COLLAR, something worn or fastened round the neck (Lat. collare, from collum, neck), particularly a band of linen, lace or other material, which, under various shapes at different periods, has been worn by men and women to serve as a completion or finish to the neckband of a garment (see Costume); also a chain, worn as a personal ornament, a badge of livery, a symbol of office, or as part of the insignia of an order of knighthood, an application of the term with which the present article deals. The word is also applied to that part of the draught-harness of a horse which fits over the animal's neck, to which the traces are attached, and against which the strain of the drawing of the vehicle is exercised, and to a circular piece of metal passed round the joints of a rod or pipe, to prevent movement or to make the joint steam- or water-tight.
Necklaces with beads and jewels threaded thereon or the plain laces with a hanging ornament are among the common braveries of all times and countries. From these come the collar and the neck-chain. Torques or twisted collars of metal are found in burying-places of the barbarous people of northern Europe. British chiefs wore them, and gold torques were around the necks of the leaders of the first of the Saxon invaders of Britain, among whose descendants, however, the fashion seems to have languished. Edward the Confessor was buried with a neck-chain of gold 2 ft. long, fastened with a jewelled locket and carrying an enamelled crucifix.
The extravagant age of Richard II. saw a great revival of the neck-chain, heavy links twisted of gold or silver. From this time onward neck chains, with or without pendant devices, were commonly worn by men and women of the richer sort. The men abandoned them in the time of Charles I.
Closely allied to the chain are the livery collars which appeared in the 14th century, worn by those who thus displayed their alliances or their fealty. Thus Charles V. of France in 1378 granted to his chamberlain Geoffrey de Belleville the right of bearing in all feasts and in all companies the collar of the Cosse de Geneste or Broomcod, a collar which was accepted and worn even by the English kings, Charles VI. sending such collars to Richard II. and to his three uncles. This French collar, a chain of couples of broom-cods linked by jewels, is seen in the contemporary portrait of Richard II. at Wilton. The like collar was worn by Henry IV. on the way to his crowning. During the sitting of the English parliament in 1394 the complaints of the earl of Arundel against Richard II. are recorded, one of his grievances being that the king was wont to wear the livery of the collar of the duke of Lancaster, his uncle, and that people of the king's following wore the same livery. To which the king answered that soon after the return from Spain (in 1389) of his uncle, the said duke, he himself took the collar from his uncle's neck, putting it on his own, which collar the king would wear and use for a sign of the good and whole-hearted love between them, even as he wore the liveries of his other uncles. Livery collars of the king of France, of Queen Anne and of the dukes of York and Lancaster are numbered with the royal plate and jewels which in the first year of Henry IV. had come to the king's hands. The inventory shows that Queen Anne's collar was made up of sprigs of rosemary garnished with pearls. The York collar had falcons and fetterlocks, and the Lancaster collar was doubtless that collar of Esses (or S S) used by the duke's son, Henry of Bolingbroke, as an earl, duke and king. This famous livery collar, which has never passed out of use, takes many forms, its Esses being sometimes linked together chainwise, and sometimes, in early examples, bestowed as the ornamental bosses of a garter-shaped strap-collar. The oldest effigy bearing it is that in Spratton church of Sir John Swinford, who died in 1371. Swinford was a follower of John of Gaunt, and the date of his death easily disposes of the fancy that the Esses were devised by Henry IV. to stand for his motto or "word" of Soverayne. Many explanations are given of the origin of these letters, but none has as yet been established with sufficient proof. During the reigns of Henry IV., his son and grandson, the collar of Esses was a royal badge of the Lancastrian house and party, the white swan being its pendant. In one of Henry VI.'s own collars the S was joined to the Broomcod of the French device, thus symbolizing the king's claim to the two kingdoms.
The kings of the house of York and their chief followers wore the Yorkist collar of suns and roses, with the white lion of March, the Clare bull, or Richard's white boar for a pendant device. Henry VII. brought back the collar of Esses, a portcullis or a rose hanging from it, although in a portrait of this king, now possessed by the Society of Antiquaries, his neck bears the rose en soleil alternating with knots, and his son, when young, had a collar of roses red and white. Besides these royal collars, the 14th and 15th centuries show many of private devices. A brass at Mildenhall shows a knight whose badge of a dog or wolf circled by a crown hangs from a collar with edges suggesting a pruned bough or the ragged staff. Thomas of Markenfield (d. c. 1415) on his brass at Ripon has a strange collar of park palings with a badge of a hart in a park, and the Lord Berkeley (d. 1392) wears one set with mermaids.
Collars of various devices are now worn by the grand crosses of the European orders of knighthood. The custom was begun by Philip of Burgundy, who gave his knights of the Golden Fleece, an order founded on the 10th of February 1429-1430, badges of a golden fleece hung from that collar of flints, steels and sparks which is seen in so many old Flemish portraits. To this day it remains the most beautiful of all the collars, keeping in the main the lines of its Flemish designer, although a vulgar fancy sometimes destroys the symbolism of the golden fleece by changing it for an unmeaning fleece of diamonds. Following this new fashion, Louis XI. of France, when instituting his order of St Michael in 1469, gave the knights collars of scallop shells linked on a chain. The chain was doubled by Charles VIII., and the pattern suffered other changes before the order lapsed in 1830. Until the reign of Henry VIII., the Garter, most ancient of the great knightly orders, had no collar. But the Tudor king must needs match in all things with continental sovereigns, and the present collar of the Garter knights, with its golden knots and its buckled garters enclosing white roses set on red roses, has its origin in the Tudor age. An illustration in colours of the Garter collar is given on Plate I. in the article Knighthood and Chivalry, while descriptions of the collars of the other principal orders are also given. The collar of the Thistle with the thistles and rue-sprigs is as old as the reign of James II. The Bath collar, in its first form of white knots linking closed crowns to roses and thistles issuing from sceptres, dates from 1725, up to which time the knights of the Bath had hung their medallion from a ribbon.
Founding the order of the Saint Esprit in 1578, Henry III. of France devised a collar of enflamed fleur-de-lis and cyphers of H and L, a fashion which was soon afterwards varied by Henry his successor. Elephants have been always borne on the collar of the Elephant founded in Denmark in 1478, the other links of which have taken many shapes. Another Danish order, the Dannebrog, said to be "re-instituted" by Christian V. in 1671, has a collar of crosses formy alternating with the crowned letters C and W, the latter standing for Waldemar the Victorious, whom a legend of no value described as founding the order in 1219. Of other European orders, that of St Andrew, founded by Peter of Russia in 1698, has eagles and Andrew crosses and cyphers, while the Black Eagle of Prussia has the Prussian eagle with thunderbolts in its claws beside roundels charged with cyphers of the letters F.R.
Plain collars of Esses are now worn in the United Kingdom by kings-of-arms, heralds and serjeants-at-arms. Certain legal dignitaries have worn them since the 16th century, the collar of the lord chief-justice having knots and roses between the letters. Henry IV.'s parliament in his second year restricted the free use of the king's livery collar to his sons and to all dukes, earls, barons and bannerets, while simple knights and squires might use it when in the royal presence or in going to and from the hostel of the king. The giving of a livery collar by the king made a squire of a man even as the stroke of the royal sword made him a knight. Collars of Esses are sometimes seen on the necks of ladies. The queen of Henry IV. wears one. So do the wife of a 16th century Knightley on her tomb at Upton, and Penelope, Lady Spencer (d. 1667), on her Brington monument.
Since 1545 the lord mayor of London has worn a royal livery collar of Esses. This collar, however, has its origin in no royal favour, Sir John Alen, thrice a lord mayor, having bequeathed it to the then lord mayor and his successors "to use and occupie yerely at and uppon principall and festivall dayes." It was enlarged in 1567, and in its present shape has 28 Esses alternating with knots and roses and joined with a portcullis. Lord mayors of York use a plain gold chain of a triple row of links given in 1670; this chain, since the day when certain links were found wanting, is weighed on its return by the outgoing mayor. In Ireland the lord mayor of Dublin wears a collar given by Charles II., while Cork's mayor has another which the Cork council bought of a silversmith in 1755, stipulating that it should be like the Dublin one. The lady mayoress of York wears a plain chain given with that of the lord mayor in 1670, and, like his, weighed on its return to official keeping. For some two hundred and thirty years the mayoress of Kingston-on-Hull enjoyed a like ornament until a thrifty council in 1835 sold her chain as a useless thing.
Of late years municipal patriotism and the persuasions of enterprising tradesmen have notably increased the number of English provincial mayors wearing collars or chains of office. Unlike civic maces, swords and caps of maintenance, these gauds are without significance. The mayor of Derby is decorated with the collar once borne by a lord chief-justice of the king's bench, and his brother of Kingston-on-Thames uses without authority an old collar of Esses which once hung over a herald's tabard. By a modern custom the friends of the London sheriffs now give them collars of gold and enamel, which they retain as mementoes of their year of office.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)