Scold's bridle

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Engraving of a scold's bridle and New England street scene
18th century illustration of a brank displaying alternate tongue pieces.

A scold's bridle, also called a brank, was an instrument of punishment and public humiliation developed by the British during the Renaissance. It is essentially a steel cage placed over the head and locked in place at the neck. Cow bells or comical rabbit or donkey ears made of metal were often attached to make the general appearance more ridiculous and invite ridicule as part of the punishment.

Historically speaking, it was used as a gag to restrain women who insulted, chastised or verbally abused other men (especially husbands). A metal plate protrudes between the lips and pins the tongue down, effectively making coherent speech impossible. Due to the solid nature of the gag, it is often nearly impossible to remove or damage. Due to the nature, however, the subject is not always entirely silent, as the gag still leaves the subject free to open their mouth and make incoherent noise.

Whilst the scold's bridle is in less use today than it was centuries ago, it is sometimes used in BDSM role play.

Film, television, and fetish videos[edit]

  • The Avengers (U.K., 1967), "Murdersville" episode of TV series features medieval dungeon exhibit with captive woman wearing a brank.
  • Joseph Andrews (U.K., 1977), mainstream film based on the 18th century novel by Henry Fielding, shows an antique scold's bridle used in one scene.
  • Salem (2014–2017), a witch's bridle is used in this supernatural TV series loosely inspired by the 17th-century witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts.
  • Brimstone (Netherlands, 2016), a deranged minister forces his wife, and later his daughter, to wear a scold's bridle. Harsh Western set in the 19th century includes scenes of severe M/F and M/f whipping.

See also[edit]