Description

Clothes in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period denoted legal status and social standing. Jews (and other minority and marginal groups) were distinguished by clothing regulations, sometimes supplemented by the wearing of a special badge. However, beyond custom and law, there were subtle cues that signaled marginality such as the wearing of certain fabrics and colours etc. In Mediterranean Europe, that is in Italy, Sicily and the Iberian kingdoms, Jews wore more or less the same fashions as the surrounding society though there were restrictions and distinguishing marks imposed by either the ruler and the Church or the Jews themselves. A text from fifteenth century Sicily describes the clothes worn by Jews during a festive procession; but beyond the explicit information it provides, the text’s language and the subtext hint at the marginality and restrictions imposed on the Jews. Converting to Christianity meant, according to Church doctrine as well as missionary propaganda, total status change and no restrictions on dress, exercising various professions etc. However, a sixteenth century text - also from Sicily - raises intriguing question as to the perceptions of the New Christians by the Old Christian population, especially regarding dress. Both texts are compared with each other and other sources from the same period.

This presentation is for the following text(s):

  • A History of Sicily in Twenty (parts) (1560)
  • On the Origins and History of Palermo (1471)

Event Website

http://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/emw/emw2007/

Start Date

21-8-2007 9:00 AM

Location

University of Maryland, College Park, MD

 
Aug 21st, 9:00 AM

Symbolic Clothes Marginality and otherness of Jews and New Christians as Reflected by Their Dress in Two Christian texts

University of Maryland, College Park, MD

Clothes in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period denoted legal status and social standing. Jews (and other minority and marginal groups) were distinguished by clothing regulations, sometimes supplemented by the wearing of a special badge. However, beyond custom and law, there were subtle cues that signaled marginality such as the wearing of certain fabrics and colours etc. In Mediterranean Europe, that is in Italy, Sicily and the Iberian kingdoms, Jews wore more or less the same fashions as the surrounding society though there were restrictions and distinguishing marks imposed by either the ruler and the Church or the Jews themselves. A text from fifteenth century Sicily describes the clothes worn by Jews during a festive procession; but beyond the explicit information it provides, the text’s language and the subtext hint at the marginality and restrictions imposed on the Jews. Converting to Christianity meant, according to Church doctrine as well as missionary propaganda, total status change and no restrictions on dress, exercising various professions etc. However, a sixteenth century text - also from Sicily - raises intriguing question as to the perceptions of the New Christians by the Old Christian population, especially regarding dress. Both texts are compared with each other and other sources from the same period.

This presentation is for the following text(s):

  • A History of Sicily in Twenty (parts) (1560)
  • On the Origins and History of Palermo (1471)

http://fordham.bepress.com/emw/emw2007/emw2007/10