Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Promiscuity and Decent Shoes: A brief history of pointed shoes
Ask any podiatrist how patients justify their choice of footwear and they will tell you.
'These, they are the only decent pair, I could find!"
Begs the question if there are decent shoes, then by some logic, there must be indecent shoes. And indeed there are. We need to go back in history seven hundred years when a nameless cobbler to a European courtier, by the name of Rulk Fulkner invented a new style of footwear. Rulk was a dandy, a fop and dedicated setter of fashion in the middle ages. He suffered from bunions and his feet were very broad. Not to be put off the man commissioned a pair of shoes to fit his feet and have a fashion flair. The cobbler lasted the foot and made the shoe four centimetres longer than the toes, meeting at a point. The shoe style was called the poulaine and became a very popular style for over three hundred years.
Soon extensions became longer and longer until they were so long as to make walking almost impossible. Young bucks started to stuff wool and moss in the extensions to keep them erect. Indeed, the blatant phallic symbol became so long, often they had to be attached to the knee with a chain to prevent tripping. (Sabbaton). A popular vulgarity was to paint the extensions flesh coloured, allowing them to flap with lifelike mobility. Small bells (hawk bells) were often attached to the end of the poulaine to indicate the wearer was a willing partner in sexual frolic.
Footsie - footsie took on a more meaningful importance during this time and many banquets would be enhanced with below table carry on. The poulaine was the fore-runner to the codpiece. Shocked at the overt obscenity of the habit, the Church tried to stop men from wearing them. Initially they were condemned because they physically prevented them from praying. This edict met with dumb silence. Considered as Satan's Curse university professors were banned from wearing them in the thirteenth century. The Black Plague (1348) was cited by the clergy as God's revenge for the poulaine.
In 1367, Pope Urban V publicly scorned the fashion and banned commoners wearing them with penalty of excommunication and in some cases death. He was less adamant with upper classes, turning a blind eye to their open promiscuity, and granting those of royal birth immunity to wear the poulaine. The end of the fashion came in the 15th century.
Interestingly enough in the 1960's there was a re-emergence of the winkle picker for men and the high heeled stiletto, for women. Both styles would be associated with promiscuity. More recently we have seen the resurgence of the long pointed toe, but unlike any other time in history, the fashion has been solely for women. The mighty phallus on the female foot says much about today’s sex politics. Women are on top.