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Tarring and feathering--history

Posted by R. Berg on March 29, 2001

In Reply to: The version above is the real one. posted by R. Berg on March 28, 2001

: : : When did the ritual of humiliation, known as being "tarred and feathered" begin? Did it occur during the middle ages?

: : From the Oxford English Dictionary: "The practice was imposed by an ordinance of Richard I in 1189 as a punishment in the navy for theft: see [three print sources cited here]; in Howell's 'Fam. Lett.' (1650 . . . ) it is said to have been applied in 1623 by a bishop of Halverstade to a party of incontinent friars and nuns; but in neither case is the specific term used."

: A misplaced semicolon in my other post muddies the message.

I should add something. Tarring and feathering was more an American practice than a European one. So, for example, if you're writing a historical novel set in the Middle Ages, it would be out of place to have your characters tarred and feathered routinely, however much they might deserve it.