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History of boots

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A brief history of boots from cavemen to cowboys

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History of boots

  1. 1. A Brief History of Boots From cavemen to cowboys Cameron Kippen the_footman@yahoo.com.au
  2. 2. Who were the first to wear boots? No one can be completely sure when our fore bares started wearing boots, but most experts accept it was about 17, 000 years ago. Lay people, mistakenly believe the first shoes were sandals or thongs, but from the earliest finds, it appears our ancestors had a range of shoes and boots which we would recognised today. Cave paintings in Spain dated to 15,000 BCE. depict a man in boots of skin and a woman in fur boots.
  3. 3. The Awl What allowed early humans to make clothes and adjust to climate change was the awl or bone and flint needles. These were known to exist some 35k years ago. Although it is conjecture, the earliest boots were possibly ugg boots made of felt.
  4. 4. Early Mediterranean Boots The Persians (7000 BCE), wore finely crafted boots which were captured in artefacts like funerial jars and drinking beakers. There is strong evidence people around Mediterranean wore boots with long pointed toes made from kid leather. Soldiers in ancient Greece wore leg protection laced up the front of the shin leaving their toes exposed. Highly decorated white boots began to appear about 2k years ago, and were worn by young Greek men.
  5. 5. The Etruscans During the Bronze Age, the Etruscans (1200-550 BCE) who were skilful tanners, made a break through with copper tacks. However, it took until the Romans for the shoe tacks to become hobnails and the Romans incorporated them into military footwear.
  6. 6. Roman Hobnail Boots Historians believe hobnail footwear allowed the Roman Empire to expand beyond any other Mediterranean civilisation. Soldiers crossed rough terrain wearing robust footwear that could be repaired. When the empire stretched so far it became impossible to supply equipment from Rome, local shoemakers were taught the crafts of sandals and boot making. Local artisans incorporated their own skills which included waterproofing from France (Gaul as in galoshes).
  7. 7. Fashionable Roman Boots At first, the higher the boot was worn on the leg signified rank, but eventually boots became popular with soldiers posted to colder climes. Victorious legions on their return to Rome often replaced their copper tacks with silver and gold hobnails. As time passed patricians wore decorated boots with the letter ’C’ clearly embossed on the side to indicate they were nobles by birth. Roman senators preferred black (then white) knee length boots with complex lacing and gold or silver crescents at the front.
  8. 8. After the Fall After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, many of the boot making skills would have been lost but for the provincial shoe and sandal makers who kept the trades alive. High clergy kept their feet warm with fur lined slipper boots. The horsemen of Genghis Khan (1162- 1227) were archers and wore boots with a small heel. This helped them stabilise on horseback and they became invincible.
  9. 9. Boot styles in the Middle Ages Throughout the Middle Ages two styles of boot emerged the fashionable short boot which was popular in Europe; and the heavier military boot worn by cavalry. Military boots were heavier and often acted as armour to protect the legs Boots became predominantly a male fashion and were made from the finest of leathers, worn tight on the leg and folded back into deep tops.
  10. 10. Swaggering gait Long boots were worn tight to the leg which made it difficult for dismounted horsemen to bend their knees. Soldiers adopted a swaggering gait which was considered very macho at the time.
  11. 11. Funnel Flaps and Bootlegging Full tops became the fashion at European courts. These boots were made of softer leather and worn with baggy creases. Funnel flaps were turned down for town wear. 17th century horsemen wore square toed, thigh high boots and red heels were very popular. Smugglers, used their funnel flaps to hide their contraband or "booty. This practice gave rise to the term, "bootlegging'.
  12. 12. The Plantation Class After the English Civil War (1642–1651), defeated royalists (Cavaliers) escaped to the New World, settling in the southern states . Cavaliers wore ostentatious thigh high riding boots with Cuban heels and took them to America where many families formed the plantation class.
  13. 13. The Wellington Boot During the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815), the Duke of Wellington instructed his shoemaker, to modify his military boots to fit more closely around the leg. Wellington’s boots stopped mid-calf and had low cut heels, stacked around an inch (2.5 centimetres). Suitably hard-wearing for riding, the boots proved smart enough for informal evening wear, worn over trousers. The new boots quickly caught on with patriotic British gentlemen eager to emulate their war hero.
  14. 14. Wellington versus Napoleon Wellington personally despised the thought of sore feet and was keen his generals wore comfortable boots. His nemesis Napoleon, suffered from sore feet and had a personal corn cutter accompany him and his campaigns. Napoleon also preferred tejas, or shorter boots cut high in the front.
  15. 15. The American Civil War During the American Civil War (1861-1865) , Wellington Boots were standard issue to the US cavalry. Unfortunately, unscrupulous contractors supplied below par (or shoddy) footwear made from reinforced cardboard. Climatic conditions soon ensured the horse soldiers suffered deep cuts to their feet. When, right and left boots were introduced these proved so unpopular with the soldiers manufacturers decided not to sell them to the masses for another half century. At the end of the war, the federal government had half a million boots surplus to requirements.
  16. 16. How the West was won During the American Indian Wars (circa 1865), which followed, the surplus boots were issued to soldiers posted to the frontier forts. Brass tacks were used to hold the leather soles to the uppers but these very quickly wore through and damaged the soldiers’ feet, The Government put together a committee to study the problem and the solution was to issue all servicemen with a metal file and ordered to “get down to brass tacks.” The most welcome craftsmen in the wild west were European bookmakers who modified the defective military footwear (or kips) into wearable boots.
  17. 17. The Cowboy Boot By the 1880's the cowboy boot was beginning to emerge as a distinctive style. What had started as a dress Wellington or full Wellington, merged with the hard- wearing lace up boot (or packer), worn by drovers. Other influences included the Mexican riding boot called vaquero. Early cowboy boots had no ornamentation.
  18. 18. Hollywood Cowboys By the time Hollywood adopted the cowboy boot these were highly decorated Tejas (or Napoleon style boots) with ostentatious inlays, and bore no resemblance to real life boots worn by cattle men. Considered too dull for screen heroes, fantasy boots were now designed and made by the likes of, Salvatore Farrago.
  19. 19. Modern Cowboy Boots By the mid-50s, the design of cowboy boots changed to accommodate the growing sport of Roping. Modern cowboy boots had a lowered heel and rounded toe which made them ideal for boot scooting.
  20. 20. Commonwealth of Australia Copyright Regulations 1969 WARNING This material has been copied and communicated to you by or on behalf of The Footman © pursuant to Part VB of the Copyright Act 1968 (the Act). The material in this communication may be subject to copyright under the Act. Any further copying or communication of this material by you may be the subject of copyright protection under the Act. Do not remove this notice

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