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Cloak Etiquette
The cloak or mantle was a very necessary item of garb for all men of noble birth and position. It belonged historically to the nobility and dates from the very earliest times. It was a garment of distinction, and the wearing of it was a mark of superiority and nobility, which has continued until our own time. The importance is emphasized by the various customs evolving from its use:
  1. To thrown the mantle that one was wearing to the ground was an act of defiance. Such a challenge was frequently mentioned in old romances as being given by either men or women.

  2. In presenting a petition to any great or noble person, it was customary to bend very low on one knee and touch, or catch hold of the mantle of the notability.

  3. Sovereign presented newly-made knights with mantles. These were often lined with ermine, vair, or sable and were much prized as heirlooms in the family.

  4. On receiving any good news the noble recipient gave the mantle he was wearing, however costly, to the messenger.

  5. The nobility and wealthy landowners were often entertained in their castles after supper by wandering troubadour. If greatly pleased with the entertainment the lord would present his mantle to the poet. But this does not mean that the messenger or troubadour wore such a rich mantle; he disposed of it as soon as possible to the highest bidder. It was perhaps his only renumeration.

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2006 March 28