The Foundation of an Outfit – Medieval Peasant Boots
You’ve got three choices when it comes to footwear for a medieval or fantasy roleplaying event. You can either: go barefoot, wear modern shoes, or wear a historically appropriate recreation. We recommend the latter.
No matter what kind of character or outfit you have, these medieval peasant boots should fit the bill. They are handmade using black-dyed real leather, so each product is ever so slightly different.
The style is both based in history and unique, as the boots are shorter than many others and are more like ankle boots than knee or calf boots. Like many historical medieval boots, these peasant boots don’t have a separate heel and the design is relatively simple. Basically, these boots wouldn’t have been out of bounds for your average medieval cobbler to make, despite their streamlined and attractive appearance.
The boots are fastened at the front with leather laces that thread through eight holes. This fastening is both attractive and, yet again, has a basis in history. Leather laces have existed all throughout history, including the medieval period.
As they are made with real leather, these boots are comfortable and hard-wearing, but they do need a little looking after to get the best use out of them. As with other leather shoes and clothing, they can be brushed and cleaned with leather soap, and then maintained with oil or polish.
The Highs and Lows of Fancy Footwear – Shoes in The Middle Ages
Unlike some other Medieval fashions, shoes in the Middle Ages varied hugely depending on who was wearing it and when. Most people wore footwear as it was simply too important to go without, even the poorest of the poor. A peasant with bad feet would struggle to work, and a peasant who couldn’t work was in trouble. The most common material for shoes was leather.
Leather was a fantastic material for shoes, as it is both flexible and hardwearing, while being relatively easy to harvest and work with. It’s such a good material that it is still used today and can last for years if correctly maintained. Of course, the best quality leather would go to those who could afford it, but there was always something for everyone.
Some shoes were worn that resembled the boots worn by Roman soldiers, which were open and laced up at the front, these and other sandals were worn by the clergy. Knee or calf boots were sometimes worn by male commoners. However, the most common type of shoe was known as the turnshoe.
The name ‘turnshoe’ refers to the way these shoes were made. Basically, they were constructed inside out and then turned right-side-out when the stitching was done. This served to hide the stitching, in order to better protect both the stitching and the foot from the elements.
As the Middle Ages went on, shoes became more and more complex. Turnshoes, for example, began as a single piece of leather which was sewn together on one side, which were called carbatinae. However, they soon incorporated separate pieces of leather for the sole. Because of the design, turnshoes weren’t always very stable or supportive and had no heel to speak of. Eventually, different shoemaking techniques were developed in the 1500s.
Of course, leather wasn’t the only material being used in shoemaking. Wood was another popular shoe material. Often, medieval people wore what was known as pattens, or overshoes. These were a wooden sole which strapped onto the leather shoe and elevated the foot above whatever horrors were in the streets at the time.
Pattens were worn for both practical reasons and for fashion, and they could be considered early platform shoes. However, they could be difficult to walk in and it was considered rude to wear pattens inside.
Since we’re talking about fashion, let’s discuss everyone’s favourite ridiculous medieval shoes. These were the long-toed shoes called crakows, or poulaines. They were first developed in Europe during the late 12th century but were most famously popular in England in the late 14th century. As with most fashion, the most extreme examples of these shoes were found among the rich.
The long points could be stuffed with moss or horsehair to help them maintain their rigidity. Sometimes, the points would be tied to the wearer’s knees by laces or chains to hold them up. They were worn by both men and women, but the longer examples were designed for men. During the 15th century, this fashion even extended to sabatons, which were foot armor worn by knights and men-at-arms.
However, not everyone was a fan of the poulaines. The clergy quite often complained about them, and they were even restricted or banned outright in some countries by the ruling monarch. Eventually, they fell out of fashion entirely near the end of the 15th century.
The technical specifications for the medieval peasant boots are as follows:
- Material: Leather
- Colour: Black
- Care Instructions: Remove dirt with a hard brush. Clean using leather soap and a damp cloth, then rinse the suds with another damp cloth and wipe dry. Use oil or leather polish to condition.
The boot shaft height is different for each shoe size. These measurements are approximate due to the handmade nature of the product, but they do follow this general pattern.
- Boot Shaft Height of 6.25 inches: EU sizes 36-38, US Women’s sizes 5.5-7.5, UK sizes 4-5
- Boot Shaft Height of 6.5 inches: EU size 39, US Women’s size 8.5, US Men’s size 6.5, UK size 6
- Boot Shaft Height of 6.6 inches: EU size 40, US Women’s size 9.5, US Men’s size 7, UK size 6-7
- Boot Shaft Height of 7 inches: EU sizes 41-42, US Women’s sizes 10.5-11.5, US Men’s sizes 8-9, UK sizes 7-8
- Boot Shaft Height of 7.1 inches: EU sizes 43-44, US Women’s size 12, US Men’s sizes 10-11, UK sizes 8-10
- Boot Shaft Height of 7.25 inches: EU size 45, US Men’s size 12, UK size 10-11