The Story of the Chastity Belt, the girdle of chastity probably had its origin in ancient Greece, for throughout the classics we find reference to its use. It was used too in Rome, and many a jealous husband rode away with Caesar to conquests. fully assured of the chaste behavior of his wife, because above her waist was securely fastened a belt of his devising which allowed her all freedom save only in respect of constancy to himself.

 

It was however, in the middle ages that the extensive use of these girdles became popular.  The reason was an obvious one.  A existing was compelled by the rules of the order to which he belonged to wage was against the Turk or Saracen in the Holy Land in an attempt to free Palestine from the infidel.  These wars of crusades lasted for years, and it was no uncommon thing for a knight to be away from his home for many months at a time, and often he was away for a space as long as two or three years.  Human nature being what it is, it was natural for these men to wonder concerning the conduct of their wives while they could not help but be disturbed with thoughts of jealousy concerning the bride whom they had left back in the castle.  They devised many ways of protecting their wives, most of which took the form of belts or bands that passed around the waist and were sometimes locked with padlocks and at other times sealed with the knight's own seal, or even welded together.  As a rule they were of iron or bronze, but many instances are known where precious metals were used.  In the Dialogs of Luisa Sigea, Tullia's husband says:

 

"The little chains which are to be over laid with velveteen will be of gold.  The portcullis will be of gold.  The gold opening will be studded over with precious stones.  The most famous goldsmith of our town will, as he is under great obligation to me, set to work on it that it may be a masterpiece of his art.  I shall be but conferring an honor upon thee while seeming to do thee wrong."

 

Francesco II de Carrara, the last Sovereign Lord of Padua, in some histories is given as the inventor of the chastity belt, although more ancient records of this device have been found.  At any rate, Dulaure states in his chronicle that one of the charges against Francesco at the time of his trial was that he put padlocks and girdles of chastity on all the women in his Seraglio, and that a chest full of these tools were preserved long after t hey had served as so many convincing proofs at the monster's trial.  He was eventually strangled in prison by a political enemy.

 

The simplest girdle on record is that preserved in the Musee De Cluny, Paris, which is a metal band onto which is fastened an ivory beak.  The band was padlocked around the waist and was protected by a sheath of velvet.  Tradition states that this girdle was the one which Henry II put on Catherine De Medici.

 

Nicolas Chorier describes another girdle which was simply a grating of gold suspended from a belt by for small chains.  Two of the chains were welded and fastened to the girdle in front, while the other two were fastened in back.

 

The catalog of the Musee de Cluny describes another girdle as composed of two plates of forged iron, engrave, damaskeened and pinked with gold, united at the bottom by a joint and  at the top  by a girdle of wrought iron.  There were holes around the edges of the plates and girdle for lining to be sewed on.  The figures of Adam and Eve are engraved on the forepart, and the padlock is placed behind at the side.

 

An apocryphal account has it that Napoleon before his Egyptian campaign attempted to fasten a girdle of this type onto Josephine, with results that were not entirely satisfactory to France's future emperor.

 

Voltaire in his "Tale of the Padlock" mentions a girdle of chastity which was solidly bolted around the body of Madame de B.. and throughout literature we find other references to these historical devises.

 

It is interesting to note however, that we still see occasional references to the use of these garments, and while their general application has certainly fallen into disuse, there are isolated cases, some of which have appeared in newspapers, which tell of the continued use of chastity girdles by husbands whose unfounded jealousy amounts almost to a mania.

 

From

Tortures of the Middle Ages

Coney Island, N. Y.

Surf Ave. and 8th St.

 

Italian Girdle Made of Steel

Chastity Belt, 12th Century

French Design

 


 

Musee de Cluny

 

Postcards & Images

 

 

  Chastity Belt, 12th Century

 

 

Ceinture de Chastete

Girdle of Chastete

 

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Ceinture de Chastete

Girdle of Chastete

 


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