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M. Curk




Location: Slovenia
Joined: 21 Dec 2011
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Posts: 35

PostPosted: Wed 31 Oct, 2012 8:35 am    Post subject: Left and right shoes in the middle ages?         Reply with quote

Hello again!
I heard this today and was so confused that I just had to verify.
Is it true that in the middle ages left and right shoe didn't exist? That both shoes were shaped the same?
First thing that came to my mind was that shoes in let's say 15th century were pointy and could seem to be the same for both feet, and that this is just another wrong assumption (as cranes for lifting knights an such) which is widely known.
Second thing is that it was made up (with no proves or research) by those who think that people in the middle ages were primitive.

I just can't beleive that they didn't know left and right shoe. Does anyone of you know anything about this?

Miha
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Mark Shier
Industry Professional




Joined: 27 Mar 2005

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Wed 31 Oct, 2012 9:22 am    Post subject: medieval shoes         Reply with quote

Every medieval and ancient shoe or sole that I have seen or handled has been very obviously right or left. Check the Museum of London's "Shoes and Pattens", or http://medievalwares.com/index.php?main_page=...yword=sole
Mark

Gaukler Medieval Wares
http://www.medievalwares.com
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,315

PostPosted: Wed 31 Oct, 2012 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No, they definitely had left and right shoes. All the originals I've seen are recognizably left or right. Pairs were symmetrical, but typically for 10th to 13th century, for example, the main seam on the upper went on the inside of the foot. So they were mirror images. Pointy toes might be pretty much centered, but up close you can tell whether the shoe is made for right or left foot. You can even see in paintings of shoemaker shops that there are wooden lasts hanging up, in pairs of lefts and rights.

Now, in the 18th century there was a big fashion for symmetry, so shoes were "straight lasted", both made on a single last. There were also people who did in fact switch their shoes off right to left each day to keep the wear even. But there were also those who said (correctly!) that this was bad for the shoes and bad for the feet. If you wear a pair of straight lasted shoes for a day or two, especially if they get wet, they will become right and left! You'll know as soon as you put them on.

Made a few shoes in my time...

Matthew
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 427

PostPosted: Wed 31 Oct, 2012 12:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Now, in the 18th century there was a big fashion for symmetry, so shoes were "straight lasted", both made on a single last. There were also people who did in fact switch their shoes off right to left each day to keep the wear even. But there were also those who said (correctly!) that this was bad for the shoes and bad for the feet. If you wear a pair of straight lasted shoes for a day or two, especially if they get wet, they will become right and left! You'll know as soon as you put them on.

Made a few shoes in my time...

Matthew

This is a special case of a general rule: beware those who assume that however things were done in 18th or 19th century Europe is how they were always done. See “preindustrial people were much shorter than us.” “Italy in 30 CE could not have had more people in it than Italy in 1870,” “the Russo-Japanese war was the first war where combat killed more people than disease,” “there was almost zero economic growth in the preindustrial world,” "all preindustrial cities were terribly unhealthy and needed immigration to prevent population decline," and many other examples.
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Tristán Zukowski




Location: Poughkeepsie, NY
Joined: 29 Oct 2009

Posts: 41

PostPosted: Wed 31 Oct, 2012 12:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am in no way an expert on medieval leatherworking, and certainly not cobbling/shoemaking; having said that, there is a wonderful book out there (sadly I don't own a copy but I have flipped through a friend's) by archaeologist Olaf Goubitz called Stepping through time: Archaeological footwear from prehistoric times until 1800. There is also the Shoes and Pattens book, which is from the Medieval Finds from Excavations in London series. Hope these two references are of some help!
Tristan P. Zukowski
Longsword (KdF) Instructor, New York Historical Fencing Association
Longsword (KdF) Instructor, Sword Class NYC
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Nat Lamb




Location: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 15 Jan 2009
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 385

PostPosted: Wed 31 Oct, 2012 2:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This was a question on QI a while back, which might be where the idea is from. However, from memory it was between the 14th and 17th century that the trend was in ( I personaly have nothing to back that up, just reporting what the the question was on the show. That being said, they tend to do their research)
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Dan D'Silva





Joined: 28 Apr 2007

Posts: 133

PostPosted: Thu 01 Nov, 2012 4:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Now, in the 18th century there was a big fashion for symmetry, so shoes were "straight lasted", both made on a single last.

Fugawee Corporation had some commentary on that. It basically says that the introduction of high heels in the Renaissance made creating paired lasts more difficult and expensive, so most people wore straight-lasted shoes until the Blanchard lathe made paired lasts cheap again in the 1830s.
http://fugawee.com/men%27s%20colonial.htm
They don't seem to have a bibliography, but it sounds plausible...
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M. Curk




Location: Slovenia
Joined: 21 Dec 2011
Likes: 3 pages

Posts: 35

PostPosted: Thu 01 Nov, 2012 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you gentlemen for your answers!
Cheers!
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Raman A




Location: United States
Joined: 25 Aug 2011

Posts: 143

PostPosted: Fri 02 Nov, 2012 4:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nat Lamb wrote:
This was a question on QI a while back, which might be where the idea is from. However, from memory it was between the 14th and 17th century that the trend was in ( I personaly have nothing to back that up, just reporting what the the question was on the show. That being said, they tend to do their research)


It's not uncommon for QI to get their information wrong, or present an exaggerated or otherwise simplified take for the sake of entertainment. I love the show and watch it all the time but its not a good source for information.
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Michael Tab




Location: Malta
Joined: 25 Jul 2011

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sun 28 Apr, 2013 2:57 am    Post subject: Making a Medieval shoes - step by step guide         Reply with quote

Hi Guys have a look at this article re-making a Medieval shoes - step by step guide - http://howtomakearmour.blogspot.com/2013/04/m...guide.html
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