The Spanish Chair courtyard punishment

The Spanish Chair position for correction

The Spanish Chair position for correction

In 1976, Spain became a democracy and had to catch up with modern Europe fast. There was suddenly a lot of interest in Spain’s hidden world as it had been under Franco’s dictatorship. On story that emerged was the domestic correction known as the courtyard chair punishment or outside of Spain the Spanish Chair. This was used, it seemed, exclusively for young women. The front page of a national newspaper carried a photograph depicting a woman in such a position, which was very similar to the picture on this page.

The original Spanish Chair was a sturdy wooden construction strategically embedded with up to 2,000 metal spikes. It was much used by the inquisition and given the dominance of that organisation in Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries, probably gained some respectability. Later versions often dispensed with the spikes, using instead wooden studs on the seat of the chair.

This probably led to the tradition in Spanish convents of having novices kneeling upon the seat and bending over the back so that they could grasp the lowest cross support, the studs being more effective on the knees. However, this had the effect of elevating the bottom to its highest point, making it an excellent target for correction.

The Spanish chair courtyard punishment, by now using an ordinary chair, was adapted from this during the 18th century. Considered too harsh a punishment for children and too dishonourable for men in a Spanish macho culture, it was used for young women who had not yet married.

A chair was placed in the middle of the inner courtyard, which was usually entirely surrounded by the house and the woman was made to kneel upon it, sometimes with a leather strap around the thighs to keep her in position. The woman’s guardian, perhaps her mother would then administer a correction with a martinet in full view of her sisters, aunts and any female servants. The shame of such punishment designed to ensure better conduct from the chastened girl.

By the 18th century up to one quarter of the Spanish population claimed to be nobility. This left too many impoverished nobles with too many daughters for whom they had no dowry. So young women often remained enclosed within the family home for many years before they married, sometimes never marrying. This left their mother with a lot of spirited young women, who may have been keen to find any way to make informal contacts with young men at grave risk to the family honour.

Variations of this punishment are still used in South America today and at least one woman has testified that as a teenager during the 1980s she was made to bend right over the back of a dinning room chair when her father gave her the strap.

If this still goes on in Spanish convents then no one is saying.

3 Responses to “The Spanish Chair courtyard punishment”

  1. 1 OST

    Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so, Excellent post!

  2. 2 Tsquare

    Great Blog!……There’s always something here to make me laugh…Keep doing what ya do 🙂

  3. What I like about this picture of the Spanish Chair, is that the naughty female who is about to be severely caned, is wearing suspender-belt and stockings. Which accent her naked rear end to the fullest.

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