Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Moments in C.P. History. Numbers VII-IX

Moments in C.P. History
A Series by Paul Melrose

"You're gonna hate me, readers, but as there aren't that many left I'm going to do just do one per post from here on in, but I'll add a bit more detail to each" (Alex put the phrase in his blog, before he began to post the numbers from 7 to 14 of this series. He meant that some texts, which he will post in his blog, will differ from those texts, which were published in Februs. I'm in the future will always warn readers, if some text is taken from Alex's blog and differs from the original text from the magazine)

Number 7. The Boston Quakers (This is the text from Alex's blog, edited by Alex in 2008)

From the very beginning of the migration of religious dissidents from England to the New World, Puritans, mainly Calvinists, had built and developed the city of Boston as a tribute to God's Kingdom on earth, a shining example of strict theology, subservience to church elders and to elected magistrates. They perceived true faith to be represented through strong personal discipline and obedience. Then, in 1656, the first Quakers began to arrive in Massachusetts, many missionaries finding their way to Boston.

Initially there were no laws within Boston preventing Quakers from worshiping as they saw fit or spreading their version of the faith. However, it soon became clear to the Calvinists just what a frightening threat to the established order the Quakers presented with their ideology of 'inner light', independent convictions and individual conscience. All this 'anarchy' was complete anathema to the strict Puritan ethic and very soon the leaders of the community resolved to rid the state of Quakers by any means possible. The first 'shot across the bows' was fired when a ship called The Swallow arrived in Boston harbour in July 1656, carrying two devout Quaker missionaries named Mary Fisher and Anne Austin. They were immediately arrested when they set foot on shore and all their belongings confiscated. Both women were stripped naked in the presence of six male magistrates and humiliatingly searched for evidence of witchcraft. None was found and the two women were sent back to England, but only after all their Quaker tracts had been burned in the market place.

Laws were hastily brought in tightening the screw on Quakers and making it illegal to ship them into Boston. The laws included a whipping sentence for all Quakers who entered the city and heavy fines on any ships captain who transported them. All this did was encouraged more brave Quakers to flood into the city to advance their faith and to express their outrage. In 1659, three Quakers travelled from Rhode Island to Massachusetts to protest against the persecution of their faith. The two men were arrested and hanged and the woman, Mary Dyer, escaped death and was returned to Rhode Island. This brave, or foolhardy (take your pick), woman returned a year later saying it was God's will that she be sent to Boston and this time she too was hanged.

One incident above all others changed the climate for the Quakers because it shamed and embarrassed the local populace and forced are think of some attitudes. This was the arrival in 1662 of three young English Quaker women to the township of Dover, near Boston. They were Ann Coleman, Mary Tompkins and Alice Ambrose. They made a general nuisance of themselves preaching against the established faith and restrictions on individual conscience. Eventually an influential church elder named (yes honestly!) Hatevil Nutter organised a petition to have the women arrested. On receipt of the petition, Richard Waldron, the Crown magistrate issued an order to the constables of each of eleven towns within the Boston area that the three young women should be tied to a cart tail, stripped to the waist, and given ten stripes apiece with a horse whip on their naked backs in each of the eleven towns.

This was a hideous ruling, a total of 110 stripes each, in addition to the forced march tied half naked to the cart tail to each of the towns, a journey of more than 80 miles in bitterly cold winter weather.

On a freezing cold day, in Dover, the three young women were stripped to the waist, tied to the cart tail and severely whipped while the local populace stood and laughed. They were then towed to Hampton, the second of the towns, and delivered to the constable. Early the next day, the cart was set up in the market place and the three women were again ordered to strip to the waist. Two of them obeyed, but Anne Coleman bravely refused. As a result she was stripped completely naked by the constable, displayed to the crowd and then forced to suffer her whipping naked before being allowed to dress her lower half again. Then the three women were towed to Salisbury where the appalling punishment was delivered for a third time.

In Salisbury however, providence came to their aid. A local doctor who was also a magistrate, one William Barefoot, rather bravely overturned the Crown order and declared the punishment to be complete. He personally dressed the wounds of the three women and returned them personally to the state of Maine and safety just across the river. Had the full sentence been administered there is every possibility that the women might have died. As it was, the public humiliation vented on these poor women gave some Boston worthies some uncomfortable food for thought, and pressure to ease up on Quaker persecution began to grow.

Eventually in 1663, these three brave young women returned to Dover and established a Quaker church. By the year 1670, a third of the citizens of Dover, Massachusetts were Quakers, so the sacrifice made by these young women and their predecessors did at last bear fruit.

Number 8. Catherine de Medici (Original text from Februs 39)

Catherine de Medici was born in 1519 in Auvergne and was related via her maternal grandmother to the royal house of France. She was orphaned when only a baby but her fortunes appeared to have changed when, still only thirteen years old, she was given in marriage to Henry, the second son of King Francis I of France. Much political intrigue had surrounded this match because Pope Clement VII was Catherine's uncle and the King had hoped, by this marriage, to gain much influence in papal circles. However, when the Pope died the year following the wedding, all Francis' scheming with regard to marrying off his son came to naught, thus Catherine became 'disposable' and was consigned to obscurity for ten years even after Henry became King. The humiliation she suffered was intense, having to pander to the whims of her husband's beautiful mistress, Diane of Poitiers, merely to retain some degree of respect and authority. It is said that this experience coloured much of her attitude in later life.

She became very powerful once Henry died in 1559 and her son Francis II took the throne. He was the husband of Mary Stuart and worshipped his mother, allowing her great political influence in the affairs of state which she grasped eagerly, being a shrewd political operator. Her second 'reign' began in 1560 when her son Francis died. As her second son, Charles IX, was only ten years old, Catherine became regent and virtually sovereign. She displayed great political skill and diplomacy in her dealings with Protestant England, under Elizabeth I, Catholic Spain under Phillip II (who was her son in law), and the Huguenots within her own borders who were demanding a state within a state. Catherine persisted in her policy of moving back and forth between the Huguenot, English Protestant and Catholic positions refusing to ally herself with one or the other. When Charles IX attained his majority, he told his mother she should have even more power, but the fragile alliances were falling apart. Catherine was frightened that the young king, inclined to the Huguenot cause, would create problems with Spain and she gave the order for the murder of one of the leading Huguenot statesmen in order to deflect her son from such a course.

Tragically, Charles IX died aged only 25 in 1574 and her third son, Henry Duke of Anjou became King of France. He was a much more independent man than his two brothers and the influence of Catherine fell very rapidly It was at this time that Catherine's flirtation with the sect of the flagellants became a matter of public record and one can surmise that a powerful woman suddenly deprived of influence might need some alternative source of spiritual guidance and direction. To the consternation of many, including her son, she found it with the Black Brotherhood, a flagellant sect which, in late 1574, marched through Avignon with Catherine at its head.

Her power slipping away, Catherine's private behaviour began to reflect her newly found public obsession. Dark stories began to circulate around the Palace that Catherine had begun to physically chastise her errant female staff and that one lady's maid, who had apparently been caught trying on a dress belonging to the now Queen Mother was whipped with birch rods until her bottom bled copiously. This became a regular pattern of behaviour during the latter part of her life and there were few maidservants who survived a week without severe stripes across their buttocks. The least blemish in behaviour by any of her maidservants, a soiled bedsheet, dust in the corners, breakfast brought late, all punished by the poor girl stripping naked for a sound dose of the rod before being allowed tearfully and painfully to resume her duties.

Catherine began to preach the gospel of flagellation and corporal punishment both as an instrument of restored religious values and as a necessary domestic correction. She attempted to persuade her son to restore the flagellant sect to a position of influence within the country but Henry was outraged and would have none of it. So she compensated by practising on her staff at every given opportunity.

Perhaps the most notorious of Catherine's excesses followed a violent outburst of anger when she overheard four of her ladies in waiting making fun of her irritability and increasingly eccentric behaviour. These were not common serving maids but themselves ladies of the nobility for whom serving the Queen Mother was a stepping stone to finding a husband of some wealth and influence. What followed therefore must have been as humiliating an experience as it was possible to bear. Catherine hosted a dinner party for a number of influential members of the nobility during which the four young ladies in waiting were summoned into the room. To the surprise, and in most cases, severe embarrassment of the mainly male guests the unfortunate ladies in waiting were naked from the waist down and made to stand in front of the guests while Catherine delivered a public condemnation of their behaviour. Then, in front of the assembled gathering, the four young women were bent over a table and birched personally by Catherine until their screams rang round the Hall. Such was the disgust felt by many of the onlookers that Henry III felt obliged to warn his mother that no such behavior on her part would he ever tolerated again, and it seems she heeded his warning.

Meanwhile, Henry III had fallen into bad company and allowed his reign to fall into disrepute. He had no children and Catherine, now growing old and bitter, saw her fourth child Francis of Valois die in 1584 leaving the future of France to Henry of Bourbon, a Protestant. All that Catherine had worked for was falling apart before her eyes, yet she was still politically astute enough to try to save Henry III from his own bad judgements. Still desperate to keep traditional alliances intact, Catherine was in despair when she found out that Henry had murdered his arch rival the Duke of Guise. Old, bitter and totally disillusioned, Catherine died on 5th January 1589, only 13 days after hearing this news.

Catherine de Medici was a fascinating mixture of wife, mother, peacemaker, diplomat, tyrant and sadist. Ostensibly clever, historians have judged that far from securing the future of France, her devious and unscrupulous alliances which may have looked shrewd at the time actually sowed the seeds of long term instability and distrust in France which took many years to overcome.

Number 9. Father Cornelius Adriason (This is the text from Alex's blog, edited by Alex in 2008)

Cornelius Adriason was born in Brussels in 1518, effectively an only child, though his mother had given birth to a still-born infant earlier. He was brought up in a well-to-do, caring and religiously devout family whose most earnest wish was to see their son pass his theological examinations and enter the priesthood, which he succeeded in doing after hard work and application, not being the most naturally gifted of students.

He spent some time teaching in a church school and was, by all accounts, industrious rather than inspirational and it was not long before he realised his calling lay in more internal Church work. He applied through his diocese for an assignment to a monastic order and was duly appointed to a monastery in Brussels teaching theology where his plodding manner was not so much of a handicap.

Cornelius appears to have been a success in this role which he undertook for five years when, at the age of 30 he was appointed as spiritual mentor to the Convent of the Little Sisters in Bruges in 1548. This was a marked step up the ladder for Cornelius for, in such a convent where he was the only male authority figure, his word was law, his standing in the convent hierarchy above even that of the Mother Superior. By understood convention, however, the spiritual mentor did not interfere with the running of the convent in any way but had overall responsibility for the spiritual well-being of the nuns within its walls.

For the first six months of his tenure, he appears to have applied himself to the role with legitimate and wholesome vigour, earning much respect from the nuns and strengthening his individual position. Sometime within that first year, Cornelius, who had always been a solitary man with no experience of women, underwent an experience which was to change his life. On two separate occasions and concerning two different girls, Cornelius was approached by the Mother Superior with very serious concerns about the behaviour of a young nun. Cornelius, along with the Mother Superior, counselled the errant girl on each occasion and, prompted by the Mother Superior's insistence that suitable punishment should follow, it was agreed that Cornelius would flagellate the offender in public view of the entire convent. As was the custom, the girl was stripped to the waist and a scourge applied to her naked back.

Although by Cornelius' own account the punishments were not overly severe, the humiliation of a half-naked girl displayed to all and the administration of the whip appears to have fired desires in the priest which were to lead to outrageous excesses.

Adjacent to the convent was a girls' school which served the daughters of the wealthy merchants of Bruges and which functioned as a finishing school for older female pupils, virtually young women, who would become distinguished ladies in the society of the time. The school was proud of both its academic record and its commitment to teaching the Catholic faith, visits both to church on Sundays and to regular confessional at the adjacent convent being mandatory for all the girls. The pupils were indoctrinated with the power of the church and an awed respect for their spiritual confessor who they would visit, in the convent, to receive a blessing any any appropriate penance. Cornelius soon realised, by the very nature of his position, how much power he had over these girls and he soon determined to take advantage of it.

He was very careful in the way he devised his scheme, not rushing his fences or allowing himself to fall prey to carnal temptation which would have ruined the plan. Instead he counseled all the girls over a period of time, chose the ones he considered to be the most desirable and vulnerable, then proceeded to work on their innate sense of guilt. In modern legal parlance, Cornelius was undoubtedly guilty of 'grooming'. Soon he managed to persuade most of the girls he had targeted that mere penances of prayer and drudgery were not achieving the desired results and that more painful remedies were necessary. These poor impressionable girls, many very upset by what they now perceived to be their dreadful failings, were induced to virtually beg for corporal punishment to expiate their sins.

Cornelius was so cunning that he even demanded that they be certain that a whipping was what they needed then, on receiving affirmation, would accompany the girl to her home. There he would confront the distressed parents, the poor girl would break down and admit all her sins, and Cornelius would obtain written consent from the parents to administer discipline in any way he chose.

The trap having been laid and the bait taken, Cornelius was free to do as he wished. The errant girls were taken to his home which adjoined the convent, each girl having to report to him on a weekly basis. He arranged his schedule in such a way that he had 'wicked girls' to punish every day of the week. When the girl, nervous and ashamed, was ushered into Cornelius' home she was ordered to strip completely. Too frightened and respectful of the priest to refuse, she would do his bidding immediately. The girl would then be ordered to bend over a stool whereupon Cornelius would administer a variable number of strokes, either with a birch or a whip, to the girl's naked bottom. After the punishment, the girl would have to display her stripes for some time before being allowed to dress and return home.

Unbelievably, this practice continued, unabated for ten years during which time Cornelius later admitted, at his ecclesiastical enquiry, to having whipped or birched over 500 young women, some on multiple occasions. How long he would have continued to enjoy his abuse of power is anybody's guess but eventually, in 1558, the sexual desire which inevitably accompanied the whippings finally proved his undoing, but even then his unmasking was through accidental discovery, and not as the result of a victim's complaint.

It transpired that one student, who I believe to have been named Marie-Ann Leveque (although accounts differ), a niece of the Mayor of Bruges, was one of the penitents whose parents had agreed to regular disciplinary visits and who were quite happy in the knowledge that their daughter was receiving corporal correction at the hands of the priest. After all it WAS for her own good... Marie-Ann had admitted so herself. However one morning, the girl's mother woke her sleeping daughter, who had returned from a disciplinary visit to the priest the previous evening unusually tearful and distressed, and pulled back the sheet.

She was somewhat shocked by the number and intensity of red weals on her daughter's bottom but even more concerned by what were obviously spots of blood on the sheet. There being no obvious signs of broken skin as a result of the punishment, the girl was questioned by her angry mother and, under intense interrogation, Marie-Ann broke down. She said that when the punishment was over, the priest had held her tightly while she remained bending over then she felt something enter her 'shameful place'. A doctor was called who confirmed anal penetration and a shocked Leveque family began proceedings against the priest.

At first a wall of silence was thrown around the complaints by the Church but eventually, after great persistence by the girl's family and their influential civic contacts, an ecclesiastical enquiry was opened into the conduct of Father Cornelius Hadrian.

Amazingly, the priest did little to defend himself, virtually admitting every charge that was thrown at him, possibly because of guarantees obtained in advance to avoid embarrassing the Catholic Church with a protracted ecclesiastical 'trial'. He was dismissed from his post as mentor to the convent but on full pension and no criminal charges were ever brought against him.

It is assumed that the embarrassed parents, shocked at their own gullibility, had no wish to see their naivety exposed in open court thus Cornelius virtually escaped scot-free, happy in the knowledge, one assumes, that it was great while it lasted!


  1. Perhaps I should explain.

    Alex when publishing the stories from magazines in your blog always edited these stories, shortening the text, changed some of the paragraphs, and so on. As a result of texts published Alex in his blog very much different from the original texts, which were published in the magazines.

    I prefer to post the original texts of the stories, as they have been published in magazines. But if I don't have such a possibility (for example, I don't have five original numbers from the series "Moments in C.P. History"), I will use the edited texts from Alex's blog, warning readers about.

    * * *

    Now as for the story in two parts, "Privatised Punishment" by Tim Starfield from Februs 07-08. I have texts from Alex's blog, but they are, as I have already explained, very different from the original texts from the magazine, and so I don't want to post them in my blog.

    I now have only Februs 08, where was published the second part of this story. And if some day I will have Februs 07, I will post in my blog full original text of the story "Privatised Punishment".

  2. Well, Dmitry, you are absolutely free to do as you wish as far as 'privatised punishment" is concerned! But it's a pity since it's a very unusual and exciting text I have fortunately saved at the time and I'm sorry you don't want to share it!
    I've had Alex's rendering for a long time and I cherish it!

    And now some comments on this post: Those Quackers were as indomitable as the muslim fundamentalists are now!

    I do hope you won't bend to the political correctess prevailing these days which prevent us from saying clearly and forcefully what we think of those killers!
    That would be toeing the line and accepting their censure.
    We'll see!

  3. Having studied Catherine of Medici in detail, I see only one aspect of her story above that doesn't ring true - the idea that Henry III ever stood up to her! She dominated her sons totally. There were probably more of the birchings described, but less publicly administered.