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Sabatons are armoured footwear worn as part of a complete suit of amour. This pair of authentic German gothic sabatons are from 1490.

grinch armor

Surely for show only?

Certainly for horseback only; the long points - imitating fashionable ‘Crakow’ or ‘Poulaine’ civilian shoes - were often / usually removable for wear on foot.

Crakow and Poulaine both suggest “in the Polish style”, though whether that was an accurate representation of contemporary shoe styles from Poland or was one of those not-really-from-there labels like “Swiss cheese” or “English muffin”, I don’t know.

The other word for foot armour is solleret and, as usual with arms and armour, definitions vary: in two sources on my shelves, (”European Armour” © 1958 Claude Blair and “Arms & Armour of the Medieval Knight” © 1988 David Edge & John Miles Paddock) it’s stated that sabaton was the English word while solleret was the French word.

OR according to ”Arms & Armor” © 1975 Johannes Schöbel tr. M. Stanton / also WikiDiff.com, a sabaton was an extension of the leg armour…


…while a solleret was a separate armoured shoe (or vice versa)…


But according to ”A Dictionary of Chivalry” © 1968 Grant Uden, a solleret was pointed…


…while a sabaton was rounded or square-toed (or vice versa).


The only thing I’m absolutely sure of is that, since they were based on civilian fashions, pointy was earlier than blunt.

Writer note: pick either sabaton or solleret and stick to it. Swapping between them to prove you know both will not only confuse your readers but ultimately confuse you.

Here’s a pair of original Eisenschuhe (”iron shoes” - bless German for being so literal, since the term refers equally to round, square and pointy armoured footwear) which belonged to Emperor Maximilian I…


…and here’s a pair of reproductions showing how the points came off. They were still pretty pointy underneath, but no so much that the wearer had to move like someone wearing skis or swim-fins.


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