A shoemaker in the Georgian era, from The Book of English Trades, 1821.


A shoemaker in the Georgian era, from The Book of English Trades, 1821.

The Romans, who eventually conquered the Greeks and adopted many aspects of their culture, did not adopt the Greek perception of footwear and clothing. Roman clothing was seen as a sign of power, and footwear was seen as a necessity of living in a civilized world, although the slaves and paupers usually went barefoot.[14] Roman soldiers were issued with chiral (left and right shoe different) footwear.[18] There are references to shoes being worn in the Bible.[19]

By the 15th Century, pattens became popular by both men and women in Europe. These are commonly seen as the predecessor of the modern high-heeled shoe,[22] while the poor and lower classes in Europe, as well as slaves in the New World, were barefoot.[14] In the 15th century, the Crakow was fashionable in Europe. This style of shoe is named because it is thought to have originated in Kraków, the capitol of Poland. The style is characterized by the point of the shoe, known as the “polaine”, which often was supported by a whalebone tied to the knee to prevent the point getting in the way while walking.[23] Also during the 15th century, chopines were created in Turkey, and were usually 7-8 inches (17.7-20.3 cm) high. These shoes became popular in Venice and throughout Europe, as a status symbol revealing wealth and social standing. During the 16th century, royalty started wearing high-heeled shoes to make them look taller or larger than life, such as Catherine de Medici or Mary I of England. By 1580, even men wore them, and a person with authority or wealth was often referred to as, “well-heeled”.[22]