The Retrospectors - Today In History / The Chastity Belt and the Frenchman

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Episode notes

Henri Littière and his adulterous wife Suzanne thought they’d come up with a novel way to combat her philandering - by commissioning a custom-made chastity belt. But on 21st January, 1934, Littière was sentenced to three months in prison for cruelty to his spouse.

It’s a strange story, but not half as weird as how the myth of chastity belts gained traction in the first place - not from medieval days, but in fact thanks to Victorian prudishness.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly pick holes in 1934 Parisian court reporting; discover the trend for 21st century chastity belts; and explain how widespread belief in the belts can be traced back to a wacky German author’s offbeat sense of humour… 

Further Reading:

• ‘FRANCE: Infibulation’ (TIME, 1934):,33009,787768,00.html

• ‘Are They Real? The Dubious History Of Chastity Belts’ (Ripleys, 2019):

• ‘10 Myths You Still Believe About Medieval Life’ (Alltime 10s, 2021):

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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Emma Corsham.

Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2021. 

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