In the second a part of the 17th century, Europe and America experienced an epidemic of fear of witchcraft. This was the origin of the widespread superstition about black cats and different black animals. In medieval Flanders, in a ceremony referred to as Kattenstoet, black cats were thrown from the belfry of the Cloth Hall of Ypres to ward off witchcraft. In the early Middle Ages, princes, nobles and the rich often wore bright colors, notably scarlet cloaks from Italy. This glossy black fur, from an animal of the marten family, was the finest and most expensive fur in Europe.

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