Chastity Belts Weren’t What You Think They Were

Misconceptions about the fabled chastity belt

Grant Piper
5 min readMay 21, 2024
(Public domain)

For hundreds of years, the chastity belt has been held up as a symbol of purity, virtue, and chivalry. Most people’s understanding of this object is connected to one of these things. The stories say that women would willingly wear chastity belts as a sign of devotion for their husbands when they were away during the Medieval Period.

In other stories, women were forced to wear these belts as a symbol of shame or as an act of penance. Neither of these things are true. In fact, the chastity belt didn’t exist during the Medieval Period. Most examples of chastity belts were actually from the 19th century (an awkward fact that the British Museum learned when they had to pull most of their examples from their display cases.)

Most modern examples of chastity belts were either contemporary to the 19th century or were made to look like Medieval objects in a bid to gain attention or to hammer home the virtues of the previous era. The earliest example of a genuine chastity belt dates to the 15th century, at the tail end of the Medieval Period and in the waning days of the age of high chivalry.

This is not to say that chastity belts did not exist. They did. But they were not used as objects of virtue, at least not in the…

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Grant Piper

Professional writer. Amateur historian. Husband, father, Christian.