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Michael Wiethop




Location: St. Louis
Joined: 27 May 2012

Posts: 63

PostPosted: Tue 02 Jul, 2013 5:09 pm    Post subject: 17th century cavalry boots?         Reply with quote

I've been curious lately about a particular type of 17th century cavalry boot. It looks like this:



[/img]http://www.boot.com/CharlesI-VanDyck.jpg[/img]

[/img]http://www.artres.com/Doc/ART/Media/TR3/F/W/G/0/ART70751.jpg[/img]

I know very little about them, so little that I can barely begin to search for information. Apologies for having so many questions!

1. What are these boots usually called? I've seen them referred to as jackboots or as over-the-knee boots.

2. I've read that jackboots got their name from being "jacked", or lined with mail. I've never seen or heard of mailed boots before, and I doubt that boots would have been lined with armor in the 17th century. The weight and cost would have made greaves a better choice, and they'd fallen out of use by that time. But were these boots lined with mail after all? Or were they made of hardened, heavy-duty leather that could resist sword slashes? But again, that too could've driven up the weight and cost which 17th century horsemen were trying to avoid by forgoing greaves.

3. Slightly tangential, but how expensive and heavy were greaves or half-greaves by the 16th century? Limb armor tends to be thinner, and while leg armor might slow one down out of proportion to its weight, this seems like less of an issue for cavalry.

4. All the depictions of these boots that I've seen show the top flipped down over the shins. Were they usually worn this way, or would the top be flipped down for easier walking and flipped up for better leg protection while riding?

5. What are those flaps in front where the spur straps pass through? I've read they're called "butterflies" and are meant to reduce chafing from the spur straps, but I've never seen them on any boots with spurs before or since. If chafing were an issue, I'd think butterflies would be present on cowboy boots and other riding boots.
Thanks for any information!
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Thu 04 Jul, 2013 7:35 am    Post subject: Re: 17th century cavalry boots?         Reply with quote

Michael Wiethop wrote:
1. What are these boots usually called? I've seen them referred to as jackboots or as over-the-knee boots.


Many things. I've heard them referred to as "bucket-top boots" as well, or "Cavalier boots," and several other names. The particular example you're showing here isn't very good, I'm afraid; it has too many hints of modern riding boot construction. But you may know that already.

Quote:
2. I've read that jackboots got their name from being "jacked", or lined with mail.


I've never heard of that. The "boot-jack" is a device used to help a boot-wearer remove tall, heavy, and/or close-fitting boots. Alternatively, I've heard the word used to describe something put inside the boots to help them keep their shape when they're not being worn, like shoe-trees for modern shoes. Sometimes this could be a shaped piece of wood, but sometimes it could be as simple as a liquor bottle.


Quote:
]Or were they made of hardened, heavy-duty leather that could resist sword slashes?


Not sure about hardened -- I don't think they were before the last couple of decades of the 17th century, by which time they were utility rather than fashion items -- but they were certainly quite thick. Combined with the sturdy boot hose worn inside those boots (sometimes multiple layers, and not counting the stockings worn right up next to the skin), they provided a great deal of protection against glancing or grazing blows, but I don't know how well they'd hold up against a direct hit from a full-powered cut or a well-placed thrust.


Quote:
3. Slightly tangential, but how expensive and heavy were greaves or half-greaves by the 16th century? Limb armor tends to be thinner, and while leg armor might slow one down out of proportion to its weight, this seems like less of an issue for cavalry.


Not that expensive or heavy compared to the rest of the armour, of course. But three-quarters armour, pistol-proof in most places and caliver-proof in the breast and helmet, was already quite heavy -- so perhaps the wearers weren't psychologically prepared for adding even more weight. Greaves would also have prevented a dashing cavalryman from showing off his fashionable boots. No self-respecting battlefield dandy would ever tolerate that! Wink


Quote:
4. All the depictions of these boots that I've seen show the top flipped down over the shins. Were they usually worn this way, or would the top be flipped down for easier walking and flipped up for better leg protection while riding?


As far as I can recall, they're always worn with the top flipped or "bucketed" down to some degree in civilian degrees. They could be worn completely up under three-quarters armour, but not always, and sometimes I wonder whether the boots worn up were constructed somewhat differently since they had cleaner, more close-fitting lines.


Quote:
5. What are those flaps in front where the spur straps pass through? I've read they're called "butterflies" and are meant to reduce chafing from the spur straps, but I've never seen them on any boots with spurs before or since. If chafing were an issue, I'd think butterflies would be present on cowboy boots and other riding boots.


I don't know about function (maybe to hide adjustment laces?), but boots and shoes from this period often sported decorative features in that location. The butterfly-shaped spur leather would be the simplest example (if they were indeed decorative), while more elaborate rosettes and ribbons were common on upper-class shoes (for civilian wear) and could also be found on some boots too (if I'm not mistaken).


Last edited by Lafayette C Curtis on Thu 04 Jul, 2013 7:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Thu 04 Jul, 2013 7:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The minute a maker starts using modern buckles and 2 part press rivets you start to wonder. These would be great on a tv production but as Layayette says, there are some nods there to modern comfort.

In England we call the boots bucket boots or bucket topped boots. 'Top boots' are a seperate style from later that simply refers to the top being a different colour, think Georgian/Regency type stuff. Never heard of the jack bit (but obviously later and in Germany that seems to have caught on).

The leather flaps are called butterflys but I've no idea why they are there, which is remiss of me, off to find out.

http://www.sarahjuniper.co.uk/17c.html is amongst the best makers in the UK, if not the world, her work is great and knows her stuff. Mark Beaby of Bjarnis Boots is about the height of this kind of work so anything he does is fab although i have no idea what his trading status is. You could try info@bjarnisboots.co.uk although he lives in Sweden.
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Thu 04 Jul, 2013 7:46 am    Post subject: Re: 17th century cavalry boots?         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Quote:
2. I've read that jackboots got their name from being "jacked", or lined with mail.


I've never heard of that. The "boot-jack" is a device used to help a boot-wearer remove tall, heavy, and/or close-fitting boots. Alternatively, I've heard the word used to describe something put inside the boots to help them keep their shape when they're not being worn, like shoe-trees for modern shoes. Sometimes this could be a shaped piece of wood, but sometimes it could be as simple as a liquor bottle.


A little more on this. I checked on Wikipedia and it does mention the theory of jackboots being reinforced with mail, but this statement is referenced to a (British) Household Cavalry page that only mentions the boots being stiffened -- nothing about mail. So it's probably apocryphal. On the other hand, there's the boot-jack, and I don't know whether it got its name from the boots or vice versa.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boot_jack
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Stephen Wheatley




Location: DORSET ENGLAND
Joined: 15 Nov 2008

Posts: 93

PostPosted: Thu 04 Jul, 2013 9:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I heard that jackboots took their name from leather ''jacks'' or drinking vessels which they somewhat resembled, or that they were named after the ''jacking'' or hardening process whereby leather is buffed to a hard shine using wax rubbed with glass, antler or bone. May be wrong but this theory seems as likely as any other.
Stephen Wheatley
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Michael Wiethop




Location: St. Louis
Joined: 27 May 2012

Posts: 63

PostPosted: Thu 04 Jul, 2013 9:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the info, all! My other two pictures of the boots were period illustrations. Let me try again:





There we go!
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
Joined: 01 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jul, 2013 11:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To the best of my knowledge, the 'butterflies' are just brush guards. They are there to act like a shield to the top of the foot while in the stirrups, to keep the spur straps from being entangled in anything. Just an extra bit of protection, a bit like modern-day 'cowboy chaps' worn while riding. I maaaay be totally wrong.....but that's my two coppers. Besides that......they look cool....... Laughing Out Loud ........McM
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
Joined: 01 Oct 2003
Likes: 6 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 2,280

PostPosted: Thu 04 Jul, 2013 11:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And by 'chaps', I don't refer to English gentlemen......... Laughing Out Loud ..........The leather over-pants worn by mounted cowboys....... Laughing Out Loud ..........McM
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Wed 10 Jul, 2013 12:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's an image of the boots worn up.


 Attachment: 44.59 KB
louis13.jpg

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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Wed 10 Jul, 2013 3:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

well those are certainly the fellows. The stack heels are a real pain to walk and fight in if you are not used to them, but as the Stuart family were not blessed with great height, you can see what they had them
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