Elizabeth Ist coat of arms

Codpiece

Picture of an Elizabethan Codpiece

Picture of an Elizabethan Codpiece

Clothing and Fashion - The Codpiece

Early hose were fitted to the leg footed similar to modern tights but open at the crotch - the genitalia simply hung loose under the doublet. Fashion dictated a shortening of the doublet which sometimes resulted in exposed genitalia. The codpiece was therefore created.

(Middle English, from Old English word "codd" meaning scrotum) Its main purpose was to conceal the opening in a man's tights, or hose. The origin of the codpiece was a small bag with a flap at the fork of the hose which was fastened by ties. Codpieces became designed to emphasize the male genitalia and were eventually padded and enlarged to astounding proportions. The codpiece became prominent during the reign of Queen Elizabeth's father - King Henry VIII is often associated with the codpiece and this peculiar item of clothing is featured in his portraits. Codpieces retained their practical origins and often doubled as pockets.

"The codpiece was exaggerated in size, the bag was puffed and slashed, and even
ornamented with jeweled pins." (Quote by Boucher)

The codpiece became prominent during the reign of Queen Elizabeth's father - King Henry VIII is often associated with the codpiece and this peculiar item of clothing is featured in his portraits. Codpieces retained their practical origins and often doubled as pockets.

The Decline of the Codpiece
Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1558. She dictated many of the fashions and the fashions of men became more feminized. The popularity of the codpiece therefore slowly declined. The codpiece became smaller, with less bombast (padding). Fashions changed and the codpiece went completely out of fashion by the 1570's. It completely disappeared by the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign in 1603.  It had been replaced by a vertical opening which was concealed in folds of material.

Elizabethan Clothing
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