Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Feathers (The).

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E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Feathers (The).
A public-house sign in compliment to Henry VI., whose cognizance it was.   1
   Fine feathers make fine birds. (Latin, “Vestis virum facit,” dress makes the man). The French proverb is “La belle plume fait le bel oiseau.”   2
   The Prince of Wales’ feathers. The tradition is, that the Black Prince, having slain John of Luxemburg, King of Bohemia, in the Battle of Cressy, assumed his crest and motto. The crest consisted of three ostrich feathers, and the motto was “Ich dien” (I serve). John of Arden discovered a contemporary MS., in which it is expressly said that this was the case; but much controversy has arisen on the question. Dr. Bell affirms that the crest is a rebus of Queen Philippa’s hereditary title—viz. Countess of Ostre-vant (ostrich-feather). Randall Holmes claims an old British origin; and the Rev. H. Longueville asserts that the arms of Roderick Mawe, prior to the division of Wales into principalities, was thus blazoned:—“Argent, three lions passant regardant, with their tails passing between their legs and curling over their backs in a feathery form.”   3

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