Origins of the Heel

Message
Author
christine

Re: Origins of the Heel

#51 Post by christine » Thu Jun 23, 2005 2:27 am

Hello,

i am looking for information on a shoe style called "mary jane".

I read that this style is named after the comic "buster brown" and it is a shoe with a strap over the in-step.

My question is: what is the definitive style description in use today? are there famous bearer?

Thanks a lot, Christine

Jonathan

Re: Origins of the Heel

#52 Post by Jonathan » Wed Aug 10, 2005 10:50 am

Hello and HELP! I posted this in the test message area, so forgive the double posting, but I wasn't sure if it would be read there...

First of all, let me say that 'Mary Jane' was Buster-Brown's girlfriend from the comic strip by Richard Outcault and the caharacters were licensed by Brown Shoes of St. Louis to use the comic figures in advertising children's shoes. Buster Brown was first used at the 1902 St. Louis World's Fair to promote Brown's children's boots and Mary Jane was brought in c. 1909 to advertise girl's one strap shoes. The style became synonymous with the the name and by the late 1910s all girl's one instep strap shoes were being called 'Mary-Janes'.

Hope that pays for my way to now ask my question!
I met Al Saguto in the past when I was the curator of the Bata Shoe Museum so I knew you people existed and I am hoping you will be able to help me.
I am writing a book on shoe history 1600 - 2000 to be published by Thames and Hudson for the Christmas 2006 market. This is a history of footwear styles, not a history of shoemaking, however, some understanding of the process of footwear construction is necessary. I do know how shoes are made -- academically, but I have never tried my hand at the last, so a few things are a bit unclear to me.
Primarily, by 1600, when my book begins, the process of shoemaking has been altered by the development of welt-shoe construction and the addition of heels. Correct me if I am wrong, but as I understand it, a true heel requires the sole to carry the lift or height of the heel, and so a last is necessary for countouring the shape of the sole. Also, welt-shoe construction requires a last so that the upper can be attached to the last before sewing the welt, and then the sole. This allows for a heavier sole construction (which would be impossible to turn in a turn-shoe construction) and to carry the arch of the sole without sagging as well as retain the lift of the sole for the heel - correct? So the two are intertwined -- welt shoe construction and heels?
It is my understanding that a last is used before the development of welt-construction and heels, but more so to contour the shape of the upper in a flat soled shoe, although lifts were sometimes wedged in at the heel, which isn't the same thing as a true heel. When making a turn-shoe, the upper isn't attached to the last at any time is it? At least not for the purposes of closing the shoe in the same manner that a welt-shoe would require. Isn't it used more as a filler to retain the correct measurements for the foot?
I just want to check to make sure that what I am saying in my book is correct. This is my understanding of the processes but as I have said, although I can read, I haven't actually made a shoe, so I have to rely on those who do make shoes to ensure that my understanding is correct. I appreciate any insights I can receive regarding this dilemna.

Jonathan Walford

marc
5
5
Posts: 272
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:00 am
Full Name: Marc Carlson
Location: Tulsa, Ok, USA
Contact:

Re: Origins of the Heel

#53 Post by marc » Wed Aug 10, 2005 12:06 pm

Hoprefully this will be of some interest.
...It is my understanding that a last is used before the development of welt-construction and heels, but more so to contour the shape of the upper in a flat soled shoe, although lifts were sometimes wedged in at the heel, which isn't the same thing as a true heel. When making a turn-shoe, the upper isn't attached to the last at any time is it? At least not for the purposes of closing the shoe in the same manner that a welt-shoe would require. Isn't it used more as a filler to retain the correct measurements for the foot?


Opinions differ, but it seems pretty clear to me that when making a shoe on a shaped last, such as those that start appearing in the 1200s, you really need to tack the upper to the last to get a tight fit around the last.

The turnshoe soles, particularly after the 1200s really aren't "flat", at least not in general.

By 1400, it looks (from the illustrations and the lasts that are available) that the shoes ON the lasts have roughly the following shape:
3645.jpg
3645.jpg (14 KiB) Viewed 952 times


such as this reproduction:
3644.jpg
3644.jpg (11.02 KiB) Viewed 952 times


Which, turned, can be demonstrated by comparing the following repro:
3643.jpg
3643.jpg (40.01 KiB) Viewed 952 times


with
3642.jpg
3642.jpg (19.75 KiB) Viewed 952 times
3641.jpg
3641.jpg (14.97 KiB) Viewed 952 times


Just for example.

An example (there are numerous, available on request) that this is how people were thinking that shoes SHOULD look can be seen in
3640.jpg
3640.jpg (21.37 KiB) Viewed 952 times


In the late 1300s, if memory serves, outer soles began to be added to turned shoes, giving what was called at the time "double soled shoes". These were a separate forepart and heel pieces sewn onto the welt, then stabbed in place at the waist, leaving a small gap at the waist - which makes a lot of sense if your soles has this indented contour.

Welted unturned shoes show up in the late 1400s, a full century before the raised heel.

Personally, I find that the major difference between closing and sewing a turned shoe, and an unturned one is what side of the upper the welt is stitched to. It's only once you reach the point of either removing the shoe and turning it, or building the sole that things differ.

Marc

Jonathan

Re: Origins of the Heel

#54 Post by Jonathan » Wed Aug 10, 2005 3:23 pm

Thanks Marc, I thought welted shoes before welt construction developed were sewn through the upper, welt and sole all at once, while a wel-construction sewed the welt to the upper first and then the welt to the sole afterwards creating a (kind of) water-proof sole seam and also allowed for thicker leather to be used for the sole that couldn't be turned easily but would keep the shape at the waist or arch and not sag, wheras the earlier welted shoes used thinner soles (unless additional soles were added after completion) and would not hold the shape of the arch or waist of the sole, thus making the addition of heels possible. I wasn't aware of unturned welsted shoes dating from the late 15th century... so in that case, the heel was made possible by welt-sewn shoes, but they didn't coincide? I thought welt-sewn shoes and heels were more or less concurrent...
That's interesting info about how the outer soles were added to turn-shoes and I can see what you mean about how uppers were probably attached to lasts for turn-shoes as well.

marc
5
5
Posts: 272
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:00 am
Full Name: Marc Carlson
Location: Tulsa, Ok, USA
Contact:

Re: Origins of the Heel

#55 Post by marc » Wed Aug 10, 2005 9:32 pm

I'm pretty sure that the welt, upper and sole are attached at the same time for both sorts -- the welted then attaches an outersole to the welt.
3647.jpg
3647.jpg (16.86 KiB) Viewed 952 times


If not, I'm doing something seriously wrong here Image

Pretty much, there is about a century of non-heeled non-turned shoes (although turned shoes do stay in the overall shoemaker tool kit until well into the 20th century).

Marc

das
Seanachaidh
Posts: 1293
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2000 9:00 am
Full Name: D.A. Saguto--HCC
Has Liked: 1 time
Been Liked: 7 times

Re: Origins of the Heel

#56 Post by das » Thu Aug 11, 2005 4:14 am

Hi Jonathan,

Good to hear from you, glad you found us. Marc's steering you right here as far as I can see. Good luck on the book.

Cheers,

Al

Jonathan

Re: Origins of the Heel

#57 Post by Jonathan » Thu Aug 11, 2005 7:41 am

Hi Al, and thanks Marc...

Okay, I see the issue. I am thinking of outer sole construction as one would find with a rand welt. Otherwise the construction is the same but that the turned shoe has the welt sewn on the inside, before turning, and a welted shoe is sewn on the outside, so effectively they would look identical upon completion and only a shoemaker would know the difference... However, the thickness of the leather would still play a part - right? As a thick leather sole could not be turned with a completed upper, so the sole would have to remain pliable. Am I on the right track?

marc
5
5
Posts: 272
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:00 am
Full Name: Marc Carlson
Location: Tulsa, Ok, USA
Contact:

Re: Origins of the Heel

#58 Post by marc » Thu Aug 11, 2005 8:23 am

Jonathon,
I'm not sure what you are meaning by a "rand-welt". "Rand" is a term that has been inappropriately applied to the medieval welt in a lot of academic literature over the past 30 years. In Middle English, the term was "welt" or "rivet" (in Medieval Latin, it was Intercucium/Intercutium for "between the skins"). With turn shoes, a welt is a welt is a welt. There is no conceptual difference between a welt for a 10th century shoe and a turn shoe from the 1470s, aside from some trivial shaping issues, and that one of them might have an outers sole attached to it. A "rand" -is- found in the 1400s (and possibly earlier), on some pattens/trippes, and other (rare) core soled shoes (although the pattens are sewn in the later non-turned shoe order, suggesting a connection in technology development there), and pulled down over the cork and braced, with an outer sole attached to that.

With the thickness of the leather, I've found that if I'm using medieval style pit -tanned leathers that a 5mm thick (approximately what was used then for many shoes) wet turns just fine, and when it dries it's nice and hard.

Are the pictures helping? I might be ablt to explain this better with more pictures...

Marc

Jonathan

Re: Origins of the Heel

#59 Post by Jonathan » Thu Aug 11, 2005 2:19 pm

I was thinking of the rand welts one finds in 17th and early 18th century shoes which are made a feature of sole construction, usually in a cointrasting colour to the upper and sole and with the stitching line visible, as opposed to a welt not intended to be seen. I may be using the terminology incorrectly from a shoemaking standpoint as I understand a welt is a welt, and a rand is also a welt but I think of a rand-welt as something intended to be seen on the final shoe, whereas a welt is not.
Thanks
Jonathan

PS: The only thing I am still not clear about however is that I believe a welt-shoe construction does allow for a thicker leather sole whereas turn-shoe construction does not?

marc
5
5
Posts: 272
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:00 am
Full Name: Marc Carlson
Location: Tulsa, Ok, USA
Contact:

Re: Origins of the Heel

#60 Post by marc » Thu Aug 11, 2005 8:07 pm

I can't speak for the later sorts of shoes - what I normally deal with ends with 1600 (with a little bit of late 18th/early 19th century), so I'll leave that to Al Image

I won't deny that you get a a stronger sole with the later construction, however with the double soled turn shoes the outer sole can be fairly thick. And certainly they don't seem like they'd work very well with separate raised heels.

Marc

das
Seanachaidh
Posts: 1293
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2000 9:00 am
Full Name: D.A. Saguto--HCC
Has Liked: 1 time
Been Liked: 7 times

Re: Origins of the Heel

#61 Post by das » Fri Aug 12, 2005 5:06 am

Jonathan,

Now we're up to "my" period, I'll toss this out:

Rands and welts are both strips of leather, sewn into the shoe in the inseam, to which the outer sole or heel are in turn sewed or stitched--i.e. indirect attachment.

17th-18thc. the term "rand" is confined to a wide strip that is, 1) rolled under the shoe, presenting a rolled or folded edge, or 2) a wide strip, that folds down to cover a wooden heel, or a platform sole [e.g. cork]. a "welt" is a narrow strip, in the same position and serving similar purpose, but it sticks straight out from the shoe, presenting a cut-edge.

The "white rands" we find in the foreparts on high-end 17thc-18thc. shoes, especially women's, are a good example, though there are earlier, heavy, plain leather ones as well, especially 17thc.

I think the distinction between a "rand" [rolled under], and "welt" [out flat], was only needed 17thc. onwards, when you had to distinguish between them. This is what gives us fits about people using the term "rand" for Medieval welts :>)

Jonathan

Re: Origins of the Heel

#62 Post by Jonathan » Fri Aug 12, 2005 7:20 am

AH... I see now. Well, no need to worry, I have never used the term rand for any welt before 1660, so you are safe there! I won't add to the misnomic history of the rand.

I think I am clear now and I really thank you Marc for setting me straight on the use of lasts pre 1600. I have to admit I kind of tune out before 1600... my interest wains probably because I am an artifact driven person and artcheological brown bits don't excite me as much as real shoes. We had several drawers of shoe parts from the 12th - 16th centuries and unless you are into shoemaking they tend to make one's eyes glaze over.

Jonathan

Re: Origins of the Heel

#63 Post by Jonathan » Fri Aug 12, 2005 7:32 am

PS: I will put a credit into the book for the Honourably Cordwainer's Company with a site address (if my publishers will let me slip the www in...) You are a great resource.

marc
5
5
Posts: 272
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:00 am
Full Name: Marc Carlson
Location: Tulsa, Ok, USA
Contact:

Re: Origins of the Heel

#64 Post by marc » Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:24 am

Jonathon -- but the nasty little brown bits are GREAT Image

Ok, anyway -- So, Al, what would YOU suggest we call the rolled under bits intercutiae that go around cork soles on some medieval shoes and pattens? I mean admittedly, it doesn't seem to be the medieval term for them, although it might be since we haven't a clue what the term for them was Image

Marc

das
Seanachaidh
Posts: 1293
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2000 9:00 am
Full Name: D.A. Saguto--HCC
Has Liked: 1 time
Been Liked: 7 times

Re: Origins of the Heel

#65 Post by das » Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:58 am

If it folds down and turns underneath, maybe covering another sole [e.g. platform-sole] I'd still call it a "rand". "Platform" is enough of a made-up term, I sure wouldn't want "platform-cover" to grow out of that. On the other hand, I'd refuse to call a strip that sticks out anything but a "welt"--no matter what period.

Serge Volken

Re: Origins of the Heel

#66 Post by Serge Volken » Sat Aug 13, 2005 5:36 am

Glad to see that on one of my rare visits to the forum there's talk of ol' shoes.

I always thought the rand was the medieval version of the welt, cought between sole and upper and the welt was the post-mediaval version of it. I must admit that this differetiation has been made up at the time and several refer to that definition (Thornton, Swann, Goubitz).

The french call both versions "la trépointe" and the germans "der Rahmen". The French word trépointe originates way before welted constructions.

As to Al's definition of Rand (french "la bande d'enrobage" or just "enrobage" if concerning the heel, I trusted two bilingual glossaries that used the term "wrapping or wrapped" IOW I'd tend to call it a wrapping welt, just to differentiate between all tose welts. (Rolled-, flat- mock-, or reversed welt etc.)

Well I guess shoe terminology will always remain full of myteries and it certainly is simpler just to make things than to name them ;O).

greetings, the other Volken

das
Seanachaidh
Posts: 1293
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2000 9:00 am
Full Name: D.A. Saguto--HCC
Has Liked: 1 time
Been Liked: 7 times

Re: Origins of the Heel

#67 Post by das » Mon Aug 15, 2005 4:37 am

Hi "Other",

Glad you're still turning in.

My rand and welt definitions are merely taken from English usage in works from 1700s-early 1800s. I pity the poor slobs who were just told to "go make a rand...." to figure out which one, by the context, was intended. Likewise, with the Frenchies, with "trepoint" meaning both sticky-outy welt, as well as rolled-under "rand" [cf. Garsault].

Since the shoe-world changed radically from Medieval to "Early Modern", I'm sure the terms changed too *sigh*. By the time we get to welted shoes with heels--with welts in the forepart and rands in the seat, etc.--we need "rand" for the rolled under bit, and "welt" for the one that sticks out, hence the increase in specificity.

I have no idea what the wide strips that covered the sides of the inserted [platform] soles on Medieval trippes were called then. By the 18thc. it's a "rand". Also, some heel-covers for wooden heels were likewise called "rands". The empty "rands" in heel-seats, or around the foreparts of women's shoes, likewise rolled under and braced. The common denominator was, they both folded down and underneath, to be braced.

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Origins of the Heel

#68 Post by dw » Mon Aug 15, 2005 5:35 am

Al,

How does a "rand" differ from a "rahn?" What is a "rahn" in current, accepted usage?

I was taught that the projecting edge of sole, around the counter was the "rahn" or "rand" (interchangable). When I've talked to other bootmakers...ie. "western" (cowboy) bootmakers, I've never had anyone look at me like I was talking gibberish when I referred to the "rahn" in that context. So, evidently the term, as I understand it, has some currency...at least among the "lost boys" of American bootmaking.

Then too, around the edge of the sole at the counter, a rahn (rand?) knife comes so easily to hand. Whatever a rand was, or is, I can't imagine the rahn knife being used more appropriately. Although I will sometimes use the rahn knife to pare the edge of the welt after sewing.

What do you think? Has the terminology "drifted" to the point where it is unrecognizable?

Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

das
Seanachaidh
Posts: 1293
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2000 9:00 am
Full Name: D.A. Saguto--HCC
Has Liked: 1 time
Been Liked: 7 times

Re: Origins of the Heel

#69 Post by das » Mon Aug 15, 2005 7:45 am

DW,

Far from conclusive, but my guess is "rahn", "rhan", and "rand" are related. I've not see "rahn"/"rhan" in the shoemaking textbooks that I recall off-hand, only in 19thc. & 20thc. US tool catalogues, e.g. "rhan file", "rhan wheel", rhan knife", etc. Might be a US phonetic spelling w/ silent a "d"????????

Double check old Barnsley, Timmons, and other UK tool cats. to see if this spelling is used there. I'm not sure.

The term "rand" begins to mean--typically for purposes of describing how to finish it [w/files, wheels, etc.]--the generic region, or top/flesh surface of the outer sole, directly above the heel, that faced the counter/stiffener [especially on nailed or pegged heel-seats where this bit shows], rather than any added functional/structural piece, somewhere in the dim mists of the 19thc. :>)

Before then it's a piece of functional/structural leather. Give Rees and Devlin a read to get the gist. Devlin reminisces a bit about the antique footwear on display in the Elder Hoby's shop, I'm guessing in the 1770s or '80s, and he discusses the "grey", "stitched", "boot", etc. rands from the "old days".

Today in the industry the "rand" usually refers to a "U" shaped piece of thin nylon sheeting that is laid between the leather outer sole, and the upper in the heel-seat, to cover the rough flesh surface of the sole. IOW, it's now a thing again, not just the general area.

As to terms in general, it's a real mess. You see US shoe-terms in the main were 17th-18thc. English terms--and we still use many older forms. Then the UK terms changed, leaving us with language fossils. "I guess", rarely heard in the UK today, is perfectly good Shakespearean English, where our British friends wince, as they have moved on linguistically to prefer the more modern "I suppose". A perfect example of this shoe-wise is the construction called "stitch-down", where the uppers are flanged out, and stitched to the bottoms [there are several varieties]. "Stitch-down" is the 18thc. British-English term, and we retain it here. In the UK, however, this construction was re-named "veld/tschoen" [velt-skoon] somewhere later in the 19thc., no doubt because of the South African trade. Few in the UK today know what a "stitch-down" is, until you say it's a "veld/tschoen". Then they smirk, thinking "stitch-down" is some American illiteracy or vernacular, when actually it's good old(er) English Image

Regionalism played its role too. In New England, the terms "cobbler" and "shoemaker" became reversed sometime in the 19thc.--so there "cobblers" made shoes, while "shoemakers" repaired them. Ghastly mix up that!

In the 1800s the American school of shoemaking, like the country itself, began to shift into more of a melting-pot, with shoe and bootmakers of several nationalities coming here. Hence the noticeable up-tick, particularly in Germanic terms, e.g. "shaft", for the English "boot-leg", and all the confusion over English "stiffeners" vs. "counters" in the heel-end. It gets more convoluted when it comes to style names. "Blucher" vs. "Jefferson", "Wellington" vs. "Suvaroff"/"Suarrow", etc.--the former being the 19thc. UK name, the latter being the US. To try and unravel the mysteries of every term would take a life-time, but I hope this helps.

marc
5
5
Posts: 272
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:00 am
Full Name: Marc Carlson
Location: Tulsa, Ok, USA
Contact:

Re: Origins of the Heel

#70 Post by marc » Mon Aug 15, 2005 8:26 am

I -think- this is how the term evolved - at least in English.

In Middle English, I can find no mention of "rand" in any shoe context (although i would be happy to shown some). Rand/Rond(e/Round meant a strip or slice (particularly of meat or land), and may be related to rend. I can find no listing for Rann or Rahn.

The thing sticking out of a turnshoe is a welt, or sometimes a rivet (before 1400).

The trippes (a term I am only using here to distinguish from the other, wooden, pattens) with the fold over sides that come down and are braced under their cork filling seem to appear in the 1400s. They are possibly related to the enclosed cork and wooden soled bishop's shoes, or the winter shoes shown in Goubitz.

When they came over into England, the term that was being used for the braced bit of leather probably came with them, which lead to Rahn/Rann (Rann appearing in Holme in 1688). Since the term Rand already existed in English for "a strip", it's likely that the similar foreign term Rahn/Rann was gradually overwhelmed (although that is speculation on my part).

The term was by 1600 being used for any bit or rolled and braced leather between the upper and the outsole (According to the OED, Rande is first mentioned for a shoe part in 1598). By the 18th century this was pretty much just in the heel contruction. Eventually the roled and braced rand was replaced by the bit of leather that is there now, and the name was retained.

When it was decided to compile a standard glossary of terms for historical shoemaking, it was deemed necessary to differentiate between a welt that was holding on an outer sole, and any other intercutium, although they are actually made the same way (one's just wider and is used to hang an outer sole from), and so the already overworked term "Rand" was just ascribed to the welt that doesn't have an outersole tacked on to it (A choice that I'm sure made perfect sense at the time, but we know more now).

Marc

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Origins of the Heel

#71 Post by dw » Mon Aug 15, 2005 10:59 am

Al (and Marc),

Thanks for the explanation. I would correct myself, however--I meant to use "rhan" instead of "rahn." Truth to tell, I've never seen "rahn" anywhere except in one of my own posts where I mispelled the word once then kept right on mispelling it throughout. [sigh] Early mornings used to be my best times of the day...Thanks for playing along and not embarassing me with my own ineptitude.

Anyway, I'm glad I'm not perpetuating jargon or regional gobble-de-gook...at least not in this instance. Image

Tight Stitches
DWFII--Member HCC

marc
5
5
Posts: 272
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:00 am
Full Name: Marc Carlson
Location: Tulsa, Ok, USA
Contact:

Re: Origins of the Heel

#72 Post by marc » Mon Aug 15, 2005 1:11 pm

As Al has mentioned to me off list, the german word is likely "Rahmen", ie "frame" - which in Middle English was Rame. So God only knows how this actually worked out...

Marc

Lisa Cresson

Re: Origins of the Heel

#73 Post by Lisa Cresson » Mon Dec 19, 2005 5:46 pm

Hi Everyone,
I am here in India -- and wondered if anyone know of information on the construction of their straight lasted turn shoe for either men or women? I see people wearing these shoes today as part of traditional dress that identifies the culture.
Best to you all - my waking hours are directly opposite yours.

neil1967
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2010 10:00 am
Full Name: Neil Kessler
Location: Farmington, CT

Re: Origins of the Heel

#74 Post by neil1967 » Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:23 pm

I know that it's been talked about quite a bit in these forums that there is no real clear evidence for the origins of the heel before the 1500s in Europe. This leads me to two questions. Why does Elizabeth Semmelhack, in Heights of Fashion (I haven't read it, but just the blurb which mentions this) say that heels originated with Persian horse riders? Second, I keep coming across a reference to the historical noting of some of Genghis Khan's invading army wearing boots with red-painted wooden heels. Is this just web fiction or is this actually a historical reference?

das
Seanachaidh
Posts: 1293
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2000 9:00 am
Full Name: D.A. Saguto--HCC
Has Liked: 1 time
Been Liked: 7 times

Re: Origins of the Heel

#75 Post by das » Thu Feb 11, 2010 5:06 pm

Proxy Posting:

"First there are 2 origins for 2 types of heels: 1.platform soles with insole higher at back (ie covered wedge heel) start just after 1400, with kick-up under arch in 16th c.: 1595 Q.Eliz.'s 'heels with arches'. There are inserted 1 or 2 lifts on flat shoes, to give the same effect by at least 1545, from e.g. the 'Mary Rose'.
2. repair patches used forever, become stacked heels soon after: 1601 'Polony' [Polish & high] heels.
Reason for all this happening is height of Spanish chapin (2 1/2-3" from the same 1400) was being exaggerated late 16th c. in Italian zoccoli, what Shakespeare 1601-2 called chopine. Women not wearing them wouldn't want to look lower than those who did, never mind how much it upset men.

The answer to the question about E. Semmelhack is it's a very sloppy book, which I've read cover-cover. Another check today & I cannot find any attribution of heel origin to Persian horse-riders, just: 'The heel's connection to exotic dress & mounted military adventure may explain its sudden popularity among Europeans, espec. aristocratic men who eagerly exploited its original function of keeping a rider's feet in the stirrups'. That statement ignores the thousands of years men rode horses without stirrups; then the hundreds of years they used stirrups without heels on shoes. What the stacked heel did do, was give them the opportunity to ride 'long' (with knee straight) with some greater safety. But that's not the slightest use when you want to jump obstacles.

I've yet to find any references to men's footwear contemporary with Genghis Khan 1162-1227. The 1st depictions of him I can find are of course Persian miniatures, none earlier than 14th c, and the only one I have precisely dated is 1397-8 (too big a gap to depict 1227 accurately), with just the merest suspicion of a flattened V under the arch of the foot; that would be no more use in a stirrup than a flat sole. This develops slowly, like the European, but with the arch under the foot becoming more obvious, the heel protrusion more rounded at the bottom, and gradually thinner, so that by the 1590s (no coincidence!) it forms a distinct heel; but, unlike the European, hooked. This style can be seen worn in paintings of Polish gents., the earliest I found being Michael Borysowicz d.1505 (in my Cracows article published Cracow 2005 p.37)
Otherwise, the only European painting with a low 'Persian' metal heel I know is by the Italian Pisano of 'The Vision of St. Eustace' c1440 (I've no idea what nationality Eustace was supposed to be, but he wears a sort of turban), London's National Gallery.
And the only surviving footwear even vaguely influenced by them is the orthopaedic boot (Museum of London) made for Prince Charles (b.1600) c1607, later Charles I, which has brass rim protruding below flat sole under heel. The boots are unworn, indeed would have crippled him if he'd worn them. They obviously did not catch on here.

Later examples, mostly 19th c., of the middle eastern heel survive. Those I've handled are either leather covered bound with metal wire; or stacked leather with metal horseshoe & arch support (Instead of putting shank between sole & insole as we do, it's usually on outside); or all metal.
Sometimes their boots were red, so then the heel would be red, or green on green boot etc, if not totally covered in metal: brass or iron.

Why don't people look at pictures and see if they can see any connection between Persian pics and our heels, before believing every word they read. Frustrating explaining the origin of heels over & over again. This is at least 2nd time for Crispin Colloquy.
June Swann"

Post Reply