The Renaissance most generally refers to a historic European period between the 14th and 17th centuries CE. It is the successor of the Middle Ages and the predecessor of Modernity. It overlaps with the Early Modern Period (c. 1500 - 1900).

This time showed a great leap culturally and socially, including massive developments in artistic, scientific and mathematical fields. One of the greatest artists of the Renaissance era was Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519). One of the most influential technological advancements was the invention of the printing press, which allowed the affordable mass-production of books and other publications.

Whilst today the Renaissance is still revered as an amazing leap in human development, it has many other meanings, including with certain spanking and corporal punishment cultures.

Judicial corporal punishmentEdit

The Renaissance era introduced new methods of punishment, often corporal and public. Jurisdiction was extremely cruel by modern standards, including torture, amputation and death by burning at the stake. The Renaissance era was also the high time of witch-hunts and the Inquisition.

Minor punishments were often based on the principle of restraint and public humiliation, such as:

  • Stocks These were commonly used to restrain a person's feet for public humiliation and possibly beating. Today, they are often used for tickling and are often used with other restraints.
  • Pillory Similar to the stocks, the most common model had the offender standing up, with their hands and neck restrained. Still fairly common at certain fairs, especially at certain events that allow some to throw objects at the restrained.
  • Scold's bridle This device was used to bar the tongue of women who insulted or otherwise verbally harassed other men. A predecessor to the modern gag.
  • Shrew's fiddle This device is similar to the pillory, but it restrains the hands in front, as opposed to the sides.

These are still applied in the BDSM subculture today.

School corporal punishmentEdit

16th century engraving of music lessons. Note that there are two teachers in the scene, both of whom hold a birch in their hands as a symbol of their profession.

The Renaissance era is also the period in which schooling became standard for boys (not yet girls) of all classes, not just for nobility as was the case in the Middle Ages. Schools were founded in every European town and even in the remotest villages. Schoolmasters in this era were stereotypically depicted with their preferred implement of chastisement, the birch rod, which was used on the offending boy's bare bottom. See also School corporal punishment (antiquity-1699).

See alsoEdit