The Brazen Burgundian - Costume and Culture in 15th Century Burgundy...and France

Recent Posts

More Updates!!!
Sometimes you just need help
New Article: The Tailoring of the Pourpoint of King Chaarles VI Revealed by Tasha D. Kelly
Knitted hose, who knows....
My Weekend as a 15th century cripple


14th century
15th century
16th century
Clothing History
Clothing Research
Historical Clothing
powered by

My Blog

My Weekend as a 15th century cripple

Major surgery of any kind requires a good bit of adjustment in your day-to-day life. It is especially complicated when you are involved in any form of reenactment where you not only have to consider how your modern life is impacted, but you then have to consider how it impacts your "medieval" life.

I had major surgery on my left foot two weeks ago, and it never occurred to me to consider how I would accommodate this in my 15th century life.  The obvious answer would be to "take some time off to heal;" however, as a co-chancellor for the current King and Queen of An Tir in the SCA (think Sr. Program Manager) I can't just decide not to show up. It occurred to me one evening right after surgery that I had not considered this, queue post to Facebook

"I just had a harrowing will I get hose/chauses over my dressing!!?!!?? Crown tourney clothing meltdown in 3....2.....1...... Liftoff! ‪#‎poorplanningonmypart‬"

Of course, being an artist myself and highly plugged in to the creative minds in the SCA, the suggestions came pouring in, and to summarize them: "What would they have done in period?"

The period thing...indeed. Mission accepted!

I only had a week to pull this together, so in order to make this happen the research net was going to have to be cast wide and not deep. By that, I mean relying solely on the visual record, or pictures in period of people with leg/foot injuries. To go deep would mean delving in to the written records of the time period, which is a little bit more laborious and time consuming. The resources came pouring in from friends especially from fellow 15th century researchers Charlotte Mathilde Johnson and Allison Hoang.

I limited my search to 15th century Europe and pulled a bunch of these images to baseline commonalities. These are some examples of 15th century images that we found:

After examining all of the images,  I opted to use the image of St. Martin sharing his cloak from the Catherine of Cleves book of hours, which is estimated to be from the mid 15th century. 

Once I settled on this image as the main point of inspiration, I posted another query to my equally geeky group of friends. "Hey, anyone out there able to make a crutch and a strap on leg based on this picture in a week?"

Surprisingly, two of my friends from the SCA jumped on this. My friend Holland Cooley who is a woodworker decided to fabricate the crutch and leg, and my friend Maddy Dumont, an upholsterer by profession,  volunteered to pad them out for me for comfort.

Three days later,  Holland sent the  images  over to review, and I was completely gobsmacked. They were far better than I had hoped for, and I was totally stoked to try them out.

So the weekend arrived, and I had in the interim gathered linen scraps to bind by leg mainly to cover the ultra modern walking boot. It allowed me to carry on the aesthetic that is found in many of the pictures that we were using for research.
Once Holland delivered the crutch and leg to site, Maddy padded them out using a heavy-weight wool and padding.

Here is my first step outside after strapping everything on and ditching my modern crutch. I decided I was going to play a beggar this weekend, so I only got dressed as far as my underwear. The intent was to spread a blanket and sit with a wooden bowl and harass people that walked by for "crusts of bread" and "alms for the poor." However, that never materialized. Maneuvering around on this configuration was much more complicated than anticipated.

The strap on leg, while built based on period images was not very sturdy with just one strap. Obviously you see the one strap configuration in several images in the visual record that we were using  as a reference, so I don't think there was a flaw in the construction. It was very clear that this leg was not intended for walking, or even assisted walking; it's just too shaky sliding around on your knee. This makes sense why you see consistent use of crutches in addition to the prosthetic leg in many pictures. It cannot on function as a replacement for a leg.

I learned this the hard way when I first tried to take a step on it: I fell over.

Where it did become infinitely useful was standing. Once you got the hang of how it moved on your knee, you could use it as a support when you are standing to more evenly distribute weight from your good leg/hip. It was incredibly useful when standing in one place. When one examines pictures, you see some form of prosthetic in about 50% of the pictures and a crutch in 100%. After using this configuration, it is clear why not everyone used it: 1. resources, your poorest of the poor may not have been able to afford one or have the means to make one 2. It has limited usefulness for movement, but becomes very valuable when standing in one place. I expect that that if I were to dig in deeper, we would find different variations of this in attempt to better stabilize this  configuration. Also, with practice I would expect that I would become much more adept at using and navigating with the strap-on leg afixed, but for the weekend the lessons learned about being crippled in the 15th century with a wooden strap on leg was enlightening and pretty invaluable.

Eventually on Saturday I ended up taking off the leg and relying solely on the crutch. It also was quickly becoming cold and rainy, so I donned my wool cote, hat and coif. It was not exactly beggarly, but in several representations there are middle class people dressed moderately well on crutches. Therefor using a crutch was not something unheard of in the well dressed middle class.

Using the crutch was interesting, especially coming off of using modern crutches. Most of the crutches found in the visual record I examined did not have any form of hand grip or handle unlike their modern counterparts. It creates a very different experience. Rather than using an overhand grip on a cross bar handle like a modern crutch, you have to grip the shaft of the crutch overhand much like an inverted sword. When you are moving your crutch, you engage much more of you hand, forearm and bicep where modern crutches engage more of your shoulder, biceps and triceps which is a much more efficient way to navigate. Period crutches also require more coordination as you not only have to remember to move them as you walk, but to keep a very tight grip on them. If you don't you'll drop your crutch mid-stride and fall over...I learned this from experience, as I took a couple of spills trying to figure out how to navigate on this new style of crutch.

I didn't spend much time looking at pre/post 15th century images; however, using this image from the late 13th century. and this image from Bruegel in the late mid 16th century, you can see that the configuration has not changed much for hundreds of years in medieval Europe. My experience with these implements was likely very consistent with what someone from the 12th through 16th centuries would have experienced with similar prosthetic configurations.

This was a fun learning experience, and exemplifies the type of experiential research and experimental archaeology that I like to pursue in many of my endeavors. This does not exemplify what deep academic research would look like. I would, as I mentioned earlier in the blog have to cast my net much deeper.

However, to get a taste of what something would have been like, an experience, this type of approach can be invaluable.

You can find more of the images we used at the following links:

Thanks for reading!


25 Comments to My Weekend as a 15th century cripple:

Comments RSS
Sharon Rose on Tuesday, September 8, 2015 1:08 PM
Thanks for sharing! There's nothing like living history. :)
Reply to comment

write my paper for me on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 8:35 AM
We all should stand together for humanity.No matter either it is palestine or any other country.I appreciate this post.Its a good job.Thank you for sharing.
Reply to comment

B3 Fur Jacket on Friday, June 1, 2018 3:05 AM
Excellent read, Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work
Reply to comment

best assignment help on Monday, June 25, 2018 1:16 AM
Clearly this was the best assignment help i could get but i have to say that the house is beautiful and it comes with its own everything so who ever bought this must be a lucky guy, or a girl, who knows. Anyways i will be keeping an eye here to see what else has been getting posted here, trust me i get very interested in such things !
Reply to comment

Lentils on Sunday, July 1, 2018 9:51 AM
I enjoy it for creating the details, keep up the truly amazing perform continuing
Reply to comment

Benefits of Zucchini on Sunday, July 1, 2018 9:35 PM
Very informative post ! There is a lot of information here that can help any business get started with a successful social networking campaign !
Reply to comment

Benefits of Watermelon on Sunday, July 1, 2018 9:39 PM
This was incredibly an exquisite implementation of your ideas
Reply to comment

Benefits of Broccoli on Sunday, July 1, 2018 9:42 PM
You re in point of fact a just right webmaster. The website loading speed is amazing. It kind of feels that you're doing any distinctive trick. Moreover, The contents are masterpiece. you have done a fantastic activity on this subject!
Reply to comment

Benefits of Spirulina on Sunday, July 1, 2018 9:45 PM
I am genuinely thankful to the holder of this web page who has shared this wonderful paragraph at at this place
Reply to comment

how to get robux for free on Friday, July 27, 2018 8:53 PM
Hey guys if you want to know that how to get free robux then must check out my link.
Reply to comment

Regenerative Medicine Markham on Saturday, February 16, 2019 3:12 AM
I found the content very informative! before this, I was aware about the types of stem cells that existed so this was something new to read about.
Reply to comment

Cancer Pain Management Frankfort on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 11:44 PM
Pretty cool post. It’s really very nice and useful post.Thanks for sharing this with us!it’s my first visit.
Reply to comment

swdhu on Monday, December 30, 2019 3:36 AM
I have starting late earned myself a drawing in degree of money by interfacing with the Yank TV. Snap TV empowers me to watch a couple unites while messing around simultaneously which close to the end would benefit me financially.
Reply to comment

webstagram on Monday, December 30, 2019 8:24 PM
Very informative information on your site here. I like this post because we can get some useful information from your blog.
Reply to comment

udacity nanodegree promo code on Monday, January 13, 2020 11:41 PM
I am sure it is one of the great blog ever I read and you discussed about everything on this and very informative for the people.
Reply to comment

Useless Websites on Thursday, February 13, 2020 12:05 AM
My Weekend as a 15th century cripple Useless Websites
Reply to comment

small tattoos on Saturday, April 4, 2020 2:07 AM
small tattoos small tattoos
Reply to comment

top microwave convection oven on Monday, May 18, 2020 4:40 AM
modern microwaves not only have a grill, but also a convector. Let's see what is convection in a microwave and how to use it.
Reply to comment on Thursday, May 28, 2020 7:25 AM
It helps in securing Audit certificates issued by the auditor on the accounts, which proves that there are no irregularities in the company business.
Reply to comment

SockShare Alternatives on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 8:36 AM
If you own a little to mid-size business, you will be questioning if you would like to rent an accountancy service supplier for maintaining your books of accounts.
Reply to comment

johnsmith on Monday, August 31, 2020 9:58 AM
I really appreciate your blog. your way of working is really awesome and cool post. your blog is really awesome and cool post.thanks for sharing the nice and cool post. if you are student and you want to learn computer courses so visit now to study computer course for students from professional trainers at low prices.
Reply to comment

No Time to Die James Bond Suit on Friday, September 4, 2020 9:46 PM
Nice knowledge gaining article. This post is really the best on this valuable topic
Reply to comment

Future Man Tiger Black Leather Jacket on Friday, October 30, 2020 10:16 PM
Good post. Thanks for sharing with us. I just loved your way of presentation. I enjoyed reading this .Thanks for sharing and keep writing.
Reply to comment

Liam on Thursday, December 17, 2020 3:01 AM
I just got to this amazing blog not long ago. Your working is so good and impressive because I got my required information in this post. Thanks Super quality rope barriers
Reply to comment

Autumn A. Verret on Wednesday, December 23, 2020 6:09 AM
The habit of reading as much as you can always benefit you irrespective of what industry you belong to. The world of comics has so much to it that every book you read will only enlighten you and increase your knowledge on the topic Click Here For More Information.
Reply to comment

Add a Comment

Your Name:
Email Address: (Required)
Make your text bigger, bold, italic and more with HTML tags. We'll show you how.
Post Comment