The Martinet, A Brief History

Please welcome, guest blogger Christophe. A follower for many years, he has a certain appreciation for The Martinet, a French Tool used for Corporal Punishment. Like our Levantine friend Ahmed share with us about bastinado and “Falaka,” so today, Christophe will share with us his pretty darned extensive knowledge about the manufacturing, use, and implementation of this uniquely French Spanking Tool.

Cornertime Confidential welcomes all of you with stories about CP tools and experiences unique to your part of the world. Please share with us at



Le Martinet: une histoire

by Christophe Tophe for Cornertime Confidential

Chapter I The Invention

This instrument was most likely invented by Jean Martinet, a
French general (d. 1672), who inflicted endless and exhausting exercises on
Louis XIV’s troops and demanded absolute respect for the settlement. He would
have preferred the use of a whip with multiple straps rather than a lashing
instrument with a single strap, which tended to kill the men during the

(According to the internet, Martinet is famous for being an extremely strict drillmaster–so much so, in fact, that his name has come to mean “a rigid disciplinarian, someone who demands strict adherence to rules.” His military training policies set the pace for the armies of the late 17th-18th century. Martinet created out of the French army a well-oiled military machine, one which fired and operated with extreme discipline.)

Chapter II 
Jesuits: Corporal Punishment for boys



In the book “La Flagellation chez les Jésuites” (1763), we learn that
the Jesuits, in their colleges, whipped boys using the martinet and
manufactured many martinets for these regular floggings. The Regents (young
Jesuits from 18 to 25 years of age) whipped boys daily for pleasure, caprice,
or vengeance, with total impunity.
The Father Prefect would take his place on the pulpit to have a better
view and to oversee the whipping of multiple pupils. A heavy bench, with a
large area for the pupil to be positioned on, would be placed in the center of
the room. One person would reach his arms towards the pupil’s arms and would
hold him firmly.
The pupil’s drawers would be pulled down, baring his bottom.
The one wielding The Martinet would vary. He might be another pupil
(which was later prohibited in 1832) or someone working in the College
(gardener, marmiton, sweeper…) or a person paid for their services who lived
near the College.
The punishment imposed on college students, sometimes up to the age of
25, was 60-80 “shots” (rarely 40), but it was common for the number of 300
strokes even 400 to be reached. Marks could be apparent for as much as 2 weeks
after the use of The Martinet!
To deliver a more cruel punishment, the one administering The Martinet
allows about 2 long seconds between two shots, in order to leave time for the
pain to spread and to enable the one administering the punishment a full, more
painful stroke.
Chapter III
WWI: A Tool For Soldiers
Soldiers in WWI, were provided The Martinet in their packet from the
military for their tour of duty. This Martinet served to remove dust and mud
which could accumulate and dry on their uniforms, or to clear the covers of the
vermin that flourished in the trenches.
A registration number is engraved on the wooden handle on the one in
the photo above.
Chapter IV
XXe: A Tradition is Born
In the 1934 edition of the famous Larousse Dictionary, the word “Martinet” is clearly described with a picture:


“A kind of whip made of several
straps of rope or leather, to beat clothes, furniture, or correct children.”

Martinets were made by cobblers or parents themselves.

“It’s a Living!” Père Fouettard
“Père Fouettard” was a sinister character of legend who accompanies Saint Nicolas on his Christmas rounds. Beginning on December 6 or the evening before, while Saint Nicholas distributes gifts to the good children, Father Fouettard administers The Martinet to the bad ones.
In French “youth” lit, boys were scolded and warned
Martinet in hand. 
In youth literature (“Comtesse de Ségur,”  “Suceur de Pouches,” “La guerre des boutons,”
“Signe de Piste”), The Martinet was often present and used expressly to punish boys.
Chapter V
After WW2 : The “Mass Market”

Suzanne Marache from Fétigny, in the center of Morvan area of France, started making Martinets in 1949. She fashioned the leather straps, which were then nailed, one by one with the hammer on the wooden handles made of beech. Marache sold up to 1,000 Martinets daily at the time until about 2000, when she died at the age of 82. It was very tedious work, because everything was manual. It was necessary to nail each thong on the wooden handle to fix ten. A nail in one hand, the hammer in the other. And two more nails were required to make a finished Martinet. Marache’s Martinets were all identical, a yellow sleeve and dark leather straps.


Marache popular because she was successful and yet quite alone in
running her business, proud of her tools, and she had her moment in the sun
when she was seen on TV. Érick and Catherine Meunier continued Marache business
with more items dedicated to sex shops. But they stopped manufacturing them in


(Another newscast that Christophe found this  begins with a really long commercial
advertisement that you have to let play before you get to the original newscast
which provides a look with MOS, man-on-the-street interviews about The
Martinet. In case this video doesn’t load, just click here to watch.)

From the ‘60’s to ‘80’s, most families had one in the home for the
punishment of children. It was not uncommon to find The Martinet hanging
prominently on the wall of the kitchen, near the entrance, in the cellar, in
the garage, and sometimes in the bedroom. For the children, it was very
humiliating, especially if there was no dog living in your house.
Most of the time, it was used mainly to threaten the child who was
naughty. Paradoxically, it was found in toy stores. But more commonly, parents
could purchase these in hardware stores across France.
Just Sitting There at the Hardware Store
Waiting for a boy to Misbehave


You can purchase BOTH a Hairbrush and
The Martinet in this helpful store!
Chapter VI
Nowadays, Martinets are much less visible. Oddly, they can still be
purchased but from pet shops. The lashes have become lighter, colored, less
thick and not always made of leather.
For those who have known The Martinet, there is a great nostalgia for
this instrument of punishment.
Next up from Christophe:
  • Different Kinds of Martinets
  • Different Positions For Those Whipped With a Martinet






Follow Cornertime Confidential Wherever You Are:

Tumblr  ∙  Twitter  ∙  Pinterest  ∙  Google+

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s