According to modern myths, the chastity belt was used as an anti-temptation device during the Crusades. When the knight left for the Holy Lands on the Crusades, his Lady would wear a chastity belt to preserve her faithfulness to him. However, there is no credible evidence that chastity belts existed before the 15th century (over a century after the last Middle Eastern Crusade), and their main period of apparent use falls within the Renaissance rather than the Middle Ages.
Research into the history of the chastity belt suggests that they were not used until the 16th century, and then only rather rarely; they first became widely available in the form of 19th-century anti-masturbation medical devices.
As Sarah Laskow writes for Atlas Obscura, men likely did not gird their women with metal contraptions designed to keep them faithful. But if chastity belts were never common, how did the myth come to be?
The earliest extant drawing of a chastity belt showed up in 1405, in a work on military engineering called Bellifortis, among detailed designs for catapults, armor, torture devices, and other instruments of war. But not everything in the book was serious. Included in the codex are what Classen calls “highly fanciful objects” for making people invisible. The author, Konrad Kyeser, also makes a couple of fart jokes. Though the chastity belt is depicted in a fair bit of detail, no one has ever found a physical example dating back to this period. Most likely, this image, too, is a joke.
There are physical examples of chastity belts that have been displayed in museums. But most scholars now think that these metal objects were made much, much more recently than the Middle Ages, and are fantasy objects referencing a past that never really existed. Or, as the British Museum puts it: “It is probable that the great majority of examples now existing were made in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as curiosities for the prurient, or as jokes for the tasteless.
One of the Musée de Cluny’s chastity belts was long considered to belong to Catherine de Medici until a test of the metal in the 1990s showed it was from the early 19th-century. It is true however, that chastity belts as actual objects became more widespread in America and England by 19th-century. However they were typically used willingly by women to prevent rape and sexual harrassment in the workplace since industrialization had placed more women in factories and offices.
Nevertheless since I love artwork I tried to find some rare art and photos, fact is it might be a tale but the idea itself was a strong fantasy. Strong enough to be captured in art.
And of course not to forget male chastity belts (so called cages), for these there can be found historical facts
This “self protector” device was patented by Hartford, Conn. resident Daniel P. Cook in 1870 for use on, apparently, Renaissance paintings of buff kids. Here’s how it works: “a band encircling the body just above the hips, the band being locked together by a small padlock, or other suitable device, the key to which is to be carried by the person in charge of the masturbator.”
Having wet dreams? There’s a penis cage for that. “My object is to provide a device adapted to engage parts of the person and awaken the person in case of an erection of the parts so engaged, and thereby prevent involuntary nocturnal emissions,” explains Henry Tunnessen of Hazleton, Penn., who secured his patent in 1909 .
Male chastity belt patent, 1910. Artwork of a device designed by Jonas E. Heyser to prevent male patients from masturbating. It was intended to be used on ‘insane’ patients.
In the early 1900s many people believed they were suffering from “neurasthenia,” a disease caused by modernization and over-stimulation. This “sickness” produced a wide variety of symptoms, from depression to impotency to fatigue. Touted as a cure for those suffering from such a “weak and deranged nervous system,” the Heidelberg Electric Belt encircled the waist with five electrodes and promised to zap “the proper organs and affected parts” back to vim and vigor.
Anti-masturbation device for boys from the 19th century, in front of a copy of the 1813 book La Nature outragée par les écarts de l’imagination, ou Nouveau traité d’onanisme.
Anti-masturbation device with an elastic pouch (1822)
In time I will try to create a page with artwork done by different artists that are presented on my site, who used this theme in their art. Since this a really time consuming task it might take me some weeks.