Meaning of Scaffold

The scaffold is the structure that is built for the development of a solemn event. The term is often used in reference to the platform used to execute a person sentenced to the death penalty.

The scaffolds could be installed in a square to receive a monarch or to carry out a religious act. In the Middle Ages, when a king arrived in a town, a scaffold could be mounted in the square for the sovereign to greet his subjects or make a speech. A scaffold could also allow the funeral of a deceased in a present body: in these cases, the coffin was placed on the scaffold so that people could pay homage to the deceased.

From an architectural point of view, the term scaffold refers to a bastion or fortification that was built in wood on medieval walls and towers. To support the scaffold, some stone or wooden beams or corbels were embedded in the wall, on which it was hung. They usually had a roof, although some were also made open.

This type of scaffold was not usually built for permanent use, but was part of siege strategies. It is believed that in times of peace the scaffolds were kept as prefabricated structures, to reduce installation time during fighting.

Given the military nature of the scaffold, they were designed with loopholes (narrow and deep vertical openings to protect archers while using their weapons) in the front and on the ground, so that shots could cover a wide range. On the other hand, those that were built in wood burned very easily, and that weak point could leave them disabled in a few minutes if the enemies came prepared.

In the case of death penalty executions, the scaffold had a sobering effect. The rulers showed, in the middle of a public space and as part of an event open to the community, how they did justice by taking the life of the convicted person. In this way, other people were expected to act correctly to avoid being in the same situation as the executed person.

The gallows used to be installed on the scaffold: three beams that, thanks to a rope, were used to hang and hang the condemned man. Hanging, in fact, is still a legal means of execution in several countries. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, for example, was executed by hanging in December 2006.

The scaffold could also be used for the installation of a guillotine, a machine that produces death by decapitation.

As part of a proper name, we find this word in the surname of José Cadalso y Vázquez de Andrade, a military man from Spain who became known through the pseudonym Dalmiro. He was born in Cádiz in 1741 and left an important literary work, before dying in combat at the age of forty. His most remembered are Moroccan Letters, Mournful Nights and The Pseudo – Intellectuals. Although José Cadalso published his memoirs, his contemporaries have left various writings that help us to reconstruct the most important events of his life.

José Cadalso’s childhood was marked by misfortune from the moment of his own birth, when his mother died from complications during childbirth. As for his father, he was in America taking care of his business, and they only met when José was thirteen years old. In this first stage of his life, it was one of his uncles who took charge of his studies, and for this he sent him to France, England, Italy and part of present-day Germany.


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