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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Essay on Spanish History

INSTRUCTION:  In the last two chapters of Spanish Society, I attempt to recreate the patterns of everyday life and Spanish attitudes towards honor, dress, food, travel, entertainment, and the like. Select two of these themes and discuss them in detail with references to the primary sources and
the historical context.

Essay on Spanish History
Patterns in Spanish Society: Eating and Dressing
            The Spanish influence extends beyond the country prime years during the Age of Colonization. Spain has a rich history in producing the finest food, wine, and dresses. Because of Spain is a pre-dominantly Catholic nation, several festivals in honour of saints are being held. During these events, towns and cities parade colourful floats and houses offer the best food and wine available. Spanish appreciation for excess has been known worldwide. Aside from these cultural realities, it is important to understand a typical Spanish society based on historical accounts.

            When Spain was still ruled by monarchs, food was considered as one of the indicators of societal hierarchy. During coronation of Kings, the most elaborate, exotic, and expensive foods are presented to the table. Monarchs believe that the difference in the food they eat is significant in showing that they are above their servants. Like in today’s society, monarchs prepare the best feasts for guests and serve the most traditional food available in Spain.

            Today’s consumption of high-quality and high-priced food by the rich is just a reflection of history. In Spain, legislations were even passed to distinguish the famous from the commons. Most of the families consume more food than what they need and the poor are always lacking of enough food in their table. But even during the Medieval Ages, there are some fortunate individuals who have been doing some charitable works.

            The middle class meanwhile ate better food than the destitute. Priests, nobles, and other middling elements of society enjoy some of the food served in monarchs. At the same time, the middle class is aware of to table etiquette and manners. Education as well as participation in events initiated by the monarchy have improved the taste of middle classes when in comes to food.

            Aside from food, clothing is another strong indicator of social status. Even today, there are expensive and outlandish clothes that only the rich people could afford. During the Medieval times in Spain, clothes fabric and colour are used as basis for social classes. For example, the Spanish Habsburg Court uses black and white to serve as emblematic representation. The austere and sharp taste exhibited by Spanish elites and merchants during the sixteenth to the seventeenth centuries were more of affectation instead of a reflection of contrast among classes.

            Even the use clothing has been accorded with sumptuary laws by Spanish legislators. These laws pertain to restrictive measures that aimed to prevent obvious consumption among all social classes within the Spanish realms. Sumptuary laws were deliberately placed to block social mobility and to contain the permeability of social orders. Despite these efforts to prevent changes in the society, ambitious individuals, in particular merchants worked hard to gain wealth. Aside from wealth, religious affiliations were also covered by these laws. Minorities such as Jews and Muslims have specific clothes that could be identified to them.

            As mentioned previously, colour of clothing is used to determine the social class of an individual. Most of the poor in Spain during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries use cotton, wool, and other cheap fabric. Most of the poor clothes are plain and are not dyed.  Upper classes often use fabrics such as scarlet cloth, silk, and furs. Also added in these expensive cloths are aesthetics customized to each individual. The specific type of fabric and colour provide the identity for these rich people and separates them from the poor an middle class.

            The current societies, not just in Spain have become more open to the use of clothes. Clothing companies still value the upscale market and produce clothes for the rich. Although colour has not been as significant of a classifier, the type of textile still matters. There is still a divide but the gap has been closing through time. 

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