The term “cordwainer” is an Anglicization of the French word cordonnier, which means shoemaker, introduced into the English language after the Norman invasion in 1066. The word was derived from the city of Cordoba in the south of Spain.  Moorish Cordoba was celebrated in the early Middle Ages for silversmithing and the production of cordouan leather, called “cordwain” in England. Originally made from the skin of the Musoli goat, then found in Corsica, Sardinia, and elsewhere, this leather was tanned with alum after a method supposedly known only to the Moors. Crusaders brought home much plunder and loot, including the finest leather the English shoemakers had seen. Gradually cordovan leather became the material most in demand for the finest footwear in all of Europe.

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