At the end of 2020 in Russia, in connection with the well-known political events, the word “codpiece” turned out to be almost the most quoted and popular. But before we used it very rarely. Of course, this element is also present in modern men’s clothing, but still the codpiece evokes references to the Middle Ages and the times of knights, kings, pages. But how in general it arose and why – very few people know. But the usual codpiece turned out to have its own, and not uninteresting, story. Even in Renaissance paintings, the codpiece is an important and prominent part of the male portrait.
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What is a codpiece?
If you think that the codpiece is part of men’s underpants, then this is not entirely true. This is actually the name of the slit or buttoned flap in the front of the underwear or trousers.
The word itself is of Dutch origin, from gulp – valve. And this name is no coincidence. And the prerequisites for the appearance of codpiece can be found in ancient Rome.
There, city dwellers were forbidden to wear trousers; special soldiers kept order. But the main history of the codpiece is associated with the Middle Ages.
By that time, in Europe, men had not acquired pants. Their function was performed by linen or woolen shoes, in fact – stockings. This item of clothing was fastened with garters to the belt. And the underwear was the bra, which was located between the shos. Male genitals were also hidden from prying eyes with a shirt and outerwear (raincoats, frock coats). But not everyone wanted to wear underwear, and when the fashion made the doublets even shorter, a piquant problem arose. The genitals were hidden by a small piece of tissue, not particularly functional. But the era was famous for its strict morals, supported by religious dogmas. Needless to say, this kind of dress looked depraved?
The authorities decided to fight this problem. In England, the parliament even issued a special decree ordering men to hide private places. The tailors immediately began to think about what an additional wardrobe item should be. They remembered the detail of military armor, which covered the warrior’s groin from the spear. On its basis, the codpiece appeared.
In everyday life, this separate fabric element was simply attached to the outfit. Initially, it was intended to hide the male genital organ and remove even thoughts of carnal temptations. But human nature has changed everything.
Mods have always been. And since there is a new clothing accessory, why not try to stand out with it? Moreover, it became possible, without violating etiquette, to demonstrate the true size of your manhood, attracting the attention of blushing ladies and arousing the envy of rivals. The codpiece was decorated with precious stones and embroidery, some used it as a pocket, storing valuables and delicacies there. Often this pocket was deliberately created larger than nature demanded.
Gulfs appeared, which were specially fastened in a position perpendicular to the ground, hinting at the constant erection of a man. But the main function of the codpiece quickly changed. He ceased to be the guardian of morality and became a symbol of masculinity. Noble men demonstrated their natural and material wealth with a codpiece. It is no coincidence that in medieval paintings the groin area of the characters is so carefully spelled out. Society should fully know the strength of a man, especially if it is a noble person.
Moralists quickly realized that things had gone wrong. The church also did not like the popularity of the codpiece. Fashion followed their lead, hiding the codpiece and making it less obvious. By the beginning of the 17th century, gulfiks in their frank form had disappeared. Fashion has made this element mutate. In the 18th century, vests became shorter and the tops of the breeches that had appeared by that time became open. In order to improve the appearance on the trousers, they began to make an external flap that was fastened to the belt and closed the opening in the trousers. But a codpiece similar to the modern one did not appear until the 1820s, apparently associated with the appearance of trouser buttons. Many did not like the new cut; men’s fashion magazines even called it disgusting and indelicate. And the codpiece in the form of a valve was actively used until the 1840s.
Already in the 20th century, the zipper in the codpiece became popular. This was facilitated by active advertising of American manufacturers. They even said that a real battle unfolded for the codpiece. The advertisement claimed that the gaps in this place allow both immodest looks and air and light to penetrate into an intimate place.
Today, in Russian literature, the codpiece is often associated with a fly, which, in principle, is permissible. In fact, this element has gone through three stages of its evolution: pouch, flap, modern cut (buttons or zipper). The codpiece today is found not only on pants, but also on shorts. There, this element acts as a vertical wedge that supports the penis and helps to cope with natural needs. A modern codpiece is an important detail of underwear, albeit hidden from prying eyes.
With its help, you can comfortably position the penis. It is no coincidence that they try to make cuffs from natural materials, even if the panties themselves remain synthetic. Currently, open codpiece can be seen only among hockey players, since contact play jeopardizes intimate places. And this piece of clothing with a glorious history has lost its charm and scandalousness, but has gained convenience and functionality.