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
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
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
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.
Tortures of the
Coney Island, N.
Surf Ave. and