GOTHIC PERIOD SHOES
During the Gothic period, cities showed off their wealth by building giant fancy cathedrals. People showed off their wealth by wearing fancy clothes and long-toed shoes. It’s possible that the tall spires on the cathedrals inspired the long-toed shoes; known as Crakows because they originated in Krakow, Poland. The shoes are also called poulaines. Poulaine refers to the long pointed tip of the shoe.
Cobblers were the shoemakers who made shoes for commoners and peasants. It was the cordwainers who made shoes for the rich. In those days, shoes were not made to fit each foot. The left and right shoe were exactly the same. The shoes were made of leather. Rich people’s shoes had elaborate patterns and embroidery. Everyone else wore plain leather shoes. Because the shoes were made entirely of leather, they could easily be ruined if the wearer walked on a muddy road or stepped in a puddle. To protect the soles of the shoes, people wore wooden patens under their shoes to keep them dry. Patens were a flat piece of wood with two wedges of wood on the bottom. People tied the patens on their feet, over their shoes, with leather straps.
The pointy-toed shoes were very impractical. Sometimes the toe of the shoe was so long, the wearer had to stuff it with hair or moss to help it hold its shape.
This long-toed shoes craft will give your students an idea of what it would be like to walk around in shoes with toes that are much longer than your foot. It takes about fifteen minutes to color and assemble one shoe. If you have time, you can have the kids make two shoes, but one is enough to experience the ridiculousness of wearing a shoe with a super long toe.
For added fun, you can have a Gothic shoe fashion show.