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Few individuals in the Western world are not
familiar with some form of story about chastity belts and their use
during the Middle Ages, a mechanical contrivance inspired by mistrust
and jealousy between the sexes.
Possibly adopted by knights, returning from their Crusades during the early 12th century, the chastity belt has taken up a whole new chapter during the European Renaissance. In addition, the subject matter has also inspired many poets and satirists of the time to enliven their themes, by paying heed to human folly.
Yet, despite it's hay-day during the 16-18th century and writings from various countries -specifically Germany, Italy and France- hardly any research has been conducted, and at this time few individuals are versed enough to separate truth from fiction.
Actual evidence lies somewhere in a different fold -unbeknownst to even many museum curators in position to study such rarities up close- therefore, my own observations are primarily based on one of the most exhausting studies on record, done by scholar Eric John Dingwall , who wrote an authoritative study on this subject, titled:
The Girdle of Chastity-A Medico-Historical Study.
An illustrated and fascinating history of one of the most peculiar periods in human sexological development.
Dingwall's study has been re-examined more recently, with resulting conclusions published by: Eva Larass in the 1992 German magazine edition, titled: Waffen-und Kostümkunde.
This article does not come to any foregone conclusions, as neither does Dingwall's study, yet it offers interesting possibilities and inspires to take a closer look. Of course, until more evidence is available, one will have to draw ones own conclusion from currently existing material.
Though a rarity in itself, Dingwall's study and analysis, published by The Macaulay Co, Inc in New York, NY is supported by documents from various countries, quoted in their native languages, but also actual gadgets found as rarities in museums and castles. Regardless, whether such items are genuine, or are the product of a later date -produced as conversation piece- imagination has no bounds, and chastity belts have prevailed to this very day. Since the advent of the Internet, a simple search will produce an abundance of sites catering to both sexes in this matter, which are primarily destined for sexual play and entertainment.
Contrary to it's supposedly intended use, the Medieval chastity belt would have hardly been a sure thing to protect female virtue, since -first off- such belts would have to enclose the female middle tightly enough to surely cause problems such as chafing around the inner thigh and genitial area, and this would be the least of more serious problems to worry about. On another note... often it was the very female who managed to produce a copy key, thereby inviting intercourse with the cuckold whenever desired. Purely from the design standpoint, such gadgetry ranged from the utterly impractical to the implied, and this only by considering hygienic standards of the time. None of those who have authored articles on this subject seems to have considered the more serious implications... that is, if these belts were actually worn for months or years at a time, there is still the menstrual period to content with. It is simply inconcivable that a body enclosed in such tight confinement will not sooner or later give way to pressure and wounds which can cause blood poisoning among many other problems.