What would you say is the single biggest source or symbol of your strength and power as an individual? The answer is easy: just look down.
We're talking, of course, about your pants. The world didn't make the transition from robes to pants as an arbitrary fashion statement -- it required decrees by rulers, massive social upheaval, and the liberation of oppressed classes.
Each of those events in history has served to reaffirm one thing: Pants equal power. Seriously.
5Henry VIII's Codpiece Changes The World
So if we're going to talk about how pants have been at the center of social change for the last 500 years, we have to go back to Henry VIII, and specifically Henry VIII's dick.
We're legitimately sorry for that image.
Oh, pants were around for a long time before that, but were treated the way assless chaps are treated now. Poetry written in Ancient Greece suggests that pants were ridiculed and viewed with contempt by the Greeks. You know, the guys who went around dressed in togas.
Even the Romans saw pants as barbaric. But then Henry VIII came along. And his dick.
"This is the most elegant possible way to showcase a penis."
You see, Henry was extremely proud of his athletic build (at least in his younger years), and for him, pants were a great way to show off his manly calves. We'll admit Henry's "pants" don't look terribly masculine today (they're more like leggings), but back then, they were seen as a sign of his total authority ... mainly because they allowed him to sport enormous codpieces.
NOW YOU CAN'T UNSEE IT.
Men have equaled dongs with power since the dawn of time, and Henry simply found a convenient way to display that power in public without being classified as a sex offender.
"I don't care if my arms look comically undersized. Just make sure my boner is showing."
If you think we're joking, remember that Henry VIII was the man who changed the religion of an entire country to satisfy his penis -- Henry's might very well be the single most influential set of genitalia in history. Though his beloved codpieces eventually went by the wayside, by then, pants had been established as a symbol of power. Everywhere in Europe, men were donning breeches on a daily basis.
Or almost everywhere ...
4Pants Bring Russia Into The Modern World
So, over the next century pants became common on the European continent ... everywhere except for Russia, that is. By the late 1600s, Russia remained as the lone oasis of pantlessness. While peasants did tend to wear some form of trousers somewhere under all those layers of clothing (usually covered by a long cloak), at the same time you had a lot of ass-clowns who looked like this:
Although their taste in shoes was marvelous.
To be fair, fashion wasn't the only thing they were behind on: Though Russia's territory was massive, its population was pretty small and mostly comprised of farmers, with only a small fraction of all Russians living in towns. Czar Peter the Great decided he had enough of that crap. Peter was obsessed with modernizing Russia, and he started by forcing everyone to put some real trousers on. In 1701, he issued a decree commanding everyone at every level of society to wear pants, other than clergy and peasant farmers.
That meant no more long cloaks or ... whatever the hell that guy in the picture is wearing. Peter also decreed that men could no longer sport beards unless they were willing to pay a yearly beard tax (mustaches were free as long as you kept them under control). Suddenly, Russian men were forced to wear leggings and shave their facial hair at all times, despite Russia's harsh climate.
At this point, evolution granted them Robert Plant hair to protect them from the elements.
Peter the Great's Western-influenced reforms, which also involved completely reorganizing the army, culminated in 1721 when he declared himself Emperor of All the Russians, launching an empire that lasted until the Soviet Revolution of 1917. And it all started with pants.
Peter, seen here basking in the glory of his pants.