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KNOUT (from the French transliteration of a Russian word of Scandinavian origin; cf. A.-S. cnotta, Eng. knot), the whip used in Russia for flogging criminals and political offenders. It is said to have been introduced under Ivan III. (1462-1505). The knout had different forms. One was a lash of raw hide, 16 in. long, attached to a wooden handle, 9 in. long. The lash ended in a metal ring, to which was attached a second lash as long, ending also in a ring, to which in turn was attached a few inches of hard leather ending in a beak-like hook. Another kind consisted of many thongs of skin plaited and interwoven with wire, ending in loose wired ends, like the cat-o'-nine tails. The victim was tied to a post or on a triangle of wood and stripped, receiving the specified number of strokes on the back. A sentence of ico or 1 20 lashes was equivalent to a death sentence; but few lived to receive so many. The executioner was usually a criminal who had to pass through a probation and regular training; being let off his own penalties in return for his services. Peter the Great is traditionally accused of knouting his son Alexis to death, and there is little doubt that the boy was actually beaten till he died, whoever was the executioner. The emperor Nicholas I. abolished the earlier forms of knout and substituted the pleti, a three-thonged lash. Ostensibly the knout has been abolished throughout Russia and reserved for the penal settlements.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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