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March 19, 2021

Chastity Belts From the 17th Century

Chastity belts became popular in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. Their functional purposes are well known, but many people don’t know that there may have been times when the devices were worn for decoration rather than control.

It’s not clear when chastity belts were first created. Some believe they were first made in Italy during the 14th century. Other references have been made to similar devices being used as early as 1150, during the Crusades, or as far back as Roman or Greek times.

A popular belt in Central Europe included the iron girdle, which had a circumference of 32 inches. The area surrounding the hips was made of four metal bands. There were small holes for urination, and the entire device was kept in place by a padlock.

In 1889, a leather-and-iron belt was found by Anton Pachinger—a German collector of antiquities—in Linz, Austria, in a grave on a skeleton of a young woman. The woman was reportedly buried in the 16th century. Pachinger, however, could not find any record of the woman’s burial in the town archives. The belt itself, along with most of the rest of Pachinger’s collection, has been lost.

Two belts have been exhibited at the Musée de Cluny in Paris. The first, a simple velvet-covered hoop and plate of iron, was supposedly worn by Catherine de’ Medici. The other—said to have been worn by Anne of Austria—is a hinged pair of plates held about the waist by metal straps, featuring intricately etched figures of Adam and Eve. There are other such belts at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg and the British Museum in London. Most have been removed from public display to avoid any further embarrassment because the authenticity of these belts as medieval devices has since been called into question.

(via Fox News)


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