Green / degreening

Fernando Navarro suggests that both I and Joseph Townsend are wrong. The Spanish word for executioner, verdugo, he says, was applied originally to a rod cut green, verde, and used to administer beatings. If Townsend was wrong, then his confusion or that of his informer might have arisen if (a) executioners were clothed in, or associated with, green, and (b) Moors and other scum were used for this unsavoury work. Unfortunately (b) is pure fantasy on my part; the only Moorish executioners I know of are in cross-cultural ballads like that of Moriana and Galván.

(It’s a shame that Fernando doesn’t give his sources: this sounds vaguely reminiscent of the British practice of beating the bounds: thrashing young boys with twigs in order to establish territorial limits or promote fertility or simply in order to thrash young boys with twigs, this being the British way.)

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