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The Oddment Emporium

A Cornucopia of Eclectic Delights

Posts tagged 1600s:

Guy Fawkes’ Post-Torture Signature

Guy Fawkes, or Guido Fawkes, was a member of a group of English Catholics who plotted to blow up parliament and kill the King in 1605. Fawkes was charged with the job of lighting the gunpowder the group had secretly stored in the cellars below parliament. I made a more detailed post on this last year and, conscious of repeating myself, I thought I’d dedicate this year’s post the Fawkes’ torture specifically.

After being apprehended by guards who had been previously tipped-off about the plot, Fawkes was first interrogated but, as he remained defiant and refused to give the names of his co-conspirators, the King ordered that he should be tortured. Fawkes was transferred to the Tower of London where a confession was eventually pulled from him through various means of torture. The King dictated that these tortures should begin with the most ‘gentle’, perhaps manacling the prisoner, and by degrees get worse, for example the rack.

It is unknown precisely what methods of torture Fawkes was subjected to, however, the worsening state of the signatures obtained on his confessions (images 2 and 3, which were written a day apart. Image 1 is an example of Fawkes’ signature before torture) suggest the horrors he endured. Fawkes made his third and final confession on the 9th November, three days after his capture. Fawkes was executed for high treason. He was dragged behind a horse and carriage before being hung, drawn and quartered. His body parts were then distributed to the four corners of the kingdom to be displayed as a warning to others.

[Sources: Wikipedia]

Dummy Boards

Dummy boards were life-sized wooden cut outs painted to resemble various figures found in upper-class homes between the 17th and 19th centuries. They would be stood in the corner of rooms and on darkened stairways to surprise unsuspecting guests.

[Sources: Images: 1-3 and 6, 4, 5, | V&A]

The Witchfinder General
In 1644 a witch-hunter by the name of Matthew Hopkins bestowed upon himself the title of Witchfinder General. Over a three year period he was responsible for the deaths by hanging of 300 people accused of witchcraft, more than had been hanged for the crime in England in the previous 100 years. 
Accompanied by an associate, John Stearne, and a group of women who performed the pricking, Hopkins’ terrorised the East of England, falsely claiming to have been commissioned by parliament. Hopkins was paid a large sum of ‘twenty shillings a town’, though records from Stowmarket suggest the town was forced to scrape together the equivalent of £6600 in today’s money and Ipswich had to increase the local tax rate to pay him.
Hopkins employed dirty tactics to win confessions. He would often deprive his victims of sleep; cut them with a blunt knife and if they did not bleed they were a witch; tie them to chairs and throw them into water, if they floated they were a witch, if they sank they weren’t but would inevitably drown anyway; he would also look for the Devil’s Mark on their skin. 
Hopkins died in 1647 having acquired something of a negative reputation.
[Sources: Image | Wikipedia]

The Witchfinder General

In 1644 a witch-hunter by the name of Matthew Hopkins bestowed upon himself the title of Witchfinder General. Over a three year period he was responsible for the deaths by hanging of 300 people accused of witchcraft, more than had been hanged for the crime in England in the previous 100 years. 

Accompanied by an associate, John Stearne, and a group of women who performed the pricking, Hopkins’ terrorised the East of England, falsely claiming to have been commissioned by parliament. Hopkins was paid a large sum of ‘twenty shillings a town’, though records from Stowmarket suggest the town was forced to scrape together the equivalent of £6600 in today’s money and Ipswich had to increase the local tax rate to pay him.

Hopkins employed dirty tactics to win confessions. He would often deprive his victims of sleep; cut them with a blunt knife and if they did not bleed they were a witch; tie them to chairs and throw them into water, if they floated they were a witch, if they sank they weren’t but would inevitably drown anyway; he would also look for the Devil’s Mark on their skin. 

Hopkins died in 1647 having acquired something of a negative reputation.

[Sources: Image | Wikipedia]

Witch Pricking
Witch Pricking was an activity rife at the height of the witch trials in the 16th and 17th century. It was believed that all witches carried the Devil’s Mark, a permanent mark left by the Devil on his initiates skin. Such marks could be used as evidence at witch trials but moles and birthmarks were often mistaken for the Devil’s Mark and, in the absence of such marks, Pricking would be used to create one. 
It was also believed that witches would neither bleed nor feel pain when pricked. Specially adapted Pricking devices have been left over from the time of the trials. Some of these had hollow handles so that that the blade would retract into the empty space when pressed against the victim’s flesh. This would give the impression that they had been stabbed without feeling pain. Others have been found with both a sharp end and a blunt end: the sharp end would be demonstrated first, drawing blood and causing pain, and then, through slight of hand, the blunt end would be used on the ‘witch’ to apparently prove that they felt no pain and did not bleed when cut.
[Source]

Witch Pricking

Witch Pricking was an activity rife at the height of the witch trials in the 16th and 17th century. It was believed that all witches carried the Devil’s Mark, a permanent mark left by the Devil on his initiates skin. Such marks could be used as evidence at witch trials but moles and birthmarks were often mistaken for the Devil’s Mark and, in the absence of such marks, Pricking would be used to create one.

It was also believed that witches would neither bleed nor feel pain when pricked. Specially adapted Pricking devices have been left over from the time of the trials. Some of these had hollow handles so that that the blade would retract into the empty space when pressed against the victim’s flesh. This would give the impression that they had been stabbed without feeling pain. Others have been found with both a sharp end and a blunt end: the sharp end would be demonstrated first, drawing blood and causing pain, and then, through slight of hand, the blunt end would be used on the ‘witch’ to apparently prove that they felt no pain and did not bleed when cut.

[Source]

The Mistress of the Fairy King
Karin Svensdotter was a 17th century Swedish woman who claimed to have had seven children by a man who identified himself to her as The King of the Fairies. According to Svensdotter, she had met the most beautiful man clad in golden clothes and they had danced an sung together on a mountain called Green Hill. He presented her with various gifts and then had intercourse with her. Svensdotter was adamant that she had given birth during some of the attacks and fits to which she was prone, and each time the child had been taken away to the land of the fairies. In court her employer testified that they had heard Svensdotter roaming the woods, searching for her fairy children.
In the 17th century the existence of mythical creatures was acknowledged as fact, and cavorting with them was seen as a grave crime, however, there was some debate amongst authorities as to how to deal with Svensdotter’s case. There were no laws against having sexual relationships with mythical creatures, however, those purporting to have engaged in such an act might be prosecuted for bestiality as the creatures were considered non-human. Indeed, there were two previous cases of men having confessed to having had sex with various types of elemental nymphs and had been sentenced to death.
Fortunately, Svensdotter was diagnosed as insane and her congregation were ordered to pray for her recovery, whilst her family gave her a silver cross for protection. Svensdotter received no more visits from the Fairy King.
[Sources: Image: “The Arrival of the King and Queen of the Fairies” | Wikipedia]

The Mistress of the Fairy King

Karin Svensdotter was a 17th century Swedish woman who claimed to have had seven children by a man who identified himself to her as The King of the Fairies. According to Svensdotter, she had met the most beautiful man clad in golden clothes and they had danced an sung together on a mountain called Green Hill. He presented her with various gifts and then had intercourse with her. Svensdotter was adamant that she had given birth during some of the attacks and fits to which she was prone, and each time the child had been taken away to the land of the fairies. In court her employer testified that they had heard Svensdotter roaming the woods, searching for her fairy children.

In the 17th century the existence of mythical creatures was acknowledged as fact, and cavorting with them was seen as a grave crime, however, there was some debate amongst authorities as to how to deal with Svensdotter’s case. There were no laws against having sexual relationships with mythical creatures, however, those purporting to have engaged in such an act might be prosecuted for bestiality as the creatures were considered non-human. Indeed, there were two previous cases of men having confessed to having had sex with various types of elemental nymphs and had been sentenced to death.

Fortunately, Svensdotter was diagnosed as insane and her congregation were ordered to pray for her recovery, whilst her family gave her a silver cross for protection. Svensdotter received no more visits from the Fairy King.

[Sources: Image: “The Arrival of the King and Queen of the Fairies” | Wikipedia]

Royalist Army Deserter Hand Brand

Branding tools were sometimes used to permanently stamp or tattoo army deserters or criminals. This hand-shaped example was made by the British Army during the English Civil War (1641-1651). The branding tool bears the initials ‘CR’ surrounding a crown. This is presumed to refer to ‘Carolus Rex’ - King Charles I. He was beheaded in 1649 for treason, after which England briefly became a republic after a decade of civil war.
This tool would have been used to mark ‘ownership’ of Royalist army deserters. The metal spikes on the hand are blunt. Perhaps they are dulled through use or perhaps it is deliberate to inflict more pain. However, they were likely heated first to burn the imprint in. Branding was abolished in 1829 with the exception of army deserters. The mark was then tattooed on the body, not branded with irons. The practice was totally abandoned in 1879.
[Sources: Science Museum | The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things (Facebook)]

Royalist Army Deserter Hand Brand

Branding tools were sometimes used to permanently stamp or tattoo army deserters or criminals. This hand-shaped example was made by the British Army during the English Civil War (1641-1651). The branding tool bears the initials ‘CR’ surrounding a crown. This is presumed to refer to ‘Carolus Rex’ - King Charles I. He was beheaded in 1649 for treason, after which England briefly became a republic after a decade of civil war.

This tool would have been used to mark ‘ownership’ of Royalist army deserters. The metal spikes on the hand are blunt. Perhaps they are dulled through use or perhaps it is deliberate to inflict more pain. However, they were likely heated first to burn the imprint in. Branding was abolished in 1829 with the exception of army deserters. The mark was then tattooed on the body, not branded with irons. The practice was totally abandoned in 1879.

[Sources: Science Museum | The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things (Facebook)]

Plague Village

In order to satisfy our morbid curiosity my friend and I visited Eyam plague village today. It has quite a fascinating story:

Eyam is a small village in DerbyshireEngland, also know as the “plague village” which chose to completely isolate itself when the plague was discovered there in 1665.

The plague was brought to the village in a flea-infested bundle of cloth delivered from London to the tailor, George Viccars. Within a week, he was dead. Within two months 28 others also died. It was suggested that the villagers flee to the nearby city of Sheffield, however the rector, Rev. Mompesson, feared that they would spread the disease to the North of England which had, for the most part, escaped the plague.

Instead, the village decided to cut themselves off completely from the outside world, introducing a number of precautions to prevent the spread of illness, for instance, people were to bury their own dead and church services were moved from the local church to field area called Cucklett Delph, which meant villagers could separate themselves.

The village was supplied with food by [outsiders]. People brought supplies and left them at the [boundary stone] that marked the start of Eyam. The villagers left money in a water trough filled with vinegar to steralise the coins … In this way, Eyam was not left to starve to death [and] Those who supplied the food did not come into contact with the villagers.

The plague raged in the village for 14 months and when the first outsiders visited Eyam a year later, they found that around a quarter of the village had survived the plague. The church in Eyam has a record of 273 individuals who were victims of the plague.

Images: [1-3 are my own] 1: Plague Cottages: This was where the plague began, the righthand cottage was where the tailor, Viccars, lived. 2: The Riley Graves: Situated in a field just outside Eyam (in order to prevent the spread of infection) these are the graves of the Hancock family. Elizabeth Hancock buried her husband and six children within eight days of one another but survived the plague herself. 3: Shows what is inside the walls in image two. 4: [Source] The boundary stone where food was left for the villagers.

Thomas Blood and a Plot to Pilfer the Crown Jewels
As a Roundhead, Thomas Blood was inevitably keen to demonstrate his displeasure following the restoration of the British monarchy in 1660, and, it was with a desire to express this discontentment that, in 1671, he plotted to pilfer the Crown Jewels from The Tower of London.

The Jewels could be viewed at the tower and it was under this pretence that Blood, dressed as a parson and accompanied by a woman pretending to be his wife, first observed them. Here, Blood’s “wife” feigned a stomach complaint and begged the Master of the Jewel House, Talbot Edwards, to fetch some spirits. Edwards’ wife invited them upstairs to their apartment to recover. Returning later with a gift of thanks, Blood became gradually ingratiated into the family and eventually an offer was made for a fictitious nephew of Blood’s to marry the Edwardses’ daughter.

On May 9th, Blood convinced Edwards to show him, his ‘nephew’, and two companions, the Jewels. Concealing rapier blades and pistols Blood and two fellow conspirators followed Edwards into the Jewel House, where the Jewels were kept behind a metal grille, whilst the other conspirator stood watch outside. As they entered the room a cloak was thrown over Edwards before he was struck, knocked to the floor, bound, gagged and stabbed, in an attempt to subdue him.

After removing the metal grille, Blood used a mallet to flatten out St. Edward’s Crown so he could hide it beneath his coat. The Sceptre with the Cross was cut in two to fit in their bag, while the Sovereign’s Orb was stuffed down one man’s trousers. Possibly, the disturbance caused by Edwards’ struggle raised the alarm, however, popular reports describe the fortuitous return of Edwards’ son, Wythe, who happened upon the theft and confronted the look-out, who alerted his fellow conspirators to their having been discovered. Ungagged, Edwards was able to sound the alarm with his cries of “Treason! Murder! The crown is stolen!”

As Blood and his gang fled it is said they joined the calls for alarm to confuse the guards. They dropped the sceptre and fired on the warders who eventually succeeded in capturing them. Having fallen from his cloak, the crown was found while Blood refused to give up. The orb was recovered, although several stones were missing and others were loose.

Blood refused to answer to anyone but the king so was taken to the palace, bound in chains, and questioned by King Charles and other members of the royal family. He was not only pardoned, but also given land. The reasons for the pardon are unknown though historians have speculated that the king may have feared a revengeful uprising by Blood’s followers, or that the king had a fondness for audacious scoundrels and was amused by Blood’s revelation that he had previously intended to kill the king as he bathed in the Thames but had changed his mind having found himself in “awe of majesty”. Following his pardon Blood became a familiar figure in London and made frequent appearances at Court, where he was employed to advocate in the claims of suitors to the Crown.

Thomas Blood and a Plot to Pilfer the Crown Jewels

As a Roundhead, Thomas Blood was inevitably keen to demonstrate his displeasure following the restoration of the British monarchy in 1660, and, it was with a desire to express this discontentment that, in 1671, he plotted to pilfer the Crown Jewels from The Tower of London.

The Jewels could be viewed at the tower and it was under this pretence that Blood, dressed as a parson and accompanied by a woman pretending to be his wife, first observed them. Here, Blood’s “wife” feigned a stomach complaint and begged the Master of the Jewel House, Talbot Edwards, to fetch some spirits. Edwards’ wife invited them upstairs to their apartment to recover. Returning later with a gift of thanks, Blood became gradually ingratiated into the family and eventually an offer was made for a fictitious nephew of Blood’s to marry the Edwardses’ daughter.

On May 9th, Blood convinced Edwards to show him, his ‘nephew’, and two companions, the Jewels. Concealing rapier blades and pistols Blood and two fellow conspirators followed Edwards into the Jewel House, where the Jewels were kept behind a metal grille, whilst the other conspirator stood watch outside. As they entered the room a cloak was thrown over Edwards before he was struck, knocked to the floor, bound, gagged and stabbed, in an attempt to subdue him.

After removing the metal grille, Blood used a mallet to flatten out St. Edward’s Crown so he could hide it beneath his coat. The Sceptre with the Cross was cut in two to fit in their bag, while the Sovereign’s Orb was stuffed down one man’s trousers. Possibly, the disturbance caused by Edwards’ struggle raised the alarm, however, popular reports describe the fortuitous return of Edwards’ son, Wythe, who happened upon the theft and confronted the look-out, who alerted his fellow conspirators to their having been discovered. Ungagged, Edwards was able to sound the alarm with his cries of “Treason! Murder! The crown is stolen!”

As Blood and his gang fled it is said they joined the calls for alarm to confuse the guards. They dropped the sceptre and fired on the warders who eventually succeeded in capturing them. Having fallen from his cloak, the crown was found while Blood refused to give up. The orb was recovered, although several stones were missing and others were loose.

Blood refused to answer to anyone but the king so was taken to the palace, bound in chains, and questioned by King Charles and other members of the royal family. He was not only pardoned, but also given land. The reasons for the pardon are unknown though historians have speculated that the king may have feared a revengeful uprising by Blood’s followers, or that the king had a fondness for audacious scoundrels and was amused by Blood’s revelation that he had previously intended to kill the king as he bathed in the Thames but had changed his mind having found himself in “awe of majesty”. Following his pardon Blood became a familiar figure in London and made frequent appearances at Court, where he was employed to advocate in the claims of suitors to the Crown.

(Source: Wikipedia)

The Man in the Iron Mask
The Man in the Iron Mask is a name given to a prisoner arrested as Eustache Dauger in 1669. He was held in the custody of the same jailer for 34 years. His identity has been thoroughly discussed because no one ever saw his face, which was hidden by a mask of either black velvet cloth or iron. What facts are known about this prisoner are based mainly on correspondence between his jailer and his superiors in Paris.
The first surviving records of the masked prisoner are from July 1669, when Louis XIV’s minister sent a letter to the governor of the prison of Pignerol informing him that a prisoner named Eustache Dauger was due to arrive in the next month or so. Historians have noted that the name Eustache Dauger was written in a different handwriting than the rest of the text, suggesting that while a clerk wrote the letter under dictation, a third party, very likely the minister himself, added the name afterwards.
The governor was instructed to prepare a cell with multiple doors, one closing upon the other, to prevent anyone from the outside listening in. The governor himself was to see Dauger only once a day in order to provide food and whatever else he needed. Dauger was also to be told that if he spoke of anything other than his immediate needs he would be killed. According to many versions of this legend, the prisoner wore the mask at all times. 
The prison at Pignerol was used for men who were considered an embarrassment to the state and usually held only a handful of prisoners at a time, some of which were important and wealthy and granted servants. One prisoner, Nicolas Fouquet’s valet was often ill and so permission was given for Dauger to serve Fouquet on the condition that he never met with anyone else. The fact that Dauger served as a valet is an important one for whilst Fouquet was never expected to be released, other prisoners were, and might have spread word of Dauger’s existence. 
In time the governor was offered positions at other prisons and each time he moved Dauger went with him until he died in 1703 and was buried under the name of Marchioly. Though she may merely have been repeating rumours In 1711, King Louis’s sister-in-law stated in a letter that the prisoner had “two musketeers at his side to kill him if he removed his mask”. 
In 1771, Voltaire claimed that the prisoner was the older, illegitimate brother of Louis XIV but other theories include that he was a Marshal of France; Richard Cromwell; or François, Duke of Beaufort; an illegitimate son of Charles II, amongst others.

The Man in the Iron Mask

The Man in the Iron Mask is a name given to a prisoner arrested as Eustache Dauger in 1669. He was held in the custody of the same jailer for 34 years. His identity has been thoroughly discussed because no one ever saw his face, which was hidden by a mask of either black velvet cloth or iron. What facts are known about this prisoner are based mainly on correspondence between his jailer and his superiors in Paris.

The first surviving records of the masked prisoner are from July 1669, when Louis XIV’s minister sent a letter to the governor of the prison of Pignerol informing him that a prisoner named Eustache Dauger was due to arrive in the next month or so. Historians have noted that the name Eustache Dauger was written in a different handwriting than the rest of the text, suggesting that while a clerk wrote the letter under dictation, a third party, very likely the minister himself, added the name afterwards.

The governor was instructed to prepare a cell with multiple doors, one closing upon the other, to prevent anyone from the outside listening in. The governor himself was to see Dauger only once a day in order to provide food and whatever else he needed. Dauger was also to be told that if he spoke of anything other than his immediate needs he would be killed. According to many versions of this legend, the prisoner wore the mask at all times. 

The prison at Pignerol was used for men who were considered an embarrassment to the state and usually held only a handful of prisoners at a time, some of which were important and wealthy and granted servants. One prisoner, Nicolas Fouquet’s valet was often ill and so permission was given for Dauger to serve Fouquet on the condition that he never met with anyone else. The fact that Dauger served as a valet is an important one for whilst Fouquet was never expected to be released, other prisoners were, and might have spread word of Dauger’s existence. 

In time the governor was offered positions at other prisons and each time he moved Dauger went with him until he died in 1703 and was buried under the name of Marchioly. Though she may merely have been repeating rumours In 1711, King Louis’s sister-in-law stated in a letter that the prisoner had “two musketeers at his side to kill him if he removed his mask”. 

In 1771, Voltaire claimed that the prisoner was the older, illegitimate brother of Louis XIV but other theories include that he was a Marshal of France; Richard Cromwell; or François, Duke of Beaufort; an illegitimate son of Charles II, amongst others.

Fore-Edge Painting

Fore-edge paintingis the technique of painting the edges of the leaves of a book. From 1650 onward
binders practiced a new decorative method of fore-edge painting: floral scrolls or scenes were painted upon the fanned-out fore-edge of the leaves and concealed by a normal gilt edge when the book was closed; 
they became visible only when it was opened. This decorative device was continued 
in the 18th century, but by the late 19th century had begun to wane in popularity. 

Thomas H. Horne, in his 1814 “Introduction to the Study of Bibliography,” gives credit to the Edwards of Halifax bindery for creating a “method of gilding … and decorating the edges of the leaves with exquisite paintings.” The Edwards firm was founded by William Edwards (1723-1808) and Horne says that he has seen “landscapes thus executed with a degree of beauty and fidelity that are truly astonishing, and when held up to the light in an oblique direction, the scenery appears as delicate as in the finest productions of the pencil.”

There were also the more elaborate double fore edge paintings, in which the fore edge hides not one but two paintings, one appearing when the leaves are fanned to the left, the other when they are fanned to the right. The split fore-edge painting reveals both scenes at once when the volume is laid open at the middle, as in the central image above.

Stately homes and ruins – whether classical or medieval – were popular subjects [then] Later in the 19th century, fore-edge artists turned to more natural, everyday scenes, such as views of docks or harbor fronts, busy with activity and enlivened by the presence of workers. Less common were scenes like the winter scene, bare branches being much more tedious to paint than green, leafy clouds of trees. The imaginative design[s], rich detail, and expert execution indicate artist[s] of the highest skill. [Source]

(Source: dictionary.reference.com)

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