Fashion for pointy shoes unleashed a wave of bunions in medieval England

Jenna Dittmar, Piers D Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Abstract

The 14th century saw the arrival of an abundance of new styles of dress and footwear in Europe, coming in a wide range of fabrics and colours. Among these new fashion trends were “poulaines” – rather eccentric-looking medieval shoes with a lengthy pointed tip.

The archaeological and the historical record suggests that this new fashion item was widely adopted by England’s medieval society and that, by the late 14th century, almost every type of shoe was at least slightly pointed, even in children. Shoe pointiness would eventually became so extreme that in 1463 King Edward IV passed a law limiting toe-point length to less than two inches within London.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
PublisherThe Conversation UK
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Archaeology
  • bunions
  • Shoes
  • Medieval England
  • Medieval era

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