Date: Thu, 08 Jul 2004 08:18:41 -0500
Subject: Links: Medieval Shoes

Greetings, everyone!

This week's edition of the Links List is all about Footwear. I know I covered this subject several years ago, however, many of those Links are now dead, and there are new ones to see. My only wish is that someone would do an article on Medieval orthopedic shoes...some of us (naming no names, but her name starts with A) are a mite too old and defiantely too fall-prone to be hot-footing it around in thin-soled slippery footwear!

Please enjoy these Links and forward them where they may find an interested audience. I enjoy hearing where these lists travel, so don't hesitate to let me know where you are sending it to!


Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon,
a/k/a Lisbeth Herr-Gelatt
Canton of Riverouge
Barony of the Endless Hills
Kingdom of Aethelmearc

Footwear of the Middle Ages by I Marc Carlsson
(Site Excerpt) The purpose of this web site is to provide a general guide to footwear in the European Middle Ages, with some examinations of footwear before that period, as well as some that came after. Hopefully this will be an overview of footwear technology up to 1600. Since we don't have the materials or knowledge to make this an exhaustive view of all footwear up to 1600, because much of the knowledge has been long lost, not yet published, or simply not available to me at this time, this site should always be considered a work in process.

Medieval Shoes from the Bata Museum Collection, Toronto, Ontario
A Series of photos in their colelctionof extant shoes. Clains to be page one of 3, but no button to navigate. It is possible to find the other pages by replacing the numer 1 at the end of the URL with numbers 2 or 3.

Making Medieval Arrowheads (a type of shoe)
(Site Excerpt) There are many different methods used to create the pattern, authentically a last should be used. What follows though is an easy method of creating a mediaeval looking shoe. Firstly draw around your foot on a piece of paper and extend the big toe into a point (it's also worth narrowing the middle slightly) to give your shoe that mediaeval look. See fig 1.

Northampton University Medieval Shoes
(Site Excerpt) Footwear styles continued to change during the Medieval age. The sole and upper were no longer thonged but stitched together with thread and the toe became a sharp point, known as scorpion tails, they began to get longer in the 1320's and became known as pikes, crackowes or poulaines. The length of ones toe was an indication of status. The King and his court had shoes with the largest toes. This style wasn't worn by women. The ankle shoe remained popular, it was usually side laced with three pairs of holes.

Shoes from the Mary Rose
(Site Excerpt) The mid-sixteenth century marked a turning point in shoe construction, with the traditional 'turnshoe' giving way to the 'welted' method still used today. Square, round or ear-toe shoes demonstrate the variety of styles worn, with some slashed in a decorative manner similar to that used on the jerkins.

Pattens, Clogs and Wooden Soled shoes
(Site Excerpt) When dealing with this whole category of footwear, there are some problems with the terminology that need to be dealt with right away. The term "clog" has at one time or another meant any and all of the above mentioned items, and "patten" has meant at least as many things. So for the purposes of this document, the following things will be referred to as: Pattens, Chopines, wooden soled clogs...

Wooden Pattens
by Mistress Fuiltigherne
(Site Excerpt) Soled hose and cloth shoes of the Middle Ages were fine -- as long as you were staying indoors. In order to protect them from the mud and mire, a type of overshoe was developed. The terms "cog", "patton", "galochs" and "pulaine" seem to be for the most part, interchangeable, although the "poulaine" seems to apply mostly to those overshoes with leather soles. The basic patten had a wooden sole with a covering of leather over the top and a leather strap to hold the shoe in place. Pattens wore worn out of doors and removed while inside.

Footwear for Scottish and Irish re-enactors
(Site Excerpt) Shoes are often one of the more difficult items of apparel for the re-enactor to obtain. Handmade footwear in a period style is expensive. Even simple shoes can cost over $100, and the price often goes up
from there. As a result, a common problem among re-enactors is an otherwise good portrait of a historical character, marred by modern-styled moccasins, or shoes.

Costume: Accessories - 13th Century Footwear
by Jurgen von Baden
(Site Excerpt) These two pairs of shoes are based on styles of footwear common during the 13th century. They are both based on patterns taken from shoes that were excavated from along the Themes River in London. These shoes have been detailed in Shoes and Pattens: Medieval Finds from Excavations in London. Nearly 1500 shoes were excavated, covering the time period 1150 to 1450. This provides a large sample of shoes, many of similar style, from which a number of conclusions can be drawn. First, shoes of this time period were of turnshoe construction. The shoes were sewn together inside out, and then turned right side out once they were completed. This type of construction protects the seams of the shoe from wear.

Lasts, History and use in Medieval Shoes
(Site Excerpt) The origins of shoes are obscured by the distance of history, and like them, the origin of the last is equally hidden in that same distance. Tradition among shoemakers would imply that lasts have always been used, alongside other ancient tools like the boar's bristle, flax thread and the curved awl, if not since Adam was handed his first lasts after being tossed from the Garden, at least since the day that some nameless caveman got tired of wearing leather bags on his feet and so invented shoemaking. However, while tradition can tell us a great deal about the people who maintain those traditions, tradition is not history. Ideally, history is determined by facts that can be documented and studied objectively (I should note that this view of history is at variance with some of the schools of thought in historicial studies in the past decades. While I accept the reality of relativism in history, I'm not sure that we should use that as an excuse to stop searching for an objective truth).

Stefan's Florilegium: Shoemaking
To see these files and messages, click on "clothing" on the lefthand menu, then "shoemaking" or "shoes" on the right.

Tournaments Illuminated index: Footwear
Presently the index has several article slisted by tonly one linked: On Constructing Boots and Shoes by Caitlin Stuart.

(Site Excerpt) This pattern is for a type of early medieval (l0th to 13th cent.) shoe that is distributed widely in North Western Europe, examples are known from York, England as well as Hedeby/Haithabu in Germany and Svendborg in Sweden. The shoe (Find no.756), sole (757), and upper (819) are described in reference [1].

Poor People's Poulaines --Pointy Shoes for Everyone! (copyright Cynthia Virtue)
Easy pointy shoes out of modern leather, which will look accurate at normal distances.
(Site Excerpt) * So how long were these points, anyway? One fairly un-reliable source I have says that anyone who was lower than a prince could not wear points on their shoes that measured over six inches in length. If you look at the pictures in this handout you can see that the points during the 15th century seem to be between `half the foot long' and `as long as the foot' in most cases. You can do your own figuring for your own foot how long this really would be for you

Shire of Hartstone: Medieval Hats, Belts and Shoes
This site includes: To Shod a Shire by Lady Eowyn Swiftlere at,
as well as several links from the last time I chose Shoes as a topic (thanks, guys, for saving them!).

Barony of Carillion: Medieval Bag Shoes
Note: This is an Adobe Acrobat file, and a good one. It takes quite a while to load, however, so please be patient.

Markland: Shoes
(Site Excerpt) Most medieval shoes were "turn shoes", sewn together inside out and then turned rightside out, to keep the stitching protected from wear. The sole is sewn to the upper with an edge/flesh seam: the stitch passes straight through the upper, then into the edge of the sole and out through the flesh (rough) side (fig 1.). The edges of the uppers can be butted together and sewn with an edge/flesh seam, or simple overlapped and stitched straight through.

Late 14th Century Shoe with Poulaine (a photo series)

Medieval and Postmedieval Turnshoes
from Kempten (Allg?u), Germany
(Site Excerpt) The oldest complex is of special interest for archaeological and historical research. It contains charters, writing exercises, a love letter, playing-cards, wooden waste from a turnery and also about 600 leather and fur objects, which are the topic of the author's doctoral thesis(3).
The biggest part of the leather finds are shoes - which is common on conventional excavations. The earliest types beyond these were one well preserved fragment of a poulaine (a.k.a. crackowe) (top is cut off, fig. 5) and a nearly complete patten.

Fragment of Medieval Shoe from Newcastle upon Tyne
(Site Excerpt) The fragment shown is the back piece of upper from a turnshoe boot, extending to the quarter butted seam on one side. The other edge is torn. On either side the butted seams slope down from the top edge where where a triangular piece would have been inserted to complete the shape. The back top edge has a whipped seam where a top band would have attached. On the flesh side at the back, heel stitch marks show where a heel stiffener was attached. A lasting margin with stitch holes at 5-6 mm intervals is present except at the heel base where it is worn away. All butted seams have stitch holes at 4 mm intervals. Threaded through the leather are two parallel rows of thonging 3 mm wide. One set of double slit holes above the rows suggests that there were originally three rows of thonging. Thickness 3mm

NorthShield: 7th Century Anglo-Saxon Shoes by Tarrach Alfson
(Site Excerpt) These are two pair of 7th century Anglo-Saxon shoes. Drawings of probable designs of 7th century shoes are shown in Figure 1. The lighter pair was made using fairly lightweight leather for both the upper and sole as was described for the shoes found in the 7th century grave at Sutton Hoo. They are experimental in that I wish to see some of the advantages and disadvantages of thin-soled shoes. The second pair is done with heavier sole leather and is more complex in construction techniques (including a rand and an appliqued decoration with inner sole covering arch support). This pair includes a number of techniques described for shoes found at Sutton Hoo.

Costumer's Manifesto: 17th Century Shoes and Boots

It's the Shoes, Baby!
Shoes through the Generations
(Site Excerpt) Footwear styles continued to change during the Medieval age. The sole and upper were no longer thonged but stitched together with thread and the toe became a sharp point, known as scorpion tails, they began to get longer in the 1320's and became known as pikes, crackowes or poulaines. The length of ones toe was an indication of status. The King and his court had shoes with the largest toes. This style was not worn by women. The ankle shoe remained popular, it was usually side laced with three pairs of holes.