Thursday, 2 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: B is for Badging

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

Have you ever seen the film 'The Scarlet Letter'?  It was adapted from the book by Nathaniel Hawthorne (written in 1850) and is about a woman who has an affair, gets pregnant, and refuses to name the father.  As
Demi Moore in 'The Scarlet Letter'
Demi Moore in 'The Scarlet Letter' (1995)
part of her punishment, she is obliged to wear a badge with a scarlet letter 'A' sewn onto every dress she has. (A for Adulteress.) Now, you may have thought this was just a romantic flight of fancy - no more than fiction.  But there was a grain of truth in it.

From 1697, individuals who were receiving poor relief from the parish had to wear a 'P' badge to show they were a pauper.

'Bawdy badges' were more like a brooch - but usually rather explicit in nature; the idea being that the Devil would be so fascinated by the bawdy badge, that the 'evil eye' would forget to look at the wearer...

If you were a pilgrim, it became quite fashionable to wear a badge to show where you had been (and it was even thought that some badges had miraculous powers).  Lionheartreplicas.co.uk states that "the most popular shrines were able to sell in excess of 100,000 badges a year, making pilgrim badges the first truly mass produced tourist souvenir."


© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved

11 comments:

  1. Fascinating about pilgrim badges. My mother-in-law has a lot of souvenirs from her Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage, but it's a bit different. I'd like a bawdy badge :)

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    1. Well the Lionheart site does replicas (no, I am not paid by them in any way).

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  2. Another day of fascinating historical facts! Thank you. I look forward to tomorrow!

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    1. Glad you like it! Tomorrow is all about 'Corpse Ways'. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Good grief-one is already poor and now Satan is liking you because you have to wear a badge. Talk about not getting a break! This was interesting-never knew this

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    1. Makes me wonder if any of 'mine' had to wear that humiliating badge. Thankfully, badging was abolished in 1782 - but I still had lots of poor ancestors in between!

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  4. I used to collect patch badges from places I'd been. I suppose I stopped wearing the jacket I'd sewed them on when I was about fourteen. Shame I didn't photograph it!

    Jemima

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  5. Yes - what a shame. Still, you have the memories... Good to see you again, Jemima.

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  6. When I think about badges I always think about badges of honor (or in the case of the Scarlet Letter, dishonor).

    Good luck with the 2015 A to Z Challenge!
    A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy
    http://pensuasion.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for the good wishes. :o)

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  7. Well wuddayaknow -- I didn't realize the bawdy badge was like a brooch, nor had I known of pilgrim badges. Fascinating stuff.
    ~late visiting this letter

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