Until recently, very little was known about medieval shoes. Glimpses in manuscript illustrations and on funerary monuments, with the occasional reference by a contemporary writer, was all that the costume historian had as evidence, not least because leather tends to perish after prolonged contact with air, and very few actual examples survived. In recent years, however, nearly 2,000 shoes, many complete and in near-perfect condition, have been discovered preserved on the north bank of the Thames, and are now housed in the Museum of London. This collection, all from well-dated archaeological contexts, fills this vast gap in knowledge, making it possible to chart precisely the progress of shoe fashion between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries.
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