The Scold's Bridle — How Men In The Middle Ages Dealt With Gossiping Wives

According to most men and women, it's almost impossible for a group of women to work together without gossiping. And in the middle ages, women who chatted faced public humiliation.

Their husbands forced gossiping wives in the middle ages to put on a tool called 'Scold's Bridle.' Like modern women, ladies from the middle ages would converge together and discuss the latest rumors and gossip.


In today's society, women face almost no repercussions for gossiping and idle chatter. But in the middle ages, they would face an extreme kind of corporal punishment, called 'Scold's Bridle.'

When comparing the life of modern and middle ages women, today's ladies are more feminist, and they can do whatever they please without facing the offensive part of men. The laws protect them.

But in the middle ages, women were expected to follow some norms without questioning. And the 'Scold's Bridle' was among the worst punishment they'd face for gossiping.


The Scold's Bridle was made with several iron strings that surrounded an iron muzzle. This mask-like equipment would be wrapped on a woman's face.

Also, a piece of iron, called 'bridle bit,' would be put into a woman's mouth. It was them pressed against the tongue, making it impossible for the victim to speak.

The tool looks like the equipment you put on the horse's mouth to handle and control the animal.


In some cases, the 'bridle bit' was made with spikes that would pierce the tongue if the woman attempted to speak.

After the husband was informed that his wife had been involved in gossips, he'd secure the 'Scold's Bridle.' He'd then wrap it on his wife's face as a punishment and to teach her a lesson.

The husband would then attach a halter to the bridle and take the wife on a humiliation walk of shame around the street. He'd then encourage onlookers and passersby to spit on and insult her.


The most humiliating part of this walk of shame is that a bell was attached to the harness to attract more public attention.

The word 'Scold' in the term 'Scold Bridle' was used in a derogation sense to refer to a woman who seemed nagging and displeasing.

And the term 'Bridle' refers to a headpiece that horses win. It's placed on the animal if you want to achieve full control over the horse's movement.


The purpose of corporal punishment in the middle ages wasn't innovative by any means. According to Christians in this era, punishing one's body was the only way to atone for your sins.

Christianity also used body punishment as a way to make a sinner understands the weight of their sins. It's through body pain you were to achieve a full absolution of your crimes.

'Scold's Bridle' was also in other situations. For instance, similar cages were used to control slaves in the early ages.


It was only in the 19th century when the use of this equipment was abolished.

In the 16th century, women had learned the lesson and were gossiping less. And the 'Scold's Bridle' was used on rare occasions. Men also found better punishment alternatives, such as placing people in the stocks.