from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A steel shoe made of overlapping plates, forming a part of a medieval suit of armor.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A flexible steel shoe worn with mediaeval armour.
  • n. One of the plates forming a shoe of this kind.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A flexible steel shoe (or one of the plates forming such a shoe), worn with mediæval armor.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The steel shoe forming a part of armor in the fourteenth century and later, usually having splints overlapping one another and a long point or toe curved downward.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. armor plate that protects the foot; consists of mail with a solid toe and heel


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

French, from Old French, diminutive of soller, shoe, from Late Latin subtēlāris (calceus), (shoegear) for the sole of the foot, from subtēl, the hollow of the foot : Latin sub-, sub- + Latin tālus, ankle; see talus1.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

French soleret, diminutive from Old French soler shoe.


  • By the crescent upon it, it should be the second son of old Sir Hugh, who had a bolt through his ankle at the intaking of Romorantin, he having rushed into the fray ere his squire had time to clasp his solleret to his greave.

    The White Company


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  • Aha, sionnach says the armor in the pic dates from the fifteenth century. Which would put it in the period in which mounted shock combat was still the main mode of warfare (though they did still use large numbers of archers and increasingly large numbers of pikemen), but gunpowder was being developed and it would make armor obsolete. (You know, like they keep telling us BOOKS are becoming because of the Kindle?)

    March 23, 2009

  • Your wish is my command.

    March 21, 2009

  • I know just the list it could go on, skip...

    March 21, 2009

  • Ah... pre-mounted horses. Well that certainly does clear that one up, doesn't it?

    Let's celebrate with a bit of Red Leicester, eh?

    March 21, 2009

  • Historydorky is an awfully good word not to be claimed by anyone...

    March 21, 2009

  • It's true. He was a poncy wuss, sitting on the ground and telling sad stories of the death of kings. Down he came, like a glist'ring Phaeton. Totally betraying the promise he showed in peacefully (well, by medieval standards) subduing the Peasants' Revolt of 1381.

    "My lord... the peasants are revolting."

    March 21, 2009

  • Well, that explains a lot.

    March 21, 2009

  • Though I feel obliged to point out that, according to my recent research, horses in olden times apparently came already mounted on wheels, as documented in the following authentic photograph taken in Segovia's unimaginably historific Alcazar:

    ancient wheeled caballo with pre-mounted knight .

    Also, everyone knows that Richard II was a poncy wuss who liked to sit around on the ground and talk about cabbage, thereby allowing his cousin Bolingbroke to usurp him while all his courtiers were struggling to get into their doublets, hose, and codpieces.

    Just sayin'.

    March 21, 2009

  • Well, we find that positively charming--especially in the ursine set.

    Edit after c_b's edit: Wordie--you're home at last. :-)

    March 21, 2009

  • *takes a step outside herself*

    But I'm so freakin' serious about it, that's what's so hysterical. Geesh. WTF?

    Edit: Dude! Dude! Look what I found here!

    "Solleret. blah blah blah. See also Broad Toed Shoes." *scroll, scroll*

    "Broad Toed Shoes. (Other terms include: Bearpaw, Bear's Claw, Cowmouth, Escarpin, Hornbill, Horned, Kuhmaul, Scarpina, Solleret)... blah blah blah."

    My shoe! At last! To have found my soul-shoe-mate, and to think I didn't even know this word this morning! *hugs Wordie*

    March 21, 2009

  • I love it when chained_bear gets all historydorky!

    March 21, 2009

  • Knights always, always had people helping them do stuff, sometimes a small army of pages and squires. It was (and is) physically impossible to dress yourself, or mount your horse, by oneself in that full (fool?) getup.

    What do you mean by double spurs behind the knees? You mean in sionnach's linked photo? I'm guessing that those are to keep the knight from having his arteries cut. Armed knights on horseback were intimidating as all hell (their horses being trained weapons themselves), but if you were a foot soldier and could get close enough, or had a halberd or pike long and sharp enough, you could conceivably cut the guy behind the (unprotected) knee and completely disable him (not to mention he'd bleed to death in pretty short order). As the joints are the weak spots in any suit of armor (did you see the battle for Helm's Deep in "The Two Towers"?), I imagine that's what those things on the knee were meant for—protecting the guy from being hamstrung. HOWEVER, the more elaborate/ornate a suit of armor is, the more likely it was used long, long after it was really necessary. Usually that stuff comes from the sixteenth century or later, when the only time people had armor like that was for portraits, or possibly (very showy and not authentic) jousting tournaments.

    Also, I would just like to point out that I do walk with a fine and distinguished air to the gait. If I do say so.

    March 21, 2009

  • I don't know. I wouldn't mind seeing a Size 8 bear trying to walk around in these. ;->

    March 21, 2009

  • Oh. That would explain, I guess, the nasty double spurs just behind the knees. I'd love to see someone mount a horse in that get up! Maybe they were lowered into the saddle...

    *getting all Monty-Python-silly* *snort*

    March 21, 2009

  • More info found on Google books:

    "This habitual use of tight hose caused a considerable tension and throwing forward of the leg, which gave a 'fine and distinguished air to the gait.' Long toes required that the foot should be lifted, and a slight kick employed to throw forward the long toe of the shoe so that it should not fall back under the foot and impede the walk of the wearer. This last difficulty was accentuated with the advent of the HOUPELAND."

    Medieval Costume and Fashion, by Herbert Norris.

    Okay, going to p. 247, it turns out is not available in this preview. But a houpelande or houpeland is a sort of doublet that's tight and fitted around the waist but might have poofy sleeves, a tight collar, and is outrageously (for the 14th century) short, so that one might view a man's privy member through very tight breeches.

    You might want to see these shoes, and if the link doesn't work try Mr. Norris's book on Google books and look for page 58, figures 75 and 76.

    Page 274, "In the reign of Richard II pointed toes reached their greatest lengths. This would have been 1377 to 1399--Bear Editor Long toes were not introduced, as some affirm, by the courtiers attending his wife Anne of Bohemia; but these gentlemen are responsible for the device of fastening their excessively long toes to their garters by gold or silver chains. Sometimes the toes were of such length that they had to be attached to the waist-belt."

    It should be noted somewhere on this page, though, that these were high fashion and not worn by the vast majority of people. Only by crazy fops.

    Also, I firmly believe that the ridiculous fashions of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries are the almost sole reason why Hollywood never makes any movies set in those times. *pouts*

    March 21, 2009

  • You don't walk in armored shoes. You get on your horse and fight, and if they knock you off, chances are you'll not be able to get up anyhow.

    As for the regular shoes with the long points, that was one of those fashions that the devout and pious railed against as being vulgar and foolish. Some people were so fashionable, and the points of their shoes so long (and often trimmed with bells), that they had to tie them up to their knees (or more accurately, their garters) in a big loop.

    Which kind of makes it a little more understandable why some people railed against this particular style.

    March 21, 2009

  • The way the ends of the toes point down, how did they walk without falling on their faces?

    March 21, 2009

  • Thanks! I wondered whether sabaton was related to zapato.

    March 21, 2009

  • p.s. Here's the etymology of sabaton, from the OED also:

    a. Pr. sabató (mod.Pr. sabatoun shoe), augmentative of sabata = F. savate, Sp. zapata boot (also zapato shoe), Pg. sapata, It. ciabatta shoe. Cf. med.L. sabbatum.

    The ultimate origin of the Rom. word is obscure. It exists in Arabic (sabbt, çabbt, etc., Dozy II. 626), in Berber (sappt, ibid.), and in Basque (zapata), but is prob. in all these a loan-word from Spanish.

    March 21, 2009

  • AHA!! They called it, at least from 1330, a sabaton.

    "A broad-toed armed foot-covering worn by warriors in armour."

    c1330 R. BRUNNE Chron. Wace (Rolls) 10026 Hym self was armed fynly wel Wy sabatons Wace cauces de fer, & spores, & iaumbers of stel. 13.. Gaw. & Gr. Knt. 574 enne set ay e sabatounz vpon e segge fotez. c1420 ? LYDG. Assembly of Gods 346 Gauntlettes on hyr handys, & sabatouns on hyr fete. c1450 J. METHAM Wks. (E.E.T.S.) 36 This forsayd knyght Blak sabatouns weryd. 1485 Materials Reign Hen. VII (Rolls) II. 21 For making of a paire of sabatons of clothe of golde IIIIs. 1543 GRAFTON Contn. Harding 594 The hernayes..was all ouer gylte frome the heade peece to the sabattons. 1869 BOUTELL Arms & Arm. x. (1874) 206 At the commencement of the 16th century, the pointed sollerets were succeeded by broad sabbatons, cut off square or rounded at the toes.

    Also, in seeking an earlier date for this or another term, it appears that both solleret and sabaton have a connotation of being long-toed shoe-like things, rather than simply generic foot armor. This would seem to indicate that the terms wouldn't be found earlier than the fourteenth century (as we see here), since that's when the fashion of long-toed shoes came about. But surely, foot armor has an earlier provenance? When mounted shock combat is much older than ca. 1330?

    *continues to search*

    March 21, 2009

  • Funny thing is the word has only been used in English since the nineteenth century—so what did the wearers call 'em?

    March 21, 2009

  • I mean, think of the things you could do with those babies....

    March 21, 2009

  • That is the coolest thing ever.

    *googles for a pair of sollerets in bear-size 8*

    March 20, 2009

  • Oooh. I'm excited because I has a picture:

    Segovian sollerets

    March 20, 2009

  • The metal pointy shoes that knights wear!

    March 20, 2009