JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


Handbooks


Advertising


Australian Speakers Agency



GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper



Archives

Books

Bunions and broken bones: medieval shoes show price Homo Sapiens fashion victims willing to pay

Would you like bunions with that? | Photo: Mshirk

Believe it or not, Medieval shoes tell us something important about modern civilization. The hyper-gregarious Homo Sapiens might be able to walk on the moon, but ultimately a large proportion of the species just want to climb the social ladder. And the smarter, higher order sapiens might paradoxically be willing to pay the most stupid price.

In this case, being “progressive” in the 14th Century meant wearing pointy shoes that left 4 out of 10 people buried at the friary with bent and sometimes broken bones. Bunions make it harder to balance so they increase the risk of falls. The undeniable benefits of scoring social fashion points were apparently worth spending decades distorting foot bones. Before you dismiss this as a teenage girly thing, ponder that two thirds of the victims were men.

The social competition to have the pointiest shoes became so dangerous that in 1463 King Edward IV passed a law declaring toe-points had to be 2 inches or less within London.

Pointy shoes in a statue from 3,000 BC. | Camocon

The pointy shoe fashion bubble has struck all over the world: Japan, China, […]