The Branks

The branks or "scold's bridle" was a device used for punishing nagging women or "scolds" in 17th and 18th century Britain. At that point in history, Quaker women were preaching their doctrinal message in the streets with enthusiasm and boisterous behavior considered unfeminine at the time. As punishment, the branks was locked about the women's heads to humiliate them and teach them their place. This was considered standard practice to tame "shrews", and every respectable settlement in England and Scotland had one.

The iron frame of the branks wrapped around a woman's head and included a muzzle which clamped down the tongue so she could not talk. The victims were led by halter through the streets like pack animals while onlookers jeered. The branks was also quite painful since the tongue plate usually had sharp spikes that ground into the tongue at the slightest movement of the head or twitch of the halter.

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