Gallerie: Danse des Morts

~From Danse des Morts, Todten-Tanz, 1744~

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Death Dances with the Pope.

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The Judges’ Guide to Detention and Torture of Witches

~From the Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) of 1487~

This is an excerpt from the text Malleus Maleficarum, which is considered to be the “handbook” for the persecution of witches used by male perpetrators of the misogynistic and bloodthirsty attempted extirpation that took place during the 16th and 17th centuries. Continue reading

Ex Libris: The Art of Possession

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Bookplate of Charles Grave Hudson. Died 1813.

Ex libris, or bookplates, are placards inscribed with the name of a tome’s owner and affixed to the inside of its cover. Ex libris establish some amount of provenance — a clue into the history of a book’s possession. The art decorating bookplates is often heraldic, fantastic, ornate, and gorgeous. This collection is comprised mostly of plates created in Europe during the 17th & 18th centuries.

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Scold’s Bridle

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The Scold’s Bridle, also known as “branks,” was a piece of equipment used to punish and oppress women in the fifteen and sixteen hundreds. The bridle was made of an iron frame that encased the head of the victim. At the front of this contraption, a bridle “bit” piece extended into the mouth, holding down the tongue with a spiked plate, rendering the victim mute. In effect, a scold’s bridle was a muzzle used on human females.

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What type of crimes deserved such a punishment? Women were bridled for being “gossips,” “scolds,” “riotous,” “troublesome,” and even on suspicion of witchcraft.

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1885 lithograph. Illustrates the use of a scold’s bridle in New England.
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18th Century Scold’s Bridle from the Markisches Museum, Berlin