Trivia

Hard

The Handkerchief Was Popularized By?

Humphrey Bogart
King Richard II
George Washington
Jane Austen

Answer: King Richard II

Fans of Shakespearean theater know King Richard II of England as a cruel and vindictive king. Students of history know him as a more dynamic figure who was well read, a huge patron of the arts, and who oversaw, among other projects, the extensive rebuilding of Westminster Hall.

Of less interest, but of perhaps longer lasting impact than his other undertakings, was something far more simple: the popularization of the handkerchief. By no stretch of the imagination was King Richard the inventor of the aforementioned square of cloth; we have records going back well into the Roman era of people using squares of cloth to wipe sweat from their brows. Richard, however, was the first to widely use such a square of cloth in the now traditional sense: as a tool for one’s nose that was stored in the pocket when not in use.

Thanks to the influence of royal behavior on the court, the aristocracy, and then the common people, Richard’s habit of using a handkerchief in such a fashion spread and, much like King Edward VII’s habit of leaving the last button of his waistcoat undone to accommodate his portly belly, became a tradition.

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