Buckle, Henry Thomas, 1821-62, English historian. Contemptuous of the historical writing of his day, with its intense concern with politics, wars, and heroes, Buckle undertook the ambitious plan of writing a history of civilization, treating people in relation to each other and to the natural world. At the time of his death, he had completed only the first two volumes of his panoramic History of Civilization in England (1857-61). In his attempt to make his field a science, Buckle arrived at various "laws" of history (e.g., the law of climate, by which he demonstrated that only in Europe could humans reach high levels of civilization) that were in fact rationalizations of his own progressive and liberal views. The effect his book had in shaping English liberal thought was nonetheless immediate and huge. It profoundly influenced later scientific historians and helped to fasten attention on masses rather than individuals, on all life rather than politics, and on the interrelations of people and nature rather than people and morals.

See G. R. St. Aubyn, A Victorian Eminence: Life and Works of Henry Thomas Buckle (1964).

A buckle (from Latin buccula) is a clasp used for fastening two things together, such as the ends of a belt, or for retaining the end of a strap. Before the invention of the zipper, buckles were commonly used to fasten boots and other shoes.


Buckles were used in ancient Greece and Rome, particularly in military equipment and military dress: on (sword)belts, armour, all sorts of equipment strapping, and on horse gear. The word "buckle" stems from the vulgar Latin buccula - meaning "little mouth" - because of the shape. Buckles were also commonly used in the Celtic civilisation. In antiquity, buckles were commonly made of metal, bone and ivory. Because of the simplicity and durability of the buckle, it became popular in harnesses and embroidery, especially in shoes and boots. It was commonly used as a typical clasp for clothing until the zipper was invented.

The roller buckle is a mid-20th century invention; buckles with multiple prongs had already appeared in the 18th century.

Contemporary Uses

Today, the buckle is most commonly used for belts, although it is still used in shoes and particularly boots. Tanker boots employ the use of buckles because of the disadvantages of laces.

Buckles can also be seen on backpacks, watches and other wrist jewelry, or for ornamental purposes on other various objects. Buckles are also commonly seen in modern gothic fashion.

Buckles of completely different design, buckles usually made of plastic that fasten onto a strap in two places and clip together, are increasingly used.

A buckle can refer to a seat belt or safety belt, as in the term, "buckle up." This originally military phrase from the cavalry refers to strapping the saddle to a riding horse, which means "get ready for departure".

In Canadian heraldry, a buckle is the brisure of an eighth daughter.

See also

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