DD in History

Truly, ... there is no new thing under the sun. Ecc 1:9c


Third Edition, 1910, [Copyright 1888]
Scanned at sacred-texts.com, July 2000. John B. Hare, redactor. This text is in the public domain. These files may be used for any non-commercial purpose, provided this notice of attribution is left intact.

Counsel with the bride of heaven,
To thy young wife give instruction,
Kindly teach thy bride in secret,
In the long and dreary evenings,
When thou sittest at the fireside;

Teach one year, in words of kindness,
Teach with eyes of love a second,
In the third year teach with firmness.

If she should not heed thy teaching,
Should not hear thy kindly counsel
After three long years of effort,
Cut a reed upon the lowlands,
Cut a nettle from the border,
Teach thy wife with harder measures.

In the fourth year, if she heed not,
Threaten her with sterner treatment,
With the stalks of rougher edges,
Use not yet the thongs of leather,
Do not touch her with the birch-whip.

If she does not heed this warning,
Should she pay thee no attention,
Cut a rod upon the mountains,
Or a willow in the valleys,
Hide it underneath thy mantle,
That the stranger may not see it,
Show it to thy wife in secret,
Shame her thus to do her duty,
Strike not yet, though disobeying.

Should she disregard this warning,
Still refuse to heed thy wishes,
Then instruct her with the willow,
Use the birch-rod from the mountains
In the closet of thy dwelling,
In the attic of thy mansion;

Strike, her not upon the common,
Do not conquer her in public,
Lest the villagers should see thee,
Lest the neighbors hear her weeping,
And the forests learn thy troubles.

Touch thy wife upon the shoulders,
Let her stiffened back be softened.

Do not touch her on the forehead,
Nor upon the ears, nor visage;
If a ridge be on her forehead,
Or a blue mark on her eyelids,
Then her mother would perceive it,
And her father would take notice,
All the village-workmen see it,
And the village-women ask her
'Hast thou been in heat of battle,
Hast thou struggled in a conflict,
Or perchance the wolves have torn thee,
Or the forest-bears embraced thee,
Or the black-wolf be thy husband,
And the bear be thy protector?'"

By the fire-place lay a gray-beard,
On the hearth-stone lay a beggar,
And the old man spake as follows:

"Never, never, hero-husband,
Follow thou thy young wife's wishes,
Follow not her inclinations,
As, alas! I did, regretful;

Bought my bride the bread of barley,
Veal, and beer, and best of butter,
Fish and fowl of all descriptions,
Beer I bought, home-brewed and sparkling,
Wheat from all the distant nations,
All the dainties of the Northland;

All of this was unavailing,
Gave my wife no satisfaction,
Often came she to my chamber,
Tore my sable locks in frenzy,
With a visage fierce and frightful,
With her eyeballs flashing anger,
Scolding on and scolding ever,
Ever speaking words of evil,
Using epithets the vilest,
Thought me but a block for chopping.

Then I sought for other measures,
Used on her my last resources,
Cut a birch-whip in the forest,
And she spake in tones endearing;

Cut a juniper or willow,
And she called me 'hero-darling';

When with lash my wife I threatened,
Hung she on my neck with kisses.

Thus the bridegroom was instructed,
Thus the last advices given.


  1. Anything a woman may find and her handiwork belong to her husband.
  2. And what is she required to do for him? It all depends on the custom of the country. Where the custom is for wives to weave, she must weave; to embroider, she must embroider; to spin wool or flax, she must spin. If it is not the custom of the women of that town to do all these kinds of work, he cannot compel her to do any of them, except spinning wool only - because flax injures the mouth and the lips - for spinning is a kind of work that is characteristic of women, as it is said:
    "And all women that were wise-hearted did spin with their hands" (Exod. 35:25).
  3. Every wife must likewise wash her husband's face, hands, and feet, pour his cup for him, spread his couch, and wait on him, for example, by handing him water or a vessel, or removing these from before him, and the like. She is not obligated, however, to wait on his father or his son.
  4. The aforementioned kinds of work she herself must perform personally. Even if she has many maidservants, these kinds of work may be performed for the husband only by his wife.
  5. There are other kinds of work that a wife must perform for her husband when they are poor. These are the following:
    • She must bake bread in the oven - Ezra ordained that a wife should rise early to do her baking, so that bread might be available for the poor -
    • cook food,
    • wash clothes,
    • nurse her child,
    • put fodder before her husband's mount - but not before his cattle -
    • and attend to the grinding of corn.
  6. How should she attend to the grinding? By sitting at the flour mill and watching the flour, not by doing the grinding herself; or by driving the beast, so that the mill would not stand idle. If, however, the local custom is for the wives to do their grinding with a hand mill, she must do the grinding herself.
  7. It follows thus that there are five kinds of work that any wife must perform for her husband:
    • she must spin,
    • wash his face, hands, and feet,
    • pour his cup,
    • spread his couch,
    • and wait on him.
  8. And there are also six kinds of work that some wives must, and some need not, perform:
    • attend to the grinding,
    • cook,
    • bake,
    • launder,
    • nurse,
    • and give fodder to his mount.
  9. All the kinds of work that a wife is required to perform for her husband, she may perform also while she is menstruating, except:
    • pouring his cup,
    • spreading his couch,
    • and washing his face, hands, and feet;
    this is a precaution, lest these services should cause erotic thoughts and lead him to sexual intercourse.
  10. Therefore, during her menses, she should spread his couch when he is not present; and after pouring his cup, she should not hand it to him in her usual manner, but should set it down on the ground, or on a vessel, or on the table, and he should then take it therefrom.
  11. A wife who refuses to perform any kind of work that she is obligated to do, may be compelled to perform it, even by scourging her with a rod.

The Code of Maimonides, Book Four: The Book of Women, translated by Isaac Klein, New Haven: Yale, 1972, p. 133


This book was very popular in Russia during the time of Ivan the Terrible, probably released during the 1550's. It is thought to have been written by a priest by the name of Sylvester. Applicable points from The Domostroi follow.

21. If you yourself, from carelessness and neglect, or your wife, because she lacks a husband's correction, or any of your servants-men, women, and children-because of your failure to instruct them, engage in evil deeds (such as carousing, theft, or lechery), you will suffer eternal torment together.

33. If the mistress is unwise and does not separate her servants from such people, punish her as well as them..."

38. If the husband sees something amiss for which his wife or her servants are responsible, or notices that all is not in accord with what is written in this document, he should reason with his wife and correct her. If she heeds him and does everything according to this book, he should love her and reward her.

But if your wife does not live according to this teaching and instruction, does not do all that is recommended here, if she does not teach her servants, then the husband should punish his wife.

Beat her when you are alone together; then forgive her and remonstrate with her. But when you beat her, do not do it in hatred, do not lose control. A husband must never get angry with his wife; a wife must live with her husband in love and purity of heart.

You should discipline servants and children the same way. Punish them according to the extent of their guilt and the severity of their deed. Lay stripes upon them but, when you have punished them, forgive them.

The housewife must grieve over her servants' punishment, insofar as that is reasonable, for that gives servants hope.

Only if his wife or son or daughter will not pay attention to scoldings, if they show no respect and refuse to do what they were told to do, should a husband or father bring understanding with the lash. But do not beat the culprit before others; punish him alone, then talk to him, and grant him forgiveness.

A wife should not get angry at her husband about anything, nor a husband at his wife.

Do not box anyone's ears for any fault. Do not hit them about the eyes or with your fist below the heart. Do not strike anyone with a stick or staff or beat anyone with anything made of iron or wood. From such a beating, administered in passion or anguish, many misfortunes can result: blindness or deafness, dislocation of an arm, leg, or finger, head injury, or injury to a tooth. With pregnant women or children, damage to the stomach could result, so beat them only with the lash, in a careful and controlled way, albeit painfully and fearfully. Do not endanger anyone's health; beat someone only for a grave fault.

When you whip someone, take off the culprit's shirt. Beat him in a controlled way with the lash, holding him by the hands while you think of his fault. When you have punished him, you must talk with him; there should be no anger between you. Your people should know nothing of it.

64. Your wife should not pursue an acquaintance with wizards or sorcerers. She must not practice sorcery herself. She should not allow her male and female peasants into the household buildings.

If she does not heed these recommendations, punish her, saving her through her fear. But you should not get angry with your wife, nor she with you. Correct her when you are alone. When you are finished, soften your heart toward her, show favor toward her, and love her.


Joane Miller was brought to court in March of 1654-5, for "beating and reviling her husband, and egging her children to healp her, biding them knock him in the head, and wishing his victuals might choake him" (PCR 3: 75).

For her abuse, she is, as the record states, "Punished at home" (PCR 3: 75).


William Blackstone -

Vol 1 (1765)

The husband also, by the old law, might give his wife moderate correction. For, as he is to answer for her misbehaviour, the law thought it reasonable to intrust him with this power of restraining her, by domestic chastisement, in the same moderation that a man is allowed to correct his apprentices or children; for whom the master or parent is also liable in some cases to answer.

But this power of correction was confined within reasonable bounds, and the husband was prohibited from using any violence to his wife, aliter quam ad virum, ex causa regiminis et castigationis uxoris suae, licite et rationabiliter pertinet [other than what is reasonably necessary to the discipline and correction of the wife].

The civil law gave the husband the same, or a larger, authority over his wife: allowing him, for some misdemeanors, flagellis et fustibus acriter verberare uxorem [to wound his wife severely with whips and fists, or by whips and cudgels vigorously to punish a wife; for others, only modicam castigationem adhibere [to apply modest corrective punishment, or to use moderate whipping].

But with us, in the politer reign of Charles the second, this power of correction began to be doubted; and a wife may now have security of the peace against her husband; or, in return, a husband against his wife. Yet the lower rank of people, who were always fond of the old common law, still claim and exert their ancient privilege: and the courts of law will still permit a husband to restrain a wife of her liberty, in the case of any gross misbehaviour.


Supreme Court of North Carolina, Raleigh

61 N.C. 453; 1868 N.C. LEXIS 38; 1 Phil. Law 453
January, 1868, Decided

tried before Little, J., at Fall Term, 1867, of the Superior Court of WILKES.

The defendant was indicted for an assault and battery upon his wife, Elizabeth Rhodes. Upon the evidence submitted to them the jury returned the following special verdict:

"We find that the defendant struck Elizabeth Rhodes, his wife, three licks, with a switch about the size of one of his fingers (but not as large as a man's thumb), without any provocation except some words uttered by her and not recollected by the witness."

His Honor was of opinion that the defendant had a right to whip his wife with a switch no larger than his thumb, and that upon the facts found in the special verdict he was not guilty in law. Judgment in favor of the defendant was accordingly entered and the State appealed.


1. The laws of this State do not recognize the right of the husband to whip his wife, but our courts will not interfere to punish him for moderate correction of her, even if there had been no provocation for it.

2. Family government being in its nature as complete in itself as the State government is in itself, the courts will not attempt to control, or interfere with it, in favor of either party, except in cases where permanent or malicious injury is inflicted or threatened, or the condition of the party is intolerable.

3. In determining whether the husband has been guilty of an indictable assault and battery upon his wife, the criterion is the effect produced, and not the manner of producing it or the instrument used.

(S. v. Hussy, Bus., 123; S. v. Black, 1 Wins., 266, cited and approved; S. v. Pendergrass, distinguished and approved.)

COUNSEL: Attorney-General for the State.

No counsel for defendant.


"I am most anxious to enlist every-one who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of 'Women's Rights,' with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and pro-priety. Feminists ought to get a good whipping. Were woman to 'unsex' them-selves by claiming equality with men, they would become the most hateful, heathen and disgusting of beings and would surely perish without male protection."

- Queen Victoria, March, 1870