Sumptuary laws plagued Renaissance bankers

"Our state is less strong because money which should navigate and multiply lies dead, converted into vanities,"  said the rulers of Venice, who enforced laws designed to curb the spending habits of the rich. These sumptuary laws are the subject of an article by Sarah Dunant on the BBC News Magazine blog.

By the late Renaissance, Italian bankers scoffed at rules set by the state and the church, imposing limits on what you could spend on banquets, or weddings or funerals, in effort to curb their spending. Elaborate banquets where guest dined off of silver plates, and then threw them into the Tiber, were becoming far too common.

Dunant compares the excesses of Renaissance bankers with their modern counterparts.