Byzantine Riding Boots

This is a reconstruction of a pair of tall riding boots from the 5-7th century found in the ruins of the Byzantine city of Antinopolis in modern day Egypt. Because of the favorable climate there, the city is a treasure trove of historical artifacts most of which have survived in great condition. This allows us to better understand how shoes and garments were made, and what they looked like. This pair of Byzantine riding boots were made in the classical “turnshoe” construction method, which means that they were sewn inside out, and then flipped. This is a very popular way of making shoes, that remained in use for centuries. Because of the inherent flaws in this method, however, the reconstruction we’re presenting here is much different when it comes to soles and sole attachment. 

Byzantine ivory casket from 10-11th century. Similar boot model.

As you can see, this is not a “turnshoe” construction. The method used here is called “clump-shoe” which is a fancy way of saying that the sole is outside. The shoe is sewn inside-out with a thin leather sole, and a narrow strip of leather protruding between the upper and the inside sole. This thin leather strip is where the sole is attached to. This construction method became popular in 14-15th century Europe, and is very good for our modern reconstruction needs. It allows the reenactor to replace the sole of his riding boots when they get worn out, without having to compromise the structural integrity of the boot. 

In this case, the customer wanted them reinforced with additional layers of leather and hobnails for better traction during combat. We don’t usually deal with hobnails, and don’t have the practice of nailing the sole, but we did our best, and are pretty happy with the results. 

The upper leather is 2mm calf leather, the sole is 7mm cow hide, with additional nailed strips of another 7mm. As far as Byzantine riding boots go, these won’t be very comfortable to wear on horseback, because the sole reinforcement will make the use of the stirrups very difficult. However, if you are a swordsman who plans on doing a lot of fencing and fighting on foot, these boots are the best thing you can get.


A Pair of Fantasy Boots

Last week, I made a pair of sturdy fantasy boots for Live-Action-Role-Play. The owner wanted them to be as sturdy and durable as possible, so this is what I did:

  • I used 2 layers of thick leather for the soles. Each sole is about 5-6 mm thick, so every shoe has a 12 mm sole.
  • They were supposed to be nailed with hobnails, but it turned out too expensive and time-consuming, so we left that out for later. Keep in mind that medieval shoes rarely have hobnails, so that’s not an accurate reconstruction; however, the design is based on medieval shoes.
  • For the upper pieces, I used thick cow leather about 2mm, and for the heel – 3mm. Sadly, this type of leather is very hard to sew with hidden stitches, so I had to use visible X-stitches. I don’t like that much, but It’s not up to me. It depends on the leather quality.
  • The shoes are sewn inside-out, and turned after that. The second sole is then added, and the upper pieces are sewn to the shoe.
  • Lastly, I added the strings. They are designed so that the boots can be worn closed neatly around the calf, which is great for cold and wet weather conditions. They can also be worn with open tongues so that the foot can breathe when it’s hot.

The design is based on a pair of medieval shoes. Sadly, the stitches are not very common for medieval shoes. Regardless of that, however, the fantasy boots turned out very good, and I’m extremely proud of my work. Enjoy:

Roman calcei project – complete!

The Medievalisticals team is proud to announce the completion of our first pair or roman shoes!



As an experienced medieval shoemaker, I’ve made more than 20 pairs of medieval shoes, but never any roman footwear.

This type of roman shoes is based on archaeological finds from the 5th-6th century. The calcei are a part of a roman military costume that we were hired to recreate for a very interesting local museum in Bulgaria. The museum is based in the municipality of Samokov and it serves as an exposition for archaeological finds from the near roman fortress Belchin. I’m not sure this is the historical name of the place, though.

Roman shoes are very different from medieval shoes. They are more  complex and in my personal opinion unnecessarily complicated. First – they are not sewn on the inside and flipped inside out like medieval shoes(it’s a bit more complicated), and second they have a double sole and hobnails. That makes walking with them extremely comfortable. I know that because i tested my double soled boots recently at medieval camp Cherven. As you may see our example of roman footwear doesn’t have hobnails on the sole, that is because the museum didn’t want hobnails. Besides, the boots will be worn by a mannequin dressed with lorica hamata, scutum and everything a 5th century roman legionnaire could need.  So a hobnailed boot may cause some damage to the floor, especially with the weight of the weapons and armor.

We hope you like our work and if you have any questions, or want to place an order with our medieval shoemaker, you can reach us here –