More specifically, book Curses.
Long, long ago before printing presses all manuscripts were hand written. Since a book was so rare it was highly susceptible to theft. Scribes would put book curses in the front off books to ward of thieves. It didn't work. According to many places I looked , libraries even went to far as to chain the books to the walls. I'd hate to see their late fees.
Here are some examples of book curses I found:
Thys boke is one And God's curse another;
They that take the one God geve them the other.
He who steals this book
may he die the death
may he be frizzled in a pan...
That one should have been in KFC's original recipe book.
This present book legible in scripture
Here in this place thus tacched with a cheyn
Purposed of entent for to endure
And here perpetuelli stylle to remeyne
Fro eyre to eyre wherfore appone peyn
Of cryst is curs of faders and of moderes
Non of hem hens atempt it to dereyne
Whille ani leef may goodeli hange with oder.
I don't know about you but I think this one should have used spellcheck
Steal not this Book my honest Friend
For fear the Galows should be your hend,
And when you die the Lord will say
And wares the Book you stole away?
A variation on the same theme...
Steal not this book,
my worthy friend
For fear the gallows will be your end;
Up the ladder, and down the rope,
There you'll hang until you choke;
Then I'll come along and say -
"Where's that book you stole away?"
No wonder people stayed illiterate. "Borrow" some knowledge, get your neck snapped in half.
For him that Stealeth a Book from this Library,
Let it change into a Serpent in his hand & rend him.
Let him be struck with Palsy, & all his Members blasted.
Let him languish in Pain crying aloud for Mercy,
Let there be no Surcease to his Agony till he sink to Dissolution.
Let Bookworms gnaw his Entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not,
When at last he goeth to his final Punishment,
Let the flames of hell consume him for ever & aye.
I think "bookworms gnawing his entrails", says it all.
Edited: The book picture is not where I found the curses. I just liked how it looked. These curses are found inside really old texts. I've never read the above pictured book but would like too.heheh