Facts about Torture, and Punishment. Torture was the most common method of extracting information, or confessions from people during the Middle Ages. Torture often left the victim dead, or injured for life even if he gave in early. The entrance to torture chambers was often through a series of winding passageways which muffled the screams of the victims from the normal inhabitants.
Methods of Torture. Torture, including for punishment of a crime, had many different methods which included, but was not limited to, the Judas Cradle, Coffin Torture, the Brazen Bull, Rack Torture, Water Torture, The Chair of Torture, and the Pear of Anguish.
The Judas Cradle This was a torture in which the victim is placed on a pyramid shaped object with a very sharp point. The torturer would decide whether to drop the victim on the pyramid, have him sit on it, or sit on it with added weights. This torture was almost always deadly because the pyramid shaped object was very rarely, if ever, washed and either the victim would bleed to death or contract an infection.
Coffin Torture In this torture, the victim would be placed in the “coffin” and left there for a set amount of time, or death depending on the offence. When sentenced to death in the coffin, the coffin would be place in the sun where the victim would be eaten alive by animals, or stoned to death by the townspeople. A torturer may make the coffin larger than normal to make it even more uncomfortable.
The Brazen Bull It’s inventor, Perillos of Athens, was searching for a more painful way to execute criminals and he was very pleased with his invention. For this torture, a person, or multiple people would be burned alive while locked inside the device. Being burned is a slow and extremely painful way to be killed. It is believed to be like being boiled alive.
Rack Torture This is said to be the most painful torture of them all. The victim would be strapped in to the device by both his arms and legs. As the torturer decides he can pull the lever which tightens the ropes. As the ropes tighten enough, the victims limbs become dislocated each with there own loud crack, and as he continues, the limbs are torn off which causes a quick death after due to bleeding out. The torturer would often force the victim to watch others be torn apart to inflict a psychological fear.
Water Torture Water torture is a broad term which includes dunking (pictured), having drops of water dripped on the forehead, the cauldron, and freezing with water. Dunking was most often used with supposed witches, however it was occasionally used to extract a confession, or death. Having drops of water drip in the same place on the victims head made the victim first be annoyed, followed by he or she going crazy, and then after many hours, perforation, and death. Torture with the cauldron was less often used as torture, and more used as a painful way to be executed. The victim would be placed in an empty cauldron which would be filled with cold water then a fire set below it in order to boil the victim to death. Freezing with water is where the torturer would strip the victim of all of his or her clothing in the winter and slowly pour water till the victim dies; the body was often left all winter to scare the towns people.
The Chair of Torture These chairs often had between 500 and 1,500 spikes. The victim was strapped in so they could not move, the spikes would not hit any vital organs and the holes would be sealed up by the spike itself. The torturer may light a fire under the seat in order to cause severe burning to the still living victim. Time till death ranged greatly from a few hours to days.
The Pear of Anguish This torture was used on women who had a miscarriage, liars, blasphemers, and homosexuals. The pear shaped object would be inserted into one of the orifices of the victim. For women it would be inserted into their vagina then the four “leaves” would spread apart and the torturer would either decide to tear the skin, or solely mutilate the victim. For liars, and blasphemers, one would be inserted into their mouth and opened to its full size, and for homosexuals it would be inserted into their rectum and opened to its full size. The “pear’s” size would vary according to which orifice it was to be used in. Death was very rare to be cause by this torture, and the victim would often be subjected to other means of torture following this.
Beheading Beheading in the Middle Ages was usually a fast and swift punishment as long as the Executioner had a sharp axe and good aim. If they did not it could take up to 11 strokes to kill the person. After the beheading the head would be shown to the crowd and then placed on the London Bridge on metal spikes to show off to the people.
Rat Torture Rat Torture was a commonly used in the Middle Ages. The way it was done is as follows: The victim was completely restrained and tied to the ground or any horizontal surface. A rat was then placed on his stomach covered by a metallic container. As the container was gradually heated, the rat began to look for a way out - through the victim's body. Digging a hole usually took a few hours of agonizing pain for the victim. This almost always resulted in death.
Crocodile Tube and Crocodile Shears The Crocodile Tube which was not commonly used was one of the most cruel torture devices and was used to torture thieves. It was used as follows: The victim was fixed inside a tube just big enough for the victim's entrance. The tube, having crocodile teeth-like spikes, was slowly compressed leaving the victim totally immobilized. The torturer could only see his face and feet. With the help of carbon and fire underneath the tube, the torturer gradually heated the tube until he extracted a confession or killed the victim. The Crocodile Shears were very commonly used to rip off toes and fingers to have a victim confess or to punish thieves.
Pillory Torture The pillory was a tall wooden or metal post which was had holes in it to secure the head and various limbs. The pillory was used to humiliate the person in it. People in the crowd would throw fruit or garbage at the person in order to humiliate them. The pillory was very uncomfortable and were similar to stocks which did the same thing as the Pillory.
Whipping (Flagellation) Whipping was also a common form of punishment. The whip consisted of leather strings tied together. The whipping would cause severe scars and would be very humiliating for the person. Whips sometimes came close to killing people and were commonly used to punish thieves and other people for committing small crimes.