Join shoe historian, Cameron Kippen discuss the history of Boots – from Cavemen to Cowboys on “Remember When” (6PR) with Harvey Deegan.
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The military boots were hobnailed and according to rank worn high on the leg. The boot was initially restricted to the higher ranks (on horseback) and used as protection from arrows and glancing blows. According to Pattison and Cawthorne (1997) boots became more popular with soldiers posted to colder climes and when victorious soldiers returned to Rome, they would have their copper hobnails removed and replaced with gold or silver tacks. Julius Caesar was reputed to have worn a pair of boots made from gold. Eventually boots were worn by citizens.
At first patricians wore muleas, which were red or violet coloured boots but these were reserved for patricians who had served as magistrates. Some authors believe the muleas has been confused with calceus patricius, a style of shoe worn by Roman senators. Citizens of Romans wore a boot made from hairy undressed hide similar to those worn by agricultural workers. The calceus was a boot developed at the end of the Roman period and was worn high laced on the inside of the leg and fitted with a tongue. Many boot forms arose from the calceus. The muleus was similar to calceus, but laced with red coloured thongs and only worn by emperors. The gallicae was a knee high closed boot and the espadrille was a boot with straps laced through eyelets and thought to be a more sophisticated version of the Greek crepida.
The calceus senatorum was a calf length boot worn by members of the senate. The boot was slit on the inside and fitted with a tongue and were generally black until the late empire when they were white with complex lacing. (Anderson Black J Garland M 1975). The boot generally had gold or silver crescents at the front. The letter "C" was embossed and referred to the first 100 patricians or nobles established by right of birth or privilege. These boots or bushkins extended to the knee and were fastened with four tags or knots. Plebeians and vulgar people could wear boots but they were restricted to the use of one or two knots.
Anderson-Black J. Garland M. 1975 A history of fashion London: Orbis Publishing.
Pattison A & Cawthorne N 1997 A century of shoes: icons of style in the 20th century NSW : Universal International