Marillion, a singer in Game of Thrones, had his tongue cut out on the orders of King Joffrey for writing and performing a crude limerick about Joffrey’s parents.
Thankfully, the real punishment meted out to musicians in the Middle Ages who had offended their audience was slightly less extreme. I’m referring to the Shame Flute, a contraption worn by the musician as they were paraded in town while the public threw rotten food and vegetables at disgraced musicians (I’m starting to think the people in the Middle Ages just liked throwing food at people).
Flute of Shame
As Classic FM notes, the Flute of Shame was a medieval torture device that was used for publicly shaming bad musicians and other disturbers of the peace.
The contraption, which is essentially a heavy iron flute – although you probably wouldn’t want to play it – was shackled to the musician’s neck.
The musician’s fingers were then clamped to the keys, to give the impression they were playing the instrument.
Finally, just to further their humiliation, they were forced to wear the flute while being paraded around town, so the public could throw rotten food and vegetables at them.
At the time, it was considered a fitting punishment for crimes against music.
But the Shame Flute wasn’t just used to punish bad musicians. It was used on pretty much any public performer whose work was considered objectionable.
Played your lute out of tune? Shame Flute. Dropped a couple of juggling balls while jesting? Shame Flute.
For any entertainer in the Middle Ages, the flute of shame was the ultimate punishment for not spending enough time in the practice room.
If you’re now considering which TV personalities and entertainers you’d like to see paraded like that, rest assured you’re not the only one…