Thursday, May 05, 2022

Question from Max - Penalties of public nudity in 16th century

Dear everyone reading this, I got a question I hope somebody has an an swer to. (Hopefully, it hasn't already been asked). What would happen if a noble gent of this era, like one of Henry VIII's courtiers decided to take all his clothes off and run naked; a.k.a go streaking through the palace or in public? Would he be punished, charged with indecent exposure, or would he just be pardoned, with everyone turning a blind eye to it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As with this entire string of questions, I think it is very important not to impose modern values onto the pre-modern world. For example, I am not aware of any laws in Tudor England that banned nudity. But most issues of morality were handled by church courts rather than civil courts (as much as half of all justice in Tudor was handled by church courts). Were someone to be charged with a moral violation involving lack of clothing, it would likely be tried in a church court because nudity was a moral issue, not a civil criminal issue.

But in the specific example that you gave of a courtier (i.e., a high-status, educated, wealthy individual) taking his clothes off and running through a palace or the public naked, he would most likely be labeled "mad" and the issue dealt with as one of "madness." Such behavior would have been just so far outside of the norm that only "madness" could explain the person's behavior, as far as those around him were concerned.