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Muslim fashion designer was first to introduce leather shoes to UK Royals

Aura Soltana, a young Tatar slave-girl, who later became fashion advisor to Queen Elizabeth I was gifted to her

Sunday September 12, 2021 5:50 PM, ummid.com News Network

Buckingham Palace

[Buckingham Palace London - the official residence of the UK Royal family.]

London: From a comon and popular footwear to now becoming a sign of prosperity and privilege, leather shoes were first introduced to the British Royal family by a Muslim fashion designer, a media report has claimed.

British royals were not accustomed to leather shoes till Aura Soltana, an orphan described in palace records as a war prize who was captured as a child became the fashion advisor of Queen Elizabeth I, My London said in a report.

“Despite being brought to the palace as a slave, she was certainly well looked-after. She was known for wearing dresses of Granadan silk and was the owner of several shoes made of Spanish leather”, the news portal said.

“Even Queen Elizabeth I herself did not wear leather shoes at the time, as her shoes were often made of velvet. It wasn’t until Aura, or Ipolitan, started working as the Queen’s personal fashion advisor that the Queen started wearing Spanish leather herself”, the report said.

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Aura Soltana, a young Tatar slave-girl, thought to be of Nogai stock, was gifted to Queen Elizabeth I by a 29-year-old Leicester man by the name of Anthony Jenkinson.

Jenkinson was sent to Moscow as part of the famous Muscovy Company, which was founded in 1551 to encourage commercial ties between England and the Russian Tsardom.


Jenkinson and others then sailed across the Caspian into the lands of Persia. They made it as far as Bukhara, which is today located in Uzbekistan.

While their aim was to eventually penetrate the markets of China and India, they decided to turn back after realising the road was too dangerous to continue down, and they departed from Persia with very little to show for their expedition.

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On the way back to Moscow, Jenkinson and his men disembarked in Astrakhan, a former Tatar stronghold on the north-western coast of the Caspian that just two years earlier had been ransacked by the armies of Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible.

"There, Jenkinson was gifted with a young Tatar slave-girl, thought to be of Nogai stock, whose name is recorded in history books as Aura Soltana", the report said.

"Not much is known of Aura, but Jenkinson is referenced as boasting that he had bought her for the price of "a loaf of bread worth sixpence in England" and that he had renamed her Anna", the report said.

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It is believed that after bringing Aura back with him to Moscow, Jenkinson then returned to England in 1560 and presented her as an offering to his queen.

Aura was mentioned in a ledger of Elizabeth’s servants has being “dear and well-beloved”, and she continued to be mentioned up until the end of the 1560s in a court order for a skinner by the name of Adam Bland to provide rabbit fur for her damask cloak.

Historian Jerry Brotton has done well to document Aura’s story in his 2016 book “The Sultan and the Queen: The Untold Story of Elizabeth and Islam”, yet at the same time her life is still clouded in mystery.

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