The British have been suffering from their fashion for centuries, according to a new study, which suggests that the fashion for pointed toe shoes led to a sharp increase in hallux valgus of the big toe ̵
Researchers investigating the remains in Cambridge, UK, found that those buried in the city center, especially in plots for wealthier citizens and clergy, are much more likely to have bunnies – suggesting that wealthy city dwellers pay a higher price for your shoes in more ways than one.
The University of Cambridge team also found that older medieval people with hallux valgus were significantly more likely to develop a broken bone than a likely fall than those of similar age with normal legs.
Hallux valgus is a small deformity in which the largest toe becomes at an angle outwards and at its base, on the inside of the foot, a bony protrusion is formed.
While various factors can predispose someone to bunions, from genetics to muscle imbalance, the most common modern cause is shrinking boots and shoes. The condition is often associated with wearing high heels.
Archaeologists have analyzed 177 skeletons from cemeteries in and around the city of Cambridge and found that only 6% of people buried between the 11th and 13th centuries had evidence of this suffering. However, 27% of those dating from the 14th and 15th centuries were excavated by long-standing hallux valgus.
Researchers point out that the style of shoes changed significantly in the 14th century: from a functional rounded toe box to a longer and more elegant pointed toe.
In an article published today in International Journal of Paleopathology, the Cambridge University project team after the plague claims that these “poulaine” shoes stimulated the rise of bunnies in medieval Britain.
“The 14th century brought an abundance of new styles of clothing and footwear in a wide range of fabrics and colors. Among these fashion trends were long-toed shoes called poulaines,” said study co-author Dr. Pierce Mitchell of the Cambridge Department of Archeology.
“The remains of shoes excavated in places like London and Cambridge suggest that by the end of the 14th century, almost every type of shoe was at least slightly pointed – a style common to both adults and children.”
“We studied the changes that took place between the High and Late Middle Ages and realized that the increase in hallux valgus over time must be due to the introduction of these new shoe styles,” Mitchell said.
The first author, Dr. Jenna Dietmar, who led the work while in Cambridge, said: “We believe that bunnies are a modern problem, but this work shows that it was actually one of the most common conditions to affect middle-aged adults. . “
The remains came from four separate locations around Cambridge: a charity hospital (now part of St. John’s College); the territory of a former nun of Augustine, where clergymen and wealthy benefactors were buried; local parish cemetery on the outskirts of the city; and a village cemetery next to a village 6 km south of Cambridge.
The researchers conducted “paleopathological assessments,” including an inspection of the bones of the foot for the swelling of the big toe, which is a hallmark of hallux valgus.
They found a sliding scale of the distribution of bunions, associated with the wealth of those buried in each site. Only 3% of rural cemeteries show signs, 10% of the parish cemetery (which mainly houses the working poor), crawling up to 23% of those on the hospital site.
Yet almost half of those buried in monasticism – about 43% – including five of the eleven people identified as clergy by their belt buckles bore the mark of bunion.
“The Augustinian Brothers ‘dress code includes shoes that are’ black and ankle-strapped, commensurate with the way they worship and poverty,” Mitchell said.
“However, in the 13th and 14th centuries, clergymen in Britain increasingly wore stylish clothing – a cause for concern among high-ranking church officials.”
In 1215 the church forbade the clergy to wear shoes with pointed toes. This may have done little to curb the trend, as a number of further decrees of negligence in stationery had to be passed, especially in 1281 and 1342.
“The acceptance of fashionable clothing by the clergy was so common that it provoked criticism in modern literature, as seen in Chaucer’s portrayal of the monk in the Canterbury Tales,” Mitchell said.
In late medieval society, shoe sharpness became so extreme that in 1463 King Edward IV passed a law limiting the length of the toe to less than two inches in London.
The majority of the remains with signs of hallux valgus in all sites and epochs within the study were male (20 out of a total of 31 bionic sufferers). The study also suggests that the health costs of foot fashion were not limited to bunions.
Dr. Jenna Dietmar found that skeletal remains with hallux valgus were also more likely to show signs of fractures, which are usually the result of a fall, e.g. Those of the upper limbs, indicating that the person has rolled forward in outstretched arms.
This association has been found to be significant only among those who have died over the age of 45, suggesting that youth fashion choices have returned to pursue the Middle Ages even in the Middle Ages.
“Recent clinical studies on patients with hallux valgus show that the deformity makes it difficult to balance and increases the risk of falls in the elderly,” Dietmar said. “That would explain the greater number of healed broken bones we found in medieval skeletons with this condition.”
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International Journal of Paleopathology, DOI: 10.1016 / j.ijpp.2021.04.012
Provided by the University of Cambridge
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