Sumptuary law

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Historically a sumptuary law is any law that restricted modes of dress based on class or nobility. Sumptuary laws are useful to a costuming researcher for providing information on fashionable dress and materials available at a time. These laws frequently regarded the use of expensive fabrics or dyes.


Sumptuary laws within the Middle Kingdom

The Middle Kingdom has few actual sumptuary laws, but several items of dress are restricted so strongly by sumptuary custom that people consider them to be actual laws of the kingdom. Although many sumptuary laws and customs practiced within the Midrealm hold true throughout many kingdoms, some customs are uniquely ours. For example a person with an Award of Arms in the Middle Kingdom may wear an unadorned circlet; in many other kingdoms this is not allowed unless someone has a grant of arms.

Items Restricted by Law

The actual sumptuary laws in existence today can be found in section IX-200 through IX-212 of the Laws of the Middle Kingdom. Which can be read here

It should be noted that while many other kingdoms will have similar customs, they do vary. For example, the Kingdom of the West's royal crowns are silver.

Items Restricted by Custom in the Middle Kingdom

A full list of these customs can be found in the Middle Kingdom Protocol Handbook.

Note: Customs can be as important as laws, and as strictly enforced. For customs not related to dress see the articles on the Royal Presence, Court and Events

See also: Colored belts

Heraldry Restricted by Sumptuary Custom in the Middle Kingdom

There is no restriction as to who may register a heraldic device or arms. However, there are limits and customs in regards to the achievements or heraldic components the arms may be displayed with.
A full list can be found in the Middle Kingdom Persuivant's Handbook

  • Anyone who has a registered device is entitled to display it with a steel helm, torse, personal crest, and mantling.
  • Each armiger (recipient of AoA) may add one supporter and a compartment on which it can stand.
  • The badges of any armigerous orders or awards to which the recipient is entitled may be displayed by the supporter. In most cases the supporter will wear them around its neck.
  • All Nobility (Royal Peers, Baron/baroness), Peers, holders of Grant of Arms, and Great Officers of State are entitled to a second supporter.
    • Great Officers of State, holders of Grants of Arms for past service to the Middle Kingdom as Great Officers of State, and Royal Peers of the Middle Kingdom may have a dragon as one of their supporters. No one else may use a dragon supporter in the Middle Kingdom.
  • All Nobility may wear upon their helm the appropriate coronet of rank.
  • All Royal Peers and Peers may ornament their helms with gold.
  • All Peers may surround their arms with the appropriate symbol(s) of their Orders
  • Companions of the Order of the Rose may surround their arms with a chaplet of roses. Alternately, they may replace the torse with a chaplet of roses.
  • Holders of Grants of Arms, by virtue of past service to the Middle Kingdom as Great Officers of State, are entitled, at the Crown’s discretion, to bear a dragon crest.
  • Great Officers of State may display the appropriate Badge of Office pendant from a riband around their arms (or from a Knight’s Chain, etc., as appropriate).
  • A Landed Baron or Baroness may display the Arms of his or her Barony on a banner maintained by one of the supporters.

  • Restrictions on Crests and Supporters: The choice of crest and supporter is a personal choice. There is nothing to stop two people from using the same crest and supporters. However, the dragon crest and the dragon supporter may only be used as prescribed above.
  • Restrictions on Mantling: It is custom to use one’s livery colors (the metal and color from one’s heraldry) for the two sides of the mantling. However, the use of crimson mantling lined with ermine is restricted to the Royal Family.
  • Notes on Torses: It is also custom but not required to use one’s livery colors for the torse.

External Links

Sumptuary customs for the Midrealm are maintained in the Midrealm Protocol Handbook

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