What is Tonsure? - Tonsure for Kids - a medieval haircut for Christian monks
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Kidipede is a history and science encyclopedia for kids, with more than 2000 pages of expert answers to your questions.


What is Tonsure?

Tonsure
A man with a tonsured head

Tonsure means to cut off someone's hair. Monks in the Middle Ages generally showed that they were monks by cutting their hair short (when most men wore theirs long) and especially by shaving a bald spot in the middle of the back of their heads.
Because you could not be king (or emperor) if you were a monk, sometimes kings forced their rivals to have their hair tonsured, so that nobody would try to make them king.

Among the Franks, just having short hair by itself seems to have been enough to keep you from becoming king. And among the Visigoths, both men and women had their hair cut off as punishment for a wide variety of crimes, as well as to keep them from becoming king.

To find out more about medieval Christian monks, check out these books from Amazon or from your library:

Monks
Visigoths
Franks
Main Christianity page
Main Middle Ages page
Main religion page



Copyright 2012-2014 Karen Carr, Portland State University. This page last updated 2014. Powered by Dewahost.

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