Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Is your sweater a war hero?

June 6, 2013

You may not know much about the Crimean War, but you’ve probably heard of one of its most tragic battles, memorialized in poetry as “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” The leader of that ill-fated cavalry unit was James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan. He emerged from combat miraculously unscathed, and on his return to England he was immediately lauded as a hero for his fearlessness in the face of insurmountable odds. Always known for dressing his troops well, a style of button-up sweater which he purportedly provided for them became de rigueur among the British upper class. Unfortunately, as more soldiers began to return from the front, it became increasingly clear that Cardigan, while truly courageous, was also petty, self-indulgent, and incompetent as a leader. But while his reputation faded, the popularity of the cardigan sweater soldiered on.

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