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Encyclopedia > Pillory
Gothic pillory (early 16th century) in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany
Gothic pillory (early 16th century) in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany

The pillory was a device used in punishment by public humiliation and often additional, sometimes lethal, physical abuse. Image File history File links Schwäbisch Hall, gothic pillory (early 16th century) at the market square. ... Image File history File links Schwäbisch Hall, gothic pillory (early 16th century) at the market square. ... Look up Punishment in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Public humiliation was often used by local communities to punish minor and petty criminals before the age of large, modern prisons (imprisonment was long unusual as a punishment, rather a method of coercion). ...


The word is documented in English since 1274 (attested in Anglo-Latin from c.1189), and stems from Old French pellori (1168; modern French pilori, see below), itself from Medieval Latin pilloria, of uncertain origin, perhaps a diminutive of Latin pila "pillar, stone barrier."

Contents

Description

Rather like the lesser punishment called the stocks, the pillory consisted of hinged wooden boards that formed holes through which the head and/or various limbs were inserted; then the boards were locked together to secure the captive. Pillories were set up in marketplaces and crossroads to hold petty criminals. Often a placard detailing the crime was placed nearby; these punishments generally lasted only a few hours. For other uses, see stock (disambiguation). ...


Time in the pillory was more dangerous than in the stocks, as the pillory forced the malfeasant to remain standing and exposed.

Use of a pillory at a Renaissance fair.

A criminal in the stocks would expect to be abused, but his life was not targeted. A prisoner in the pillory would be presumed to have committed a more serious crime and accordingly get a more angry crowd reaction. With hands trapped, he could not protect himself from anything thrown at him, either harmless items like rotten food or injurious ones, even heavy stones: blinding, permanent maiming or death could be the consequences. The criminal could also be sentenced to further punishments while in the pillory: humiliation by shaving of some or all of the hair, or regular corporal punishment(s), notably flagellation (the pillory serving as the whipping post), birching, caning or even permanent mutilation such as branding, or having an ear cut off. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... An actress playing the role of Mary Queen of Scots in 2003. ... Corporal punishment is forced pain intended to change a persons behaviour or to punish them. ... Whipping on a post Flagellation is the act of whipping (Latin flagellum, whip) the human body. ... Birching is corporal punishment with a birch rod, typically a spanking (i. ... This article is about the physical punishment. ... To Brand a person means to burn a symbol into a living persons skin using a hot or cold iron, with the intention that the resulting scar makes the symbol permanent. ...


Uses in Europe and European colonies

The pillory at Charing Cross in London, circa 1808.
The pillory at Charing Cross in London, circa 1808.

When Daniel Defoe was placed in the pillory at Charing Cross as a punishment for writing a satire--- "The Shortest Way with the Dissenters" in which he proposed killing those opposed--- public sympathy won out over the desire of the government of the day to punish: the crowd threw flowers instead of the more usual vegetables, dead animals and stones, defeating the pillory's purpose. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (855x631, 117 KB) Summary The pillory at Charing Cross as drawn by Augustus Pugin and Thomas Rowlandson for Ackermanns Microcosm of London (1808-11). ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (855x631, 117 KB) Summary The pillory at Charing Cross as drawn by Augustus Pugin and Thomas Rowlandson for Ackermanns Microcosm of London (1808-11). ... Daniel Defoe (1659/1661 [?] â€“ April 24 [?], 1731)[1] was an English writer, journalist, and spy, who gained enduring fame for his novel Robinson Crusoe. ... The Victorian Eleanor Cross at Charing Cross The name Charing Cross, now given to a district of central London in the City of Westminster, comes from the original hamlet of Charing, where King Edward I placed a memorial to his wife, Eleanor of Castile. ... 1867 edition of the satirical magazine Punch, a British satirical magazine, ground-breaking on popular literature satire. ...


A similar reaction occurred when popular naval officer Thomas Cochrane was pilloried after being convicted as a conspirator in the Great Stock Exchange Fraud of 1814.[citation needed] Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (14 December 1775–October 31, 1860) was a politician and naval adventurer. ... The Great Stock Exchange Fraud of 1814 was a hoax or fraud centered on false information about the then-ongoing Napoleonic Wars. ...


The pillory was formally abolished as a form of punishment in England and Wales in 1837 but the stocks remained in use, albeit extremely infrequently, until 1872. Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom (1837 - 1901) 1837 (MDCCCXXXVII) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ...


In France, time in the "pilori" was usually limited to two hours. It was replaced in 1789 by "exposition", and abolished in 1848. Two types of device were used:

  • The poteau (another French term) was a simple post, often with a board around only the neck, and was synonymous with the mode of punishment. This was the same as the schandpaal ("shamepole") in Dutch. The carcan, an iron ring around the neck to tie a prisoner to such a post, was the name of a similar punishment that was abolished in 1832. A criminal convicted to serve time in a prison or galleys would, prior to his incarceration, be attached for two to six hours (depending on whether he was convicted to prison or the galleys) to the carcan, with his name, crime and sentence written on a board over his head.
  • A permanent small tower, the upper floor of which had a ring made of wood or iron with holes for the victim's head and arms, which was often on a turntable to expose the condemned to all parts of the crowd.
18th century illustration of perjurer John Waller pilloried and pelted to death in London, 1732.
18th century illustration of perjurer John Waller pilloried and pelted to death in London, 1732.

Like other permanent apparatus for corporal punishment, the pillory was often placed prominently and constructed more elaborately than necessary. It served as a symbol of the power of the judicial authorities, and its continual presence was seen as a deterrent, like permanent gallows for authorities endowed with high justice. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... These gallows in Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park are maintained by Arizona State Parks. ... HIGH, MIDDLE AND LOW JUSTICE are notions dating from Western feudalism to indicate descending degrees of judiciary power to administer justice by the maximal punishment the holders could inflict upon their subjects and other dependents. ...


In Portugal several pelourinhos, typically on the main square and/or in front of a major church or palace, are now counted among the major local monuments, several clearly bearing the emblems of a king or queen. The same is true of its former colonies, notably in Brazil (in its former capital, Salvador de Bahia, the whole old quarter is known as Pelourinho) and Africa (e.g. Cape Verde's capital Cidade Velha), always as symbols of royal power. Salvador and Baía de Todos os Santos from space, April 1997 Salvador (in full, São Salvador da Baía de Todos os Santos, or in literal translation: Holy Savior of All Saints Bay) is a city on the northeast coast of Brazil and the capital of the northeastern... Cidade Velha (Portuguese for old city) is a city located 15 km from Praia (Cape Verdes capital) on Santiago. ...


In Spain its name was Picota.


The pillory was also in common use in other western countries and colonies, and similar devices were used in other, non-Western cultures.


Similar humiliation devices

  • There even was a variant (rather of the stocks type, in fact), called barrel pillory or Spanish mantle, to punish drunks, which is reported in England and among its troops. It fitted over the entire body, with the head sticking out from a hole in the top. The criminal is put in either an enclosed barrel, forcing him to kneel in his own filth, or an open barrel, also known as barrel shirt or drunkards collar after the punishable crime, leaving him to roam about town or military camp and be ridiculed and scorned. (Note that the expression over a barrel refers to a timber barrel being used as an alternative to the whipping post, but which the punishee has to bend over, like a punishment horse, so physical pain is more prominent than public humiliation).

(see images of barrels and other stocks as used in imperial China) For other uses, see stock (disambiguation). ... Traditional wooden barrels in Cutchogue Modern aluminium beer barrels - also called casks - outside the Castle Rock microbrewery in Nottingham, England A barrel or cask is a hollow cylindrical container, traditionally made of wood staves and bound with iron hoops. ... Spanking (or smacking, whacking, etc. ...

Whipping post in Fremantle Prison
  • Although a pillory, by its physical nature, was a perfect choice to double as a whipping post to tie a criminal down for public flagellation (as used to be the case in many German sentences to staupenschlag), the two as such are separate punishments: the pillory is a sentence to public humiliation, whipping an essentially painful corporal punishment that could be administered anywhere, (semi-)publicly or not, often in prison; if a pole or more elaborate construction is erected, temporary or permanent, often on a scaffolding, for lashings, as in a few southern US prisons until the 1960s, the correct term is whipping post - however, sometimes a construction combines the two: display at the upper storey above a pole used to tie the victims to, as illustrated in this link on Delaware prison flogging.

When permanently present in sight of prisoners, it can act as a deterrent for bad behaviour, especially when each prisoner had been subjected to a "welcome beating" at arrival, as in 18th century Waldheim in Saxony (12, 18 or 24 whip lashes on the bare posterior tied to a pole in the castle courtyard, or by birch rod over the "bock", a bench in the corner). Image File history File links Download high resolution version (720x1060, 229 KB)This is an image I took myself using an Olympus C8080W digital camera. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (720x1060, 229 KB)This is an image I took myself using an Olympus C8080W digital camera. ... A recreation of typical 1855 cell accommodation. ... Whipping on a post Flagellation is the act of whipping (Latin flagellum, whip) the human body. ... Whipping on a post Flagellation is the act of whipping (Latin flagellum, whip) the human body. ... Public humiliation was often used by local communities to punish minor and petty criminals before the age of large, modern prisons (imprisonment was long unusual as a punishment, rather a method of coercion). ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Corporal punishment. ... Birching is corporal punishment with a birch rod, typically a Spanking given on the delinquents buttocks, alternatively on the back and/or over the shoulders. ...

  • Still a different penal use of such constructions is to tie the criminal down, possibly after a beating, to expose him for a long time to the elements, usually without food and drink, even to the point of starvation.

Cases

Peter Annet (1693-1769), English deist, is said to have been born at Liverpool. ... Rear Admiral Thomas Alexander Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, Marquês do Maranhão GCB RN (14 December 1775 – 31 October 1860), styled Lord Cochrane between 1778 and 1831[1], was a radical politician and naval officer. ... Elizabeth Needham (right) as portrayed in William Hogarths A Harlots Progress Elizabeth Needham (also known as Mother Needham) was a notorious 18th century English procuress and brothel-keeper, who famously appeared in the first of William Hogarths series of satirical etchings, A Harlots Progress. ... The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution [1] in the Peoples Republic of China was a struggle for power within the Communist Party of China that manifested into wide-scale social, political, and economic chaos, which grew to include large sections of Chinese society and eventually brought the entire country to...

Legacy

While the pillory has left common use, the image remains preserved in the figurative use, which has become the dominant one, of the verb to pillory (attested in English since 1600), meaning 'to expose to public ridicule, scorn and abuse', or more generally to humiliate before witnesses, e.g. in class.


Corresponding expressions exist in other languages, e.g. clouer au pillori "to nail to the pillory" in French, or "mettere alla gogna" in Italian, which in Dutch is aan de schandpaal nagelen, placing even greater emphasis on the predominantly humiliating character as the Dutch word for pillory, schandpaal, literally meaning 'pole of shame'.


References

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Pillory

  Results from FactBites:
 
Definition of pillory - Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (62 words)
Learn more about "pillory" and related topics at Britannica.com
Find more about "pillory" instantly with Live Search
See a map of "pillory" in the Visual Thesaurus
Pillory - LoveToKnow 1911 (366 words)
In that year an attack was made on the Press, and the pillory became the recognized punishment of those who published books without a licence or libelled the government.
In 1816 the pillory was abolished except for perjury and subornation, and the perjurer Peter James Bossy was the last to stand in the pillory at the Old Bailey for one hour on the 22nd of June 1830.
The pillory was used in the American colonies, and provisions as to its infliction existed in the United States statute books until 1839; it survived in the state of Delaware until 1905.
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