The J. Paul Getty Museum

A Husband Beating his Wife with a Stick

Object Details


A Husband Beating his Wife with a Stick






Paris, France (Place Created)


about 1405


Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment bound between pasteboard covered with dark red morocco

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig XV 7 (83.MR.177), fol. 54


Leaf: 36.7 × 26 cm (14 7/16 × 10 1/4 in.)

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Object Description

One sees some marriages in which the man thinks it the part of wisdom to chastise and beat his wife, to make her live in fear.

This translation of the text adjoining the image gives some glimpse into the commonplace practice of wife-beating in the Middle Ages. Throughout the Middle Ages, wife-beating was not illegal as long as the husband asserted he was punishing his wife in a "reasonable" manner for disobedience or negligence of duty. The author of the Romance of the Rose, however, goes on to warn the reader that under these conditions "true love cannot long endure." The merciless way the man beats his wife in the image combined with the text's moralizing message were clearly intended to argue against a widespread custom.

Images of Violence in the Medieval World (December 21 2004 to March 13, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), December 21, 2004 to March 13, 2005