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Whipping As A Punishment - Part Two

Continued. Beginning – Whipping As A Punishment – Part One.
Eighteenth century Danish and Dutch inhabitants had no doubt what awaited if they transgressed, the whipping posts prominent in Dutch gaols. In the Netherlands also, the torture of the whip was applied by children so they could learn to become executioners themselves some day. In Denmark those guilty of infanticide were imprisoned for life and whipped annually on the anniversary of and at the place where they had committed the murder. Most Danish towns had a whipping post surmounted by a figure of a man, a whip in his right hand, a sword slung at his waist. Germany’s early Teutonic whip consisted of a short wooden handle from which protruded iron cords, each with a spiked circle at its end. The more conventional whip was also used on perjurers, husbands and wives for infidelity, bigamy and polygamy despite the fact there being no marriage ceremony or vow-taking as such, the authorities frowned on a partner who reneged on the verbal contract and took others into matrimony. Thieves, swindlers, adulterers and witches received neither mercy or lessons in social adjustment. Town councils didn’t waste ratepayer’s money on imprisoning them but simply ordered the executioner to use the whip to escort them to the city limits.

Punishment

Russia had the Knout, Knoot or Knut, which was introduced by Ivan III in the 15th century, there were several designs and many different ways of administering it. The common knout had a wooden handle about a foot long, its thongs being plaited together to give a two-foot lash. At its end was fastened a further thong, eighteen inches in length, tapering to a point. This latter extension could be detached and replaced by another, for despite being soaked in milk and frozen, it soon became softened by the victim’s blood. This type of knout was used with the offender stretched over the back of one of the executioner’s assistants. Extra punishment was inflicted by also using the strappado – the victim was hoisted by his wrists, his hands behind him, the whip compounding the pain caused by the dislocated shoulder-blades. Yet another version of the knout bore things of leather interwoven with wire cords, bare wire protruding from the extremities.

Whipping was a common form of punishment

But the pinnacle of knouts must surely be the Great Knout. Mounted on a nine inch wooden handle was a single leather lash, sixteen inches in length. A metal ring at its end permitted the attachment of yet another lash of nine inches length. At the extremity of that one was a further attenuated one of hard leather, having a metal hook at its tip. The Great Knout, wielded by an expert knout master, could kill in twenty to twenty five strokes. The knout was not restricted to common criminals. Alex the son of Peter the Great was reportedly flogged to death by his father and the Empress Eudoxia, suspected of infidelity was knouted and imprisoned. After 400 years, the use of the knout was abolished by Emperor Nicholas in 1845 and replaced with the triple-thonged pleti.

Mary Fisher and Ann Austin, members of the Society of Friends landed in Boston in 1656 to be meet by a hostile crowd opposed to everything that they thought the Quakers represented. Within two minutes the two women were stripped stark naked, tied to a cart’s tail and publicly whipped before being forced to re-embark on the ship that brought them. Other members of the Society followed, only to be persecuted by the New England Puritans. An account of their sufferings written in 1702 tell how: Mary Fisher and Ann Austin, members of the Society of Friends landed in Boston in 1656 to be meet by a hostile crowd opposed to everything that they thought the Quakers represented. Within two minutes the two women were stripped stark naked, tied to a cart’s tail and publicly whipped before being forced to re-embark on the ship that brought them. Other members of the Society followed, only to be persecuted by the New England Puritans. An account of their sufferings written in 1702 tell how:

Whipping in Colonial Africa

“Mary Tomkins and Alice Ambrose were cruelly ordered to be whipped at a cart’s tail through eleven towns at one time, ten stripes on their naked backs, which would have amounted to one hundred and ten in the whole, and on a very cold day, they were stripped and whipped through three of the towns, the priests looking on and laughing, and through dirt and snow, sometimes half leg deep. Lydia Ward was stripped from the waist upward, tied to a fence post, with her naked breasts to the splinters of the post, and there sorely lashed with twenty or thirty cruel stripes. Ann Coleman was whipped within a inch of her life, the knots of the whip splitting her breasts, and Edward Wharton was flogged so severely that peas might lie in the holes that the knots of the whip had beat into the flesh of his arms and his back, and his body was swelled and very black from the waist upward. Thomas Newhouse was stripped and fastened to a gunwheel, where he was given ten stripes, and then on three occasions whipped at the cart’s tail.”

A century later others were being flogged not because of their spiritual message but simply because they were slaves shipped from Africa to work the plantations of the southern States of America. That physical punishment was countenanced by the authorities is evidenced by an Act of Legislature in 1740 which stated:

Whipping in the 19th century

“In case any person shall wilfully cut out the tongue, put out the eye or cruelly scald, burn, or deprive any slave of any limb or member, or shall inflict any other cruel punishment, other than by whipping, or beating with a horse-whip, cowskin, switch or small-stick, or by putting irons on, or confining or imprisoning such slave, every such person shall for every such offence, forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds current money.”

Traditional type whips were used, sometimes followed by the application of red pepper to the wounds to intensify the pain. As scars, however, lowered the slave’s value the southern gentlemen devised the art of cobbing. Instead of the whip, a wooden paddle was used, in which holes had been drilled. This left few marks and if anything was more painful because on the downward stroke the holes permitted the air trapped between the paddle and the flesh to escape more quickly, the paddle thereby travelling faster.

As related by Harriet Beecher Stowe, slaves both male and female, held prisoner in gaols such as New Orleans were subjected to brutal whippings on the slightest pretext. The victims would be stretched on a board, their thumbs bound together and tied to one end of the board, their feet to the other. Naked below the waist-strap that held them immovable, they would be given fifty, even one hundred lashes before being released.

Whipping in XX century

Whipping Gallery 1

Modern lesbian whipping

Whipping Gallery 2

Modern punishment

Whipping Gallery 3

In the House of Commons on 1 July 1830, during the course of a speech on slavery in the colonies, an instance was mentioned of cruel treatment meted out by an English gentlewoman to a slave girl. On suspicion of being concerned in a theft, the young negress was imprisoned in the stocks for seventeen days, during which period she was deprived of sleep by rubbing red pepper into her eyes, and she was flogged repeatedly.

Negroes found on the streets of Boston after dusk in 1851 were taken into custody and received thirty nine lashes of the whip by a police officer who received fifty cents for his rather than their pains. This particular number of lashes, also the permitted number in Jamaica, was in accordance with the Law of Moses in the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 25, verses 2 and 3, which states: ‘And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before him, and to receive a certain number according to his fault. Forty stripes he may give him, and shall not exceed; lest if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then those who judge him should seem vile unto thee.’ The judiciary stayed on the safe side and restricted the penalty to thirty nine lashes.

Prisoners in prison were not afforded such limits. In Sing Sing Penitentiary on the 19th century they used the cat-o’-nine-tails with wire tipped leather thongs combined with the salt water sponge bath. The same applied in San Quentin where inmates were whipped, while strapped to a ladder secured at an angle, stark naked without neck or kidney protection pads. The end of flogging by the cat came in 1880 after which time other instruments took over, the baton, the two-foot length of hose, corded at one end to provide a non-slip handle, weighted at the other end with an insert of lead. Sharp-edged paddles were used in Ohio State Penitentiary and in North Carolina the strap. By the 1940s, corporal punishment had been all but abolished from American prisons.



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