History of the World: The Truth About Chastity Belts

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cbWe all know the origins of the chastity belt, right? Crusader goes off to fight, doesn't trust his wife (or doesn't trust the villagers left behind alone with his wife) and decides to fit her with a locking belt that will prevent her from having sex until he gets back with the key to unlock the belt. The whole scenario reminds me of Robin Hood: Men in Tights. "Call the locksmith!!! Call the locksmith..." Heh.

Anyway, despite all of us knowing this, that's not how it really happened. The earliest such devices that have been found so far date from the 16th century, well after the Crusades. The chastity belt/Crusading knight idea was probably thought up in the 19th century by writers waxing poetic about love and battle in the Middle Ages.

There is evidence, though, that they used something called the brank or the Scold's Bridle. It was an iron cage with a tongue depressor that locked around the head. It was used on gossips and nags who had to wear the contraption in public as evidence of their wrongdoing.

brank

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October 20, 2008 - 5:42am
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