One of the most used fashion accessories in history traces its beginnings to the Middle Ages (c. 500–c. 1500). It was sometime during this period that men began to wear small leather bags with their garments. These bags either fastened directly to the belts that were worn with most medieval garments, or they were tied to the belt with a loop of string or a leather strap that was fastened to the purse.

What is known about purses is depicted on the tapestries and statues from the period as there is little information regarding what medieval men carried in their purses. Purses later became a woman's accessory, and men became more inclined to carry their belongings in their wallets or pockets.


Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

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