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IMC 2019: Sessions

Session 199: Keynote Lecture 2019: From Words to Things: Colours, Forms, and Fabrics of Forbidden Garments (Language: English)

Monday 1 July 2019, 13.15-14.00

Introduction:Anne E. Lester, Department of History, University of Colorado, Boulder
Speaker:Maria Giuseppina Muzzarelli, Department of Medieval Studies, Università degli Studi di Bologna

Sumptuary legislation and the documentation related to these sources functioned as an instrument of government, a means to represent new political orders through the concession and prohibition of objects infused with symbolical meaning, while resonating with economic and social value. This lecture privileges, in particular, the analysis of lists of garments concretely owned by citizens during the enactment of the legislation that prohibited their use. We possess two records of the sort, those from Florence in the years from 1343 to 1345, and from Bologna in 1401. These records contain detailed descriptions of reported garments that allow us to understand these objects in their material aspects: their fabrics, forms, colours, and dimensions. The aim of this lecture, therefore, is not only to examine carefully what legislators conceded or prohibited, trying to reconstruct their intentions, but also to draw attention to the materiality of these objects. Finally, the comparison and cross-referencing of these documents yields a more precise picture of regulated objects, which, in addition to clarifying their material aspects, will provide us with a window onto the tastes, desires, and artisanal abilities of men and women from the 14th and the 15th centuries.