Month: September 2015

Different Domestic Corporal Punishments


Was beating a person on the soles of their feet with a stick. Because the soles of the feet are vulnerable it was very painful. Bastinado was commonly used in parts of Asia.


This punishment meant beating a person across the backside with birch twigs. Once a common punishment in schools it could also be imposed by the courts for minor offences. Birching as a punishment for minor crimes was abolished in Britain in 1948. (Although it was used in prisons until 1962).

Cactus Needles

Among the Aztecs children were punished by having cactus needles forced into their skin.


Until the late 20th century teachers were allowed to hit children. In the 16th century boys were often punished by being hit with birch twigs. In the 19th century hitting boys (and girls) with a bamboo cane became popular. In the 20th century the cane was used in both primary and secondary schools. However in the late 1960s and early 1970s the cane was abolished in most primary schools. In England in 1987 the cane was abolished in state-funded secondary schools. It was abolished in private schools in 1999.

Ducking Stool

The ducking stool was a seat on a long wooden arm. Women who were convicted of being scolds or gossips were tied to the seat then ducked into the local pond or river. The last woman to be ducked in England suffered the punishment in 1809. In 1817 another woman was sentenced to be ducked but fortunately the water level was too low so she escaped being immersed.

In a later variation of the ducking school in early 19th century textile mills lazy children sometimes had their heads ducked in a container of water.

Dunce’s Cap

In the 19th century low-ability children were often humiliated by being forced to wear a conical hat with a ‘D’ on it. It was called a dunce’s cap.


Until the late 20th century the ruler was a punishment commonly used in primary schools. The teacher hit the child on the hand with a wooden ruler.


Slipper is a euphemism. Normally it was a trainer or a plimsoll. Teachers (usually PE teachers) used a trainer to hit children on the backside.


This is a simple method of executing people. A crowd throw stones at the condemned person until he or she is dead. It was common in the Middle East in Bible times and it is still used in the region today.


The tawse was a punishment used in Scottish schools. It was a leather strap with two or three tails. It was used in Scotland to hit a child’s hand.

Wooden Spoon

In the 20th century many parents used a wooden spoon to hit children. Other implements used included slippers and hairbrushes.


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Banned Deadly Corporal Punishments

Punishment is said to be the infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offense or in other article saying it is an authoritative imposition of an undesirable outcome upon an individual, in response to a particular action that is not acceptable or somehow can be threatening to some.

These are randoms deadly corporal punishments from different countries of different eras  that may or may not be familiar to some people.


Breaking on the wheel

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This was a punishment especially common in France and Germany although it was also used in other parts of Europe. The condemned man was tied to a wheel and the executioner then used an iron bar or hammer to break each arm and leg in several places. Sometimes a blow to the chest or strangulation was used to end the man’s agony but he could be left to die of thirst. Breaking on the wheel was abolished in Germany in 1827.




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Burning is a very old method of killing people. In 1401 a law in England made burning the penalty for heresy. In the 16th century during the reign of Mary (1553-1558) nearly 300 Protestants were burned to death in England. In the 16th and 17th centuries ‘witches’ in England were usually hanged but in Scotland and most of Europe they were burned. In the 18th century in Britain women found guilty of murdering their husbands were burned. However burning as a punishment was abolished in Britain in 1790.

Sometimes a person about to be burned was strangled with a rope first to spare them pain.


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This was a Chinese punishment. It was a wooden board locked around the prisoners neck. He could not reach his mouth with his arms and so could not feed himself or drink without help.


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The crank was a handle that convicts had to turn again and again. Normally the prisoner had to turn the handle thousands of times before he could eat. It was hard and very monotonous work. The crank was abolished in British prisons in 1898.


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Although drowning is an obvious method of killing people it was seldom used as a method of execution. The Roman writer Tacitus said that the Germanic peoples drowned cowards in fens under piles of sticks. The Anglo-Saxons also sometimes used drowning as a punishment. In the Middle Ages drowning was sometimes used to punish murder. In England in the 13th century it was enacted that anybody who committed murder on the king’s ships would be tied to their victims body and thrown into the sea to drown.

In Portsmouth at that time male murderers were burned but female murderers were tied to a post in the harbor and left to drown when the tide came in.

Drowning was occasionally used in Europe through the following centuries. It was revived in the French Revolution in Nantes by a man named Jean Baptiste Carrier as a convenient way of killing large numbers of people. They were loaded into vessels with trapdoors, which were then sunk.

Hanging, drawing and quartering

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This was the punishment in England for treason. The man was drawn on a hurdle pulled by a horse to the place of execution. He was hanged (strangled by being suspended by a rope) but when he was still alive and sometimes conscious he was cut down. The executioner cut open his stomach and ‘drew out’ his entrails. Finally the man was beheaded and his body was cut into quarters.

After 1814 the full sentence was no longer carried out. Instead the man was hanged until he was dead and then beheaded. He was not disemboweled. The last case was in 1820. However hanging, drawing and quartering was not formally abolished until 1870.

Inhalation of Smoke

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In Aztec society naughty children were sometimes punished by having their head over a fire containing chilies and being forced to inhale the smoke.

Keel Hauling

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This was first recorded in the 16th century. In the Dutch navy keelhauling meant dropping a man into the sea then hauling him under the keel of the ship with a rope. Barnacles would cut his skin to shreds and there was the possibility of drowning.


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Mutilation included blinding, cutting off hands, ears and noses or cutting out the tongue. In the Ancient World the Assyrians often punished people by cutting off their ears, lips or nose. In Saxon England and through the Middle Ages mutilation was used as a punishment for stealing or poaching. In the 16th and 17th centuries cutting off the ears was used as a punishment in England.


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Sometimes in the bottom of a dungeon was a pit into which prisoners were lowered. It was called an oubliette. The name comes from the French word oublier meaning to forget because the unfortunate prisoner was forgotten.

Picket or Piquet

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This was a military punishment common in the 17th century. The prisoner was hung by his wrist and one foot was placed on a pointed but not actually sharp wooden stake. Soon his wrist would become very tired and the temptation was to support his weight on the pointed stake, which was very painful. The picket died out in the 18th century because it made it difficult for the soldier to march afterwards.

Picking Oakum

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Ships ropes covered in tar were called oakum. In the 19th century the rope was pulled apart by hand and recycled. Oakum was picked by convicts and people in workhouses. It may not sound hard work but it made fingers bleed and blister. Convicts and workhouse inmates were made to pick oakum because it was such unpleasant work.


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In England if a person refused to plead guilty or not guilt to a crime they were pressed. A wooden board was placed on their body and stone or iron weights were added until the person agreed to plead – or died. The last man to be pressed to death in England died in Horsham, Sussex in 1735.

Scold’s Bridle

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This was a metal frame place over a woman’s head. It had a bit that stuck in her mouth to prevent her talking. The scold’s bridle or branks was used in Scotland by the 16th century and was used in England from the 17th century. It was last used in Britain in 1824.


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In hot countries a sweatbox was a cramped cell where the prisoner would sweat until he felt the affects of dehydration.


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This was a military punishment. It was a wooden cage on a pivot. The prisoner was shut inside and then it was spun around until the prisoner became nauseous and vomited.