If you can read this sentence, thank your underwear.
How discarded pants helped to boost literacy
The role of pants in the spread of western culture has been wrongly sidelined, according to medieval historians, who are starting to rank the underwear factor alongside the invention of printing.
Rags from discarded pants and knickers led to a 13th century breakthrough in the making of cheap paper, undercutting expensive parchment.
Research into fashion habits has shown that the use of underwear increased dramatically after 1200, both on the continent and in England, as more people moved into towns.
"As underwear became more popular, so the supply of rags increased significantly," Marco Mostert of Utrecht University told the conference in Leeds. "That in turn increased the amount of paper and brought knowledge within reach of a much wider audience.