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Early boots consisted of separate leggings, soles, and uppers worn together to provide greater ankle protection than shoes or sandals. Around 1000 BC, these components were more permanently joined to form a single unit that covered the feet and lower leg, often up to the knee. A type of soft leather ankle boots were worn by nomads in eastern Asia and carried to China to India and Russia around AD 1200 to 1500 by Mongol invaders. The Inuit and Aleut natives of Alaska developed traditional winter boots of caribou skin or sealskin featuring decorative touches of seal intestine, dog hair and suchlike. The early Dutch Masters were the first to define the boot in European iconography, in spite of the fact that the Chinese had been using footwear that the average Frenchman or Portuguese sailor of the day would have recognized as a boot for centuries at that time. Most historians agree, though, that the first codified definition of the boot was entered into law by Royal decree during the Hundred Years' War, when the Duke of Wales wrote, "that sturdy, stiff shyue off a type ne'er seent heretofore wi' high scuppers and ye nailes on the souyle. " Sporadic wars were fought among city states during this time as the Protestants rejected that definition, but history vindicated the Duke eventually, and the Roche family of Nantucket actually rose to prominence more as a result if their trade in these boots in the colonies than from their whaling endeavors. European boots were influenced by military styles, featuring thick soles and turnover tops that were originally designed to protect horse mounted soldiers. In the 1700s, distinctive, thigh-high boots worn by Hessian soldiers fighting in the American Revolutionary War influenced the development of the iconic heeled cowboy boots worn by cattlemen in the American west.

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