expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'>
Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Medieval Tidbit--Rose Tattoos

Persistence Of Vision Blog Tour Stops:

Today I'm doing a guest post on the great Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog entitled, Top Five Ways You Know You're an Action Movie Villain. Hop over and check it out! 

This is another recycled historical post from months ago, but it's one of my favorite medieval tidbits. I may or may not work it into my next historical novel. :D

In the 16th Century, men condemned to death were given rose tattoos. This was so that if they escaped, they would be immediately recognized. If you look on the internet, you can find references--with almost the exact words I just typed!!--that say this. However, it's hard to find any more detail on the subject.

What country was this in? Who instituted it? Was it a very common practice? What specific part of the body was tattooed, or did it even matter?

The lack of info makes me wonder how true this assertion is, but if anyone has any more detail, I'd love to hear it!

It seems to me that, especially in Europe, in the 16th century, tattooing would have been a bit of a mystical art. So were some kind of Eastern mystics commissioned to do the work, or were there locals that could do it?

I love this fact because it sets a perfect stage for a story: A man condemned to die escapes but has to keep some part of his body covered up so that no one recognizes him as a convict. The real question would be, is the thing he was convicted for something heinous that he really did, or just something he was falsely accused of? The answer could determine whether this is a protagonist or antagonist, and, you know, the course of human history as we know it.

...just kidding. I tend to be a bit of a drama queen when I get caught up in my story telling.

What are your thoughts about this medieval tradition?

Remember, knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies.


  1. Haha! I read your top five over at Alex's place. I love your #2. :)

    It's interesting they chose a rose to tattoo. Hmm... I also have to ask "Why tattoo?" I mean, why not just mark them like a branding?

  2. I'd never heard this before. It would make for a fascinating story. :)

  3. It makes me wonder if there are a lot of women I meet are escaped cons .

  4. Kind of reminds me of the Fleur de Lis tattoo on that woman in The Three Musketeers. It's an interesting idea and I think it could make for a great story.

  5. I'm not normally big on tattoos but that one is impressive. Haven't got to your post at Alex's yet, but it's on my to-be-visited list. :-)

  6. What an interesting piece of information.

    I'll check out Alex's blog.