Sumptuary laws for those deemed "other"

Sumptuary laws weren’t just used to strengthen the social hierarchy: they were also used to identify those deemed to be outside of it. In medieval Europe, this often meant Jews and Muslims. In an early example of such a decree, the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 advised that Jews and Muslims wear distinguishing clothing with the stated goal of preventing sexual relations between Christians and Jews or Muslims. Later, this injunction would evolve into laws specifying that Jews wear badges and conical hats so they could be easily identified. By the end of the 13th century, yellow became the most common color of badges prescribed for Jews in numerous jurisdictions, early precursors to the yellow Stars of David mandated by Nazi Germany in 1941.

Demonstrating how sumptuary laws were entwined with wealth and class as well as prejudice, Jewish bankers in Siena paid to be exempted from a 1439 requirement that Jews in the city wear a badge.

Süsskind von Trimberg, Codex Manesse

An illustration from the Codex Manesse depicts Süsskind von Trimberg (on the right), a Jew credited with six poems in the volume. He wears the conical hat that was made compulsory for Jews in some parts of Europe following the Fourth Lateran Council.