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Whipping Boy – Possibly the Worst Job Ever

whipping boy

Whipping boy, it is perhaps the worst job ever to exist, quite literally ever. For a job that had connections in high places, there was not much more else going for it. To tell you the truth, no sum of money could ever entice me into such a position.

For the vast majority of us we are unsatisfied with our jobs. Sure, they pay the bills, and can be extremely generous with wages and conditions. But this is a rarity. Most of the time we are always looking for something better. Better conditions and higher paying. Rarely do many of us find such a job. In fact, we are usually caught in a job that we don’t envy. But then again it is called work for a reason and not fun. Am I right? But no matter how bad your job is, or was, nothing compares to the role of a whipping boy. It is without a doubt, possibly the worst job ever to exist, and it was performed by children. So what made this job so bad? Wait until you find out.

Why was a whipping boy the worst job ever?

It all comes down to the position description. If you make a mistake at home, work or in school you are punished, depending on how bad you messed up. While spanking today is almost unheard of, in times gone by it was common place. If you fell behind in school, that’s a paddling. Late for school, that’s a paddling, and so on, taking a phrase from Jasper of the Simpsons. The blue line was indeed thin, and punishment was swift. But while enforcement of rules was strict and brutal, society itself wasn’t exactly fair. People born into the aristocracy, such as royalty and lords were treated very differently. For example, how would a prince, the son of a king be punished? Due to the idea of the divine right of kings, only a king could punish a prince. But a king is a busy man and can’t always be present to dish out the punishment. Simple solution. Employ a whipping boy.

Now you’re getting the idea why the job really sucks. If the prince was a little prick and got into trouble he didn’t get the flogging, his whipping boy did! Not really fair is it? But what kind of peasant would want such a job? Surely only the poorest of the poor would volunteer their own children to such cruelty? Not exactly.

The job only ever went to boys who were of high status. These boys were themselves aristocracy. This is because no lowly commoner could accompany the future king. It was just unheard of.

But the job did have it’s up side. Because the poor boy who was the unfair target of beatings attended all schooling with the prince he became educated. Not only was he educated, but because of the extended periods spent with the prince good and strong friendships often started. This is in spite of the fact that the poor boy was often on the receiving end of abuse in the name of the prince. But want to know something unusual? The practice worked, and it could also have some pretty high rewards.

The idea of using a whipping boy began during the 15th and 16th century. Although it seems, and is cruel and unusual punishment by today’s standards, the idea was relatively effective. Because the boys, the boy and the prince, often formed a strong bond, it served as a powerful tool to control the prince. Unless they were like Joffrey from Game of Thrones, a beating of a friend would have been extremely upsetting to witness, and they tried to avert the punishment. What about the rewards?

Well, isn’t friendship enough? Screw that. If I’m getting all of your beatings I expect a little more, thank you very much. That’s exactly what some boys got. The whipping boy of king Charles I of England was made the first Earl of Dysart in 1643. Not a bad reward, but I’d personally settle for a massive payout, a seaside retreat and servants for the rest of my years. 

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