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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: April ::
Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0320  Tuesday, 18 April 2006

[1] 	From: 	Thomas Larque <
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	Date: 	Monday, 17 Apr 2006 22:28:55 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0316 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine

[2] 	From: 	Thomas Larque <
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	Date: 	Monday, 17 Apr 2006 22:41:41 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0316 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine

[3] 	From: 	Peter Bridgman <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 18 Apr 2006 10:31:30 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0316 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Thomas Larque <
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Date: 		Monday, 17 Apr 2006 22:28:55 +0100
Subject: 17.0316 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0316 Chandos Portrait Probably Genuine

I see from further research that James I apparently abolished the 
sumptuary laws in the first year of his reign, which means that there 
were no restrictions on the clothes that might be worn by a man rich 
enough to wear them.  Even this is ignoring the fact, of course, that 
Shakespeare's ruff looks quite plain, and almost certainly wasn't a sign 
of great wealth and status in any case.

Even in the Elizabethan period, the sumptuary laws were apparently not 
very effective.  The Internet Shakespeare Editions site recounts that 
"The ruff was worn by both men and women. Although Elizabeth wore large 
ruffs herself, a statute of 1580 forbade neckwear beyond a certain size. 
Members of the Ironmongers' and Grocers' companies were stationed at 
Bishopsgate to stop people with "monstrous ruffs" or excessively long 
cloaks and swords from entering the city. Offenders who refused to 
change their attire were arrested."  The fact that such patrols were 
necessary suggests that there were many who chose to disregard the 
statutes before they were repealed by James.

Phillip Stubbes in his "Anatomie of Abuses" (from the EEBO text, printed 
in the 1580s) complains that "monstrous ruffs" of "a quarter of a yard 
deep" (far more elaborate than the ruff worn by Shakespeare) are worn by 
"everyone how mean or simple so-ever they be", and says - of shirts - 
that it would not be so bad if such fashions were restricted to the 
gentry (of which Shakespeare was a member) and the nobility, but they 
are worn by everyone. Stubbes may be exaggerating to support his 
outrage, but he cannot have been exaggerating by much or his pamphlet 
would be ignored.  People of lower (mercantile?) classes must have been 
wearing monstrous elaborate ruffs made and supported by fabulously 
expensive materials in Elizabeth's day.

Here's Stubbes text in full.

"Philo.
They haue great and monsterous ruffes,  made either of Cambrick, 
holland, lawn or els of some other the finest cloth that can be got for 
money, whereof some be a quarter of a yard deep, yea some more, very few 
lesse.

So that they stand a full quarter of a yarde (and more) from their necks 
hanging ouer their shoulder poynts, insted of a vaile. But if Aeolus 
with his blasts, or Neptune with his stormes, chaunce to hit vppon the 
crasie bark of their brused ruffes, then they goe flip flap in the winde 
like rags flying abroad, and lye vpon their shoulders like the 
dishcloute of a [...]lutte. But wot you what? the deuil, as in the 
fulnes of his malice, first inuented these great ruffes, so hath h

 

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