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    May 2021
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    Behind Long-Loved Fables Are Great Stories!

    Indeed, behind long-loved fables of gallants and fairy tales, are great stories, but … are they true?


    Let’s take for example the fable about Sir Walter Raleigh, a very handsome gentleman, quick-witted gallant, who’s story is said to have laid down his cloak over a mud puddle when Elizabeth I, Queen of England passing by with her retinue stopped near him.

    His kind gesture and courtesy did impressed the Queen which in turn gave him a much heartfelt smile of gratitude. Ain’t this not a romantic and fateful meeting of two great historic personalities?

    The story became very popular and much impressed the imaginary of people hearing about it, even though this great happening may have never happened!

    It has also been perpetuated by Sir Walter Scott in his novel Kenilworth (1821).

    Below is an extract of Chapter 15 where the author describes the scene.



    At this moment the gates opened, and ushers began to issue forth in array, preceded and flanked by the band of Gentlemen Pensioners. After this, amid a crowd of lords and ladies, yet so disposed around her that she could see and be seen on all sides, came Elizabeth herself, then in the prime of womanhood, and in the full glow of what in a Sovereign was called beauty, and who would in the lowest rank of life have been truly judged a noble figure, joined to a striking and commanding physiognomy. She leant on the arm of Lord Hunsdon, whose relation to her by her mother’s side often procured him such distinguished marks of Elizabeth’s intimacy.

    Sir-Walter-RaleighThe young cavalier we have so often mentioned had probably never yet approached so near the person of his Sovereign, and he pressed forward as far as the line of warders permitted, in order to avail himself of the present opportunity. His companion, on the contrary, cursing his imprudence, kept pulling him backwards, till Walter shook him off impatiently, and letting his rich cloak drop carelessly from one shoulder; a natural action, which served, however, to display to the best advantage his well-proportioned person.

    Unbonneting at the same time, he fixed his eager gaze on the Queen’s approach, with a mixture of respectful curiosity and modest yet ardent admiration, which suited so well with his fine features that the warders, struck with his rich attire and noble countenance, suffered him to approach the ground over which the Queen was to pass, somewhat closer than was permitted to ordinary spectators. Thus the adventurous youth stood full in Elizabeth’s eye—an eye never indifferent to the admiration which she deservedly excited among her subjects, or to the fair proportions of external form which chanced to distinguish any of her courtiers.

    Accordingly, she fixed her keen glance on the youth, as she approached the place where he stood, with a look in which surprise at his boldness seemed to be unmingled with resentment, while a trifling accident happened which attracted her attention towards him yet more strongly.

    The night had been rainy, and just where the young gentleman stood a small quantity of mud interrupted the Queen’s passage. As she hesitated to pass on, the gallant, throwing his cloak from his shoulders, laid it on the miry spot, so as to ensure her stepping over it dry-shod.


    Elizabeth looked at the young man, who accompanied this act of devoted courtesy with a profound reverence, and a blush that overspread his whole countenance. The Queen was confused, and blushed in her turn, nodded her head, hastily passed on, and embarked in her barge without saying a word.

    “Come along, Sir Coxcomb,” said Blount; “your gay cloak will need the brush to-day, I wot. Nay, if you had meant to make a footcloth of your mantle, better have kept Tracy’s old drab-debure, which despises all colours.”

    “This cloak,” said the youth, taking it up and folding it, “shall never be brushed while in my possession.” (…)

    Source: Kenilworth by Walter Scott. Chapter XV  .

    Googling about the fable on the Web brought up the website on which it is said that the story probably originated with historian Thomas Fuller:

    ‘Sir Walter Raleigh Never Laid His Cloak Before Queen Elizabeth’

    About the true story behind the myth that Sir Walter Raleigh laid his clock at the feet of Queen Elizabeth.


    Seaman, courtier, explorer, poet, privateer, and soldier of fortune, Sir Walter Raleigh was unquestionably the hands-down favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, even though he was far from handsome, being endowed with a long face, a high forehead, and “pig eyes.” However, that he once stepped forth from a crowd, gallantly doffed his cloak, and threw it over a mud puddle to protect the feet of the passing queen is pure fiction.

    Raleigh, who was born in Devonshire about 1552, first caught the queen’s attention in 1581, when, with great cogency and wit, he urged England to conquer Ireland. The queen rewarded Sir Walter with honors and wealth, granting him extensive landholdings and estates in England and Ireland and business monopolies in such varied enterprises as wine licenses and the export of textiles. He was knighted in 1584 and named captain of the queen’s guard two years later. But Sir Walter incurred Elizabeth’s displeasure in 1592 for an illicit love affair with one of her maids of honor. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London, later freed, and ultimately beheaded for treachery.

    The story of the cloak and the mud puddle probably originated with historian Thomas Fuller, known for his imaginative elaborations on historical fact.

    Later, Sir Walter Scott kept the myth alive in his 1821 Elizabethan romance, Kenilworth. “Hark ye, Master Raleigh, see thou fail not to wear thy muddy cloak,” the queen exhorts Sir Walter, “in token of penitence, till our pleasure be further known.” Sir Walter vows never to clean the cloak, and later the queen, delighted with his gallantry, invites him to visit the royal wardrobe keeper that he may be fitted for “a suit, and that of the newest cut.”



    Nevertheless, I love tales and fables, be they true or untrue, as they open up a story to wonder and adventure, and are such inspiring.



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