From History of Flagellation Among Different Nations. New York: Medical Publishing Co., 1930: pp. 99-118.
THE following is an account of the penance performed by Fulk, surnamed Greisegonnelle, about the year 1000. This Fulk, who was a very powerful man in France, being the son of the great Seneschal of the kingdom, had been a most bad and violent man in those times of feudal anarchy, when force was almost the only law that existed, and when the nobles and lords were rather heads of robbers than persons invested with any precise dignity. Among the crimes the above Fulk had committed, he had killed with his own hand Conan, duke of Brittany. He had performed three pilgrimages to the Holy Land — and on the last, meaning to render his penance complete, he caused himself to be drawn naked upon a hurdle with a halter round his neck, through the streets of Jerusalem. Men who had been directed so to do, lashed him by turns with scourges; and a person appointed for that purpose cried at certain intervals, “Lord! have mercy on the traitor and for-swearer, Fulk.” He lived very devoutly afterwards, and founded several monasteries. An account of this Fulk and his penance, is to be found in Moreri’s Dictionary.
About the year 1300, a sect of the same kind called the Turlupins (which word rather seems to have been a nickname than a serious appellation of that sect) made their appearance in France, again declaring themselves, as well by their example as by their words, for freedom from accoutrements. To these the Picards, a century afterwards, succeeded in Germany, who carrying their opinion on the sanctity of nakedness and their abhorrence of such unhallowed thing as clothing, farther than the Adamites had done, made at all times their appearance in a perfect state of nature. A certain party of Anabaptists adopting the doctrine of these Picards, tried, on the thirteenth day of February, in the year 1535, to make an excursion in the streets of Amsterdam, in the hallowed state we mention; but the Magistracy, not taking the joke so well as they ought to have done, used these adventurers in rather a severe manner.
The following story which is given in the writer’s own words gives a curious insight into the puritanical manners that prevailed in the New England Provinces. About forty years ago many of the Chief Saints at Boston met with a sad mortification, yea, a mortification in the flesh.
“Captain St. Loe, Commander of the ship of war, then in Boston Harbour, being ashore on a Sunday, 101 was apprehended by the Constables for walking on the Lord’s Day. On Monday he was carried before a Justice of the Peace; he was fined, refused to pay it; and for his contumacy and contempt of authority, was sentenced to sit in the stocks one hour during the time of change. This sentence was put in execution without the least mitigation.
“While the Captain sat in durance, grave Magistrates admonished him to respect in future the wholesome laws of the Province; and Reverend Divines exhorted him ever after to reverence and keep holy the Sabbath-day. At length the hour expired; and the Captain’s legs were set at liberty.
“As soon as he was freed, he, with great seeming earnestness, thanked the Magistrates for their correction, and the Clergy for their spiritual advice and consolation; declaring that he was ashamed of his past life; that he was resolved to put off the old Man of Sin, and to put on the new Man of Righteousness; that he should ever pray for them as instruments in the hands of God, of saving his sinful soul.
“This sudden conversion rejoiced the Saints. After clasping their hands, and casting up their eyes to heaven, they embraced their new Convert, and returned thanks for being made the humble means of snatching a soul from perdition. Proud of their success, they fell to exhorting him afresh; and the most zealous invited him to dinner, that they might have full time to complete their work.102
“The Captain sucked in the milk of exhortation, as a new-born babe does the milk of the breast. He was as ready to listen as they were to exhort. Never was a Convert more assiduous, while his station in Boston Harbour lasted; he attended every Sabbath-day their most sanctified meeting house; never missed a weekly lecture; at every private Conventicle, he was most fervent and loudest in prayer. He flattered, and made presents to the wives and daughters of the godly. In short, all the time he could spare from the duties of his station, was spent in entertaining them on board his ship, or in visiting and praying at their houses.
“The Saints were delighted with him beyond measure. They compared their wooden stocks to the voice of Heaven, and their sea-convert to St. Paul; who, from the enemy, was become their doctor.
“Amidst their mutual happiness, the mournful time of parting arrived. The Captain received his recall. On this he went round among the godly, and wept and prayed, assuring them he would return, and end his days among his friends in the Lord.
“Till the day of his departure, the time was spent in regrets, processions, entertainments, and prayer. On that day, about a dozen of the principal Magistrates, including the Select-men, accompanied the Captain to Nantasket Road, where the ship lay, with everything ready for sailing.
“An elegant dinner was provided for them on 103 board; after which many bowls and bottles were drained. As the blood of the Saints waxed warm, the crust of their hypocrisy melted away; their moral see-saws and Scripture texts gave place to double-entendres and wanton songs; the Captain encouraged their gaiety, and the whole ship resounded with the roar of their merriment.
“Just at that time into the cabin burst a body of sailors, who, to the inexpressible horror and amazement of the Saints, pinioned them fast. Heedless of cries and entreaties they dragged them upon deck, where they were tied up, stripped to the buff, and their breeches let down; and the boatswain with his assistants, armed with dreadful cat-o’-nine-tails provided for the occasion, administered unto them the law of Moses in the most energetic manner. Vain were all the prayers, roarings, stampings, and curses; the Captain in the meantime assuring them that it was consonant to their own doctrine and to Scripture, that the mortification of the flesh tended towards the saving of the soul, and therefore it would be criminal in him to abate them a single lash.
“When they had suffered the whole of their discipline, which had flayed them from the nape of the neck to the hams, the Captain took a polite leave, earnestly begging them to remember him in their prayers. They were then let down into the boat that was waiting for them, the crew saluted them with three cheers, and Captain St. Loe made sail.”
An account contained in the collection of “Celebrated Causes” decided in the French Courts of Law, is given of a case in the reign of Louis the Fourteenth, which made a very great noise. The case referred to is the flagellation that was served by the Marchioness de Tresnel on the Dame or Lady of Liancourt, a fact which by all means deserves a place in this volume, as being in itself an extremely illustrious instance of flagellation. Indeed, one advantage the author is proud of, which is, that he has inserted nothing vulgar in this book, nothing but what is worthy of taste and sentiment.
The story is as follows. The Lady of Liancourt was originally born of parents in middling circumstances. Having had the good luck to marry a rich merchant, she had address enough to prevail upon him to bequeath to her at his death — which happened a few years after their marriage — the bulk of his fortune; and being now a rich handsome widow, she married the Sieur or Lord of Liancourt, a man of birth, whose fortune was somewhat impaired by his former expensive way of living. The Lady of Liancourt used to reside during the summer at the castle or estate of her husband, near the town of Chaumont, and in the same neighbourhood was situated the estate of the Marquis of Tresnel. The manner of living of the Lady of Liancourt, together with the reputation of her wit and beauty, excited the jealousy 105 of the Marchioness of Tresnel, who, on account of her birth, considered herself as being greatly superior to the other; and a strong competition soon took place between the two ladies, which became manifested in several places in a remarkable manner, especially at church, where the Marchioness once went so far as violently to push the other lady from her seat. The Lady of Liancourt, on the other hand, was said to have written a copy of verses against the Marchioness; and, in short, matters were carried to such lengths between them, that the Marchioness resolved to damp at once the pretensions of her rival, and for that purpose applied to that effectual mode of correction which, as hath been seen in the course of this book, so many great and celebrated personages have undergone, namely, a flagellation. Having well laid her scheme in that respect, and resolved that her rival should undergo the correction not by proxy, like King Henry the Fourth, but in her own person, — the Marchioness, one day she knew the Lady of Liancourt was to visit at a castle a few miles distant from her own, got into her coach and six, accompanied by four men behind and three armed servants on horseback; and care had been previously taken to lay in a stock of good disciplines, which were placed in the coach-box. Having arrived too late at the place on the highway at which she proposed to meet her antagonist, the Marchioness alighted at the house of the Curate of the parish in 106 order to wait for her return, and stayed there under some pretence, several hours, till at last a servant who had been on the watch, came in haste and brought tidings that the Lady Liancourt’s coach was in sight. The Marchioness thereupon got into her coach with the utmost speed, and arrived just in time to throw herself across the way and stop the other lady; when the servants, who had been properly directed beforehand, without loss of time took the latter out of the coach, immediately proceeding to execute the orders they had received; and from the complaint afterwards preferred by the suffering lady, it really seems that they endeavoured to discharge their duty in such a manner as might convince their mistress of their zeal in serving her.
The affair soon made a great noise, and the King, who heard it, immediately sent express orders to the husbands of the ladies to take no share in the quarrel. The Lady of Liancourt applied to the ordinary course of law and brought a criminal action against the Marchioness before the Parliament of Paris; the consequence of which was that the latter was condemned to ask her pardon in the open Court upon her knees, and to pay her about two hundred pounds damages, besides being banished from the whole extent of the jurisdiction of the Parliament. The servants, who are generally very severely dealt with in France when they suffer themselves to become the instruments of the violence of their masters, were sent to the Galleys.
A lady of rank who had a perfect passion for flagellating both her slaves and her children, used to flog some one every day of her life, always with her own hand. She had a kind of block erected where she had them stretched, and nothing pleased her more than to see them writhing under the lash. One day he had carried her passion to such a degree as to have the whole household flogged. This was the culmination of her flogging glories, for her severity raised a revolt, and the slaves combining, seized upon the mistress and tying her to the block, each one of them administered five blows upon her person with any of the scourges they pleased.
A remarkable instance of this power of use, to enable us to bear hardships, and even blows, occurs among the Chinese. It appears, from the accounts of travellers, that there are men in China who make it their trade, being properly fed for it, to receive the bastinadoes in the room of those who are sentenced to it by the Mandarin; in the same manner as there are men about the Courts of Law in this country, ready to bail upon any occasion. As the bastinado is inflicted on the spot, while the Mandarin is dispatching other business, the thing is to bribe the Officer who is to superintend the operation: the real Culprit then slips out of the way; the man who is to 108 do duty for him comes forth, suffers himself to be tied down to the ground, and receives the bastinado; which is laid on in such earnest, that a fresh man, or executioner, is employed after every ten or twenty strokes.
In one of the Arabian Tales, called “The one thousand and one Nights;” an original book, and which contains true pictures of the manners of that nation, is a story which is well worth reminding the reader of, that of a certain Cobler, whose name, if I mistake not, was Shak-Abak. This Cobler having fallen in love with a beautiful lady belonging to some wealthy man, or man of power, of whom he had had a glance through the window of her house, would afterwards keep for whole hours every day, staring at the window. The lady, who proposed to make game of him, one day sent one of her female slaves to introduce him to her, and then gave him to understand, that if he could overtake her by running after her through the apartments of her house he would have the pleasure of her company; he was besides told, that in order to run more nimbly, he must strip to the shirt. To all this Shak-Abak agreed: and after a number of turns up and down the house, he was at last enticed into a long, dark, and narrow passage, at the farthest extremity of which an open door was to be perceived; he made to it as fast as he could, and 109 when he had reached it, rushed headlong through it; when, to his no small astonishment, the door instantly shut upon him, and he found himself in the middle of a public street of Bagdat, which was chiefly inhabited by shoemakers. A number of these latter, struck at the sudden and strange appearance of the unfortunate Shak-Abak, who, besides stripping to his shirt, had suffered his eye-brows to be shaved, laid hold of him, and, as the Arabian Author relates, soundly lashed him with their straps.
Various stories were given out by the monks of the chastisement received by persons who had persecuted them. This misfortune happened to a certain servant of the Emperor Nicephorus, who, not satisfied with exacting unjust tributes from the common people with great rigour, offered afterwards to use the monasteries in the same manner. “The Emperor,” says the author from whom this fact is extracted, “sent one of the grooms of his bedchamber to receive the usual tribute. As he was a man exceedingly eager after money and unlawful gain, he committed great oppressions both on the common citizens and the inhabitants of the monastery of St. Nicon; for the government of cities and the care of levying duties are usually entrusted, not to the just and mild, but to hard-hearted and inhuman persons. The monks, who were possessed of no money, endeavoured to soothe the above unmerciful man by their discourses; 110 but he, thirsty after gold, was as deaf to their prayers as the asp to conjurgations, and made no more account of their remonstrances, than, to use the words of Scripture, of ‘the crackling of thorns under a pot.’ On the contrary, his wrath and insolence increased farther, he caused several of them to be thrown into a jail, and prepared to plunder the monastery. The remaining monks then applied to their Saint for assistance, who presently made them experience the happy effects of it; for during the following night he appeared to the groom with a threatening indignant aspect, and lashed him severely; then speaking to him, told him, for his words ought to be recorded: ‘Thou hast thrown the heads of the monastery into chains, if thou dost not release them instantly, thy death shall be the consequence.’ ”
It was politely adopted in Denmark, and even in the Court of that country, towards the latter end of the last century, as we are informed by Lord Molesworth, in his “Account of Denmark.” It was the custom, his Lordship says, at the end of every hunting-match at Court, that, in order to conclude the entertainment with as much festivity as it had begun, a proclamation was made, — if any could inform against any person who had infringed the known laws of hunting, let him stand forth and accuse. As soon as the contravention was ascertained, the culprit was made to kneel down between the horns of the 111 stag that had been hunted; two of the gentlemen removed the skirts of his coat; when the King, taking a small long wand in his hand, laid a certain number of blows, which was proportioned to the greatness of the offence, on the culprit; whilst, in the meantime (the noble author adds) the huntsmen with their brass horns, and the dogs with their loud openings, proclaimed the King’s justice and the criminal’s punishment.
In Spain, when gentlemen proposed to discipline themselves in honour of their mistresses, and were of considerable rank, the ceremony was performed with great state and magnificence. Madame D’Aunoy relates that the day the Duke of Vejar disciplined himself, an hundred white wax candles were carried before the procession: the Duke was preceded by sixty of his friends (vassals perhaps, or dependents) and followed by an hundred, all attended by their own pages and footmen; and besides them there were no doubt abundance of priests and crucifixes.
As these Spanish gallants have no less honour than devotion, battles frequently take place between them, for the assertion of their just prerogatives; and this, for instance, seldom fails to be the case when two processions happen to meet in the same street: each party think they are intitled to a most honourable side of the way; and a scuffle is the consequence. This happened at the time of the procession of the 112 above-mentioned Duke of Vejar; another procession, conducted by the Marquis of Villahermosa, entered the same street, at the other end of it: the light-armed troops, otherwise the servants with their lighted long wax candles, began the engagement, bedaubing the clothes, and singeing the whiskers and hair of each other; then the body of infantry, that is to say the gentlemen with their swords, made their appearance, and continued the battle; and at last the two noble champions themselves met, and began a fight with their disciplines. Another instance of penitents using their disciplines as weapons, is to be found in Don Quixote (where two noble champions began a smart engagement with each other); their self-flagellations were for a while changed, with great rapidity, into mutual ones, and their weapons being demolished, they were about to begin a closer kind of fight, when their friends interfered, and parted them: the high, sharp, and stiff cap of one of the two combatants, which had fallen in the dirt, was taken up, properly cleansed, and again placed upon his head; and the two processions went each their own course, dividing as chance determined it. The whole ceremony was afterwards concluded with splendid entertainments which each of the noble disciplinants gave in their houses, to the persons who formed their respective processions, during which abundance of fine compliments were paid them on their piety, their gallantry, and their elegance in giving themselves discipline.
HENRY II. SCOURGED AT THE ALTAR OF THOMAS A BECKETT.
A certain friar, in a convent of the Benedictine Order, found means to procure, besides plenty of good wine, a certain number of dishes extremely nice and well seasoned, several of which were expressly forbidden by the institutes of the Order; and he invited a select party of brothers to partake of his fare. As they could not, with any degree of safety, carry on the entertainment in the cell of any of them, they thought of repairing to one of the cellars of the house, where they hid themselves in one of those wide and shallow tuns (about eight or nine feet in diameter, and three or four deep) which serve in the making of wines. The Abbot, in the meanwhile, missing so many of the monks from the convent, went in search of them through all the different apartments; being unable to find them, he at last went down into the cellars, and soon perceived whereabout they lay: he stepped up to the place, and on a sudden, made his appearance over the edge of the tun. The monks were prodigiously alarmed at this unexpected appearance of the Abbot; and there was none among them but who would have gladly compromised the affair, by giving up his remaining share of the entertainment, and submitting to instant dismission. But the Abbot, contrary to all hope, put on a mild and cheerful look; he kindly expostulated with the monks on their having made a secret of the affair to him; expressed to them the great pleasure it would have been for him to be one of their party; and added, 114 that he should still be very glad to be admitted to partake of the entertainment. The monks answered, by all means: the Abbot thereupon leaped into the tun; sat down among them; partook of their excellent wine and well-seasoned dishes with the greatest freedom; and, in short, spent an hour or two with them in the tun, in the most agreeable and convivial manner.
At last the Abbot thought proper to withdraw, and as soon as he had taken his leave, some of the monks began to admire his extraordinary condescension, while the others were not without fears that it foreboded some misfortune. Indeed, the latter were in the right; for the reader must not think that the Abbot had acted in the manner above described, out of any sudden temptation he had felt at the sight of the jollity of the friars, or of the dainties that composed the entertainment: by no means; his design had only been, by thus making himself guilty along with them, to be the better able to show them afterwards the way to repentance, and thereby derive good from evil. In fact, the next day, a chapter having been summoned, the Abbot desired the Prior to fill his place, while himself took his seat among the rest of the monks. Soon after the chapter was met, he stepped forward into the middle of the assembly, accused himself of the sin he had committed the day before, and requested that discipline might be inflicted upon him. The Prior objected much to a discipline 115 being inflicted on the Abbot; but the latter having insisted, his request was complied with. The other monks were at first greatly astonished, but seeing no possibility of keeping back on that occasion, they stepped into the middle of the chapter, and likewise confessed their sin; when the Abbot, by means of a proper person he had selected for that purpose, got a lusty discipline to be inflicted upon every one of his late fellow-banqueters.
The celebrated fathers of St. Lazare, in Paris, whose school was otherwise named the “Seminary of the good Boys” (des bons enfans) have no less recommended themselves by the regularity of the disciplines they inflicted, than the Reverend Father Jesuits. They were even superior to the latter, in regard to those recommendatory flagellations mentioned above, which were administered to such persons as were, by some means or other, induced to deliver letters to the fathers for that purpose. Being situated in the metropolis, the seminary carried on a very extensive business in that way. Fathers or mothers who had undutiful sons, tutors who had unruly pupils, uncles who were instructed with the education of ungovernable nephews, masters who had wickedly-inclined apprentices, whom they durst not themselves undertake to correct, applied to the fathers of St. Lazare, and by properly feeing them, had their wishes gratified. Indeed the fathers had found means to secure 116 their doors with such good bolts, they were so well stocked with the necessary implements for giving disciplines, and had such a numerous crew of stout Cuistres to inflict them, that they never failed to execute any job they had engaged to perform, and without minding either age, courage, or strength, were at all times ready to undertake the most difficult flagellations. So regular was the trade carried on, by the good fathers in that branch of business, that letters of the above kind directed to them, were literally notes of hand payable on sight; and provided such notes did but come to hand, whoever the bearer might be, the fathers were sure to have them discharged with punctuality.
This kind of business, as it was carried on for a number of years, frequently gave rise to accidents, or mistakes, of rather a ludicrous kind. Young men who had letters to carry to the house of St. Lazare, the contents of which they did not mistrust, would often undesignedly charge other persons to carry the same for them, either on account of their going to that part of the town, or for some other reason of a like kind: and the unfortunate bearer, who suspected no harm, had no sooner delivered the dangerous letter with which he had suffered himself to be entrusted, than he was collared, and rewarded for his good-nature by a severe and unexpected flagellation.
Ladies, it is likewise said, who had been forsaken, 117 or otherwise ungenteelly used by their admirers, when every other means of revenge failed, would also recur to the ministry of the fathers of St. Lazare. Either by making interest with other persons, or using some artfully-contrived scheme, the provoked fair one endeavoured to have the gentleman who caused her grief, inveigled into the house of the seminary: at the same time she took care to have a letter to recommend him, sent there from some unknown quarter, with proper fees in it; for that was a point that must not be neglected: and when the gentleman came afterwards to speak with the fathers, he was no sooner found by them, either from the nature of the business he said he came upon, or other marks, to be the person mentioned in the letter they had before received, that they showed him into an adjoining room, where this treacherous and deceitful lover was immediately seized, mastered, and everything in short was performed that was requisite to procure ample satisfaction to the fair injured lady.
It is also said (for a number of stories are related on that subject, and the Seminary of St. Lazare was become for a while an object of terror to all Paris) that schemes of the most abusive kind were in latter times carried on, through the connivance which the fathers began to show at the knavery of certain persons; and this indeed seems to be a well-ascertained part of the story. Abuses of the same kind as those which once prevailed in mad-houses established in 118 this country, were at last practiced in the seminary. Men possessed of estates which some near relations wanted to enjoy, or whom it was the interest of other persons to keep for a while out of the way, were inveigled into the House of Lazare, where they were detained, and large sums paid monthly for their board.