Meet the Scold’s Bridle. This terrible restraint was the way 16th-century men made their women not bother them. A woman accused of gossip, over-chatter, or being argumentative was forced to put on the bridle.
The justification for this horrifying corporal punishment was the common belief that gossip was of the devil.
Occasionally the mask also included iron thorns that extended well into the woman’s mouth, so that every time she would speak she would feel immense pain.
Aside from physical pain, there was also deep mental pain and humiliation when the punished woman was forced to walk down the street wearing the bridle. As if that’s not enough, the husband would attach a leash to his wife’s bridle, take her on a walk of shame and encourage bystanders to spit on her. On occasion, the husband would also affix a bell to the top of the bridle, to draw even more attention to his humiliated wife.
Be it because women stopped gossiping or men found worse ways to punish their wives, by the end of the 16th-century use of Scold’s Bridle became less prevalent.