FotMA Glossary of Historical Shoemaking

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Footwear of the Middle Ages: An ongoing examination of the history and development of footwear and shoemaking techniques up to the end of the 16th Century, by I. Marc Carlson (known in the Society as Diarmait ua Dhuinn).

Glossary of Footwear Terminology

There has been some considerable confusion about what the purpose of this glossary is, and I have truly unpleasant discussions regarding terms I have included, and whether I am using the right term for my default definitions. So let me be clear. As I've researched the medieval terminology, because of the jargon selected by those who have gone before, and my trying to trace similar and related terms, I frequently have to deal with terms that are NOT medieval. That was a given when I started this project. Therefore, this glossary has to present information for more than just the Middle Ages.

At this point, I was given an option to be either inclusive or exclusive, to open up the glossary to all manner of terms for things, including weird translations, bizarre or illiterate usages of terms that had found their way into print -- all sorts of things - or to exclude all terms other than those from a specific tradition of shoemaking. I made the, apparently controversial, decision to be inclusive.

The next question was what to use as the default, or baseline, terminology. After considerable discussion, I was convinced that using the historical, published sources for English traditional shoemaking terms (Devlin, Holme, Rees, Martin, etc.) and the understanding of those terms held by modern experts would be as good a place to start as any, and made more logical sense than most others. D.A. Saguto of Colonial Williamsburg has been, and continues to be, a most valuable resource for this project. His knowledge of post-medieval shoemaking technologies, particularly with regards to such ancient experts such as Garsault, is unequalled, and his knowledge of medieval and pre-medieval shoemaking technologies is well above most.

The remaining definitions are based predominantly on Swann and Thornton, Grew and de Neergaard, Webber, Goubitz, Vass, as well as others (including the occasional on-line glossary of modern shoemaking terms). DW Frommer and the membership of the Crispin Colloquy made major contributions to this compilation as well.

It should be noted that several of these author's works are translations from other languages than English, and the translation of the term is not necessarily what another translator might have chosen, or for that matter - even accurate. Moreover, meaning no disrespect to Goubitz, but several of the terms he uses are apparently based on his own personal shorthand jargon, and therefore bear little resemblance to terms used by others in the shoemaking field (for an example, see "treadsole"). As these will be published in a source that will be seen as authoritative, they need to be referred to.

Just as a note, as there is often a wide divergence between the terms used by modern shoemakers and the terms used by modern archeologists and calceologists. We know very few of the terms used by medieval shoemakers, and fewer still those terms used by English shoemakers (since this document is in English). Therefore, most of these terms will be modern. Those that are medieval shoemaking terms will be noted in italics. Traditional English shoemaking jargon terms will be in bold face, and, as stated above, given preference. Terms that are not documentable as being medieval, but likely are, will be given in bold faced italics. Modern archeological and other traditions of shoemaking jargon terms will be underlined (Please try not to confuse these with hyperlinks, which are also underlined). Specific sources will be named in [brackets].