History of Bristle Use
- c.1225 - France
Wright, Thomas. A Volume of Vocabularies. sl.:n.p., 1857, Dictionarius
of John de Garland (between 1218-1229)
"Pictaciarii viles sunt, qui consuunt sotulares veteres, renovando pictacia, et
intercucia, et soleas, et inpedias."
"Allutarii sunt qui faciunt calciamenta de alluta, et prosunt civitati Parisius; qui
conservant sibi forumpedias equitibialia et spatulas. Qui alutarii secant cum rasorio vel
ansorio corium atramentario denigratum, et consuunt calciamenta cum subula et licino et
"Cobblers are low class, working only with old shoes, renovating with cloutes, welts,
soles, and (entanglements?). Cordwainers make shoes of cordwain, and in the city of
Paris; they preserve the equality and area of the foot-market.(or Cordwainers are those
who make shoes with Cordwain, and are (already?) citizens of Paris; and who maintains his
own footforms for smoothing and stretching). Cordwainers cut with razor edges to
take care of the leather, blackened with (darkness?), and sew the shoes with a shoemaker's
awl, (a twist) and pig's bristles."
- c.1295 - Germany
"At the beginning of a good life, however, fear is useful. It is love's
gateway. A punch or an awl makes the hole for the thread with which a shoe is
sewed... and a bristle is put on the thread to get it through the hole, but when the
thread does bind the shoe, the bristle is out. So fear leads love, and when love has
bound us to God, fear is done away." "Fragment 43." Meister
Eckhart, a Modern Translation. Translated by Raymond B. Blakney. New York:
Harper Torchbooks, 1941, pp. 248. Meister Eckhart (1260-1328) makes this reference
and further cites Franz Pffeiffer. Deutsche Mystiker des vierzehnten Jahrhunderts,
II (Leipzig, 1857), pp.235, 18. Pfieffer quotes Eckhart as saying (line 26-29)
"Als diu siule oder âle rûmet dem drâte, daz der drât bindet den schuoch unde
nigt daz îsen, und asl diu bürst an dem drâte tout, daz der drât hin durch gêt, unde
sô der drât ze samene heftet, sô bürst hie ûsen." (In Modern German, Bürst
is not specifically "Bristle", but rather "Brush", Borst is
"bristle". However, in Middle High German, Bürst is the neuter
gender term for "Bristle" (OED2 entry on Bristle))
- 15th century
Swann's description of the Cordwainer's will - which after much digging on my
part, I believe refers to "Lystyne lordys verament" (a.1500)
- also known as "A shoemaker's testament" .
Bristles are not mentioned in either Thomas Dekker's "The Shoemaker's Holiday"
(1598) or Thomas Deloney's The Gentle Craft (1599)
"Great Leather Act of 1604"
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Footwear of the Middle Ages - History of Bristle Use, Copyright © 2001,
2003 I. Marc
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