Sumptuary legislation played an important social role in Tudor society, as it did in earlier generations. It applied to ordinary attire, but also, where appropriate, to what we might call uniforms. Specifically, it applied to clerical and academical dress. An Act of 1533 (24 Henry VIII c 13) was the most comprehensive on this point. It includes provisions that have since commonly been read to allow holders of a doctors degree to wear scarlet gowns, whatever their universities might otherwise provide. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the relevant sections of this Act and one of 1509, in order to discover whether doctors may indeed have had a right to wear scarlet under these statutes.
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