About this object
Late Medieval; late 14th century
Pointed medieval shoe known as a 'poulaine'. Only the upper has survived, probably made from calf leather. It has a latchet fastening to the side (a leather strap split into two at the end, which goes through a pair of holes). The two ends of the strap could either be tied together once they went through their holes, or individually knotted to act like toggles. On this shoe the strap is missing and only the holes remain. The decoration of this shoe is divided by suede bands into rectangular panels of lattice-work. Such decorated and pointed shoes would only have been afforded by the wealthy fashion-conscious sections of society. The site of Baynards Castle where this shoe was found was close to the Royal Wardrobe so some of the shoes uncovered there may have royal connections. Shoes with long points had to be stuffed with moss or hair to keep their shape. Some of these shoe points reached over 100 mm in length. At the time, poulaines were condemned by some clergymen as 'claws of devils' and were the subject of many jokes due to their extreme appearance.
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L 315 mm; W 72 mm; H 72 mm (overall)
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