A dress placed over all the others. It is of very ancient date, being a part of the costume of the Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans. Among the Anglo-Saxons it was the decisive mark of military rank, being confined to the cavalry. In the medieval ages, and on the institution of chivalry, the long, trailing mantle was especially reserved as one of the insignia of knighthood, and was worn by the knight as the most August and noble decoration that he could have, when he was not dressed in his armor.
The general color of the mantle, in imitation of that of the Roman soldiers, was scarlet, which was lined with ermine or other precious furs. But some of the Orders wore mantles of other colors. Thus the Knights Templar were clothed with a white mantle having a red cross on the breast, and the Knights Hospitaler a black mantle with a white cross. The mantle is still worn in England and other countries of Europe as a mark of rank on state occasions by peers, and by some magistrates as a token of official rank.
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