For Christmas I got this funky day-calendar of beautiful shoes. A new pair every day! Some old, some new, some stunning, some surprisingly hideous and/or confusing.
Yesterday's pair (March 10th, 2015) surprised me because they were listed as 'Wooden bridal slippers with metal spike toes, France,19th century.'
This is what they look like:
And that made me go "Huh". Because even though I'm a scholar of the Victorian era and should really, really know better, when I think about France in the 19th century, I think of urban sophistication and people looking like this:
Which is, of course, ridiculous. Not everyone in France was a glamazon. And what do all of the stories from the above stills have in common? PARIS. Almost no one takes into account rural France in the 19th century. As we have discussed before, most of France didn't even speak French as we know it today. Modern French is what was spoken in Paris and gradually became the norm as transportation and lines of communication improved over the century.
So I decided to look up what region of France those shoes were from, and why they have that tradition. What I found was . . . unexpected. And dark.
According to this ListVerse site here, these shoes are specific to the Ariege district, south of the city of Saint Girons, right near the border with Spain. The shoes originated waaaay back in the 9th century when Moorish invaders raided a French village and kidnapped some women. The villagers retaliated by attacking the Moorish camp and killing the invaders by stabbing them through the hearts with the points of their clogs.
It slowly morphed into a custom where village men cobbled these shoes for their future brides. The higher the point they were able to make, the more they loved their wives.
Because it just isn't a wedding without the blood of your enemy dousing the feet of your intended. C'est l'amour.