I’ve been on vacation to Innsbruck, Austria, for a few days, and right outside of Innsbruck lies a fantastic castle called Schloss Ambras. It was built on the remains of an earlier medieval castle by Archduke Ferdinand II in the mid 16th century.
Ferdinand wanted to be seen as a man of his time and had a great interest in the arts and sciences, and also I believe in the somewhat strange and absurd. He collected a wonderful array of wondrous items and paintings and displayed it all in a fantastic Chamber of Arts and Curiosities. I share Ferdinand’s passion for the weird and curious, so I spent quite some time enjoying all the fantastic things in the collection. One (or two really…) of my favorite things were this very unusual pair of boots. Look closely and you will see why they are so special.
Yes, you’re right, the boots have have five toes each! “Five fingered” boots from 16th century Germany!
Who would have thunk!?!
Now, I guess one must assume that five fingered boots cannot have been very common as the archduke displayed them in his curiosity chamber, but still, there they are, they exist! They are accounted for in the inventory made in 1596, so they are legit, and on the little information tag displayed in the museum, they are dated from the first half of the 16th century. It says they were yellow, red and blue. The yellow and red is still very vibrant, but the blue has faded away, so one has to imagine how beautifully colourful these wonderful thigh high boots must have looked.
One can see in my pictures that they have a bottom sole, so they were made to be used, but regretfully I forgot to try to see if the soles show any sign of wear. If anyone of you go to Schloss Ambras, will you please check for me?
I have wanted to get a pair of those wonderful modern five fingered trekking shoes for quite a while. Now I must say I feel very tempted to try to make myself a pair of five fingered leather boots to wear with my early 16th century German costumes. Five fingered boots might not have been used commonly (probably not), maybe they were only made as a curiosity and never ever used (very possible), but I personally don’t care. I want a pair. I really do.