Clothing (= il vestiario) often plays a significant role (= ruolo) in society. In the fourteenth century clothes were a symbol of a person’s rank or desired rank (= rango) within the state system.
Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales illustrate the importance of clothing as a status symbol. The poet – narrator describes the pilgrims way of dressing minutely adding (= aggiungendo), in this way, details to the pilgrim’s personalities. During Chaucer’s time, society was divided into three parts: the nobility, the clergy (= clero), and the peasantry (= contadini) with specific roles in society – the nobility ruled, the clergy were the spiritual guidance and the peasantry worked the land. With the crusades another class emerged: the merchants.
Time passing the emerging classes began dressing like the nobility. The nobility’s reaction was to restrict what a person could wear, spend, drink, and hunt and issued the Sumptuary laws (from about the middle of the 1300’s to the middle of the 1600’s) . These laws regulated the behaviour ( = comportamento)and appearance (=aspetto) of people in order to match (= adattarsi) with their class and professions. When a person changed social status by marriage or employment the rules that governed their appearance changed. Chaucer criticised this way of thinking in the General Prologue of the Canterbury Tales.