Leather Beaked Shoe, Poulaines or Crakows of the 15th century.


Beak shoe, 15th century, Poulaines, Crakows, Middle ages,
Beak shoe of the 15th century.


BEAKED SHOE (Poulaines)


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THIS fine example of a 14th or 15th century peaked shoe, or Crackow, was the kind of foot-gear worn by wealthy people at a time when costume generally had reached an extravagant stage; the peak or point extended so far beyond the foot that it required a stuffing of either hay, moss, or wool to keep it in shape, and in order to allow the wearer to walk the point had to be turned upwards, and fastened to the knee by a slender chain or a coloured cord. Sometimes these lengthy points were twisted into the shape of a ram’s horn.

This beaked shoe measures from the point to the heel 15 inches; the sole throughout is of one piece of leather, as is also the upper part of the shoe; there are holes at the inner side for the lace, which is still in situ, and the instep flap, some 31 inches long, is still remaining, though not standing up as it would have done originally.

The sole is extremely thin, being only 1 16th of an inch at the tip and 1/8 at the thickest part, which indicates that it was only intended to be worn indoors; or if for outdoor use, it would have to be worn with a clog or patten, which at that period was a common fashion. The height of the leather at the heel is 3 inches, its inside being stiffened by an extra thickness of leather: the stitching throughout is of a very coarse description.

Note:  The Hennin. Headdresses of the 15th century.

Fairholt, in his Costume in England, gives an illustration of a similar shoe, and fixes the date as 1460-1500. The Crackow described above was found in an ancient house in Toledo, and was purchased shortly after its discovery by its present possessor, Geo. C. Haite, Esqr.

Source: Royal and historic gloves and shoes by W. B. Redfern. London 1904.

Illustration Galan, middle ages, b/w,

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