Even long after the age of cowboys disappeared from the American undiscovered west, pieces of their culture still survive and resonate through our modern history and popular entertainment. Among some of the most iconic pieces of that time, cowboy boots remain one of the most popular clothing items of that romantic and mysterious time. As the age of the cowboys slowly went away from the American prairies, entertainment industry latched on to this interesting period of time and managed to popularize cowboys as symbols of freedom, independence and courage. During 1950s when TV shows about them reached height of popularity, every young boy prized their cowboy shoes and fake revolver pistols as the most important items that they owned. As the time went on, cowboy attire became increasingly popular, spreading across the borders of the United States across entire world. But how did they first come to use and what events of our history shaped this iconic peace of footwear into its current form? Here are the answers.
The earliest mentioning of leather boot that resembles those cowboys are wearing can be traced to 11th century and the Genghis Khan’s invasion of Europe with his Mongol hordes. It was said that he used distinctive red leather boots with wooden heels. Various similar models continued to appear throughout he Europe during the next few centuries, but the 17th and 18th century English riding boots brought leather, high tops and stacked heels back into popularity. It was during that time that Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, managed to defeat Napoleon at Waterloo (1815), which brought public attention to his boots which were prominently showcased in one of the popular depiction of the English victory.
Sudden popularity of that design and the easily manufacturable our-piece construction ensured that even the poorer citizens of England, Europe and North America had the chance to own their own pair of boots. However, their spreading beyond the borders of England was relatively slow and did not manage to intensify until the end of the American Civil War (1861–1865). It was during that time that soldiers of Confederate States received par of military boots manufactured to be sturdier version of Wellingtons, and when the war ended all those soldiers brought their boots home where they were accepted as welcoming addition to the farmers and cattle owners daily attire. Between 1865 and 1890, every cowboy who drove cattle from Texas to Kansas wore proudly their cowboy boots, which were perfectly suited for horse riding lifestyle.
As the age of the cowboys slowly became to fade, Hollywood took over and popularized them across all four corners of the world. Off course, Hollywood versions of their boots were little jazzed up, with colorful designs, metal decoration and many other additions. Real cowboy boots however were study, utilitarian and their served important purpose in the life of cowboy. They were not decorative items.
And that is the story of cowboy boots, legendary item that will forever defy the rules of fashion and popularity.