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Branking, Public Humiliation, 16th Century

Branking, Public Humiliation, 16th Century


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38.8 MB (1.1 MB compressed)

3600 x 3769 pixels

30.5 x 32.0 cm ⏐ 12.0 x 12.6 in (300dpi)

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A scold's bridle was an instrument of punishment, as a form of torture and public humiliation. The device was an iron muzzle in an iron framework that enclosed the head. A bridle-bit, about 2 inches long and 1 inch broad, projected into the mouth and pressed down on top of the tongue. Branking was designed as a mirror punishment for shrews or scolds, women of the lower classes whose speech was deemed riotous or troublesome, often women suspected of witchcraft, by preventing such gossips or scolds from speaking. Displaying the branks in public was intended to remind the populace of the consequences of any rash action or slander. Whether the person was paraded or simply taken to the point of punishment, the process of humiliation and expected repentance was the same.

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