Heraldic Clothing, the Cyclas

When, during the reign of Edward II, the surcoat was shortened to the waist but still remained flowing behind it became known as a Cyclas. It has been debated as to whether the Cyclas should be considered a strictly heraldic piece of clothing because although it was worn by nobles and displayed their coat of arms, these items of clothing were also worn by Ladies and common citizens. John Plantagenet who is entombed in Westminister Abbey since 1334 is wearing a cyclas in his tomb which reaches to his upper thigh in front and below his knees at the back. There are 2 knights from a similar time period on the front of Exeter Cathedral who are wearing the same style of garment.

Even though knights did not start wearing the cyclas until the early 1300’s, the item of clothing had already been in use for a hundred years or so. When Henry III married Eleanor of Provence in 1236, an account of the wedding recorded in rolls from the time period describe the pageantry that surrounded the wedding in London and included descriptions of attendees wearing  “ cyclases woven in gold ."
Eleanor of Provence

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