A Brief History of the Term "Red Tape"

#History

Mon, Jul 4th, 2016 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

On Today I Found Out, Simon Whistler explains how the term red tape came to describe "excessive bureaucratic rigmarole."

The practice of referring to “excessive bureaucratic rigmarole” as red tape dates back more than 400 years to the court of the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, Charles V (1500-1558). As heir to three of Europe’s most powerful dynasties (Habsburg, Valois-Burgundy and Trastámara), at the height of his power, Charles’ empire stretched from Spain in the west to Hungary in the east, and from the Netherlands in the north to Sicily in the south. In addition, Charles had significant holdings in the New World, and an enormous administration to manage his vast empire.

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