[LMB] Sumptuary laws, was Language drift on Barrayar

Sylvia McIvers sylviamcivers at gmail.com
Thu Aug 8 17:51:13 BST 2019

> > > On Aug 6, 2019, at 2:21 PM, Mieke <mvanspanje at home.nl> wrote:
> > >
> > >>  In some places/times it was illegal to wear costly clothing that was
> "beyond one's station".  Imagine being prohibited from wearing a tuxedo or
> evening gown because you weren't high-status enough!
> > >
> > >> That is interesting. Do you have any examples?
> > > I know of societys or times that it was ‘not done’. But actually
> > prohibited...?
> >

When I was a kid, mom made sure we had all kind of historical books, and a
bunch by Marcus Lehman, who wrote of Jewish heroes of ye olden days.

"Rabbi Joselman of Rosheim" was a Rabbi who worked with various German
princes (there were multiple Germanies at that time, and my knowing this at
such a young age astonished the teachers.  thanks mom!)

As a Jew he could not wear certain garments, but a heavy fur was given to
him as a gift from the land-prince, so it was allowed.   Plot point - the
lining was a forbidden mix of linsey-woolsey, so he changed it to plain
linen or wool, with the prince's permission.  Later someone watned to frame
him, and duplicated the coat - with the original lining. So he could prove
it wasn't him.

Possibly from the same book, there was a wealthy Jewish merchant's wife who
saw a noblewoman's beautiful dress and had it duplicated for herself to
wear. The noblewoman was furious that a Jewish woman, non noble, was
wearing her dress, and had the merchant thrown in jail for breaking the
sumptuous laws.

I actually remember this cover, it was purple, and the kings were kind of
weird looking.  Also notice the Jew-hat which the Rabbi is wearing, it was
obligatory for Jews, which as an article of clothing might or might not
fall under sumptuary laws.

If you got this far, here's a fun fact:
Marcus Lehman's father was Lehman Marcus, and I believe his grandfather was
Marcus Lehman.  Jewish last names were Name son of Father's Name, or
possibly Name the Tradename, until the Polish/German/Russian governments
needed to keep track of people.

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