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A Question of Honor

According to the German constitution, the dignity of the human individual is inviolable. Today, the honor of the individual is protected as well, and its encroachment, for example through insults, is indictable. This convention has a long history, and has involved various penalties, ranging from monetary fines to pillorying, and even mutilation and death. In the late Middle Ages and following centuries, the wearing of ‘shame stones’ came under the heading of so-called ‘punishments of honor.’ Such sentences of public shaming were designed to deprive guilty individuals of their dignity. The penalized individual – often a woman – was forced to bear the considerable weight of a stone while on display or walking around a public place. The loss of respectability could have serious consequences for the censured individual, whether socially, economically, or existentially.


Shame Stone

Ca. 1700



» GNM StR107