The Medieval Chastity Belt: A Myth-Making Process

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Palgrave Macmillan, Feb 15, 2007 - History - 222 pages
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Conrad Kyeser was the first to present an image of a chastity belt in his illustrated book on war machinery, Bellifortis (1405), and some fifteenth- and sixteenth-century poets and artists referred to this object as well. Yet, there is no firm evidence that chastity belts were ever used in reality. By contrast, modern writers have often referred to the chastity belt as an object employed primarily in the Middle Ages in order to support a highly speculative perspective of past practices, maybe as a spurious legitimation for the use of chastity belts in the modern sex industry. Anthropologists, ethnologists, then also cultural historians, and feminist scholars have happily embraced the idea of the chastity belt because it provided them with an effective battle-cry to malign the medieval world and to project the benefits of the civilization process in the lives of modern women freed of being degrading by a chastity belt.

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About the author (2007)

Originating from Germany, Albrecht Classen is a medievalist in the Department of German Studies at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He has published more than 40 scholarly monographs, editions, anthology, translations, and textbooks, and close to 400 scholarly articles. He is the editor of Tristania and co-editor of Mediaevistik. Currently Classen is preparing a new volume on Words of Love and Love of Words in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and he is editing a three-volume Handbook of Medieval Studies for de Gruyter. In 2004 he received the rank of University Distinguished Professor, and was also awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz am Band (Order of Merit), the highest award given to a civilian by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany, in recognition of his contributions to the teaching and support of German culture, language, and literature.

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