This post is part of an ongoing series featuring recently cataloged items from the Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library
Or you may be more familiar with the word muzzle.
Les muselières pour femmes et autres supplices (Muzzles for women and other punishments) authored by Jean Finot was most likely published in the early 20th-century in France. The earliest known use of a scold’s bridle was in Scotland in the 16th-century to punish and humiliate women who were scolds or nags. It was usually an iron muzzle within an iron framework that would go around the head along with a bridle-bit that would go in the mouth and press down on the tongue- thus effectively silencing the offender.
The part inside the mouth would sometimes be spiked or have a sharp edge so that if the woman moved her mouth at all she could injure her tongue or mouth. Then the offending “scold” could be led around town in this contraption to further humiliate them and have them repent their mouthy ways. I was amazed at the range and variety of the muzzles that were represented in this volume.
Though the volume indicates that this was just a punishment for women the Burgh Records of Scotland’s major towns reveal that the branks were at times used on men as well:
“Patrick Pratt sall sit … bound to the croce of this burgh, in the brankis lockit” (1591 Aberd. B Rec. II. 71) / “He shall be put in the branks be the space of xxiiij houres thairafter” (1559 (c 1650) Dundee B. Laws 19. )
Les muselières pour femmes et autres supplices / Jean Finot. Paris : Eugène Figuière & Cie, [1920?] can be found in Widener’s collection.
Thanks to Anthony Terrizzi, Cataloger and Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager for contributing this post.