers only visible at intervals. 

The effigies on the tomb of Sir Richard Baker at Centerbury give 
one an idea of the costumes worn at the beginning of the century. The 
lady is al. tired in a gov.-n with a tight-fitting bodice, a ruff at the 
neck, and u somewhat full skirt, with the hips distended by farthingales. 
The sleeves of the dress are shaped to fit fVe arm, fastened with six 
buttons at the wrist, and have a turned back cuff. The gentlemen also 
wore ruffs, as well as small ruffles at their wrists, and a padded 
doublet and trunks. 

The typical yeomen of the early seventeenth century was dressed in 
pleated knee-breeches, a tight tunic, buttoned up the front, hose, buckled 
shoes, a loose, opsn cloak v^ith a turned-down collar, and around his neck 
a fairly close fitting ruff, Y<ith the tunic was worn a belt, fastened 
by a hook-clasp. Knee-breeches became fasMonable soon after the 
beginning of the seventeenth century. 

The custom of v^earing or carrying looking-glasses and of using 
earrings continued in high favor •ith both sexes. About the middle of 
the seventeenth century, women frequently cut their dresses so low that 
their breasts and shoulders were practically entirely uncovered. This 
Bulwer calls "an exorbitant and shameful enormity" and adds that ' it was 
prejudicial to the health, by exposing their too much to the cold, so 
that some of them lost the use of their hands and arms." At about the 

7. See Clinch, p, 92 ff. 

8, Qi-ioted in Strutt, Dress and flabits, vol. ii, vv. 157-158, 


saine time, black patches began to be used by both rr^en and women. 

The great stuffed breeches Vi-hich had been so fashionable during 
the reign of Elizabeth vere revived again for a time in that of James I, 
Their reapcearance called forth a satirical ballad entitled "a Lamentable 
Complaint of the poore Cuntrye men, agaynste great hose, for the loss 
of their cattelles tales. Kags , hair, and anything else that v-^as handy 
seem to been used to stuff these capacious garments. 

The corked shoes mentioned by Stubbs in the time of Elizabeth 
continued in fashion among ladies during the greater part of the 
seventeenth century. In Bulwer's time, they were called choppines 
or chiopoines. Their soles v.e'-e made very thick and the heels high, 
so that they elevated their vrearers four or five inches from the ground. 
These chioppines probably have no affinity to the corked shoes mentioned 
in a play called IVilly Beguiled", where a country girl says, "Upon the 
morrow, after the blessed new year, I care trip, trip, trip over the 
Market Hill, holding up m.y petticoats. . .to shww my fine colored stockings 
and hov; trimly I could foot it in a new pair of corked shoes I had 
bought,'* This we.s written in 1625, Thirty years later, the fashion 
of wearing corked shoes almost as long again as the feet became popular, 
in spite of the inconvenience occasioned by such footwear. 

Much of the wearing apparel of the seventeenth century was elab- 
orately embroidered and otherwise ornamented. The specimens which have 
been preserved are curious in their strange stiffness, A great deal of 
money v/as spent on clothing, food, solondid mansions, pleasure, etc.. 

9. Ibid, Manners and Customs, vol. iii, p. 85. 

10. Ibid., Dress and Habits, vol. ii, po. 156-157, 


especially by the courtiers, "Such persons on whom the Ving had 
bestowed particular honors, either through pride of that or their cvm 
prodigality, lived at high rates and... brought in excess of riot, 
both in clothes and diet. So our ancient customs were abandoned..." 

Ore of the papers in the Ear] of Eglinton's collection affords us 
a glimpse of a court lady's wardrobe in 1||03. The vTiter enumerates 
various articles of female dress, such as headdresses, French and 
English ruffs, and "vardingells" . Among the other iteir.s are "ane vyer 
to my haed with nyne pykis, x s.; item for ane perewyk of har to cover 
the v>'er, v s., ... for treming to my gown with gret hornis of gould 
and silk and federis, the hornis my auen, x s." This same lady paid 
on an average 2 s. 6 d. for a pair of gloves and the same for shoes, 
for a beaver hat with a feather and string 52 s., for two fans, one of 

paper and the other of parchment 5 s., and for two necklaces of black 


.iet 3 s. Though some of those prices seem low to us, they were 


comparatively high for that time. 

11, Harleian Liscellany, pp. 2P7-288, 

12, The Antiquary, vol. xiii, p. 179, 

13, For the costs of various articles of dress from 1646-55, see Clinch, 
p. 96 ff. Clinch gives selections from the "Daily Expense Book of 
James V.aster « 

In 1629, according to Rogers, white satin cost 20 s. a yard. Ten 
years later beaver fur sold in London for from 9 - 14 s. a pound. 
Periwigs were especially fashionable after the Restoration, At the 
end of the century, a new style of wigs witb so much hair in them 
that a good one cost not less than h 60, was introduced. In 1660, a 
wig cost h, 3, and, in 1668, fe 7 10 s. In 1653, woolen stockings 
brought Is. 11 1/4 d., and in 1657, 3 s, Jersey stockings, v.hich had 
formerly been very expensive, were dovm to Z a, 3 d, in 1653. Silk 
stockings, in the first part of the period between 1624 and 1673, often 
cost as much as 37 s. After 1650, they were vjorth between 11 and 15 s. 
The crice of shoes rose considerably after the Puritan Revolution, 
From 1649 on, the price varied from 3 s. 10 d. to 7 s. I'.omen's shoes 
sometimes cost as much as 9 or 10 s, 

A quilted cap cost 1 s, 4 d,, in 1688, and a wrought cap 15 s. in 
1616; a girdle 4 s, 6 d, in 1630; a leather belt 10 s. in 1659, and a 
silver belt 48 s. in 1665; a woman's hood 7 s. in 1667; and gold lace 
3 and 12 s. an ounce in 1520, Ordinary hats averaged about 10 s,, 


Not only Y.-^ere high prices frequently paid for clothing, but 
overdressing, as v/ell as other follies, seems to have been coimnon. 
In a ser-non preached at Vvhitehall on the occasior of t'le marriage of 
Lord Hay (Jan. 6, 1607) the preacher, F.obert Vvilkinson, said: "Of all 
qualities, s wonian must not have one qualitie of a ship, and that is 
too much rigging. Oh, what a ■wonder it is to see a ship under saile, 
with her tacklings and her masts, and her tops and top-gallants;,.. 
Yea, hut v/hat a v/orld of wonders it is to see a woman. . .so. . .deformed 
with her French, her Spanish, ard her foolish fas'^iions, that he that 
made her, when he looks upon her, shall hardly know her, with her 
plumes, her fannes, and a silken vizard, with a ruffe like a saile, 

yea a ruffe like a raine-bow, with a feather in her cap like e flag in 

II 14 

her top, to tell, I thinke, which wa;/ the wind will blow. 

riding hats from 12-36 s,, and beaver-hats from 40-70 s,, in 1651, In 
1654, a servant's livery coat (ready-made) was valued at 32 s, 6 d. In 
1657, 25 s. v;as paid for a servant's stuff suit and in 1658, 28 s, for a 
serge suit for a similar wearer. In 1652, a stuff riding-cloak cost 
32 s, 5 d. and, in 1667, en Indian gown 41 s. 

A m.uff and mantle of fur were valued, in 1654, at fe 40. Tippets 
were then not so m.uch in style. Lord Windsor, in 1658, was v.-illing to 
pay h 5 for a little ridlng-sword and belt. In 1680, Anne Iv'ontague was 
"extreame fine" in s cherry-colored satin "roanto", embroidered heavily 
with silver and a little black and lined vvith black velvet,. Her 
petticoat was of rich gold and silver cloth, with broad lace at the 
bottomi, (Rogers, Agriculture and Prices, vol. v, pp, 579 ff., 730 ff.; 
vol, vi, p, 731 ff; Correspondence of the Family of Hatton, vol, i, 
preface, p. v. ) 
14. The Antiquary, vol, xiii, p. 180, 


Numerous other e.llusions to extravagance in dress and to fan- 
tastic styles may he found in contemporary writings. For instance, 
in Rich's "Honestie of This Age" (1614) another diatribe against 
women occurs. "You shall see vomen goe so attyred to bhe church", says 
the -writer, "that I a^ ashamed to tell it out aloud... they are so be 
paynted, so he periwigd, so he poudered, so he perfumed, so he starched, 
so be laced, and so be imbrodered thet I cannot toll what mentall vertues 
they may have that they do inwardly to themselves; but I am sure to 

the outward show it is hard matter in the church itselfe to distinguish 

between a good v.'oman and a bad. 

Face-painting was very oorrron, though almost universally decried. 
In "The Fleire", by Edward Sharpham, printed in 1615, the principal 
character says: "Faith, ladies, if ycu used but, on mornings when you 
rise, the divine smoak of this celestial herb Tobacco, it icill more 
purifie, dense, and mundifie your complexion, bv ten parts, than your 
dissolved mercurie, your juice of lemm.ons, your distilled snailes, your 
gourd waters, your oile of tartar, or a thousand such toyesi" 

The Venetian ambassadors, in their reports to their government, 
frequently turned aside from more v>reighty affairs of state to describe 
functions and ceremonies at the English court. Thus, in 1618, one of 
them writing home gave an accaint of a masque, at which every box vra.s 

15. Quoted in The Antiquary, vol. xv, p. 25. 

16. Kundify means to cleanse or nurify. The word is now obsolete. 

17. Strutt", Dress and Habits, vol. ii, ip. 132-134. 


filled notably with most noble and richly arrayed J. adies, in number 
some 600 and more, according to the general estimate; the dresses being 
of such variety in cut and color as to be indescribable; the most delicate 
plumes over their heads, springing from their foreheads, or in their hands 
serving as fans; strings of jewels on their necks and bosoms and in 
their girdles and apvarel in such Quantity that they looked like so many 
queens. ..the splendor of their diamonds and other .jewels was so brilliant 
that they looked like so many stars... The dress peculiar to these ladies 
is very handsome for those -^vho lii^e it and profits some of them as a 
blind to nature's defects, for behind it hangs well-nigh from the neck 
down to the ground, with long, close sleeves and no waist. There are 
no folds,.. The farthingale also plays its part. The plump and buxom 
display their bosoms very liberally and those who are lean go muffled 
up to the throat. All wear men's ^oee or at least very low slippers. 

They consider the mask as indispensable for their faces as bread at 

table, but they lay it aside willingly at public entertainments," 

In another passage, the same writer says: "l have already written 

about the dress and costume of the women here, but is it seems to m.e that 

I did not do so thoroughly, I will in this very opportune place add a 

few v/ords on the subject. They are so variously adjusted and dress so 

well,., as to defy exaggeration; all ranks and conditions of persons being 

et liberty to ir.vent new caprices. Thus, some wear on their heads 

worked bands v/ith fine ]p.ce which, falling over the forehead, form what 

our Venetian dames term "the mushrooms" on the temples. Others wear a 

18. Ga^.S. P. Ven., vol. xv., p. 111-112. 


le.rge piece of work above the ear...; others wear hats of various 
shapes; others vear a very small top-knot. Some vear a moderate 
sized silk kerohief surmounted by a bit of crape.,.. Others have black 
velvet hoods tiirned over from the back of the neck to the forehead. 
Others wear embroidered caps, covering the whole head, whilst others... 
wear their auburn hair uncovered and curled all over, up to the very 
plait of the tresses, on which they piece a chaplet of silk and gold, 
wearing moreover, the plurne on the head, sonetimes upright, sometimes 
at the bad: of the head and sometimes even transverse... Some carry in 
their hands feather fans, others nothing; but all 7/ear very costly 
gloves. This fashion of gloves is so universal that even the porters 
wear them very ostentatiously; going about dressed in good cloth, with 
a linen over garment and with their sacks over their shoxilders."* 

Not content v;ith describing the costumes of the English ladies, 
the Venetian ambassador also reported that it vjss tVie custom^ of the 
nobility to dress even their servants in s'^ort mantles find cloaks of 
velvet, slashed and trimmed with gold braid and sometimes vrith the lord's 
coat of arms on one side. He also stated that at Oxford and Cambridge 
the students go dressed in long gowns lined with rabbit skin, both in 

winter and s\ Other students have clerical caps on their heads, 


that is to say, cross ways, while some again have hats." 

In 1620, there was published a curious tract "on the modes by 
which treasure is wasted, viz., the export of coin, [and] superfluity 
in expenditure, especially at christenings", "with suggestions for 

19, Ibid., p. 270. 

20. Ibid., p. 247^248; vol. xvi, p. 79. 



remedv thereof, viz: - edicts e gainst excess in appare]. , etc. The 

publication of such a tract shows that "superfluity in expenditure" 
must have been a very real and present evil. It is interesting to 
note that christenings are especially mentioned as the occasions on v.'hich 
extravagance v/as displayed. This is the first time such a stateirent 
has been net with, Ko attempt seems to have been made in England to 
control the festivities attendant on baptisms, though they were often 
regulated on the continent. 

The prevalence of extravagance airong the English people in the 
early seventeenth century is further testified to by another tract, "A 
Relation of Some Abuses which are Comjiiitted Against the Commonwealth", 
written in 1629 by A. L. The intention of the anonyirious writer was 
to set forth certain abuses which he "lamented to vifitness" in his native 
county and in the kingdom in general, such as (l) the waste of woods; 
(2^ the pulling dovm of castles and fortresses; (3) tbe decay of mar- 
tial discipline; and (4) "the vanities of the people in smoking, drinking 
and apparel". He declared that his fellow-countrymen had turned French 
apes, and wore nothing but French styles, "...Wee are so disfigured by 
phantasticall end strange fashions that wee can scarce know him to daie, 
with whom wee were acquainted yesterdaie." Some in the midst of winter 
wore doublets so cut and slashed that they could not keep in the body 
heat or keep out the rain, others wore long side-coats and breeches, like 
those of Queen Elizabeth's jester. Fashions were constantly changing - 
morning, afternoon and night, Viomen, said the author of the tract, v^ere 
"painted, perfumied, hung with,. .ribbons, laces, feathers, bracelets and 

21, Cal, S. P, Dean, James I, vol, x, d. ?10, 


a Tj^hole pedler's shop of other toyes, trinketts and gewgaws." 

Fashicns in dress did not escape the biting censures of that 
apostle of reform, V/illiani Prynne. At the time of his trial, a 
passage fron one of his books, in which he expressed his opinions on 
the subject of hair dressing es practiced in his day, v.'as read. "Yett 
notwithstandinge es our Englishe ruffians", he wrote, "are metamorphosed 
in their deformed, frizlled lockas and hayre, so our Englishe gentle- 
women, as yf they all intended to turne men outright, and weare the breeches, 
or to be Popish nunnes, are nowe growne soe farr past shame, past modesty, 
grace, and nature, as to clipp their hayre like men, vith lockes and 

In "The City i/iadam" by Philip Kassinger (1659) allusion vms made 

not to clipped tresses, but to the comron use of 

... borrow'd hair, 
Pov/erd'd and curl'd,,.., by your dreraer's art. 
Formed like a coronet hang'd vrith diair.onds 
And richest orieiit pearls." ^^ 

22. Sir Frederic Kadden (ed.) "A Relation of Some Abuses which are Committed 
Against the Commonwealth", in Camden Society Publications, no. Ixi. 

23. Samuel R. Gardiner, Docum.ents Relating to the Proceedings Against 
V<illiam Prynne in 1634 and 1657, in Camden Society Publications, new 
series, no. xviii, p. 4. 

24. Quoted in Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol. ii, pp. 127-128. See also ibid, 
pp. 121-122, where a quotation from "Four Plays in One", by Beaumont 
and Fletcher, containing alius' ons to many of the fads and fancies of 
the day, is given. For pictures of the costumes worn in the seven- 
teenth century see Strutt, Dress and Habits, vol, ii, plates 142,143; 
Green, vol, iii, pp. 942-43, 952, 975, 997, 1001, 1008, 1014-15, 1018, 
1028, 1042, 1046, 1057, 1066, 1075, 1077, 1078, 1087, 1114, 1131, 

1137, 1143, 1148, 1177, 1178, 1184, 1196, 1224, 1251, 1263, opp. p, 
1286, 1322, 1325, 1335, 1337, 1354, 1380, 1402, 1404-05, 1406-07; 
Martin (jajpes l), plates 41, 42. 


The result of all this megnif icence v.^as to call forth, even 
after the reoeal of all the existing siimptu&ry laws in 1603, new 
attempts to regulate expenditures. T'^^e "Calendar of Tudor and 
Stuart Proclamations" l^'sts a docrnent, dated at Edinburgh, January 30, 
1610, "proclaiming the act of apparel", ' The act referred to was 
probably a. Scotch law, since no siimptuary legislation was recorded at 
this date upon the English statute-books, and all the old lav;s of this 
kind had been repealed. 

Some years later, however, the passage of a similar act by the 
English government was proposed. Nathaniel Brent vcrote to Carleton, 
one of the Englis*^ ajrbassadors abroad, whom he helped to keep informed of 
events at hope. "The kinp; purposed to make sumptuary laws for moderating 

excess in apparel. A proclamation is expected, ordering the i.vearir.g of 

cloth, which causes great deadness in trade." During the course of 

the same month, remonstrances Y'ere addressed to the government by the 

Farmers of Customs against the "intended proclamation for wearing English 

cloth , v/Mch they claimed would injure trade so much that they would be 

obliged to give up their patent. 

In spite of these protests, however, on Decefiber 27, 1616, the 

king drew up "a proclamation for the wearing of woolen clothes", dated 

at Westrainster. This proclamation was evidently intended to encourage 

the English woolen industry, for it forbade iall Englishmen, after January 13, 

1617, to wear ' outside" of their gowns and other outer garments any cloth 

of gold, cloth of silver, velvet, setin, or taffeta, except on 3und&7/s, 

25. Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, vol. ii, p. 279, See also P. C. 
Peg. viii, 405; Calderwood vii, 54; Iv^aitland, Miscellany, i, 152. 

26. Cal. S. P. Dom. James I, vol. ix, p. 410. 


holy~days, or festivals. Kcurning gowns must be made of English 
broad cloth. The nobility v.ho did not obey t^is royel order -were 
to be "censured in the Star Chamber", V;'hile others vould be punished 
by the various assizes, etc. This method of providing for the 
punishir.ent of offenders was somewhat different from that set forth in 
the old statutes of apparel, the enforcernent of which hud been left 
for the most part to local officers and justices of the peace, with 
eppeals to the royal courts, Hovjever, there does not seer, to have 
been any opportunity to put the nev* system into practice, since a manu- 
script note appended to the proclamation tolls us that it was never 

published but suppressed. Perhaps the Farmers of the Customs were able 


to bring sufficient pressure to bear to prevent its publication'. 

In 162J^, when there vas "a depression in drapery", and times were 
very bad, various remedies v/ere suggested to meet the evil, among which 

were these: "To help the expense of cloth within our kingdom, that there 


may be less left to vent abroad, and loss vainted in the expense of 

silk or foreign stuff; that the nobility and gentry of this kingdom 
might be persuaded to tbe wearing of cloth in the winter season by 
example rather than by commandment; that the meaner sort of people, as 
apprentices, servants , and mechanics be enjoined by proclamation to 
the wear of cloth and stuff of wrool made in this kingdom, which vvould 
be more -t-enible and less chengeable; that when blacks are given at 
funerals, they be of cloth or woolen stuff made in this kingdom; that 
the clothiers and dracers be not discouraged." It wa.s proposed that 
a commission should be appointed to settle the differences between 7/00I- 
growers and m^erchants and "generally for all other things. . .whereby trade 

27. Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, vol. i, p. 140, 

28. To sell. 


may be orderly governed and duly balanced. 

These plans do not seem to have been carried and the governT>-ent 

v;as fain to seeV the holp of the chiirch once r.ore in repressing 

extravagance and absiird style. In 162G, for exairple, John Chamberlain, 

the best of Sir Dudley Carleton's correspondents, paid to keep him in 

touch v^ith -what ves going on in England, wrote to his employer, "The 

Bishop of London told his clergy that the King had ordered them to 

inveigh I'eheiriently in their sermons against vromen v.'eering broad -brimmed 

hats, painted doublets, short hair, and even some of them poniards, 

and, if pulpit admonitions fail, another course will be taken «* 

Whether the serm.ons proved effective, or v/hether it was necessery to try 

the other course, the nature of vrhich is not explainsd, the writer has 

unfortunately, not been able to determine, because of the lack of 

evidence on this point. 

In 1623, the statute of 4 Henry VII, c. 9 concerning the prices 

of hats and caps was repealed, '^ The next year f^e lord deputy and 

council of Ireland issued a proclajnation concerning "warlike munitions 
and wearing mantles, trouses and skeins". This order was dated at 
Dublin, April 1, 1624, The first section of ii 'forbade the impor- 
tation of fire-arms and other weapons and the possession of muskets 
bv persons v/earing Irish dress and thus signifying their opposition 

to the English rule. All the people of Ireland were forbidden to wear 


after August 1, 1624, "any mantles, trowses, or long skeines, or allow 

them to be worn on pain of contempt. No one w»aring Irish dress to be 

29, The Antiquary, vol. iii, p. 274, 

30, Cal. S. P. Dom. James I, vol. x, p. IIG, 

31, It was repealed by 21 James I, c. 28, par. 11. (Stat. L., vol, vii, 
p. 305). For other enactments with regard to hats and caps, see 
index to Stat. L. under that heading, 

32, Knives or daggers. 


ddiritted to the council, any court, or any magistracy. Sheriffs to 
break long skeines, and to teVe off and cut to pieces any mantles or 
trowses viorn in public. They may he worn in the house","' *■ however. 
These provisions were evidently not directed against extravagance in dress, 
but against the Irish nationalist spirit, which manifested itself in the 
wearing of « distinctix-e costume, different from thct of its conquerors. 

An attempt to enact a nevf statute of npparel seem? to have been 
made in 1626, On April 15 of that year, t^e "bill for apparel" v.-as 
read the third time. Lord Dorset made a speech against it in the upper 
house, in which he said that he was opposed to "the bill, in respecte of 
the Apparell and Coaches,. , already made and provyded.. But more especially 
for that the making of laces meintenyes at least 20,000 folkes, and yf 
we ennacte anythirge here whereby the ymportaoion of forreyn commodities 
may be stayed, yt is to be doubted that other countreyes v/yll doe the 
lyke with us.' Other speakers took the opposite view and maintained 
that "noe ymportacion denyed: trade encreased, from laces to clothings' . 

Ti'hen the bill was finally put to the question, it ',^s passed "nemine 

u 34 
dissentiente ■ It does not sea^n to have passed the House cf Comm.ons, 

however, as no such law is recorded in the statute-hooks. Perhaps the 

fear that it right in.iure trade and throw thousands of people out of work, 

voiced by Lord Dorset in the upper house, caused a majority toboppose 

it in the lower. 

That the clergy were quite as fond of fine clothes in the Stuart 

period as they had been during the preceding centuries is proved by the 

33, Cal. Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, vol. ii, p. 27, and references 
given there. 

34. Samuel E. Gardiner (ed.), "Notes of the Debates in the House of Lords... 
1624 and 1626" in Camiden Society Publications, new series, no, xxiv, 

P. I'!!, 


large number of cases in vhich it was found necessary to reprove 
ecclesiastics for wearing garments unbefitting their cloth. In 
several instances, the CpUrt of High Commissior rebuked clergyipen for 
their license in dress. On one occasion Volliam Siater, a doctor of 
divinity, was called back, after his case had been decided, by the 
bishop of London, who "tould him he must there give hiir admonition of 
that which from the kin^: he was commanded in all his visitation to make 
known to all ministers, that they bee more carefull in their habits, not 
to goe like rufflers, as if they were ashamed of their ministry and this 
is soe common a fault... that ministers can hardly be knowen from other 
men by their habit...." Dr. Slater, when thus admonished, was 
wearing a band around his neck and ruffles up to his elbows, which the 
bishop said were not suitable for a clergyman to wear. His subordinate 
excused himself by saying that he was wearing riding-clothes. 

On Koverber 17, 1631, charges were brought against one Geering, 
the minister at Teuxbury "upon whose preaching" a man in that town 
"threvie himselfe into a well and drowTied himself. The Bishop of London 
reproved him also for wearing such a band being soe curiously sett and 
too bigg. In June, 1632, another clergyman was reprehended "for 
comminge into the court with his great ruff, band strings and cloaks 
lyned with velvet. The Bishop of London said that this is a great 
sinne, and will bring downe the judgment of God upon the land, if it be 
not mended speeaily, minister's cloakes are lyned with vellut or plush, 

that they may be taken for nobleman's secretaries or els for merchants fac- 

tors of the best sorte." Evidently some of the clergy were ashamed 

35. Samuel E. Gardiner (ed.), "Reports of Cases in the Courts of Star 
Chamiber and High Commission", in Cam.den Society Publications, new 
aeries, no. xxxix, p. 186. 

36. Ibid., p. 244. The two offences seem to have been regarded as 
equally heinous, 

37. Ibid., p. 303. 


of their calling. 

On another occasion, at a visitation in Essex, a minister 
apoeared before Laud "very gallant in bahit". Laud (then bishop 
of Londvon) publicly rebuked him, showing him the olainness of his 
own apparel. But here the bishop met his match, "*My lord (replied 
the clergyman) you have better clothes at home and I have worse", 
vi/hereat the Bishop rested very well contented.* 

The bishop and chapter of the London cathedral attempted, not 
only to prescribe stiitable costumes for the clergy, but also to regulate 
the elothing which night be worn by certain persons connected with the 
court of Charles I when they attended church services. On April 29, 
1632, at a meeting of the chapter. It was ordered that the gentlemen 
of the royal chapel (whenever they should go there to worship) sliould 
"come in decent manner in their gownes and surplyses, and not in cloakes 
and surplyses, nor with bootes and spur res. The lyke observacion to be 

used by all others that ccm.e to approve their voyces, or to be suitors 

for places theire. 

pp, 57-68, 
58. John S, Burns, The High Commission, /quo-^ing Fuller, p, 218, See also 

Cal, S, P. Dom, James I, vol, ii, p. 598 for a discourse on "what robes 

and apparel the judges are to weare and hawe the serjeants-at-law are 

to weare their robes and when." The judges and lawyers, like the 

clergy, formed a class to themselves. 

Not only did the government try to regulate "excess in apparel", 

but also excess in hackney-coaches and carriages, which tore up the 

roads and hindered "the common passage" through the streets of London, 

See f^e proclamations of the king and privy council dealing with 

these matters, and the complaint of the oomrons (loll) that the king 

by his n'jmerous proclamations was interfering with liberty, goods, 

inheritances and livelihood of men". (John Rushvrorth, Historical 

Collections of Private Passages of State, vol. ii, p, 301, 316-17; 

and A Record of Some T/Yorthie Proceedings in the Honorable, '/vise and 

Faithful House of Commons, p. 27-29.) 

39. Edward F, Rimbault, "The Old Cheque-Book of the C'^apel Royal (1561- 

1744)", in Camden Society Publications, new series, no. iii, pp. 78-82, 

Five years later, at another meeting, held in the vestry at 
TfJhitehall (April 5, 1627) the subdean was charged with the duty of 
seeing that the order of 1632 "against wearinge of clokes or cominge 
in vifith great boots and spurrs under there surpiises", v/as duly observed, 
"and if any transgress to checke them as if they were absent".' After 
the Restoration, at a chapter held at Whitehall by the Bishop of Winton 
on December 19, 1663, "for the better regulating of the Divine Service 
in his I'lajesties Chappell Royall", the subdean was required to see that 
the gentlemen "of the chapell being decently habited in their gownes and 
surplices", but not ir cloaks, boots or spars attended service at ten 

o'clock in the morning and four in the afternoon on weekdays, and nine 


and four on Sundays, From the niunerous allusions to surplices and 

the mention of "voyces", it seems probable that the ' gentlemen of the 
Chapell" acted as choristers or took some special part in the services. 

A curious proclam.ation was issued in 1636, prohibiting the wearing 
buying, or selling of "counterfeit jev/els". This order stated -^hat a 
great deol of money had been spent abroad for such jewelry "to use, buy, 
sell, or exchange any counterfeit jewels, pearls, pendants, j_and] chains... 
on ps in of forfeiture.... Offenders to be presented to the Privy Council," 
This proclamation can hardly have been intended as a sumptuary measure, 
since less money would naturally be spent for imitation jewels than for 
real gems. The issuing of such an order v/as probably dictated by the 
mercantilist idea that gold must be kept in the country and not sent 
abroad to pay for foreign products. 

40. Ibid. 

41. Ibid. 

42. TudoK and Stuart Proclamations, vol. i, p. 207. See also Eot. Pari., 
p, 14 n, 5 d. R. XX. 13; Rush; ii, 321. 


It v;8s not until the period of ths Puritan Revolution that 
another proclamation which was clearly sumptuary in its nature was 
promulgated. On June 9, 1643, Charles 1, v/hile at Oxford, put 
forth a proclamation "against waste end excess in anparel". The king 
forbade the ir'earing of any lace, embroidery, fringe, riband, Hittons, 
and clasps, or loops of gold, silver or mixed gold and silver, cloth of 
gold or silver, bon(3 lace of silk or linen f^read, or tha having them 

on any saddle or horse furniture." The badge of the Order of the 

Garter alone is excepted. Probably this proclamation issued at a tim.e 

when the whole country was in a state of upheaval was not heeded and 
produced little effect. 

It would naturally be supcosed that when once the Puritans had 
gotten the upoer hand, they, who wars so fond of regulating every detail 
in other people's lives in accordancs ivith -t-heir own peculiarly strict 
moral code, would have regarded some sort of sumptuary legislation »i.s 
absolutely indispensable. On th«? contrary, however, not a single law 
of this sort seems to have been passed in the interregnum' between the 
death of Charles I and the restoration of his son. Further investi- 
gations in sources not at present available may perhaps unearth some such 
regulations, but as yet none have com.e to light. It is true that, in 
June, 1650, a bill was ordered to be read in Parliament "against the 
vicp of painting, wearing black patches and immodest dresses of vi'omen.' 

However, as the "Parliamentary History" sa^/s, it seems that "the ladies 

II 44 
had interest enough to nip this project in the bud. Whether the 

43. Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, vol. i, p. 293, 

44. Parliamentary History, vol, iii, d. 1347. 


defeat of the hill was due to the influence of the v.'omen of England 
or not, the records do not shovY, biit it seems clear that it was 
defeated, and, as it is not mertioned in the journals of Parliament 
or elsewhere, no details of its provisions survived. 

In 1656, it was again proi^osed to enact a sumptuary law. A 
man named Ecbineon, apparently well-informed about current events, 
wrote to one of his correspondents, on October 5 of that year, "Tie shall 
hava... j_an act] for regulation of apparel, ard many more, as soon as 
the rest of the summoned members apnear. However, this plan, too, 
appears to have fallen through, and, st about the same period, no 
less a person than John Kilton began to sco<*f at the mere idea of 
regulating dress. In his "Areopagitica", in which he attacked the 
proposed censorship of the press and defended freedom in general, he 
declared that it vi-ould be absurd to refer "oxar garments... to the 

licensing of some itiore sober werk-masters to see them cut in a lesse 

If ^S 

vjanton garb , as ridiculous as it v/mxld be to regulate music or 


The disapproval of so important and v./ell-known a man as Milton 
m.ay have had some influence in bringing about fie defeat of the proposed 
sumptuary legislation. At anv rate, not only did it fail to pass, 
but after the period of thss civil rnir was over, no other laws which were 
really sumptuary in their cheracter T»jere passed. In ■'•he reign of 
Charles II, several statutes were enacted which provided that efter a 

45. Cal, S. P. Dom. (1656-57), vol. x, p. 126. 

46. John I i It on, Areopagitica, pp. 50-51. 


given date "no one whatsoever shall he buried in any sV'irt, shift or 
sheet made of anything hut wool, or out into a coffin lined with any- 
thing made of flax, silk, hemp or hair," These acts, however, as the 
preamble of one of f'ein stated wer-e passed "for the encouragement of 
the woolen manufactures of this kingdom, and prevention of the expor- 
tation of the moneyes thereof for the buying and importing of Linnen , 
and were not directed against expensive funerals. 

In the sarie reign and in the succeeding century a number of lav^s 
relating to buttons were enacted. One such act passed by the Par- 
liament which met for the first time on May 8, 1662, forbade the selling 
in England, or the importation into that country, after June 24 of the same 
year, of any foreign bone-lace, cut-work, fringe, buttons or needle-worlc 
made of thread, wilk, "or sny or either of them". This act was obviously 

intended to protect the Englishmen who were engaged in the manufacture of 

these articles, A similar law, enacted by the Parliament which began 

47. 18 and 19 Charles II, c, 4, Stat. R, vol, v, p, 598 (1666), Stat. L., 
vol, viii, p, 228; 30 Charles II, c. 3 (1677) Stat, L. , vol. viii, 

p. 419 ff., Stat. P., vol. V, p. 885; 32 CV^arles II, c. 1, par, 3 
(1680), Stat. L., vol. viii, p. 440, Stat. R,, vol. v, p. 940, 30 
Charles II, c. 3 was no+- repealed until 53 George II, c, 108. 

In an article in "The Washington Post, (D. C," for Tuesday, 
April 25, 1922, p. 8, a quotation is given from an act, supposed to 
have been passed in 1670, providing that "all womien of whatever age, 
rank, profession or degree, whether yirgins, maids or widows, that 
shall, from after the passing of this act, impose upon and betray 
into miatrimon;/ any of his Majesty's male subjects, by scents, paints, 
cosmetics, washes, artificial teeth, false hair, Spanish wool, iron 
stays, hoops, high-heeled shoes, or bolstered hips shall incur the 
penalty of the lav/s now in force against witchcraft, sorcery and such 
like misdemeanors, and that the marriage, upo" conviction, shall be 
null and void," There is nothing to show where this quotation 
came froin.^#!» far as the writer has been able ^o discover, no such 
act was ever recorded in the statute-books, 

48. Stat. L., vol. viii, p. 103 ff. 


at Westminster in 1669 and was continued by prorogations and adjourn- 
ments to November 4, 1692, provided that foreign hair buttons should pay 

a duty of 10 °/° of their value and later the importation of ell such 

buttons -"A'as prohibited, 10 "rtilliam III, c. 2 (1698) provided that, 

from and after a certain date, "no person or persons shall make, sell or 

set on,., any clc-*-hos or wearing garments whatsoever any buttons made 

of cloth, serge, drugget, frize, oa-nlet, or any other stuffs of which 

clothes.,, are usually made, or any buttons made of wood only and 

turned in imitation of other buttons." For every dozen of buttons so 

sold penalty of 40 s, was to be imposed. This -nas intended to protect 

the English manufacturers of silk, mohair, gim.p end thread buttons, the 
materials for which were obtained in Turkey in exchange for British 
woolens. The legislptors wished also, apparently, to encourage the 
domestic woolen industry and took this mode of doing it. 

Similar acts were passed in the reigns of the two succeeding sov- 
ereigns. In the time of Queen Anne, button holes were also taken into 
consideration. The sub.stitution of serge for silk in covering buttons 
and -working button holes gave rise to a stirring debate in 1738. In 
1745, a penalty of o 5 was imposed on those who sold French cambrics or 
lavm errl those who wore them. This v.^as amended three years later and 
the Commons refused to repeal it, even vhen its futility was demonstrated, 
Cunningham calls such acts sumptuary lav/s because of the minute regula- 
tions which they laid down in regard tc certain kinds of fabrics and 
buttons, but it is cl^ious that their primary purpose ift£ & not to suppress 

49. Ibid., vol. ix, pp. 174 ff. and 196. 

50. Ibid., vol. X, p. 237. 


extrevaganoe, hut to ?.id trede and industry, T>ie true sun-^*nary 
laws had j-ractically come to an 6;nd more than a century before, at the 
time when all the statutes of aiDoarel were repealed. 

In the seventeenth century, profanity and ^^lasphemy v.-ere vices 
w'-ich seem to have tnon current throughout England. A book published 
in 1669 declared: "Our gallants plead not so much the ventilation of 
passion... by their cursed oaths. They use them as the Elegancies and 
figures of soeech as necessary as the Ornaments of their dress.... 
Oaths... can be as ill layd down by our nobles as tVieir muffs in winter, 
so frigid and shrivelled would their converse be vdthout them.' 

One of the earliest acts passed in the reign of James I v/as a 
statute directed against blasphemy. This law provided, "for the preven- 
ting and avoidj-ng of the great abuse of the hold nam»e of God in stage- 
plays, interludes, may-games, shews and such like", that if any time 
thereafter anyone acting in any play, pageant, etc. should jestingly 
or profanely speak or use t^e name of God, Jesus, Christ, the Holy 
Ghost or the Rinity, should forfeit i, 10 for every offence, one half to 

go to the king, ■•-he other half to anyone who should sue in any court of 

It 52 
record at Vsestminster • This was one of the acts wh: ch caused the 

Parliament which began its work on November 5, 1605 to be remembered, 

though "how the graceless king... could say 'Le Roi le veut'" to it, 

"whilst he himself was swearing obscenely passes comprehension."^ 

51. Quoted in "The Antiquary", vol, xvii, pp. 108-109. 

52. 3 James I, c. ?,1 (1605-06) Stat, R., part 2, vol. iv, p. 1097, Stat. 
L., vol. vii, p. 194, 

53. Bristol, Past and Present, vol. i, p. 272. The Commons were not en- 
tirel;/' correct in supposing that no punishmient had been provided "for 
abusing the holy nam.e of God." Although there were no statutes dealing 
with the sub.iect, profanity and blasphemy, together v.'ith eaves- 
dropping and "common scolding", (both of which were public nnisaroes 

and might be ijidicted) were, according to Blackstore, minishable at 
common law by fine, imprisonment, etc. (Blackstone, book 4, vol, ii, 
pp. 42, 126-128,) 


This statute, of course, only applied to plays and similar 
perforinonoes. In 1311, the House of Comircns suddenly woke up to 
the fact that "the precious name of God, vhich wee ought to regard more 
then our lives, is not hy the lawes of England so tenderly regarded as 
the naire of all sorts of people in the land... For abusing the holy 
narr.s of God... there is no punishment by the lawes of the Realme, whereby 
both men, wofien and children increase in that sinne greevously, evory 
day, without ounishment or checker wherefore to prevent that sinne, wee 
did, at tvro severall sessions of Parliament, make two severall bills, 

which did passe oiir house of Commons, to be made lawes for punishment 


of such offenders. F'sither of these bills, ho^vever, seems to have 

received the apcroval of the House of Lords, Nothing more was done vdth 
regard to the matter until 1623-24 when it was ordained that "forasmuch as 
all profane swearing and cursing is forbidden by the word of God", none 
shall swear, or curse profanely. The ponalty for each offense, if com- 
mitted in the hearing of a ^iustice, mayor, or other officia]., ot if the 
guilty party were convicted, was the payment of a fine of 12 d, which was 
to go to the poor. In default of this payme'^t, the offender would have 
to sit for three hours in t^^e stocks, of, if under twelve years of age, 
might be whip-oed. No one could be prosecuted more than twenty days 
after the offense was coiin i^ + ed. It was ordered that the act should 
be read in cl"urch. It vras only to remain in ftrce, however, until the 
end of the first session of the next Parliament."^'^ 

For some tim.e efter this expired, no new law was passed to tfike 
its place. It was not until June 28, 1350, tViat a law '/ra.s enacted 

54. Some Viorthie Proceedings, pp. 3-4. 

55. StP.t. R., vol. iv, pp. 1229-30 - 21 James I, c. 20. 


"for the better preventing end suppressing of profane swearing and 
cursing," For the first offense, every person styling himself a duke, 
marquis, earl, viscount, or baron was to forfeit 30 s,, a baronet or knight 
20 s,, an esquire 10 s., a gentleman 6 s. 8 d., and all inferior oersons 
3 s, 4 d. - a sort of graduated tax, according to rank. The fines v.'ould 
be doubled from the second offense to the ninth. At the tenth, the 
guilty party would be bound to good behavio, A like penalty was imposed 
on women who used oaths, a wife or "widow to pay according to the rank of 
her husband, a single woman that of her father. The penrlties were to 
be recovered as before by distress and the sale of the offender's goods, 
or in default of that by olacing him in the stocks or publicly whipping 
him if he were under twelve years of age. 

The lord mayor of London, in a proclamation issued in 1679, remiinded 
the public officials of the city that "every profane curser and swearer 
ought to be punished by the payriu^nt of 12 d. for every oath; and if the 

same oannot be levied upon the offender's goods, then he is to sit three 


house in the stocks. How successfully this injunction was enforced 

there is no evidence to shovvf, but the mere passage of acts prohibiting 
swearing is of interest. 

The prevention of tippling and drunkenness as well as the ragulatioa 
of taverns has occupied the police pov/ers of the state for many generations 
and each age has had its peculiar method of treatment. Many laws of this 
character v.-ere enacted during the reign of James I and later on in the 

56, Parliamentary History, vol. iii, p. 1351. 

57, A Source Book of London History, p. 16G, 

- ■r«-t.^«r' ' 


seventeenth century. Drunkenness, like profanity, was verv common 
in England at that period as might be sbown from numerous bits of 
contemporary evidence, but a few instances viill suffice. In 1607, 
Nicolo Molin, the Venetian ambassador, a trained and careful observer, 
reported to hj s government that the English people were greatly 


addicted to drunkenness. Another foreigner, Antonio Foscarini, 
declared, in 1618, that tobacco, "a root the English generally smoke 
in Dipes... excites thirst and leads to excessive drinking, to wh:ch 
both English and Scotch are very addicted."^ 

Clergymen were often acciised of being drunkards and haunters of 
taverns. Thus, in 1632, Joseph Harrison, the Vicar of Suetorke, was 
tried before the Court of High Commission for being "a co. rnon frequenter 
of taverns and alehouses and a companie-keeper with beggars, tinckers... 

end all sorts of people," For this and other causes, ^^e ito-S removed 

from orders. 

In ■f-he words of a contemporary v'riter, there were "ale-'iouses, 

d icing-houses, taverns and places of vice and. iniqiiity beyond measure 

abounding in many places, so that to outward appearance, the evil seems 

to ovei'hop the good," In the large towns, there was an excessive 

58, Ca, S. P. Ven., vol, x, p. 502. 

5S, Ibid,, vol, XV, p, 389, For another allusion to the use of tobacco, 
in England, see ibid., p, 101; and A Relation of Some Abuses whichfere 
Comm.itted Against the Commonwealth", p. 22 ff, 

59a, Cases, in the Court of High Coranission, pp, 271-273, 

60, Harleian Kiscellany, pp, 287-288, For other references to drunkenness 
and gambling in the seventeenth century, see A Relation of Some 
Abuses, p, 22 ff,; Cal. S. P. Col, vol. vi, pp. 159, 209J vol. viii, 
pp. 21, 27, 221, 224, 501. King James himself, ro Harrington writes, 
was usually carried to bad drunk, and his example encouraged the 
ladies of the court to "abandon their sobriety and to be seen rolling 
about the court in a state of intoxication". (Quoted in Iristol, 
Past and Present, vol. i, p. 27?.) 


nuFiber of taverns, ^ut the chief outcry i^vas against the e.le-houses. 
The parochial officers were r.ot efficient agents in putting down 
tippling. The constables were irclined to connive at i+, while the 
penalties were so excessive in the first statute on the su'-'ject that 
it could not he enforced. King James granted a patent for alehouses 
to one of his cour+iers. This oatent was defended on sumptuary grounds 
end was exempted at t^e time of the general repeal of the patents. It 
was intended to restrict ■^'^e nvimhers of such drinking-places and promote 
temperance, hut unfortunately it did not have this result, hut merely 
gave rise to exa.ctions a.nd abuses. 

A strong sentiment against tippling seems to have developed in the 
early part of the se\'snteenth century. In the first year of James I's 
reign, an act intended to restrain "inordinate haunting and tippling in 
inns and alehouses' v/as passed. According to th-i s s+atute, the true 
use of alehouses was to be for the relief of wayfarers and not for the 
sntertainmert of Ivied and idle people. A penalty of 10 s, was to be 
imDosed for permitting unlawful drinking. ill drinking was unlawful 
except by travellers or their guest aid by artisans and laborers during 
their dinner hour. Licensed alehouses vfere only to be open to residents 
in the locality for one hour a day, at ■'rhioh tim^e liquor could be drunk 
on the premises, A number of other acts similar to this one and 
directed agai -^st tippling, alehouses and taverns -were passed throughout 
t'-'e csntury. It is not necessary to mentior all of f^eir. nor to discuss 
their provisions, °'' Suffice it to say that none of them seem ■•"O have 

61, Cunningham, vol. ii, pp. 138 ff, 1C7 ff., 193, 216, I James, c. 9, 
fitat, L, , vol, vii, p. 85 ff. • 

62. For these acts, see index to Sta+. L., under "ale", "beer and ale", 
"drunkenness", and 'vines'. 


hr-on very successfully enforced. The penelties rere somewhat relaxed 
under Charles I, hut the evil went oa increasing, and seerrs to have 
continued in existence ■H^TOughout most of the century, though it was 
especially prevalent in the early part. 

The playing- of games end other airuserients was again regulated 
during the seventeenth century. In 1620, Jnnes granted a patent to 
Clement Cottrel, the groom-porter of his household, to license gaming- 
houses for cards, dice, bowling alleys and tennis-courts. In London 
and Y*estmir.ster, twenty-four bowling alleys were permitted, fourteen 
tennis-courts and forty taverns or ordinaries for pleying cards and dice. 
Thess places vere intended "for the honest and reasorable recreation of 
good and civil people, "'ho, by +heir quality and ability, may lewfully 
use the games of bov/ling, tennis, dice, cards, tables, nine-holes or 
any ether game hereafter to be invented,"^ This did not 9i?i:ly to 
servants and laborers who were forbidden hy the old statutes against 
"unlawful games" +o engage in these pastimes. The w^ole responsibility 
for the regulation of rlaces of ajnusement in London and ^he neighborhood 
^vas thus given to Cottrel, How well he carried out his duties, the writer 
has been unable to discover. 

Jares I acted in opposi-'-ion tc the religious principles of the 
Puritan portion of his English subjects, when, in 1618, he issued his 

63, Cunringha", vol. ii, p. 170 f f . For statements as to the enforcement 
of these acts, see Proceedings Against V-illiasn, p. 7C; Some 
Tn'orthie Proceedi-igs, pp. 7.8-40; Source Bi rk of London History, p. 166; 
Gal. S. P. Irish, 1606-08, p. 461; 1611-14, pp. 19, 250; 1616-25, 

pp. 235, 282, 362, 412, 426. 

64. 3. Lanbert, A Kiptcry and Survey of London, vol. ii, pp. ?.7-38. 


famous "Declaret:ion of Sports" in vrhich he gave permission to anyone 

v;ho desired to do so, after divine service on Sundays and holy-days, 

to dance, shoot, leap, vault, SM/^ege in Kay-games, etc. Bear ar.d 

bull-baitings, interludes, and bowling Trere still prohibited, hov/ever, 

and these sports Vi-ere again forbidden by 1 Charles T, c. 1, v;hich declared 

that no one should be allowed to asseirble outside of his ovm parish 

for any sports whatsoever upon Sundays and that, in their parishes, they 

should not use any unlawful pastimes, on pain of paying a fine of " s, 

66 1 

4 d. for every offense. In 1632, Charles ordered his father s 

declaration of sports re-published and read from every pulpit in the 

kingdom. This brought him into conflict vi'ith the Puritans, led +o the 

suspension or dismi.'sal of a number cf clergymen who refused to read it, 

and grcf + ly added to the king s unpopularity, Dviri'ng the period of 

the Puritan Kevolution, the Declaration of Sports vas ordered to be 

burned by Parliament to be burned in Cheaps ide and other places. The 

sheriffs of London and Middlesex v.-ere required to ses that the order 

vas carried out and that the books ■were ''-'urned. All who had copies 

cf the declareiion were directe-i ^r, deliver them to the sheriffs prior 


to a certain date. The Houses also passed ordinances forbidding the 

acting of plays and commanding that theaters should be dismantled. 

65, "The King's Majesties Declareticn to his Subjects Concerning Lawful 

Sports", in Cur'ous Historical Tracts, pp. 2-10, 
ee, 1 Charles I, c. 1, Stat. L., vol. vii, p. :'14. 

67. Political History of Englsnd, vol. vii, p. 186. 

68, Rushv;orth, vol. v, p, 317, 

59. For these ordinances and their enforce.rient, see P.ushworth, vol. v, 
p. 1; vol. vii, pp. 847-4e, 972, 98), 991-992, 1381. 


After the Restoretion, Charles 1, c. i, forbidding bear-haitings, 
interludes and similar sports on Sundays was confirmed and erforced by 

29 Charles II, c. 7, which in addition contained a nnmber of new 

regulations as to the observ&tjon of the Sabbath, Another law, 

entitled an act against deceitfull, disorderly and excessive gaining", 
was also passed during the reign of Cv,arles II, T^is statute provided 
that anyone who should, >'y fraud, deceit, unlawful devices or ill prac- 
tices, obtain any ir.cney or anything else valuable v/hile playing at 
cards, dice, tennis, or other games, or while present at races or other 
pastimes, should forfeit treble the value of the thing that he had won, 
if he should be prosecuted within six months bv the person who had lost 
the money. Ir order to prevent immoderate betting, it vies decreed that, 
if anyone lost m.ore than h ICO at one time end did not pav his debt on 
the spot in coin, he could never be coFipel:ed to pay. Al] contracts ond 
assurances with regard to the debt were t© be absolutely void, and the 

winner must forfeit treble the amount v.'^ich he had von, if suit v>'ere 

brought against him within a year. Blackstone, in coTiTenting upon this 

act, pointed out that it differed from m.ost of the earlier statutes 

dealing with unlawf^il games in that it applied to all classes, and not 

merely to laborers, and ended: "Thus careful has the legislature been to 

prevent this destiuctive vice; w'^i cb may shov/ thtt our laws against are not so deficient as ourselves end our magistrates in putting 

these laws in execution." 

70. Stat. L., vol. viii, p. 41?. ff. 

•^1. Stet. K., vol. vy, p. 523. 

72. Blackstone, book 4, vol. ii, pp. IKO-i:;!. For other regulations as to 
gaming, alehouses, etc., see Rushvrorth, vol, ii, pp. 103-104, 196 ff., 
200, For price-fixing laws in this period, see 12 Charles II, c. 25, 
Stat, F. vol, v, p, 266 ff., and acts listed under "wines" in index 
to Stat. L. Under Cvf^rles I, an act was passed which repealed all 
the itatutes of livery (3 Charles I, c. 4[5], Stat. L., vol. vii, 
p. 331 ff.) 


7''ith this reflexion, we may fittingly bring to a close the 
history of sumptuary legislation in England - a history covering 
approximately three centuries, from the reign of Edward III to that 
of James I. During this period, a number of different types of 
sumptuary la'irr; Fade their eppearance. The goverrar.ent, however, devoted 
most of its attention to the r<=gula+-ion of apparel. The English 
ordinances did not deal with as many nor as varied sub.iects as did iihose 
of the contine:T.t and were issued almost exclusively by the central 
governm.ent and not hy the towns and other local bodies, as was the 
case in some countries. They met with the same fate, however, that 
seems to have been reserved for similar laws everywhere - thet is to say, 
they do not seem to have been enforced to any greet extent. Vihile 
there is very little positive proof with regard to t^is point, the 
preponderance of the evidence sup orts the conclusion that the acts 
intended to regulate expenditure had ir. reality very little effect. 
After studying them and their results (or rafter lack of results), one 

is inclined to agree with Iilontesquien, when he says that manners and 

morals, like religion, lie outside the range of human compulsion." 

73, Quoted hy Vn'illisrr A. Dunning, A History of Political Theories, from 
Luther to Mcntesquien, pp. 405-06, 427. In his "L'Esprit des Lois", 
Montesquien, in treating the question of the connection of luxury 
wi-t-h political irstitutions, declared that sumptuary laws are 
appropriate to a democracy, which desires tham in the name of 
equality, vdll be tolerated under an aristocnatic form of government, 
which wishes moderation and wrill not permit inequality to go too 
far, but will 't^ rejected by a monarchy v/hich is founded on luxury. 
(L'Esprit des Lois, book 5, chap, xix) 

Voltaire disagreed with this view. To him s\amptuary lav/s 
were objectionable under any form of goverriment. "Toute lio scsnp- 
tuaire". ho wrote, "est iniuste en elle-meme; c'est cour le maint.ien 
de leurs droits que les hoirroes se sont reunis en societe et non pour 
donner aiix autres celui d'attenter a la liberte que doit avoir 
chaque individu de s'habiller, de se nourrir, de se loger a se 
f antes ie, ..pourvu que cet usage ne blesse le droit de personne. 
"L'histoire a prouve que toutes les lois sumptuaires. . . ont ete 
partout, apres un temps tres court, abolies, eludees ou negligees; 
la v&nite inventera touiorirs plus de manieres de se distinguer, que 
les lois n'en pcurror*- defendre." (Quoted hy fitienne Giraudias, 

J ".rnr rf+f** 


Just why it was found impossible to execute the lav.-s v/hich vere 
so painstakingly and persistently passed (particularly during the 
Tudor period, when sumptuary legislation reached its height in England) 
the writer has as yet been unaftle to determine. Probably, judging from 
the indignation which V/olsey's attempt to enforce the statutes of 
apparel is said to have aroused, public opinion was not back of them, 
and, as everyone knows, it is almost useless to try to carry out laws 
of which the miajority of the people do not. approve. Perhaps most 
Englishmen felt, with Blackstone, that in a country "whose government is 
compounded of a mixture of monarchy and democracy, like that of their 
native land, "it is a doubtful question ^ovv' far private luxurv is a 
public evil' . At any rate, "legislators there have changed their 

sentiments on this point, as i s shown by the early enactment and the later 

repeal of sumptuary laws." 

fitu-e Historique Sur les Lois Somptuaires, pp. lOZ-104.) 
74. Blackstone, book 4, vol, ii, p. 129. 



I. Documents and Contemporary Y.Titings, 

Acts of the Privy Council of England . London.^ 1890 - 
Amundesham, John, Annales Ivionasterii S. Albani , in Chronicles and Memorials 

of Great Britain and Ireland during the Middlg Ages, 
vol. xxviii, 5. 2 vols. London, 1870. 
Bailey, Charles, Transcripts From the Municipal Archives of Vsinchester. 

Yi/inchester, 1856, 
Baker, Richard, A Chronicle of the Kings of Sngland From the Time of the 

Romans* Government U nto the Death of King James. 
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Frances Elizabeth Baldwin was born in Balti- 
more, Maryland, on April 1, 1699. She matriculated 
at Goucher College in 1916, was elected to Phi Beta 
Kappa in her senior year, and received the degree of 
Bachelor of Arts from that institution in June, 1920. 
She entered the graduate scho!)l of Johns Hopkins 
University in the fall of the same year, and during 
the years 1920 to 1923 pursued courses in history, 
political econom.y and political science, with history 
as her major sub.iect. During the session 1920-21, she 
was the holder of a graduate fellowship from Goucher 
College. In June, 1922, she received the degree of 
Master of Arts from Johns Hopkins University. 


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