History of Chastity Belts

Chastity belts became popular in Europe in the 15th and 16th 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.

Ten Facts About Chastity Belts

1. 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.

2. In Paris, some women were forced to wear iron chastity belts. One version had an iron hoop covered with velvet. The hoop had notches so the man could tighten and loosen it depending on his mood.

3. Chastity belts were often made in only one size. Larger women were forced to wear them and suffer the pain from the tight fit.

4. In the 16th and 17th centuries, 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.

5. Female slaves in Rome were forced to wear chastity belts to readily expose themselves for the sexual pleasure of their masters.

6. The U.S. military reported seeing women as late as 1930 wearing chastity belts in the Middle East.

7. Roman and Greek women often wore metal or leather belts over their gowns or dresses to be fashionable. Other styles included single, crisscross, double, and triple belts. These styles were worn to draw attention to the woman's breasts and hips.

8. Roman prostitutes were sometimes forced to wear chastity belts. The belts revealed their private regions and were worn to tempt male customers into being more interested. The men running the brothels would then be contacted to take off the belts and collect the money.

9. One of the most unusual chastity belts is on display at the Cluny Museum in Paris. It includes over a dozen hinges and crude iron drawers covering each part of the woman’s pelvis.

10. Throughout the 19th century, many women were forced to wear "day belts" when they went on unsupervised trips or when traveling.

— Compiled by the authors of The Sex Lover's Book of Lists.