1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gaberdine

GABERDINE, or Gabardine, any long, loose over-garment, reaching to the feet and girt round the waist. It was, when made of coarse material, commonly worn in the middle ages by pilgrims, beggars and almsmen. The Jews, conservatively attached to the loose and flowing garments of the East, continued to wear the long upper garment to which the name “gaberdine” could be applied, long after it had ceased to be a common form as worn by non-Jews, and to this day in some parts of Europe, e.g. in Poland, it is still worn, while the tendency to wear the frock-coat very long and loose is a marked characteristic of the race. The fact that in the middle ages the Jews were forbidden to engage in handicrafts also, no doubt, tended to stereotype a form of dress unfitted for manual labour. The idea of the “gaberdine” being enforced by law upon the Jews as a distinctive garment is probably due to Shakespeare’s use in the Merchant of Venice, I. iii. 113. The mark that the Jews were obliged to wear generally on the outer garment was the badge. This was first enforced by the fourth Lateran Council of 1215. The “badge” (Lat. rota; Fr. rouelle, wheel) took generally the shape of a circle of cloth worn on the breast. It varied in colour at different times. In France it was of yellow, later of red and white; in England it took the form of two bands or stripes, first of white, then of yellow. In Edward I.’s reign it was made in the shape of the Tables of the Law (see the Jewish Encyclopedia, s.v. “Costume” and “Badge”). The derivation of the word is obscure. It apparently occurs first in O. Fr. in the forms gauverdine, galvardine, and thence into Ital. as gavardina, and Span. gabardina, a form which has influenced the English word. The New English Dictionary suggests a connexion with the O.H. Ger. wallevart, pilgrimage. Skeat (Etym. Dict., 1898) refers it to Span. gaban, coat, cloak; cabaña, hut, cabin.