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Why do people say ‘Rimanere in braghe di tela?’

Historical Curiosities

Why do people say ‘Rimanere in braghe di tela?’

Have you ever wondered where the popular expression ‘Rimanere in mutande’ o ‘Rimanere in braghe di tela’ comes from? It is a way of saying to describe someone who has lost all their possessions, a person who is therefore completely bankrupt.

The origin of this expression can be traced back to a Paduan medieval practice that was imposed on those who were unable to pay their debts: in the 13th century in Padua the insolvent debtor was sentenced to life imprisonment or to rope torture. But in 1231 Saint Anthony, the protector of the city of Padua, three months before his death, appeared before the Major Council, asking that these harsh sentences inflicted on the debtors be replaced by public expiation.

The Podesta willingly accepted the request of the 'venerable friar Anthony' and in 1260 the place of pillory, that is the 'Stone of Revilement’, was made official: here the insolvents had to sit dressed only with shirt and underpants (hence the expression ‘rimanere in mutande’!) and were forced to bash their buttocks three times on the hard surface whilst repeating aloud, in front of at least a hundred people, the phrase 'cedo bonis!' meaning 'I relinquish my possessions!' to then be expelled from the city. If the expelled returned to Padua without the consent of the creditors, they would have to be submitted to public ridicule again and three buckets of water would be thrown at them.

Originally the 'Stone of Revilement' was placed at the corner of Palazzo delle Debite, which housed the prisons, but after the intercession of Saint Anthony it was moved to the center of the Sala del Consiglio Maggiore of Palazzo della Ragione and was also used as a platform for the officials who read out public edicts. Today, to admire the Stone of Revilement, just enter Palazzo della Ragione and turn your eyes to the right ...

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By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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