Royal Armouries

Iron Collar

Images

monochrome photo of a collar designed for torture

Torture collar. (XV.4)

  • monochrome photo of a collar designed for torture

    Torture collar. (XV.4)

  • monochrome photo of four views of a torture collar showing its mechanisms

    The mechanisms of a torture collar. (XV.4)

  • colour photo of a carved wooden head of Henry VIII

    Carved wooden head of Henry VIII. English, about 1689-91 (XVII.1)

Date: 1547 | Object number: xv.4

Statistics

Object Provenance: 16th Century, English
Object Number: xv.4
Weight: 4.54 kg (10 lb)

Iron Collar

Description

Iron restraining collar which may be the ‘stele color for a prysonr’ listed in the inventory of Henry VIII’s possessions drawn up after his death in 1547. It consists of two iron semi-circles which lock together at the back and front. When fully dismantled, the two semi-circles break down further into inner and outer plates. The plates are held together from the inside by a series of iron studs, the exterior surface being smooth. The upper and lower edges of the collar have six pyramidal spikes extending from them – the combination of the spikes and studs would greatly increase the discomfort for the wearer. The collar was formerly filled with lead, but this has now been removed.

In the seventeenth century, the collar was thought to have been captured from the Spaniards at the time of the Armada (1588), but by Boreman’s Guidebook in 1741 it was shown as part of the Horse Armoury:

‘Eleventh, is an ill favoured old instrument, called the collar of torment, which we are told was formerly put about the necks of such women as either proved false to their husbands beds, or took too great a freedom with their tongues. But long this collar has aside been cast. Sure! They are now less noisy, and more chaste.’

Surprisingly grown-up content as the two- volume set was intended for childish consumption.

Later guidebooks for adults continued in the same vein. Newbery and Carnan 1768 described p.12 a collar of torment used formerly to be put about the women’s neck that ‘cuckolded …or scolded’ their husbands. The custom lapsed as there were not enough smiths to make them ‘as most married men are sure to want them at some time or another’. Nineteenth century women finally rebelled, and an 1810 guide admitted ‘These were found of no effect, for our women, possessing the spirit of liberty, made every man who used them pay dear for his presumption, by increasing the cause of his complaint’.

In the 1998 re-display it formed part of the Spanish Armoury display in the White Tower crypt, and was part of the Lower Bowyer ‘Torture and Punishment’ exhibits in the 1980s.

Collars, also called jougs, were used as a form of public punishment in the 16th and 17th centuries sometimes in the same way as stocks. The collar could be attached to a chain or post and the wearer was subject to public ridicule and abuse for a specified period. The weight of the collar combined with the studs and spikes made it a very uncomfortable experience whether a public or private penance.

Statistics

Object Provenance: 16th Century, English
Object Number: xv.4
Weight: 4.54 kg (10 lb)

Related Objects

Henry VIII in the Line of Kings Click on the title link above to find out more.

Thomas Allen on the New Horse Armoury display in 1828 Click on the title link above to find out more.

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