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A deathless popular myth, but one echoed also in academic publications, mystifies these devices. The fable will have it that they served to ensure the fidelity of wives during long absences of husbands, and particularly –no one knows why, considering that we have no documentary evidence to support such a notion– that the wives of knights-crusaders about to depart for the Holy Land. Perhaps sometimes, but never by way of normal usage, “fidelity"” was thus “ensured” for brief periods, for a few hours or a couple of days –never for any greater length of time. A woman thus locked up would soon fall prey to death from the sepsis caused by irremovable toxic accumulations, not to speak of the abrasions and lacerations caused by the rubbing of the iron, nor of the possibility of an incipient pregnancy.

The prevalent use of the belt was in reality a very different one: viz., that of forming a barrier against rape, a frail barrier and yet a sufficient one under certain conditions: in times of the quartering of soldiers in town, during overnight stays in inns, on journeys generally. We know from many testimonies that women locked themselves into the belt on their own initiative, a fact that some old Sicilian and Spanish women alive today will still remember.