Another short history of spanking

30Sep14

16 century brichingIt has been said that the first spanking in history was when Eve went over Adam’s knee after they were expelled from the Garden of Eden. However, before there was even a Bible the ancient Egyptians had already incorporated spanking into their religion.

To the followers of the goddess Isis spanking was actually a sacred duty. In the temple female slaves had their bottoms whipped to honour the goddess of motherhood and fertility. This made such an impact that centuries later the Greeks and Romans adopted the habit and held their own spanking parties to promote fertility.

The interesting thing about spanking and other forms of corporal punishment centred on the buttocks is that rather than being directed at children the practice was original reserved for women.

As a recent article points out, “Spare the rod, Spoil the child” is not from the Bible but was in fact written by Samuel Butler in his satirical poem Hudibras to ridicule the Victorian lifestyle.

Another article written in 1966 by John Barry said:

Spanking has a long history, probably as long as the Oldest Profession. Documented incidents even date back to Ancient Greece. Then it was customary for childless women to visit the temple of Juno in Athens, to be cured of sterility by the priests of Pan. The women had to lie face down on the temple floor, and be whipped with a lash made of goat’s hide. The priests clearly were aware of the erotic powers of the whip, but history does not tell us whether or not the resultant children were sired by the whip-wielding priests.

It goes to describe how the Roman story-teller, Virgil, describes the feast of Lupercalia, where naked men danced in the streets beating every woman they came across.

Also, as my previous article said the Romans followed a tradition for ensuring the fertility of brides to be. The girl was placed across the knees of the ‘sponsor’, and then the girl’s bottom was bared and strapped to the accompaniment of clashing cymbals. This theory that whipping would make barren women fertile was popular right up until the sixteenth century.

Indeed Queen Claude of France was said to be barren and remained childless for the first 15 years of her marriage. To counter this severe threat to the French state she was soundly and regularly spanked. In fact after undergoing a daily spanking on the bare bottom for some time it was said that her ordeal was occasionally augmented by using rods.

After 15 years of this treatment she did have several children!

The curious thing about this period in French history is that at a time when belief in flagellation for fertility began to wane erotic whipping became more common in the French court. Ladies bottoms were even frequently whipped in public. This was particularly curious because at the same time the Church had begun to advocate whipping for the purging of sins.

The church even defined different types of whipping; superior was whipping on the back, usually reserved for men, while an inferior whipping referred to spanking and chastisement on the bare bottom, generally reserved for women.  It was common for women, after confession, to retire to a priest’s room and have her bare bottom birched while resting on a specially designed kneeler.

This dichotomy of religious and erotic practices seems to have been confused even at the time. A 50-year-old Jesuit, Father Giraud, wound up in court for spanking the very pretty 25-year-old Catherine Cadiere, an alleged French witch who he had confined to a nunnery for this very ‘service.’

In fact the later trial of Catherine Cadiére in 1731 formed part of the basis for the pornographic novel Thérèse Philosophe.

Nor was he the only priest to follow this practice. Father Cornelius Adriason founded a punishment called the Cornelian Discipline, and became famous for flogging female bottoms. In the 1550s he became involved with Marie-Ann Leveque, a niece of the Mayor of Bruges, Belgium. As her confessor he customarily whipped her and other young women half-naked, but for him Marie-Ann deserved an extra-special penance. He stripped her completely naked and after her whippingis said to taken advantage of her.

Around the same time Catherine de’ Medici’s favourite sport, to quote from her biographers, was to order serving girls and ladies of her court to be stripped naked and thrashed in front of her. This seems to have begun as a punishment but as time went by this custom evolved into a kind of spanking party. At a banquet in 1577, she made the most beautiful and noble ladies of the court serve half naked. She personally spanked them on the buttocks with the palm of her hand, with great blows and fairly rough handling.

It seems that spanking has been ambiguous at the very least when it comes to motivations.



13 Responses to “Another short history of spanking”

  1. 1 ArtieKat

    Excellent research, as ever!

  2. 3 Karl Friedrich Gauss

    Nice retrospective there, Damien. Is it any wonder the popularity of spanking endures? Going back perhaps a little further, I seem to recall mention of spanking-like corporal punishment practiced by the ancient Sumerians, as described in one of Zecharia Sitchin’s Earth Chronicles books. Now as to whether those are history, or creation myth, is up for debate. I believe there are eight books in the series and they include titles such as “Wars of Gods and Men” and “Stairway to Heaven” (probably where Led Zeppelin stole the title to their famous rock anthem).

    • 4 DJ

      I think everyone was at it. It is definitely part of the human condition. People just wrap it up differently.

  3. 5 ArtieKat

    Reblogged this on The Discipline Society and commented:
    Another excellent piece of research from DJ Black.

  4. 7 cindy2

    Damien, it appears from your research that some were quite honest with the reason they wished to thrash a woman’s bare bottom while others wished to obscure the reason, instead resorting to pretext involving assisting with fertility, etc. I’m sure the priests of Pan felt they were only doing their duty when they penetrated the women and deposited their seed deep in their bodies after the women’s bottoms were thoroughly thrashed.

    And with respect to your account of Catherine de’ Medici, it does not surprise me that women of her time took an interest in the flagellation of the bare bottoms of other women. From my personal experience, I have found this to be the case.

    • 8 DJ

      After all only half the population could read back then and there was no TV. What else was their to do? 😉

  5. Very nice piece. Re-blogging as well. 🙂

  6. 11 Dr Keate

    A stimulating piece of research. In the Villa of the Mysteries at Pompeii there is an extraordinary mural which contains a scene of a young woman being scorged on the bare back by a winged female figure. She is kneeling with her head in another woman’s lap; this woman is both holding her and I think reassuring her through her ordeal. This house is believed to have belonged to a very rich woman.

    • 12 DJ

      yes I know it. The picture was used for my article in the book The Spanking Handbook – 🙂

      thanks I am glad you liked it.


  1. 1 chross.blogt.ch

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