You see a lot of codpieces at the Ren Faire. I personally am not a codpiece wearer but many people not only favor the codpiece but they glory in it. Performers and guests alike finish off their costumes with a codpiece. It is the accessory piece to end all accessory pieces. When you want to make sure that everyone takes notice of your ‘cod-area‘ there is nothing like a good old fashioned codpiece.
But how old is the good old fashioned codpiece. Firstly, the term cod comes from an old colloquial term for scrotum, henceforth the cod piece is a scrotum piece (makes sense). According to most sources, the codpiece has been around since ancient times in one way or another. There are figurines of ancient statesmen and warriors that are sporting codpieces with their armor. During the Middle Ages, the knights wore armored codpieces. It is however, during the Renaissance, that the codpiece came to be an integral part of everyday men’s fashion. Men during the Renaissance wore stockings. These stockings got longer as doublet lengths grew shorter. The stockings got long enough to connect in the back but this left the genital area covered only by a thin layer of linen – most ungentlemanly. Thus, the codpiece is born.
At first, the cod piece was a simple triangular piece of cloth tied on to cover the nether-regions. It has changed over time to be padded and protected, modified to sit easier and wear better with garments. They also became used to emphasize the ‘importance’ of the man wearing the codpiece in later time periods.
The codpiece was nothing new. The armor-smiths of the Middle Ages knew that they also would have a hard time covering this most protected of areas. Having a separate piece of armor, the codpiece, to cover the knights ‘backup piece’ was vitally important and didn’t require a lot of finesse to make it work. In fact, it was rather simple. Attach cod piece to armor and make sure that it allows for movment while providing the utmost protection. This piece had to be separate so that a mounted knight was still afforded the same protection when they were on foot as when they were on horse back.
At the Ren Faire, the codpiece is certainly an accessory. You could buy leggings or hose that was thick enough to make the codpiece obsolete but why? As accessories go, the codpiece is to the male garb what the corset is to the feminine costume.
I am reminded of the movie Top Secret when the ballerinas run along the codpieces of their male counterparts… now that is a codpiece.
Unfortunately, I wear slops and slops do not make wearing a codpiece very easy or necessary – darn the luck.
The photo is from Twiggs and Berries, go check their online store out.