Cod PieceAny less than bosom-blessed woman out there has had her go with a wonder bra. Chances are likely, she’s probably still using it. But that’s her little secret…

Men had a similar tool (no pun intended) they implemented during the 15th and 16th centuries – the cod piece. Its origins didn’t start out with the intent to make men appear so large that any rational woman would be cowering in the corner. As with many out-of-proportion inventions, the cod piece served a rather functional purpose. Initially.

Men’s fashion was rather simple early on, consisting of a tunic and hose. The hose weren’t like the pantyhose of today despite what Robin Hood Men in Tights portrayed. Hose were not connected at the crotch and were made for each leg individually. While tunics remained long, this wasn’t an issue. But then tunics started to creep up. Oh my…hose

As the hem of the tunic rose, the men were quickly becoming inappropriate. The invention of the cod piece was simple – a triangle of fabric to cover the exposed genitalia. Even the name was simple as cod piece literally translates to “scrotum piece”.

Creativity came later. In the 15th century, the cod piece got a little fancier, a little bigger, a little more…attention grabbing, if you will. Essentially, these bad boys got fancy. Not only with ribbons and lace (*sigh* I’m not kidding about that), but they also got very, very padded. They came egg shaped, triangle shaped, vertical shaped and even, yes, horizontally shaped. Cod pieces went so far as to grace the battlefield. These metal codpieces got even fancier and were sculpted to resemble all sorts of things from swirls to faces grinning at the tip (not at all creepy, right?). Sometimes daggers were even worn directly over the cod piece, pointing tip down as if to proclaim “Here it is!” Like it wasn’t visible already…

Interesting little tid bit (again, no pun intended), over time ‘cod’ became slang for a man’s penis. However, the name for cod fish did not change. I’ll let you make your own assumptions as to all the bawdy jokes that doubtless sprang from that coincidence.

Cod pieces were filled with all sorts of materials from batting to spare fabric to rolled coins. Some men even went so far as to double their cod pieces as pockets. Can you imagine getting paid warm, moist coins straight from a cod piece? Though I guess it’s no different than getting sweaty bills from a woman’s bra…HenryVIICodPiece

At any rate, all good things must come to an end. While Henry VIII was an enthusiastic wearer of the cod piece, his daughter was not so impressed. When Elizabeth took the throne, she preferred a more feminine style for her courtiers. Let’s just say a jutting cod piece doesn’t exactly scream femininity. So, it finally became little more than a center slit in a very poofed out set of short pants.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is how the proud cod piece rose and eventually, sadly, deflated.