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From the 16th until the 19th century, women accused of being scolds, shrews, or having "loose morals" were often fitted masks known as Scold's Bridles that held their tongues with an iron gag.

Abridle may be mostly associated with horses. But from at least the 16th century and well into the 19th, the so-called Scold’s Bridle was also used on people. This iron mask, fitted with a gag, was usually strapped onto women accused of gossiping, quarreling, or committing blasphemy.

The device had two purposes. The first, obviously, was to silence the wearer. The second was to humiliate them. People clad in a Scold’s Bridle were often paraded around town, where townspeople could jeer and throw things.

But as bad as that sounds, the Scold’s Bridle was hardly the only — or worst — punishment for women accused of speaking out of turn.

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