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Title: Clothes, status and class in Malta under the Order of St John
Authors: Cassar, Carmel
Keywords: Malta -- History -- Knights of Malta, 1530-1798
Social status -- Malta -- 16th century
Social classes -- Malta -- 16th century
Clothing and dress -- Malta -- 16th century
Social classes -- Malta -- History -- 17th century
Clothing and dress -- Malta -- 17th century
Social status -- Malta -- 17th century
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Sacra Militia Foundation
Citation: Cassar, C. (2009). Clothes, status and class in Malta under the Order of St John. Sacra Militia, 8, 15-20.
Abstract: Between the early sixteenth and the end of the eighteenth centuries the Maltese islands were administered by the Military and Hospitaller Order of St John. The Order's rule brought to the Maltese population law, order, security, and prosperity. It also brought about a new boost of activities and great demographic growth which continued to rise throughout the period of that rule. The shift from a peasant and domestic mode of production to one based on commerce, and the rapid expansion of trade, together with the growth of market opportunities, economic dislocations by market forces, and a new form of dependent labour, such as employment with the Order of St John, must have left their indelible mark on traditional peasant society. Nonetheless crude homespun appears to have been the everyday working garb for the majority of Maltese inhabitants, and was normally produced from the least expensive of local resources namely wool, and more importantly, cotton. Few people today realize that irrespective of whether they were rich or poor, most people owned only a few garments and thus tended to wear the same clothing items all the time to the extent that it was normal for witnesses in criminal investigations to describe culprits by their clothing. It was thought that identification would hold because most had few garments to spare and these were hardly ever changed.
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