In old medieval times (the Middle Ages, aka archaic or primitive times), the fire in the kitchen of the house was very important and it was never allowed to go out. The fire being banked up at night to ensure that it could just be poked into life in the morning. Lighting the fire was a complicated job, particularly as there were no matches (could you believe it, no matches) at that time and one had to use a flint (a hard stone) and tinder (any dry substance that …….. readily takes fire from a spark) to strike a spark.
If the housewife was so stupid as to let the fire go out, (read this) the husband was entitled to beat her (yes, he was entitled to beat her … would you believe it) but it must be with a stick no thicker than his thumb (remember, imagine he had to look for a stick no thicker than his thumb). She was definitely under his thumb.
Talking about wife abuse, this is a clear example of abuse, don’t you say so?
Do you think this is a true story or is it a April Fool’s Joke I am trying to play on you??? Have you decided?
It’s no April Fool’s Joke, this is what Tony Wootton and Gwen Zanzottera tell us how the phrase ‘UNDER HIS THUMB’ come into being. It is in their book, ‘By Hook Or By Crook.’