Monday, October 29, 2012

A history of Torture

We are so fortunate to live in a so-called civilized world; in a time when if caught breaking the rules at least we’re treated humanely.

I mean, supposed you were caught going over the speed limit? You may get a ticket or be forced to pay a fine. For a more serious crime one might be sent to jail or even prison. Even so, there are regulations in place to prevent harsh and cruel punishment.


But for those unfortunate souls born centuries ago that wasn’t always the case.


Let’s revisit some strange but true horrific tortures endured during a time when if you were caught doing the unthinkable, there really was hell to pay.


In 1535 the penalty for blasphemy was to have the tongue torn out. Antoine Poile has his tongue pierced and nailed to his cheek before being burnt alive in front of a blood-thirsty crowd.
Gee…these days I see young people of all ages gladly walking around with tongue piercings having chosen to wear a polished steel post ripped right through the middle of their tongue.


Torture by heat and fire seemed to be a method used often. Being burned at the stake or strung over a blazing bed of coals by those seeking justice was no doubt a horrifying experience. During the 16th century in the southern Netherland, a victim was laid on his back with a large iron dish resting on his belly. A roaring fire was then lit and kept going until the dish burrowed into the entrails.




If heat isn’t bad enough some went a different route and used Water torture. Always available and easily handled, torturers have used h20 in a variety of ways. The easiest would be to force the victim to simply drink. And drink…and drink…and drink until the victim becomes bloated and soon the belly becomes engorged, drum-like. The pain becomes intense. A victim has even been known to have water leak out of his nose and ears!

And there was that little contraption called ‘The Rack.’ A form of the rack- one that was popular in Germany- caused the victim to be not only stretched, but drawn at the same time over a succession of sharply studded rollers!
Some victims were attached to the rack by their thumbs and big toes.
And it wasn’t just men being punished. Women were tortured as well. Especially those caught…’um, let's say doing things they shouldn’t.
For those there was a thing called The Iron Maiden.
A collection of antiques once owned by the Baron Diedrich was unearthed in 1832. It had a cone-like body formed of sheet iron, topped with a female shaped head. The front opened allowing the victim to be placed inside. Protruding spikes were positioned so that as the doors were gradually closed, they pierced the lady’s organs. Two nasty nails were placed higher up inside the mask so that when the iron head snapped into place….




Being punished is certainly a bummer, and at times can be an inconvenience. But it sure beats being tortured.


These fascinating facts were found in The History of Torture, an awesome book by Brian Innes.

Iron Maiden photo was found at Wikipeadia.



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