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The Brank (Torture)


The Brank was used to humiliate women who "by brawling and wrangling amongst her neighbours breaks the public peace, increases discord and becomes a public nuisance to the neighbourhood." In short, women who gossiped with their neighbors with no purpose other than to offend, ridicule or lie about someone else were subject to this torture.

The device was a metal cage or mask that enclosed the head, often with ridiculous adornments designed to humiliate its victim. In some towns, the Brank had a bell attached to its rear only to announce the presence of the victim who was instantly mocked by the people she "endangered" through gossip.

Many variants of the Brank appeared throughout the Middle Ages, some included spikes that penetrated the victim's flesh when she spoke.

The duration of this torture could range from a few hours, to months. In some cases, the victim was left to die with the Brank; if she ever removed it, she'd be tortured with another method and sometimes killed.


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