Who was "the Knight of the Cloak"?: Information Roundup
Sir Walter Raleigh is known as "the Knight of the Cloak" from the legend that on one occasion, when Queen Elizabeth was about to enter her barge, he threw his mantle over some mud in her majesty's path to enable her to walk dry shod over the puddle. This incident is supposed to have occurred after Raleigh returned to England from Ireland, where he had taken a conspicuous part in suppressing the Desmonds rebellion of 1581. At that time Sir Walter was in high favor with the queen and some of the old chroniclers give added point to this alleged act of gallantry by explaining that his court clothes represented "a considerable part of his estate." Historians [page 28] have not been able to find any evidence that Sir Walter ever laid his cloak on the ground for Queen Bess to step on. The story rests on nothing better than the gossip of later generations. In Kenilworth (1821) Sir Walter Scott relates the story as if it really happened and says that the queen commanded her favorite to wear "the muddy cloak till her pleasure should be further known." But the story is characteristic of the chivalrous spirit of the age in which Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh lived. Many courtiers at Elizabeth's court would gladly have offered their mantles to protect the queen's feet if they had had the opportunity and if the idea had occurred to them, and Queen Bess would probably have loved it.