Wearing Stripes Could Get You Killed in Medieval Europe
Stripes have countless associations today, from preppy (think thick rugby stripes) to chic French girls (hello, Breton shirts) to old-school jails (the poster for O Brother, Where Art Thou comes to mind).
But centuries ago, stripes had a different interpretation, and it wasn’t a good one. For Medieval Europeans, stripes stood for difference and disorder, and striped clothing was worn by hangmen, non-Christians, clowns, lepers, disloyal knights — basically, people who society marked as outcasts. A French cobbler was even condemned to death, local records show, because he was “caught in striped clothes.”
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