Friday, 25 May 2012

Spring Birthdays and Roads Trips - Part 2

The Criminal Museum

We celebrated my first spring birthday in Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, a beautiful medieval town along the Romantic Road.  The city walls date back to the 13th century and the medieval charm of this town has been well preserved. 

I have many beautiful pictures of Rothenbrug to share, but want to first share our experience of the criminal museum (Kriminalmuseum).  This is the only museum of its kind in Europe and it gives insights into the life, laws and punishments of medieval days.  A lot of the pictures speak for themselves, and life in the so called good old days seemed pretty tough.

We saw a display of chastity belts, a shame masks, shame flutes, and torture devices. These were the days when women were captured and accused of being witches. It may sound funny at first, but upon seeing the methods used on women and the injustice that prevailed, it was actually quite sad and scary to see how these people were treated.   A woman could be accused of being a witch and have to prove herself innocent.  But after many hours and days of torture she would eventually give in and admit “guilt” simple to avoid further pain.  She would then be burnt at the stake or hanged.  A man could accuse a woman of being a witch for something as simple as having a dream about this woman because he happened to spot a part of her skin sticking out from under her dress on her ankle for example.  This woman would be captured and tortured until admitting guilt.  The witch catcher tool looks quite scary.

Some of the other punishment methods seemed quite humiliating, but are things we could laugh about and thank our lucky stars we don’t live in such times.   The shame masks were used for various “crimes” like talking too much (many of us women would have been punished for this!) or telling bad jokes - perhaps the men would get this punishment :-).  The flute of shame was used on someone who played bad music; a cage was used for bad bakers who baked bread too small or too light!  These masks would be attached to the offender who would have to walk around town for everyone to see. 

The school punishment methods of children actually reminded me a bit of the boarding school I went to; pity nothing changed over hundreds of years. At least these days one can’t use such methods to punish children.

The chastity belts looked rather uncomfortable and quite disgusting. To think that the woman wearing this would have to stay in it for weeks/months at a time, I’m not surprised so many people died of diseases back then – ugh! 

Enter at your own risk...

Witch catcher
Shame masks

For talkative women

 School punishments
Ass of shame hung around the neck
Kneeling on a wooden plank
Getting an ear-pulling
Sitting on an ass of shame
News on the more beautiful side of Rothenburg coming soon.