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Vol 23 No 4 April/May 2018

Book of the Month

Cover of Williams, Mortimer and Sunnucks: Executors, Administrators and Probate

Williams, Mortimer and Sunnucks: Executors, Administrators and Probate

Edited by: Alexander Learmonth, Charlotte Ford, Julia Clark, John Ross Martyn
Price: £295.00

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Rich Apparel: Clothing and the Law in Henry VIII's England

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ISBN13: 9780754640967
Published: July 2009
Publisher: Routledge
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: £115.00

Despatched in 5 to 7 days.

English dress in the second half of the sixteenth century has been studied in depth, yet remarkably little has been written on the earlier years, or indeed on male clothing for the whole century. The few studies that do cover these neglected areas have tended to be quite general, focusing upon garments rather than the wearers. As such this present volume fills an important gap by providing a detailed analysis of not only what people wore in Henry's reign, but why.

The book describes and analyses dress in England through a variety of documents, including warrants and accounts from Henry's Great Wardrobe and the royal household, contemporary narrative sources, legislation enacted by Parliament, guild regulations, inventories and wills, supported with evidence and observations derived from visual sources and surviving garments.

Whilst all these sources are utilised, the main focus of the study is built around the sumptuary legislation, or the four 'Acts of Apparel' passed by Henry between 1509 and 1547. English sumptuary legislation was concerned primarily with male dress, and starting at the top of society with the king and his immediate family, it worked its way down through the social hierarchy, but stopped short of the poor who did not have sufficient disposable income to afford the items under consideration. Certain groups - such as women and the clergy - who were specifically excluded from the legislation, are examined in the second half of the book.

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Legal History
Introduction: signs of self definition: textiles in Henry VIII's England
Part I Sumptuary Legislation and the Tudor Social Structure:
Costly array: the Henrician sumptuary laws
The body politic: the Tudor social structure.
Part II Cloth and Clothing: Production: the English textile and clothing trades;
Consumption: material choices
Rich apparel: clothing and accessories
Livery: symbol of royal, noble and military service.
Part III Living Within the Law: the Landed Hierarchy: Defining the House of Tudor: the king and his family;
The nobility: dukes, earls, marquesses and lords
The gentry
knights, esquires and gentlemen
The middling and lower sort: yeomen, husbandmen and labourers.
Part IV Living Beyond the Law: the Exceptions: Women: wives and spinsters, vowesses and widows;
The ecclesiastical elite: cardinals, archbishops and bishops
The parish clergy: priests, parsons, curates and chantry priests
Living by the rule: the regular clergy
Entertainers: players of interludes and minstrels
The secular professions
academics, lawyers and doctors
The urban elite: civic livery and the mercantile community
Conclusion: the Acts of Apparel: clothing choices and social definition