Law Text Culture


In 1591, after the apparent murder of 9-year-old Tsarevitch Dimitry, a church bell in Uglich tolled angrily, inciting a riot among the Tsarevitch’s supporters. Regent Boris Gudonov silenced the insolent bell by putting it on trial. Found guilty of treason, the bell received the following sentence: flogging by 120 lashes; a notch broken in its ear; the clapper torn out; a lifetime of exile. Oddly, it was not the only bell to be so punished. In Florence, a century earlier, a bell named “la Piagnona,” the weeper, was flogged for religious extremism and exiled for 50 years; in La Rochelle, a Protestant bell was whipped, buried— whether dead or alive is unclear—and then reborn with the aid of a Catholic midwife.